The Hippo


Oct 21, 2019








Nitro cold brew coffee at A&E. Courtesy photo.

Try nitro cold brew coffee

Where: A&E Coffee and Tea, 135 NH 101A, Amherst; 1000 Elm St., Manchester
See: 578-3338,
Where: Breaking Bean Coffee, 3 High St., Hampton
See: 601-2912,

Caffeine on tap
New coffee trend comes to NH

By Allie Ginwala

 While it may look like a beer, that dark and creamy drink coming from a tap in the middle of the counter at A&E Coffee and Tea is, in fact, nitro cold brew coffee, one of the newest coffee trends to hit the state.

Emeran Langmaid, owner of A&E Coffee and Tea, first saw nitro cold brew coffee as a trend popular on the West Coast that has continued to make its way east. Rachel Niemi, manager at the Manchester cafe, spearheaded the process to bring nitro cold brewing to A&E’s Manchester and Amherst locations.
“We wanted a way to introduce [it] and have this cold brew, but kind of elevate it to the next level,” Niemi said.
Offering a different taste profile than coffee drinkers are used to, nitro cold brew coffee comes off a tap just like a nitrogenated beer, so people may be familiar with the concept, but not in the coffee world.
Nitro trending
Niemi started researching the equipment and installation needed for nitro brewing last winter and by early spring was figuring out ratios and coffee blends to see what tasted best. 
“And then from there figuring out if it would translate into cold brew and then translate into nitro, because it’s such a process,” she said.
During the trial-and-error period, Niemi made test batches to create what is now their standard nitro blend. She started with their iced coffee blend — because she already knew it tasted great cold — and tweaked it from there. 
While she was testing the process, Niemi worked in the cafe basement without the full system setup. 
“It was a little difficult,” she said. “We had a tap hooked up to it, and I was just going down and testing it every few days, seeing how long it took to gas up, the ideal range of how much gas we should be putting into the actual product. Once we got the systems installed we could really go from there.”
Langmaid said her hand in the process really came in terms of getting the systems, and backup systems, up and running. 
“We had to change our counter, get the componentry for both locations, and then get all the componentry for the backups,” she said. “Things that are totally foreign to us in the coffee world but are just standard in the bar world.”
They worked with Blue Line Draft to set up a whole host of new equipment, including the kegerator, taps, gas tanks, regulators and kegs, and also to make sure everything was lined up and cleaned properly.
From keg to glass
Making nitro cold brew coffee is not a job for the impatient. The entire process takes over two and a half days, starting with cold brewing the coffee. A&E steeps the coffee in cold water for 18 hours (the suggested range for this process is 12 to 24 hours, but Niemi said 18 hours seems to be the best for what they want the end concentrate to be). After that, the coffee concentrate goes through a double filtration process before it goes into the keg.
“You take the cold brew, you put it into the keg, then we dilute it with water. It’s a very concentrated cold brew,” Niemi said. “Then we tap the keg, essentially.”
They add the gas, which takes two days to get the proper amount of nitrogen, bringing a slight carbonation to enhance the freshness.
“[Then] after two days you pull it right off the tap, and it pulls just like any Guinness or nitrogenated beer,” she said. 
When poured, the coffee looks just like a beer, the cascade effect clearly visible as the glass is filling, ending with a creamy head on top.
“Most people think it’s going to be really heavy and sit really heavy on your palate,” she said. “Actually, the body starts out like a stout and it really brightens up at the end.”
Ideally it’s served in-house in a chilled glass, just like you would do with a beer. 
“We wanted people to treat it like a beer. You wouldn’t put ice in a beer, you wouldn’t put a straw in a beer,” Niemi said. “So to get the full experience you really want to sit down and enjoy it in a glass.”
Coffee community reaction
Recently, cold brew coffee has become trendy in the coffee world (Starbucks now offers it on their menu) but overall, nitro cold brew is still relatively unfamiliar to many people. 
Heide Conlin, owner of Breaking Bean Coffee in Hampton, knew she wanted to have nitro cold brew coffee on the menu when she opened in June.
“[I] wanted to set myself a little apart from everybody else,” she said in a phone interview. 
She put the tap right in the middle of her shop. A few days before the grand opening, she started getting texts and phone calls from people who saw it through the window.
“So I started giving out samples,” she said. “I’m always one for just kind of changing it up a little bit so it’s not stagnant, trying to be a little edgy and cool and different, and this definitely has put me in a [good] position in this area.”
“I would say people that enjoy a ... nitrogenated beer would be drawn to it more,” Niemi said, “but I don’t think it alienates those people who don’t drink beer. If you’re not a beer drinker or not 21, people can definitely get behind it.” 

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