Home-Brewed Nitro Coffee

15 July 2015

The latest, pretentious way to brew coffee gets a little more interesting and involves explosive gas...nitro coffee. This form of coffee is essentially cold brew coffee that is kegged and pumped with nitrogen gas, similiar to some of the dark beer stouts.

The wonderful thing is that your cold brew will kinda be just like drinking a frothy Guinness and for pregos like me especially, it is somewhat of a saving grace when you start to miss beer. I actually gave up caffeine too, so I only drink a little bit as I am supposedly allowed (2) 5oz servings of caffeine per day, which I do not often cash in on.

I believe one local coffee shop in my town has nitro, but it is not very prevalent yet, so I decided to try brewing some myself at home. Here is an overview of the entire process...

Total Time: 30 hours (Only 1-2 hours are active time)
Yields: 5 gallons

Keg Supplies:
Corny or Cornelius 304 Stainless Steel Keg (5 gallon)
20 cu nitrogen cylinder with regulator
2 ball and lock adapters with hose and fittings
large funnel
Star San
Nitrogen tap
Extra Refrigerator or Kegerator with clearance to fit corny keg

Cold Brew Supplies:
5 lbs of coarse ground coffee
5 gallons of water
3 about 3 gallon containers
Fine strainer and cheesecloth

Items purchased:
Nitrogen Keg Kit with 304 Stainless Steel Keg
Nitrogen tap
The keg cleaners you should be able to get at any brewing supply store or anywhere online.

Cleveland Locals:
AAA Welding in Lakewood for Gas.
The Cleveland Brew Shop or Beverage Distributors for cleaner and other brewing supplies.


1. Fill up Nitrogen Cylinder
Strangely, the common place to fill up you CO2 or Nitrogen tank is at your local welding shop. Nitrogen "beer gas" is actually not 100% nitro, it is a mix of CO2 and Nitrogen. I used a ratio of 75% nitrogen and 25% CO2. Most people use around this ratio for coffee or beer brews using nitro, but it is all personal preference in the end.

2. Sanitize keg
This is probably the most time intensive part. To clean my corny, I first scrubbed with PBW, water and large brush, rinsed, then sanitized with Star San, hooked the keg up to the nitro and pushed all the liquid out (until you see foam) and rinsed many times and pushed the last rinse through the lines with nitro. If you are not familiar with the keg cleaning and sanitizing process, there are tons of resources online. nitro coffee

This video is pretty straight forward and helpful:

This video is not helpful at all, but did make me laugh:

3. Make Cold Brew
I haven't made this much cold brew since I worked as a barista back in the day and there are many routes you can take, but I made mine with 5 gallons of filtered water and about 5 lbs of coarsely ground coffee (Intelligentsia for this batch). I pour the grinds directly into the water and filter through a fine sieve and cheese cloth once it is done brewing.

Although it may seem obvious to some, make sure your containers are bigger than the amount of water you want to add, the grinds add quite a bit of volume with this big of a batch. If you have not made cold brew before and have a french press, you could always make a small batch using your press and see what strength level you prefer.

Measurements: 5.5 cups of grinds per 1 gallon of water
Time: 12 - 24 hours (I did 20 hours)
Steps: Pour water into container, add correct amount of grinds, stir, then let it brew at room temperature for at least 12 hours. Once the brewing process is complete, be sure to strain it really well so there are no grinds or sediment.

4. Final Assembly
The assembly of the nitrogen cylinder and the keg made me nervous because I don't normally work with things that can explode...yeah I'm a wimp. So I was very careful (obsessively researched) to read the instructions that came with my keg kit and it ended up being pretty simple. Major takeaway is do not drop your nitrogen, or store the cylinder anyway, but perfectly upright. Someday when I decide to dust off all of my equipment and brew beer and other beverages, we will get a kegerator, but until then we luckily have an extra fridge that will fit the corny.

Steps: Pour filtered cold brew into keg and refrigerate until cool. Assemble hoses and nitrogen cylinder according to instructions included with your kit. Keep gas off unless in use; I don't even leave the cylinder hooked up if I am not pouring a glass.

Gas Amount: 30 PSI

Picnic Tap vs Nitro Tap
I tried the plastic picnic tap that comes with the keg kit first and while it was okay, it will never provide the Guinness-like cascading thickness without a nitro tap because the nitro tap will restrict the flow of nitrogen giving you the fuller body brew. It also doesn't have the thicker texture, at least not to me. The picnic tap violently sprays out everywhere too, so to me it was worth getting the nitro tap because I am also a stout fan and plan to brew that in the future anyway.

Below are the differences in quality...

Nitro Tap

(After pour)

(After cascading settles)

Picnic Tap

(After cascading settles)



highlighted articles

Nursery Reveal
Pressed Sandwich
Citrus Swirl Tart
[if lte IE 9]>