Cold-brew coffee hit the coffee scene a number of years ago. Unlike simple iced coffee (standard-brewed coffee poured over ice), cold-brew is never heated. Time replaces temperature: coffee grounds and cold water are allowed to sit long enough to achieve a full infusion. Because heat releases certain bitter compounds, refraining from heat means a mellower brew with lower acidity. More subtle, often floral, delicate flavors have a chance to emerge.
A number of Dallas coffee shops have been serving cold-brew for a while, most made with the ubiquitous Toddy-brand filter. At Method Coffee, which has one of the most robust arrays of cold-brew options, you can catch a glimpse of the beautiful contraption called the Yama tower, made by the Taiwan-based Yama Glass company of hand-blown glass. It looks like something you’d find in a science lab amidst bubbling test tubes and beakers, with spiraling tubes at its midsection and a slow-release spigot at its base. The Japanese slow-drip cold-brew method, also called Kyoto-style, slows the process even more to create a concentrate with even greater nuance. The valve that releases the coffee drop by drop at the tower’s base reminds me of absinthe fountains from the days of the Belle Epoque.
The next wave in cold-brew coffee was nitrogen infusion: nitro coffee became the new darling. Roasters like Cuvee coffee in Austin infused their cold-brew coffee with nitrogen, creating a coffee suffused with tiny bubbles that manifest as a soft foam on top and slight fizziness throughout. The creamy mouthfeel strangely simulates milkiness, as though the coffee were softened with cream, though it’s not. And the change in flavor can be surprising. The first time I tried nitro coffee I was amazed at the trick it plays on your palate.
Mudsmith, Oddfellows, and Method Coffee serve Cuvee’s signature Black & Blue nitro coffee on tap. (Depending on where you hit the keg, it can be extremely fizzy or slightly flat, which is why some people prefer the consistency of versions available in a can at various stores such as Whole Foods.)
More recently, we’ve finally had our own local nitro coffee available. Noble Coyote coffee roasters, based in East Dallas, have started making a nitro coffee using their 16-hour brewed cold-brew coffee. It’s available at LUCK, State Street Coffee, and Local Press + Brew.
What I’m loving now is the way Local Press + Brew has taken a next step, pairing the Noble Coyote nitro coffee they serve on tap with their own Nut Party nut milk/juice, a light and creamy blend of the meat and water of young coconuts.
The result is something terrific. If you’ve ever tried coconut milk in espresso, you know it brings out all the worst qualities of the coconut—its soapiness, its bitterness. The result is a disaster. This has no relation. Mingling the Nut Party with nitro coffee amplifies the effects of its creaminess. It’s not like a coffee sweetened with a flavored syrup, or the sweet, decadent jolt of condensed milk-spiked Thai or Vietnamese iced coffee. The coconut flavor is light and beautifully suited to the coffee’s subtleties. The nitrogen bubbles effervesce, scintillating ever so slightly, the coconut brings its gentle intrigue. It’s creamy but refreshing.
I’ve had a lot of cold-brew nitro coffee, but I love the way it met a new partner here. Cold-brew nitro finding its next iteration.