Does Nitro Cold Brew Have More Caffeine Than Iced Coffee?

Drink menus have expanded in coffee shops throughout the years. What was once a choice between a simple hot coffee and iced coffee (with some lattes, flat whites, and cappuccinos thrown in for variety) has grown to include some fancy flavors, alternative milks, pouring styles, and infusions that have only recently caught on in the coffee-loving community. 


Cold brew and nitro cold brew are two spins on iced coffee that started popping up on menus in the 2000s. While the casual coffee drinker might assume cold brew and iced coffee are the same thing, they aren't. A connoisseur knows the two are prepared differently, and this process creates a pair of drinks with unique features. This distinction is made even sharper regarding your standard iced coffee and the charged-up nitro cold brew. That is due to the higher amount of caffeine the latter contains. While the differences don't stop there, nitro cold brew is for coffee drinkers who need that extra kick, but just how much extra are we talking? 

The breakdown of nitro cold brew and iced coffee

Understanding the higher caffeine content of nitro cold brew requires an understanding of what the drink is and how it is made. Nitro cold brew is a cold brew infused with nitrogen gas. Its production process starts off the same way as cold brew — coffee grounds are steeped in cold water for an extensive period—at least twelve hours—and then filtered and kept cool. After infusing the liquid with nitrogen gas to create a foamy layer on top, your cold brew will officially become nitro cold brew. 


On the other hand, iced coffee goes through the normal drip coffee process — hot water percolates through coffee grounds and is then cooled and served (that is, if you use a conventional coffee maker, though there are multiple ways to make coffee without one). While this method efficiently dilutes the coffee grounds into the hot water, the shorter time that the water absorbs the contents of the grounds means a less concentrated cup than a nitro cold brew. The less concentrated the coffee, the lower the caffeine content.

The differing results of differing production processes

Getting back to the original question, an 8-ounce serving of nitro cold brew will contain 100-200 mg of caffeine, where an iced coffee contains about 80-100 mg for the same serving size. But it's worth paying attention also to the other textural differences. Because of its nitrogen gas infusion, nitro cold brew has a foamy, velvety texture, similar to a draft beer. Iced coffee may be smooth, but it does not have that creamy, foamy quality. Additionally, because it goes through a longer steeping process, nitro cold brew may have a more robust, deep coffee flavor than iced coffee. 


This is not to say that nitro cold brew is better; when it comes to your choice of cold coffee, it is all a matter of personal taste. If a more potent pick-me-up is what you are looking for, though, a nitro cold brew is probably the way to go.