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How to Make Nitro Cold Brew at Home

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By Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

Just hearing nitro cold brew coffee conjures up an image of brightly colored cans with lightning bolts on the outside. The cans clutched in the hands of cramming college students, entry-level CEO wannabes, and the steroid pumped “dude-bro” types.

Thankfully, that image doesn’t ring true. Instead, nitro coffee is a luxurious drink that infuses already super smooth cold brew with nitrogen gas. The result is a smoothness that my vocabulary can’t do justice to.

And to make things even better, it’s super easy to learn how to make nitro cold brew at home.

If you’re worried that getting the right level of smoothness is a skill reserved for TV chefs or upscale coffee shops, never fear. You also don’t have to empty your bank account on technology that will only take up space at the back of your cupboard.

Rejoice as you can brew in batches. Then you will have weeks of awesomely smooth morning coffee for the cheap price of a whipped cream container. Interested? Read on and we will show you exactly how to make homemade nitro cold brew.

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How to Make Nitro Cold Brew

If you’re worried that making nitro cold brew at home sounds complex, we are here to remove your fears. It’s actually really easy and requires very little equipment or investment.

Although, if you want to enjoy luxurious nitro coffee every day, then some good equipment would be a sound investment.


  • 2 glass containers – mason jars work great
  • Coarse ground coffee
  • Filtered water
  • Traditional coffee filter
  • Whipped cream dispenser
  • Pressurized nitrous oxide cartridge
Visual guide for how to make nitro cold brew at home - Infographic
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Step 1: Make Your Cold Brew

You can always just buy your favorite pre-made cold brew but it’s really easy to make at home.

What You Need

Mason jar filled with cold brew concentrate
Option 1: Mason Jars
Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot
Option 2: Hario Mizudashi
Side view of 1zpresso J max manual coffee grinder
Coarse Grinder like the J Max

Put your coffee grounds in a sealable glass container like a mason jar. You need coarse coffee grounds like rough sand or fine gravel. For best results, grind the beans yourself.

Some coffee roasters sell a specific cold brew blend that has been created with this brewing method in mind. Or you can use a rich, full-bodied coffee like a Colombian dark roast.

The ideal cold brew ratio is 1 part coffee to 5 parts water. So use 1 measuring cup of coffee grounds to 5 measuring cups of water. Then, once you’ve added the water, give it a good stir.

Seal the container and leave it in your fridge for 12-24 hours to steep. The exact length of time will depend on the beans you use and how strong you like your coffee. Although not strictly necessary, we recommend giving it a stir after 12 hours.

Get a funnel and a coffee filter, and pour your coffee through it, into the second glass container.

Your cold brew coffee concentrate is now ready to go. It just needs to be mixed in a 1:1 ratio with water when you’re ready to make your nitro homebrew coffee.

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Step 2: Add Nitrogen

When you want to drink your creamy, sweet coffee, simply pour your cold brew into the whipped cream dispenser. (It will need to have a nitrous oxide cartridge to work.)

Then simply press the handle to pour it into a glass. It really is that simple to make nitro cold brew at home.

What You Need

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Mini Keg VS Whipped Cream Dispenser

Depending on how into cooking you are, you may already have a whipped cream dispenser. If you don’t though, they’re not expensive to buy and the cartridges are relatively cheap too so it’s an easy way to get started.

If you’re a regular cold brew drinker looking to have the nitro version every so often, the whipped cream method is definitely the way to go. However, if you plan to have fresh nitro coffee at home frequently, it’s worth investing in a new nitro cold brew maker.

Minikegs are quite expensive. But, when it comes to making nitro cold brew, they have a couple of big benefits over using a glass jar and whipped cream dispenser:

Once you’ve poured each drink, all of the oxygen is removed from the nitro coffee maker. This will make the coffee taste brighter and fresher for much longer.

When not in use, you can easily store your nifty nitro coffee machine in the fridge. So, every time you want a creamy, cool coffee, it is quickly and easily on hand. We recommend making a big batch at the weekend so you have a whole week’s worth of coffee ready to pour.

They’re super easy to use too. Once you’ve made your cold brew, you simply fill the keg and place the whole thing in the fridge. To turn it into nitro coffee, make sure there is a nitrous oxide cartridge installed (same as you would use in the whipped cream dispenser), and pull the lever like a draught beer.

A glass of freshly made nitro cold brew at home
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Best Nitro Coffee Makers

Whilst the whipped cream dispenser is more accessible, the Nitro Mini Keg is definitely the superior option. It will protect the most flavor over the time it takes you to drink your whole cold brew coffee batch.

By reducing contact with oxygen, the nitro coffee dispenser preserves the rich coffee flavors. As they’re specifically designed for this purpose, they work much better than a random container and whipped cream dispenser.

However, they are vastly more expensive. So they’re really only worth the investment if you plan on making a lot of nitro cold brew coffee at home.

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History of Nitro Cold Brew

Cuvee Coffee in Austin, Texas pioneered nitro cold brew back in 2011. The brewing process was kept as a closely guarded secret for a long time. People only knew that nitrogen was used to create that creamy texture – it’s hard to ignore when you put Nitro in the name.

But their exact method was kept a secret for as long as they could.

Through trial and error, it turned out that brewing temperature wasn’t the only important factor in the perfect nitro cold brew recipe. You also had to remove the oxygen.

Making cold brew nitro coffee at home can be very hit and miss. This is because the amount of oxygen in your brewing container can really ruin the flavor.

The guys at Cuvee Coffee were working in factory conditions where they could pump all the air out of their brewing vessels. By using kegs and pouring their cold brew from a tap infused with nitrogen like a pint of Guinness, they created a rich, intense cold brew flavor with extra creaminess.

