Nitrogen is a transparent, odorless gas that can be infused into coffee or any drink to produce a smooth, creamy beverage. Nitro Coffee has been a fairly recent trend of nitro beverages that offers a completely different and delightful coffee experience. Cream or dairy is optional.
However, storing, transporting, and refilling nitrogen regularly is a highly energy-intensive process. The energy used to generate nitrogen from the air (air is 78% nitrogen) via the fractional distillation process produces a significant amount of carbon dioxide, not to mention the pollution dredged up for the fossil fuels generating power. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, is a major contributor to global warming and ocean acidification. Once produced, the cost of transporting and maintaining the high-pressure nitrogen tanks and cartridges can further add to the carbon footprint and climate change, and can be felt in the pocketbook.
Smaller portable and disposable gas cartridges, although convenient, can still mean moving a lot of metal for even smaller amounts of gas. And remember, although those cartridges are providing nitrogen, you are already including a lot of oxygen into the beverage by the time you open the gizmo, pour your drink, and screw-in that cartridge anyway! Today, most of the disposable cartridges are not recycled and end up in landfills.
We also think nitrous oxide gas (N2O) used for certain products (e.g. whipped cream and some “nitro-style” creamed coffees) is especially damaging. The global warming potential of nitrous oxide is almost 300 times greater than carbon dioxide Nitrous oxide persists in the atmosphere for hundreds of years as well causing cumulative damage to the environment. While nitrous oxide gas cylinders and cartridges bear the same problems as nitrogen systems, the nitrous oxide gas used ends up in the environment.
We developed NitroBrew Kits with two things in mind:
i) Offer a clean and sustainable way to make nitro beverages
ii) Make serving nitro brew affordable for everyone
At NitroBrew, we are very passionate about environmental sustainability. We offer a way to make Nitro-beverages without any consumables. Although all NitroBrew products can handle a variety of gases (nitrogen, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, argon, helium, etc) we strongly encourage everyone to simply use the air we breathe. When using air, you still infuse a lot of nitrogen (78% of air is nitrogen). Most of the remaining gas that is oxygen is actually more foam-positive than nitrogen.
The wonderful flavor of coffee (and tea, chocolate, beer, and various beverages and foods in general) is the result of complex chemical reactions that happen during processing. For example, the amino acids react with sugars and other carbohydrates during the roasting process (some of these are called Maillard reactions) giving rise to a variety of compounds beyond what is already present in the beans. These compounds include flavonoids [sic], polyphenols, tannins, and so on. The signature bouquet of a particular cup of coffee is the result of the bean variety, its growth and harvest conditions, moisture, the roasting time and temperature program, and so on. The spectrum of compounds that impact the taste and flavor can be quite complex- so much so that one can sometimes resign themselves to attribute it all to the mood of the roaster on that particular day he or she came to work 🙂
Everyone agrees that a freshly brewed cup of coffee from freshly roasted and ground beans tastes the best. But, if you let that coffee sit around, the flavor can go stale. The culprit is oxidation. There are numerous mechanisms for oxidative damage to the foods and beverages that cause staling. The maillard reaction products, flavonoids, polyphenols, various aldehydes, and lipids undergo oxidation by various mechanisms. Usually, despite the oxidative reactions, the compounds associated with stale character do not appear until long after the oxidation happens. Indeed, if the product is stored cold, it may take so long to notice stale character that the shelf life can be ‘freshness-dated’ as long as many months into the future.
The bad rap that oxygen gets is (justifiably) mainly from the experience of packaged goods industry where the goods need to be inventoried and moved through distribution and sales channels. Oxygen presence slowly leads to the food or beverage developing a stale character. Although the staling is noticeably faster at warmer storage temperatures staling is extremely slow at refrigerator temperatures. For example, beer, which happens to be one of the most oxygen-sensitive products to package, demands that the total package oxygen content be less than a few tens of parts per billion to get a decent shelf life at typical storage and distribution temperatures. If the product is kept cold, it can take several months for even an expert taster to pick up any stale character.
But none of the issues with Oxygen is really relevant for a typical NitroBrew technology use case. The idea is to make a fresh NitroBrew’d drink, on-demand, for instant gratification! With NitroBrew, while you can still use nitrogen for nitro coffee (or nitrous oxide to make whip cream), you can also do all of that with just air! And you don’t have to keep restocking gas cylinders or cartridges to continue to enjoy your favorite NitroBrew’d beverage. Go on and pat yourself on the back for really doing your part in helping Mother Earth heal.
Drawing the air we breathe and infusing that into the beverage is very energy efficient. The benefit of eliminating the large carbon footprint to manufacture and distribute these compressed gas cartridges and the pollution from the spent cartridges is huge in itself. The dollar savings and convenience that result from it are the icings on the cake.
Nitro Brew solution for small shops, artisan cafes, mobile carts, etc with NitroBrew single serve commercial bundles or the Nitro Brew Table Top system. Recently, Barista Magazine had NitroBrew and One Utopia featured in their ‘Take Away’ section and you can read about the interview with Tina, owner of One Utopia!
Tina A: Owner, One Utopia inside The Downtown Exchange Clermont, in Clermont, Florida as well as a mobile unit that services Central Florida.