You enter the coffee shop and stop, staring at the menu above the register. What do all these words mean? It can be overwhelming to see all the different types of coffee. What’s the difference between a macchiato and a cortado? Is a flat white the same as a cappuccino?
All coffee is not created equal, and this is doubly true for cold coffee. While many people might see “iced coffee” and assume it’s the same as “cold brew” and even “nitro”, the truth is that there are big differences between them.
To clear things up, let’s look at the three cold options—their differences, their similarities, and why you should care.
This is the original way to prepare cold coffee. With this method, coffee is brewed hot and then chilled, either over ice or, in the old days, by simply putting it in the fridge. With the rise of specialty coffee came the introduction to the United States of the Japanese Iced Pour-over, wherein half the water is replaced with ice and the coffee is brewed directly onto the ice, chilling it instantly while preserving the delicate flavors of the hot coffee. If you want to try a specific coffee in a cafe, this is usually what you’ll get, as it’s easy to brew a single cup while still showcasing the coffee’s taste.
The easiest and most popular way to make and drink cold coffee, this is the one you’ll find in almost every cafe in the world today. Cold brew is made by steeping coarse-ground coffee in room temperature water for 12-24 hours, thus creating a delicious, rich concentrate that can then be cut with water, milk, or alternative milk. Because it’s steeped over a long period of time and doesn’t use hot water, cold brew is generally less acidic than its hot brethren, adding up to a sweeter, milder drink that pairs perfectly with milk.
Cold brew, but richer and smoother, with many similarities to a certain Irish stout. Nitro is, as its name suggests, cold brew infused with nitrogen and either served from a keg or canned. The tiny nitrogen bubbles give the drink its famous creamy texture, while the addition of milk or perhaps chocolate oat milk adds sweetness and depth.
Nitro has become increasingly popular in recent years, due to the complexity and richness of its flavors and the interest of cold brew fans in expanding their horizons (and their palates). Nitro handles the canning process well, allowing it to be easily sold in grocery stores, further widening its reach.
No matter your preference, a cold can of RISE Nitro Brewing Co. nitro cold brew coffee is the perfect way to refresh and re-energize on a hot day (or a cold day, really).