If you want to learn more about Cuvee Coffee’s process, check out this video:

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How does Starbucks Make Nitro Cold Brew?

Starbucks uses this exact process to make their nitro cold brew coffee:

Their signature cold brew, which is steeped for 20 hours, is then poured from a tap that adds the nitrogen. Commercial coffee shops and the major big chains don’t do anything special that you can’t recreate at home with a bit of equipment and practice.

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Does Nitro Cold Brew Have More Caffeine Than Regular Coffee?

No, nitro coffee does not contain any more caffeine than regular coffee.

At Starbucks, the amount of caffeine in a tall featured dark roast coffee is 215mg. This is exactly the same as a tall nitro brew coffee. Their “reserve nitro coffee” has a whopping 280mg of caffeine. But there are several other coffees in their Clover Roast range that also have the same amount.

Yes, it’s complicated. But just using nitrogen does not, by rule, cause there to be more caffeine than you find in regular coffee.

Read Next: 4 Reasons Why Caffeine Doesn’t Wake You Up

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What Coffee Beans Should I use for Nitro Coffee?

You can use basically whatever coffee beans you like to make cold brew. Although the best is usually darker roasts with big flavors.

Cold brewing softens the acidic tones of coffee making light roasts – which are more citrus flavor-driven – pretty bland and uninteresting. If you’re looking for the best coffee beans for cold brew, we wrote a whole article about our favorite options:

Read Next: The Best Coffee Beans for Cold Brew

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Can I add Milk, Cream, or Sugar?

You can add whatever you want to nitro homebrew coffee – milk, cream, sugar, syrup. Even alcohol if you’re feeling frisky. Although, it’s always best to taste your brew on its own first.

The cold brewing and addition of nitrogen make a sweeter and creamier drink than regular cold brew coffee. So you may find you don’t need the cream and sugar anymore, or less of it at least.

Just have fun with your nitro brew, the best thing about making it at home is how much cheaper it is to experiment.

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Alternative Cold Brewing Techniques

Cold-brewed coffee is a pretty versatile drink – there is almost certainly a way to make it using equipment you already have at home.

You can choose from a French press, pour over method, or standard coffee machine. Plus there is the dedicated cold brew coffee maker or the good old mason jars we included in our guide on how to make nitro cold brew.


Having a French press coffee maker brings a little touch of Parisian street cafe elegance to your home. And it is a great method for cold brewing coffee. The built-in filter pushes the grounds to the bottom so you can pour your beverage. But, if you’re not careful, it can also allow small amounts of grounds to end up in your cup.

Infographic: How to make cold brew coffee in a French press


Pour-over, or drip brewing, is a popular method amongst coffee enthusiasts. For making cold brew, iced water is dripped onto the coffee grounds, with the resultant brew collected in a waiting carafe. The whole process is much faster than immersion methods, but not exactly fast, as it still takes around 3-5 hours.


Using a filter coffee maker automates much of the process for you. All you need to do is take the glass container containing your freshly brewed coffee and refrigerate it. It will also require a finer grind than is usually used for making cold brew.

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The Last Word

Nitro coffee is a very specific style: The rich chocolatey, nutty flavors and the creamy texture won’t be for everyone. Honestly, your first nitro cold brew is a fairly odd experience as it looks like a glass of stout but smells like a sweet coffee.

Once you get over the initial hesitation though, it is pretty spectacular. There really isn’t anything quite so smooth  in the coffee world.

If you’re a nitro coffee enthusiast, the great thing is that it’s one of the easiest drinks to make at home and requires very little equipment. Even on a budget, you can easily learn how to make nitro cold brew coffee at home that tastes top-notch – just follow this guide. Perfect for those times you want a cold, creamy caffeine hit to add to your day.

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What are the Differences Between Cold Brew and Nitro Cold Brew?

Nitro coffee is just a creamier, more flavorful cold brew thanks to an infusion of nitrogen. This can be done with a whipped cream dispenser or a specific nitro coffee maker.

If you’ve ever found yourself wishing your coffee was more like beer, nitro is the answer.

Cold brew concentrate is the basic building block for both drinks. But the main difference between the two is texture. Both offer a similarly subtle, sweet flavor but the use of nitrogen creates a super-smooth and rich experience. Plus, it comes topped with a foamy head similar to a pint of your favorite beer.

Is Nitro Coffee Alcoholic?

Nitro cold brew bears many resemblances to stout beer but is alcohol-free. You can drink as much as you like and, other than the caffeine jitters, be perfectly sober.

The smooth texture is often compared to drinking a pint of Guinness. And you can’t ignore the creamy foam on top. But this all just adds to the uniqueness of this coffee drink.

Is Nitro Cold Brew Bad for You?

Nitro cold brew is no better or worse for you than any other type of coffee. In fact, the rich creaminess means that you can ditch the milk, cream, or sugar for a healthier experience (although they can definitely still be added to suit your tastes).

What is so Special about Nitro Cold Brew Coffee?

Texture, Texture, Texture.

Drinking cold brew nitro coffee is velvety smooth and packed full of flavor. It’s like the perfect marriage between coffee and beer. And that’s the kind of union we are big fans of.

It is a specific experience that might take you a moment to get used to. But once you do, it’s pretty spectacular and soon you will be learning how to make nitro cold brew at home to satisfy your cravings.


Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

Matt's coffee obsession started in 2006 when working as a Barista. A tendency to turn up to work hungover kickstarted his coffee journey which quickly turned into a love affair. As he moved on to work as a Restaurant Manager and Sommelier, the obsession continued to grow. Now, his passion is helping others to enjoy better coffee at home.

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