Just when we thought lemonade was the latest thing in iced coffee, along comes a new trend to add to our must-sip list. It’s called nitro coffee, and it’s made by—you guessed it!—infusing cold brew coffee with nitrogen gas. It’s served straight from a beer tap to achieve a cascading, foamy brew (reminiscent of Guinness), and Starbucks announced on Tuesday that it’s on their summer line-up.
The smooth, creamy beverage, which comes out cold from the tap and is served unsweetened without ice, has already been introduced at the Starbucks Reserve Roaster and Tasting Room in Seattle, where it quickly climbed the ranks to become the second highest-selling beverage. The company will introduce the drink in 500 stores in select cities by the end of the summer, including Seattle, Portland, New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
But Starbucks isn’t the first coffee company to dabble with nitro coffee—in fact, it’s been on tap at Austin, Texas-based Cuvée Coffee since 2012, and you can now buy cans of it from the Portland, Oregon-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters. And though Cuvée sees an increase in nitro brew sales in the summertime, it's one of their top-selling menu items year-round, likely thanks to its unique texture, says Mike McKim, CEO and founder of Cuvée.
“[The nitrogen] affects the texture more than the taste,” he tells RealSimple.com. “The general consensus I get from people is that the coffee tastes sweeter, but there’s no sugar involved. I feel like the texture creates the perception of a sweeter drink.”
Want to stay ahead of the latest trends in beverages? Be on the lookout for other nitrogen-infused drinks (including beer!), because McKim predicts the nitrogen trend won’t start and end with coffee.
“I see nitro continuing to be a trend in beverages, period,” he says. “Nitrogen is the next big thing for sure.”