Why a Nitro Cold Brew Has So Much Caffeine in It

nitro cold brew

Does a nitro cold brew contain more caffeine than other coffee drinks? This distinctive brew is reputed to possess a significantly high caffeine level. But is this claim valid? If so, what are the reasons for the greater caffeine content in the nitro cold brew?

Nitro cold brew has more caffeine in it than most coffee drinks because the cold brewing process extracts more caffeine from the coffee beans than other brewing methods, and also because the nitro cold brew is served without any ice, which leaves the drink more concentrated and with more caffeine per ounce than regular drip coffee.

In this article, I'll cover exactly how much caffeine is in nitro cold brew, why that caffeine is there, and how the amount of caffeine in the nitro cold brew compares to other coffee drinks.

But first, we need to talk about what exactly nitro cold brew is.

What is Nitro Cold Brew?

A common misconception that many people have and I myself had for a while is that cold brew and iced coffee are the same thing. When it turns out that although they’re similar, they are 2 separate drinks.

Iced coffee is made by brewing a strong pot of coffee and then pouring it over ice, hence the name “iced coffee.” Cold brew coffee is made by soaking coffee beans overnight in room temperature or cold water. So it actually never undergoes a brewing process with hot water, hence the name “cold brew.”

During the cold brewing process, the coarsely ground coffee beans will sit in the water for anywhere from 12-24 hours depending on how strong the brewer wants the coffee to be, since the longer they soak, the darker the cold brew will be. (Starbucks soaks their cold brew beans for 20 hours)

After this the beans are strained out and the cold brew is placed in a keg to be poured out and drunk.

In 2015 Starbucks put a twist on traditional cold brew by inventing a drink called “nitro cold brew.” Nitro cold brew is cold brew that's infused with nitrogen as it leaves its keg and pours into your cup.

The nitrogen adds froth and bubbles to the drink, making it look more like a Guinness on tap than a coffee. It also makes the cold brew taste much richer, creamier, and slightly sweeter than it normally would. Apparently, the nitro bubbles and foam don’t settle right in larger cups, so if you're getting a nitro cold brew at Starbucks you can only order it in tall (12oz) and grande (16oz) sizes. A venti (24oz) nitro cold brew is unavailable.

Why Nitro Cold Brew Has so Much Caffeine in It

Starbucks Nitro cold brew has about 17.5 mg of caffeine in it per oz. This means that the tall (12oz) size has 215 mg of caffeine in it and the grande (16oz) size has 280 mg.

That's a lot of caffeine in one drink. The average cup of coffee only has 100mg of caffeine in it, and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recommends that most adults drink no more than 400mg of caffeine per day.

But while the nitro cold brew does have a lot of caffeine in it, and is one of Starbuck's most caffeinated drinks, it actually isn’t as highly caffeinated as many people think.

Because the drink is so strong tasting and higher in caffeine than regular cold brew, rumors have started that it’s the most caffeinated drink on the Starbucks menu and more than double the caffeine of regular coffee.

While these rumors make the drink seem exciting, they’re just not true. Nitro Cold brew does have more caffeine in it than regular cold brew, and most coffees, but Starbuck's normal drip coffee light roast and medium pike roast both have more caffeine in them than nitro cold brew.

The light roast coffee has a whopping 22.5mg of caffeine per oz and the pike roast a respectable 19.4mg.

To help give you a better understanding of the amount of caffeine in a nitro cold brew and how it compares to other popular Starbucks drinks, I created the table below.

Caffeine Content of Popular Grande Size Starbucks Drinks

starbucks drinks caffeine content

Why Nitro Cold Brew Has More Caffeine than Most Regular Coffee

While Starbuck's regular coffee is high in caffeine, nitro cold brew has more caffeine in it than most regular drip coffees. The reason that cold brew usually has more caffeine than regular coffee is because of the way it’s brewed.

During the brewing process of most coffee drinks like regular drip coffee, espresso, and iced coffee, the hot water is only in contact with the coffee beans for a short amount of time. A few minutes at most.

But because the coffee beans in cold brew are soaked in water for hours, at times up to a day, more oils, caffeine, and flavor is extracted from the beans and ends up in the final drink.

This is why all cold brew, nitro or not, usually has more caffeine per oz than regular coffee.

It's also much easier to drink cold brew fast than it is to drink hot coffee fast, which can mean a quicker consumption of caffeine and feeling the effects of it more.

Why Nitro Cold Brew Has More Caffeine than Regular Cold Brew

While a grande (16oz) nitro cold brew has 280mg of caffeine in it, a regular cold brew only has 205mg. The interesting thing is that nitro doesn’t add any caffeine to the cold brew. So why is there more caffeine in nitro cold brew than a regular cold brew?

It’s because nitro cold brew has no ice in it, so a 16oz cup of it is all nitro cold brew, while a 16oz cup of regular cold brew is partially ice. So there is just more liquid in a cup of nitro cold brew and therefore more caffeine.

Final Thoughts

Cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen, known as nitro cold brew, has a creamier and sweeter taste than a regular cold brew and is higher in caffeine than most other coffee drinks because of how cold brew is made and because it’s served without ice.

However, it isn’t the most caffeinated drink out there and has less caffeine per ounce than the regular drip coffee blonde and pike roast at Starbucks.

If you’re a nitro cold brew fan or would like to try the drink for the first time, you can get cans of Starbucks nitro cold brew black unsweetened, with vanilla sweet cream, or with dark caramel flavoring on Amazon here.

I hope this article was helpful for you! If you’d like to learn more about Starbucks, cold brew, and pretty much anything else coffee, be sure to check out the rest of my website!

Have a great day!


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