Some Like It Cold: Nitro, Cold Brew, Iced Coffee and More! - What's the Difference?

Some Like It Cold: Nitro, Cold Brew, Iced Coffee and More! - What's the Difference?

April brings us spring flowers, more rain than snow (at least here in Tennessee), and a very important holiday we should all be celebrating: National Cold Brew Coffee Day!

New to coffee that's something other than steaming hot? (I'm intentionally ignoring the mug of coffee reheated 3 times today is currently left, forgotten, in the microwave. Also, don't drink that.)

Let's start with the basics on 4 types of cold coffee you can make at home and 1 you should keep getting at your local coffee shop.

 

Iced coffee. Image by Red Eye Bistro

 

1. Iced Coffee

This is as simple as it sounds. Iced coffee is brewed hot, then poured over ice to be consumed cold. A favorite of summer afternoons, this drink can be found on the menu of most coffee shops. You can drink it black or add your favorite creamers and flavored syrups to make it more of a treat. 

Making iced coffee at home is super easy because it's so similar to how you'd ordinarily brew hot coffee. Just add ice!

 

2. Frappes

Frappes are blended drinks with coffee, milk, and ice. They often have some added flavors, like chocolate to create a frozen mocha beverage. Some don't have coffee as an ingredient and are more similar to a milkshake or slushy. You've probably seen these on your local coffee shop menu, but did you know you can make a frappe at home?

Add your coffee, milk or cream, syrups and ice into a blender. Use the pulse button to crush up the ice, blend for a few more seconds, and you've got yourself a frappe!

 

3. Cold Brew Coffee

Oh yes. The one we have a designated holiday to celebrate. Let's get into it.

Cold brew is unlike the other cold coffees above in that it is actually brewed in cold water rather than hot water. How does that work? In short, the hotter the water, the faster coffee brews. The inverse is also true. By combining coffee grounds and cold water, you can slowly brew some very enjoyable coffee. Cold brew offers some really fabulous benefits that make it worth considering as a regular brew method for you.  

1. You can prep it in advance. Yes, you can set your automatic coffee pot to brew at a set time, but the coffee is going to loose a little bit of its magic sitting in the basket, exposed to oxygen and humidity overnight. Not so with cold brew! Prep it the day before, set it in the fridge, and the next morning you'll have tasty brewed coffee perfectly chilled and ready to kick start your day!

 

2. It is less acidic. There's an entire science behind how the temperature of the water, the size of coffee grounds, the pressure at which the water hit the grounds, and the length of time coffee bean particles interact with the water ultimately determine how acidic, bitter, or "bright" the coffee ends up tasting. (If this piques your interest, Scott Rao has very detailed resources available on the topic.) If you have a hard time stomaching coffee because of the acidity, give cold brew a try. 

 

3. You don't need any special brewing equipment. There are pitchers and cold brew coffee maker setups if you're interested in exploring that, but if you want to go to the kitchen today and mix some up, all you need is ground coffee, water, and a container for it to steep in. Easy. 

 

Affogato: espresso over ice cream cold coffee beverage

 

4. Affogato

One thing I love about drinks like the affogato is that while they feel very fancy, they are actually simple to make at home. In fact, the first time I tried affogato was a complete accident. 

Back in the day when I couldn't stand to drink coffee without a generous helping of cream and sugar, I discovered after brewing my coffee that I was out of creamer. And milk. Was I going to have to suffer through cream-less coffee? This was horrible. But, let me tell you folks, I'm a problem solver. Ice cream is made of milk and sugar, right? I plopped a scoop of vanilla in my mug of hot black coffee, and the day was saved. I had no idea I'd just made an affogato

I hope you'll give this drink a try. You can have a lot of fun with it, changing up the coffees, brew methods, and ice cream flavors you use. Try an Ethiopian coffee or a smoky dark roast, for instance. Can you ever go wrong with chocolate ice cream? Or double up by going with a mocha ice cream under a coffee with chocolaty notes. The possibilities are endless!

 

5. Nitro Coffee

I first encountered nitro at a coffee shop in my local downtown during a summer festival about 8 years ago. My decision to order it was based primarily on my need for caffeine, the sweltering heat of the day, and that nitro was the new fun thing on the menu. It did not disappoint. I almost ordered another immediately afterward finishing the first one. It was that good. 

What is nitro coffee?

Nitro is cold brew coffee that has been infused with nitrogen gas. The tiny bubbles give the coffee a smooth, creamy texture and a hint of sweetness, no sugar added. If you are wanting to get away from using creamers and sweeteners in coffee but aren't ready for a cup of black coffee, nitro could be the perfect beverage for you.

 

Of the coffees we're discussing today, this one is the least convenient to make at home. The initial investment of equipment will set you back around $150-$200 minimum, and there will be a learning curve to make the most of your new nitro set up. Unless you are a die hard nitro fan, it's more cost effective to keep getting this drink from your local coffee shop instead of making it at home. Still, it it makes the list today because it is a cold coffee well worth trying!   

 

Conclusion

The best coffee beverages always start with the freshest beans. If you're ready to make your own cold coffees at home, check out our current collection of curated coffees. All Red Eye Bistro coffee is roasted to order in Tennessee by small specialty roasters, so you will always receive fresh, high quality coffee beans or grounds. 

 

Which of these drinks will you try at home? Leave a comment below with what you've created!

 

 

Cheers!

 

Amy, Founder of Red Eye Bistro

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