Untapped nitro cold brew potential

nitro cold brew

The Nescafé Nitro Cold Brew Coffee system from Nestlé Professional broadens a café’s menu while making nitro and cold brew more accessible.

Australians may love their lattes and flat whites, but their cold counterparts have seen an undeniable surge in  popularity, driven by demand from the younger demographics. 

In particular, cold brew has become a popular alternative, with a naturally sweeter and fruitier taste than iced coffee. According to independent data by StudyLogic Group, sales of cold brew in Australia grew 19.7 per cent between 2016 and 2017. Nitro cold brew, which is cold brew that has been infused with nitrogen for a creamier mouthfeel, grew a whopping 23.6 per cent.

Elisa Lau, Assistant Brand Manager, is leading the cold beverages platform within Nestlé Professional and says the trend has only grown since then.

“For both cold brew and nitro, we know that it’s still relatively niche, but we’ve seen a growing demand for it because it’s a nice, chilled and refreshing alternative to the hot coffees we usually get in Australia,” Elisa says.

“But the process of making cold brew is traditionally long and painful and can take up to 24 hours to brew. The pain point for operators looking to serve this is that they’re either brewing too much and have to throw away what hasn’t sold, or not making enough and are losing out on sales.”

In addition to that, nitro cold brew typically requires a nitrogen tank. The operational maintenance it brings with it, as well as the extra cost and logistics to refill the tank may put off many cafés from venturing in this space and profiting off this trend. 

In fact, its popularity will become even more prominent as we approach summer months and temperatures soar into the 30s.

“Coffee is such a staple in the Australian landscape and with summer coming, having a cold offering is definitely important,” Elisa says.

nitro cold brew
The Nescafé Nitro Cold Brew Coffee system makes nitro cold brew an option for any café.

“In the general out-of-home market, we know that 60 per cent of beverages sold are actually cold, and that’s something coffee shouldn’t miss out on.”

With all this in mind, Nestlé Professional looked at how it could make nitro cold brew accessible to more cafés and businesses, and consumers as a whole. Thus, the Nescafé Nitro Cold Brew Coffee system was born.

The compact tabletop machine roughly occupies the space of an A3 sheet of paper, making it easy to fit in any coffee bar or service area.

No plumbing is required. Instead, a pre-brewed cold brew concentrate is supplied for the operator to mix with water into a container. The coffee strength of the concentrate mix can be dialled up or down based on the operator’s liking. The container is then plugged into the Nescafé Nitro machine, ready for dispensing.

Rather than an external tank, the system then draws in air from the atmosphere and filter outs everything but nitrogen gas, which is infused into the cold brew before being dispensed out of a beer-like tap. Fun fact, nitrogen gas actually makes up the majority of the air we breathe.

“Nitro has a smoother finish and a thicker mouthfeel, with a rich and creamy head on top. When you get a cup of nitro, you’ll see a mesmerising cascade from of the microbubble movements in the cup. It’ll then break out into layers of different colours,” Elisa says.

“The way it’s dispensed is kind of like a beer, so even the pour of a nitro becomes part of an experiential coffee moment for the end consumer. Of course, the taste profile is different as well – it’s less acidic than your hot beverage and is naturally sweeter without adding any sugar.”

The Nescafé Nitro system allows cafés to serve both nitro and pure cold brew from one machine with the flick of a switch, catering to their consumer needs and improving their menu range without compromising on space.

With such a high level of flexibility, it is easy to find a fit for both cold brew and nitro coffee drinks in your menu with Nestlé Professional’s solution. 

“Cold brew is a great base for so many recipes and there’s so many avenues to customise the drink with,” Elisa says.

“You can serve it straight as a nitro or cold brew, or simply add a dash of syrup to make a whole new drink. Vanilla, macadamia, and flamed orange nitros or cold brews are some of the flavours we’ve played with recently. The last one tastes really nice for Jaffas lovers.

“We’ve also worked within the mixology space and see a great fit for this system. We’ve created recipes that businesses can use or be inspired by to create their own – alcoholic or not. With a novel drink like this and so many different applications, operators would also be able to make a premium margin for that nicer experience they provide.”

The Nescafé Nitro Cold Brew Coffee system launched in Australia in early 2020, with New Zealand to follow shortly. However, due to its popularity, Nestlé Professional has ran a soft launch on the back of 2019 to accelerate the project. 

nitro cold brew
Bubbles will move through a glass of nitro cold brew, giving it a mesmerising cascade effect.

“We’ve had such strong demand that we decided to move the launch a little forward,” Elisa says. “Most customers are really shocked they don’t need a nitrogen tank, because that removes a big operational limitation and amount of time spent on upkeep.

“Another thing that has been really well received is the concentrate. Not only does the product taste great, it is also a huge time saver so the venue can focus more on customer service and optimising their menus.”

With every installation, Nestlé Professional provides training on how to operate, maintain, and make the most of the machine – though Elisa says it is fairly straight forward. 

As a national foodservice and total beverage solutions provider, Nestlé Professional continues to support its Nescafé Nitro Cold Brew Coffee when it comes to promotions, activations and insights on upcoming trends.

“Serving a cold brew, nitro in particular, shows that you’re really leading that trend, and it helps differentiate you from the competition,” Elisa says.

“It particularly appeals to younger adults and millennials who aren’t just drinking their coffee for functionality and want a more exciting sensorial experience and coffee moment. That’s where the strength of nitro cold brew plays within the coffee business.”

 With young drinkers most drawn to cold beverages – coffee included – and the Nescafé Nitro Cold Brew Coffee system offering so much variety, Elisa sees it as a great gateway into getting more people to experiment with their coffee.

“The average coffee drinker journey starts with an iced coffee, whether that be an iced latte, iced mocha, or a cold brew. The shift to drinking more hot coffees occur as they mature up,” Elisa says.

“But Nitro cold brew fits really well with that market, and with the right promotions and consumer messaging, Nitro and Cold Brew will most definitely help build and shape up the next generation of coffee drinkers.”

Once the Nescafé Nitro Cold Brew Coffee system is settled in the market, Nestlé Professional plans to take its functionality even further, so more business can jump on the nitro trend. With a lot more plans and innovation on the horizon for 2021, Elisa says to get ready for the trend to ramp up. 

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This article appears in the December 2020 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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