Cold brew is the easiest, most foolproof way to make amazing coffee (seriously, all you need to do is fill a $6 cloth bag with coarse-ground coffee, put it in a pitcher of water overnight, squeeze it out in the morning and discard the grinds).
There are all sorts of weird gadgets you can use to make cold-brew and I've tried most of them and there's nothing wrong with the coffee they make, but it's no improvement over a cloth bag for taste, and they're all a lot harder to clean up after.
But there is one technological improvement on cold brew that I really enjoy: nitrogen infusion. For at least a year, Stumptown (now a part of a megacorp that includes Intelligentisa and Peet's Coffee, thanks to an aggressive series of hedge-fund deals that also rolled up Einstein Bros, Caribou Coffee and Apartheid profiteers Jacobs Douwe Egberts) has been distributing nitrogen-fuelled draft pumps to coffee shops.
My local shop has one of these, and I've become very fond of nitro brew as a result. The draft system gives it a velvety texture and head reminiscent of a Guinness, and the baristas claim that the nitrogen gets the caffeine into your bloodstream faster, which may or may not be true, but it certainly gets my engine revving, even more than is usual with the lethally caffeinated cold-brew.
Now, Starbucks is getting in on the game, rolling out nitro systems to shops in six cities this summer, including LA. As you might expect, they're also serving a version of nitro that has been effectively turned into a high-calorie milkshake.
Starbucks didn't say exactly when this summer the nitro coffee will become available. To start, it will not be available in licensed locations, such as those in Target and grocery stores.
Starbucks also is launching a cold brew topped with vanilla sweet cream, in hopes of continuing the sales jump it saw from the introduction of cold brew last year, and a beverage that features a double shot of espresso on ice, lightly sweetened and served with a dollop of milk.
Starbucks bets on nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee
[Samantha Bomkamp/LA Times]
(Image: Nitro cold brew, T.Tseng, CC-BY)