Bringing science to the cafe: Nitro coffee

explores Bison Coffee House’s new product: Nitro cold brew coffee

Image: Joe Walker (Bison Coffee House)

Currently a big hit over in America, nitro cold brew coffee is slowly making its way into the UK. Joe Walker from Bison Coffee House wanted to bring this new concept of draught coffee to York. Bison Coffee House is a small, independent, family run café on Heslington Road.

Joe took on this side project of ‘Nitro Coffee’ by first researching how to do it. The only place nearby that offers this is in Sheffield; he went to try the special cold brew coffee to see if it was worth experimenting with himself. Satisfied that he could make this work himself, Joe took on the job of brewing coffee at home and adding nitrogen gas with different blends of coffee beans for three months to perfect the blend which is currently on sale. In this time he also built his own serving machine which is essentially a mini ‘cellar’ fridge, with a draught tap on the outside to serve coffee from.

The process starts with brewing coffee beans in cold water for eighteen hours; this slowly extracts the flavour of the beans without releasing the bitterness you might associate with regular hot coffee. Once brewed, the coffee water that is left needs to be filtered three times to make sure it is at its purest. It is then added to kegs and those kegs of coffee are infused with nitrogen gas. It is worth noting that this scientific process is 100% safe for consumption unlike, liquid nitrogen.

What Joe found during his blending experiments, was that by adding nitrogen gas to the coffee it made the finished product creamier and gave it a smooth head. Nitrogen gas is more commonly infused into stouts such as Guinness, which is recognised for its creamy taste compared with the usual fizz of other draught beers or lagers. If you try one of Bison’s ‘cold brew nitro coffees, you will find that the coffee behaves in a very similar way to a Guinness that you might be served in a pub; it is poured from the draught tap and needs time to settle and then produces a lovely creamy cold coffee with a smooth head to top it off.

Since the process of nitro coffee uses no cream, sugar or milk, the product is vegan and certainly healthier than the alternative. In addition to this, and possibly the best part, is that nitro coffee has a higher caffeine content so it is great for when you’ve got a busy day, rammed full of lectures and seminars. Or even for those days where you know you’ve left your work till last minute and are going to need something to get you through a long day in the library.

The current flavour of coffee bean used for the cold brew is from Bolivia, with dark chocolate cookie and treacle notes. Joe is incredibly passionate and excited about his new product, and he is looking forward to you coming to try it so he can start to experiment with different flavours over the coming months.

Bison Coffee has been up and running since 2011 and is already a hotspot for students and locals alike. They regularly host gig nights, with live music from up and coming bands from the University of York. In addition to the hot and cold coffee on offer, they also of- fer Brown & Blonde brownies (a personal favourite and absolute must-try), pastries, light bites, and cater for vegans and vegetarians.

Its interior has a cosy atmosphere and vintage-America vibes. Bison only use coffee beans from Has Bean Coffee company and they regularly change their beans to a different part of the world, ranging from Kenya to Bolivia.