Nitro coffee is the new trend

Barista Stephen Engler pours a fresh cup of Blackeye Roasting Company's nitro cold brew at Quixotic Coffee on Tuesday. Quixotic is one of the few stores that offers the cold brew on tap.

Sam Harper

Barista Stephen Engler pours a fresh cup of Blackeye Roasting Company’s nitro cold brew at Quixotic Coffee on Tuesday. Quixotic is one of the few stores that offers the cold brew on tap.

Destanie Martin-Johnson

Nitro coffee offers a different sensation to the caffeinated community — with a crisp, cool and slightly carbonated taste, it’s similar to a glass of beer. As coffee lovers embrace it, more coffee shops increase their supply. 
 
Quixotic Coffee, located in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul, has been around for more than 20 years. The menu got an update when the company changed ownership in December. Quixotic Coffee is one of the first coffee shops in the Twin Cities area to supply the cold, kegged and extra-caffeinated brew. 
 
The nitrogen creates a “cascading effect as the nitro bubbles raise to the top,” manager Stephen Engler said. Although there is typically no sugar, milk or alcohol added, the combination of nitrogen and carbon dioxide adds a creamier texture to the beverage. Sometimes a layer of foam may even brim the cup like beer poured from a tap. 
 
Engler said that Quixotic uses specially graded beans paired with a light roast to intensify the flavor. Nitrogen-infused cold-brew coffee moves through a tight valve while pressurized to create the creamy effect. 
 
Quixotic sells its cold brew in kegs to bars and in bottles to restaurants. Engler said they often sell bottles of the bubbling brew to Augsburg College. Now, they are in the works of producing nitro coffee in cans. 
 
Like Quixotic, Spyhouse Coffee in Minneapolis quickly caught on to the nitro craze. They started selling their own version about a year ago and have gotten a lot of positive feedback. 
 
“It’s the most convenient way of serving [coffee],” Spyhouse manager Vanessa Shuck said. “It serves a cleaner, crisper cup.” Shuck said that they brew two large batches of coffee each night for 12 hours. After that, the coffee is ready to be kegged. 
 
Whether or not nitro coffee is filled with more caffeine depends on how it’s brewed, according to Shuck. If there’s a higher concentration of coffee to water, then it’ll most likely be more caffeinated. 
 
As popular demand goes up, larger coffee corporations like Starbucks may begin producing nitro coffee. 
 
Five Watt Coffee on Nicollet in Minneapolis hasn’t started selling nitro coffee but has plans to do so soon, employee Ashly Maus said. 
 
“There’s definitely a demographic for [nitro coffee]; it’s the new popular [drink],” she said.