Last updated on October 8th, 2023 by Catherine Reed
Nitro cold brew coffee is sweeping the nation and with good reason. It’s got all of the rich, slightly sweet flavor of classic cold brew coffee, but there’s also a bit more body, and it has a thicker, velvety, somewhat frothy texture topped with luxurious foam.
Ultimately, it’s genuinely delectable and undeniably decadent. But what about the caffeine in nitro cold brew?
If you’re a coffee aficionado like me, giving nitro coffee a try probably sounds fun. But it’s also common to have questions about any new coffee drink you try, including what it is, how it’s made, and how much caffeine it contains. Here’s what you need to know.
- What Is Nitro Cold Brew Coffee?
- Caffeine in Nitro Cold Brew
- Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew
- Impact of Caffeine on the Body
- How to Make Nitro Cold Brew at Home
What Is Nitro Cold Brew Coffee?
So, what is nitro coffee? In the simplest sense, nitro cold brew coffee is cold brew coffee that’s infused with nitrogen gas. So, if you’re comparing cold brew coffee vs. nitro brew coffee, the only real difference is the nitrogen infusion.
Nitrogen gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. And before you get worried about the addition of nitrogen, it’s been widely used in beverages for hundreds of years. Essentially, nitrogen is just an alternative to the carbon dioxide used in other carbonated drinks. So, when you factor in the nitrogen gas, is nitro coffee safe? The answer is “yes.”
How does the nitrogen get into the cold brew coffee?
Usually, through specialized equipment. In many ways, dispensing nitro coffee is like filling up a beer from a tap. The nitrogen is functionally a propellant, and it not only imbues the coffee with a rich, velvety texture; it also makes dispensing from a keg possible.
While the keg-style option is fun, there are also specialized kettles that allow nitrogen to get introduced without taking up as much space. So, if you don’t see a keg at your favorite café, that doesn’t mean nitro cold brew coffee isn’t an option.
Nitro cold brew nutrition facts
When it comes to the nitro cold brew nutrition facts, there isn’t much to tell. If you don’t put in any additives – like milk, sugar, or flavoring – the drink is usually less than 15 calories.
The nitro cold brew calories primarily come from the carbs in the coffee beans themselves, and the amount of carbohydrates is higher in cold brew than in drip coffee or espresso since the coffee grounds steep so long.
Caffeine in Nitro Cold Brew
If you’re like me, coffee is one of your favorite pick-me-ups in the morning (or during a long day). So, you probably want to know about the caffeine in nitro cold brew coffee because I certainly did.
Overall, nitro cold brew coffee does have more caffeine than drip coffee. On average, an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee has 95 mg of caffeine. So, that breaks down to an average of about 12 mg per ounce. For espresso, you’re getting nearly 63 mg of caffeine per ounce on average.
For cold brew coffee, the caffeine content can vary depending on several factors. However, one study achieved an average caffeine content of about 207 mg per 12-ounce cup. That breaks down to a little more than 17 mg per ounce.
Now, that’s the caffeine level on cold brew concentrate, and considering that most cold brew coffee is diluted when it’s served, the actual caffeine count per ounce in a cup of cold brew from a café (or at home) is likely less.
What about nitro cold brew vs. traditional cold brew?
Well, the addition of nitrogen gas to make nitro cold brew coffee doesn’t add more caffeine. So, if you have the same amount of cold brew coffee in the drinks from the same dispenser at your favorite café, you have the same amount of caffeine.
So, when you compare nitro cold brew caffeine vs. espresso, espresso has far more caffeine per ounce than nitro cold brew. If you’re comparing the caffeine in nitro cold brew vs. regular coffee, nitro cold brew undeniably has more caffeine if it’s not diluted. But nitro coffee may or may not have more caffeine than a classic drip if it’s cut with water, depending on the amount of water used to dilute it.
Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew
Starbucks is one of the cafés that popularized nitro cold brew coffee, so many treat it as their go-to option if they’re looking for nitro coffee. Plus, it has a wide array of flavors and a variety of sizes, making it easier to get your perfect caffeine fix.
So, how much caffeine is in Starbucks nitro cold brew? Well, it depends on the size and whether you add milk, cream, or other flavorings to the drink.
Generally, Starbucks nitro cold brew – when served black – contains more caffeine than the other options. A tall will have around 215 mg of caffeine, while a grande includes 280 mg. And you won’t find a nitro cold brew venti option at Starbucks, as the larger size makes it hard to maintain the right texture.
Does adding milk or cream change caffeine levels?
Now, when you add milk, cream, or other flavorings, you’re replacing some of the volume. That means you’re diluting the nitro coffee, so the caffeine count goes down. How much it changes does vary. For example:
- For a Starbucks nitro cold brew salted caramel, a tall has 200 mg of caffeine, while a grande has 270 mg.
- The Cinnamon Caramel Cream Nitro has 185 mg to 265 mg, while the Vanilla Sweet Cream Nitro has 200 mg to 265 mg.
