Alex Hodges, Campus Carrier Arts & Living Editor
Java City has something new and relatively different on its menu. Nitro cold brew coffee is no longer a niche, secret item known only to coffee fanatics. Shane Barnes, a writer for “Men’s Journal” said in an article about the origin of nitro coffee that since 2015, when in production and popularity it grew beyond Austin and Portland, Oregon, nitro coffee has become a choice beverage for coffee consumers everywhere. This explains its availability at Berry College Memorial Library’s very own coffee stop.
While nitrous oxide is something more commonly heard about in a dentist’s office, it has various uses. It is primarily a medical or dental anesthetic and analgesic. According to the Compressed Gas Association, it can be used for the manufacturing of semiconductors, analytical chemistry, chemical manufacturing and auto racing engine injection. Nitro brew coffee is a more recent addition to that list. But there is no need to worry; ingesting coffee infused with nitrous oxide will not cause harm in any way.
Java City employee Kathryn Levy said the infusion process is fairly simple. It functions similarly to soda fountains or beer taps. Java City provided a machine that releases nitrous oxide through a pressurized valve with small holes while high pressure forces cold brew past a disc, which creates a creamy, stout-like effect.
Levy said that the infusion chills the coffee and eliminates the need for ice, which could be appealing to consumers. Iced cold brew is a strongly flavored beverage, but as ice melts, the bold and bitter taste of the coffee is lessened by the dilution of ice over time. The absence of ice in nitro coffee means that the flavor will stay present throughout the experience.
Upon sampling the nitro coffee, I found that the taste is similar to cold brew in that it maintains the strength and presence of the coffee flavor. Deep down it is coffee, and there is no changing that. However, the slight – and I mean slight – sweetness introduced by the nitrous oxide left me with a sunny disposition only procurable by the clearly distinguishable contrast of bitter and sweet. The natural sweetness of nitrous oxide yielded a light, yet forward taste.
Nitro coffee has been popular since its initial development, so much so that coffee behemoth Starbucks has locations that keep it on tap weekly. Now that it has made its presence known at Berry, students, faculty and staff can enjoy this unique presentation of coffee without having to search for nearby locations, or even leaving campus.