By Jarrett McGovern
In the early days, we were asked a lot of questions about nitrogen... “Why do you use nitrogen in your cold brew? Is nitrogen healthy? Is nitrogen natural? Are the bubbles rising or falling in the cascade?”
We had a lot of fun answering those questions, and it was and still is a big part of educating our customers. Luckily, nitrogen is a healthy, organic, and incredible ingredient to our success.
Nitrogen is a Coffee Game Changer
Approximately 80% of the air we breathe is nitrogen. It is natural, healthy, and organic. Nitrogen infused in our cold brew preserves our coffee for many months and gives RISE a fresh and creamy taste. When you see the tiny bubbles rise to the top of your glass (the cascade) – those are nitrogen bubbles trying to rise back into the atmosphere and “go home.” These bubbles attach to our coffee and create a frothy head and velvety smooth taste.
To understand why we started infusing our cold brew coffee with nitrogen, first, we should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of “cold brewing” coffee.
Cold brewing is a method of making coffee that has been used for many years. It was popularized in the late 1960’s when Todd Simpson created the first home brewing kit for cold brewing called “The Toddy.” During a trip to Panama (as the story goes) Todd saw Panamanians cold brewing coffee into a concentrated form and later adding hot water to the concentrate. They cold brewed the concentrate so they could serve hot coffee to customers with sensitive stomachs. Cold brewing yields 80% less acidity than traditional hot brewing.
During the 2010’s, cold brew coffee exploded in America. Without the acidity, cold brew tastes naturally sweet and refreshing – we fell in love.
We used “The Toddy” when we started cold brewing RISE in our apartments in 2014. After tasting coffee beans from all over the world, we loved the way our organic, shade grown Peruvian beans tasted naturally sweet and chocolatey.
But there were two problems. First, it took us 24 hours to brew 4 cups of coffee (that is a tough business model). Second, our cold brew would get oxidized and start tasting sour in a few hours and would spoil in just a few days.
The solution was… and still is… nitrogen. Nitrogen was and still is a game changer.
We started infusing our cold brew with nitrogen, and it gave us three amazing benefits:
- Nitrogen gave us a cool looking cascade.
- Nitrogen formed a creamy/frothy head on our coffee. It makes our black coffee taste velvety smooth and gives our cold brew a latte-like taste without having to add cream, sugar, or artificial chemicals.
- Nitrogen is one of the world’s greatest natural preservatives and not only gives our coffee a very long shelf life, but it keeps our coffee tasting very fresh for a long time.
We knew we were on to something, so we started walking around New York City with mini kegs and seeing if cafe and restaurant owners wanted to sample some “nitro cold brew coffee.” Some places thought we were crazy, but as soon as they saw the cascade and tasted the refreshingly smooth taste, they were hooked – and we were on tap!
But we didn’t JUST want to serve our nitro cold brew on tap – we wanted to create the same awesome experience in a ready-to-drink, grab-and-go can. So, we started canning our nitro cold brew coffee using a nitrogen widget.
The Widget Elevates our Canned Nitro Coffee Game
The nitrogen widget was made famous by Guinness pint cans. The nitrogen widget is a small plastic device inside the can. We use a widget similar to the one Guinness uses, except ours is made for coffee, not beer.
So, how does it work? The widget stores tiny nitrogen bubbles. As soon as you open the can, the widget releases the bubbles, and they rise to the top of the can (or glass if you pour the coffee out). The widget creates the same cascade and creamy head that our nitro cold brew on tap does. The widget also gives our nitro cold brew coffee cans a consistent cascade every time.
Without nitrogen, cold brew would have no RISE... literally. Nitrogen gives RISE a frothy and creamy head, making our cold brew coffee an indulgent experience without any calories. Nitrogen sets RISE apart from other cold brews and gives us a special taste that we believe creates the best coffee experience in the world.