Caffeine levels of canned Starbucks options
If you go with the canned version of Nitro Cold Brew Black from Starbucks, the 11-ounce can has 235 mg of caffeine, while the Nitro Cold Break Black Unsweet 9.6-ounce can has closer to 155 mg.
If you’re wondering, “How much caffeine in Starbucks nitro cold brew vanilla sweet cream can?” the answer is about 110 mg. If you’re asking, “How much caffeine in Starbucks nitro cold brew dark cocoa sweet cream” instead, that one also has 110 mg.
Does Starbucks Nitro cold brew have more caffeine than espresso?
If you break it down by fluid ounce, no, Starbucks nitro cold brew doesn’t have more caffeine than espresso. A single ounce of espresso typically contains around 63 mg of caffeine, while one ounce of nitro coffee only has an average of about 17 mg per ounce.
However, the nitro cold brew drinks can have more caffeine than many espresso drinks. Most espresso drinks only contain one or two espresso shots, and every espresso shot is just one ounce of espresso.
In black nitro cold brew coffee at Starbucks, there are about 12 ounces in a tall or 16 ounces in a grande. As a result, while an espresso drink may contain between 63 and 126 mg of caffeine, based on the average amount of caffeine in an espresso shot, the nitro coffee drinks at Starbucks usually have 185 to 280 mg of caffeine total, which is far more.
Another common question people have is, “Is Starbucks Nitro cold brew too much caffeine?” Overall, medical professionals recommend that healthy adults limit their caffeine intake to 400 mg per day. So, if you’re a healthy adult, nitro cold brew can fall within that range, assuming you don’t consume too much caffeine from other sources during the day.
Impact of Caffeine on the Body
Caffeine is a naturally-occurring substance that acts as a stimulant. According to the National Library of Medicine, by stimulating the central nervous system, it can make you feel more energetic and awake. Caffeine can also act as a diuretic, and it can increase the release of stomach acid. Additionally, it may increase blood pressure or alter the absorption of calcium in the body.
Too much caffeine can also lead to a variety of side effects. It can cause shakiness, restlessness, headaches, dizziness, insomnia, anxiety, and dehydration. Additionally, caffeine dependency is possible.
As mentioned previously, it’s recommended that adults limit their caffeine intake to 400 mg per day, assuming they are healthy. For anyone with a health condition, it’s best to consult with your doctor about whether caffeine consumption is safe and, if so, whether a different daily limit is wise.
How to Make Nitro Cold Brew at Home
If you want to make nitro cold brew at home, the first thing you’ll need to do is make your own cold brew coffee or purchase a suitable bottled cold brew coffee from the store. Brewing your own will usually give you the best overall flavor, but the purchased option is simpler, so choose the approach that works best for you.
After that, if you need to figure out how to make nitro coffee at home:
- You’ll either need a mini-keg or a whipped cream dispenser with nitrogen gas cartridges.
- Then, you’ll fill the whipped cream container or mini-keg with your cold brew coffee, then dispense it.
The nitrogen gas acts as a propellant and infuses into the coffee, giving you nitro cold brew coffee in your cup.
How Much Caffeine Is in Peets, Dunkin, and Dutch Bros Nitro Cold Brew?
Peet’s doesn’t state how much caffeine its nitro cold brew coffees contain on its website. However, Peet’s nitro cold brew caffeine content is largely based on how much caffeine is in its Baridi Blend cold brew.
The Baridi Blend iced coffee – when served over ice – is between 113 mg and 187 mg, depending on the size of the cup. But nitro cold brew doesn’t involve any ice, so your caffeine content is higher – and may be about twice as much as you’d get with a cold brew coffee drink – if you choose a nitro coffee.
While Dunkin also doesn’t list the caffeine content of its nitro cold brew coffee, most agree that the caffeine in nitro cold brew at Dunkin is around 17.5 mg per ounce. That means a 16-ounce cup has 280 mg of caffeine.
The caffeine in nitro cold brew from Dutch Bros also isn’t listed on the company’s website. However, the canned version had more than 25 mg of caffeine per ounce, so that’s a solid baseline.
Is There Hot Nitro Coffee?
Technically, you could heat up nitro coffee to get a hot nitro coffee drink, but whether it’s a good idea is debatable. When you warm up nitro cold brew, it’s going to lose the nitrogen gas trapped in it pretty quickly, essentially causing the coffee to go flat. So, you’ll miss out on a key characteristic of nitro coffee.
Is Nitro Cold Brew Keto?
So, is nitro cold brew keto? Thanks to the low carb count, nitro cold brew is generally considered keto-friendly as long as you drink it black.
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- About the Author
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Catherine Reed is a freelance writer and coffee enthusiast. She has been a lover of coffee, espresso, and various café-style concoctions for more than 20 years, and enjoys exploring everything the world of coffee has to offer. Whether it’s trying out new coffee technologies or exploring small-batch creations from independent micro-roasters, Catherine is open to any coffee experience, and aims to share everything she’s learned with discerning readers interested in leveling up their coffee game.