If you have bought coffee — even just once — in the past couple of years, you’ve probably noticed coffee shops and grocery stores touting “nitro coffee.” What was once a technique beloved by beer-obsessed homebrewers in the early 2010s is now one of coffee’s biggest and most inescapable trends. Nitro coffee is everywhere — from cans that line the shelves of nearly every grocery store and gas station around the country to the menu boards at local cafes and major chains.
Nitro coffee — cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen gas through a pressurized valve — first made a splash in third wave coffee shops across the country, and quickly became a favorite among serious coffee aficionados. It was so beloved that even Starbucks took a chance on the beverage in 2016, introducing it at its Seattle Reserve Roastery where it soon became the second most popular order after the Caffe Latte, according to a Starbucks rep. Since then, it has spread to almost half of US cafes, and the chain announced this spring they’re making moves to serve nitro at all locations by the end of the year.