Nitro-latte has gained its popularity with baristas and is quickly becoming a trend, sweeping through large coffee chains such as Starbucks and Costa Coffee. But what exactly is nitro-latte and is there any benefit to having it?
Nitro-latte is a beverage infused with nitrogen (hence the name), which transforms the drink from a hot, milky drink into a rich, creamy, and often times chilled drink.
Nitrogen, a clear odourless and tasteless gas, has been used to preserve food and drink products for years now. More notably, brewers have used it to transform the taste and texture of beer, creating smoother, sweeter and silkier heads of foam.
Interest in this method has slowly grown in the coffee industry. Some believe nitro-lattes were invented in 2012-2013, by either the Cuvee Coffee company or the Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
Michael Ash, of Guinness Beers, first started experimenting with beer preservation in the 1950’s. Ash quickly discovered that carbon dioxide dissolves at an alarming rate, which forced pubs at the time to only stock local beers.
After research, Ash suggested using Nitrogen instead. When forced through a restrictor plate, it created a sweet, foamy head, still desirable to this day. As Nitrogen dissolves slower than Carbon Dioxide, beer also lasted longer, allowing for easier transportation.
Likewise, baristas today wanted to experiment with this to see whether it creates an effect on coffees. Carbon dioxide dissolves quickly and left behind a bitter taste. Nitrogen however is inert and never left an undesirable flavour within the drink. Nitrogen dispatches oxygen, which helped to preserve the coffee’s freshness.
Is Nitro-Infused coffee good for you?
Many people have recently turned to nitro-infused coffees, as a healthier alternative to their regular coffee. Nitro-coffee has fewer calories than a latte or similarly flavoured coffees, due to its natural sweetness negating the need to add sugar to the drink.
Will nitro-lattes remain popular?
Many baristas and coffee enthusiasts are hopeful of nitro-latte having a prosperous future, but sceptical over the start-up costs involved to be able to serve the drink. Coffee shops, cafes or eateries would need to find the space (and money) to invest in a nitro-tap, gas lines, nitrogen tanks and other specialty brewing and cleaning equipment. Presently, these start-up costs are preventing many small independents from entering the market, which is currently dominated by the large chains, such as Starbucks and Costa.
With this drink rising in popularity, it’s certain the beverage won’t be leaving our menus anytime soon. Whilst this drink might not appeal to everyone, it certainly does have a large audience. Nitro-infused drinks will definitely continue to grow in the near future, perhaps even breaking into parallel industries.
Have you had a nitro-latte? Let us know what you think of them on social media @nationwidecoffee.