At Keg Outlet we are on a mission to make sure you have the best nitro coffee experience possible. Not only do we provide you with the best Nitro Kegging System on the market; but we give you The Ultimate Guide To Cold Brew & Serving Draft that takes you step by step through the brewing process. However, we feel we haven’t done enough to ensure beyond a shadow of a doubt that your nitro coffee experience will be EPIC. So, we went to the Keg Outlet R&D Department (Brendan & Cary) and asked that they find us the perfect glass for nitro coffee. Thankfully, they were both up for the challenge.
Why Does The Glass Matter For Nitro Coffee?
There are three things to consider when looking for a glass that will give you the perfect nitro pour: will it give a good cascading pour, will it allow the bubbles to freely move to the top of the glass, and does it showcase a creamy, frothy head.
Good Cascading Pour
One of the most important factors is that the glass must provide the best cascading pour possible. When you pour a nitro coffee, you want to see the waterfall of nitro bubbles working their way through the coffee. Not only is it visually pleasing to watch but it’s the bubbles that give nitro coffee its unique texture and enhanced flavor.
The shape of the glass can influence the cascading pour. Here’s an example to illustrate this influence. A pint glass that slopes outward at the top of the glass, will cause a larger number of nitrogen bubbles to concentrate in the center of the glass and fewer on the outside. So the coffee on the outside edge of the glass has a higher density of bubbles than the center of the glass.
Allows The Bubbles To Freely Flow
The perfect glass for nitro coffee will allow the bubbles to freely move throughout the pour. Nitrogen bubbles are smaller than carbon dioxide bubbles. This is why the shape of the glass is so important. Some shapes will cause the bubbles to catch along the glass and not allow them to move back to the top to form a good head.
If you notice bubbles sticking along the side of your glass, it might not be the shape but just a dirty glass. The slightest changes can affect the flow of nitrogen bubbles. The oil from your skin, or traces of fat from food crossover, can hinder the free flow of the bubbles. Even water droplets can catch nitro bubbles, so be sure and dry the glass thoroughly after washing it.
Showcases A Creamy, Frothy Head
A glass that showcases a good solid head will help maintain the frothy mouthfeel with every sip of nitro coffee. Nitro bubbles form a firm head, and the properties of the glass you use can influence how clearly the head will form and how much it will influence the coffee’s texture.
Part of the enjoyment of nitro coffee is the aesthetics of a firm head. That’s why it’s so disappointing to see vendors serving nitro coffee in a plastic cup with a straw, Yikes!
Experimenting With Different Types Of Glasses For The Perfect Nitro Coffee Pour
Brendan and Cary recorded an episode of Drips & Draughts podcast, discussing their experience with different types of glasses and which one was the best for pouring nitro coffee. They experimented with six different types of glasses and shared the pros and cons of several favorites.
We know that you can pour nitro coffee into anything you have, but the challenge is to find the perfect glass that captures all three of the criteria we’ve laid out. Which glass will be the perfect one?
Goblets are described as having a wide mouth with rounded bottoms and typically have verticle sides. While the goblet worked well, there was not as much cascading effect since the goblet is not a very tall glass. This limited the cascading pour to 1/2 to 1 inch. So, the goblet is not the perfect glass for nitro coffee.
The pilsner glass is a very tall, slender glass that tapers down to the bottom. The thin and tall combo makes it a great glass for nitro coffee. It gives a long waterfall affect making it visually a great nitro coffee experience.
Pint glasses have wide openings and taper to the bottom. There are two types, the 16 oz shaker pint glass that’s conical shaped and the 20 oz imperial pint glass that has a similar shape but features a bulge a few inches from the top. Both types are good for nitro coffee and provide a good cascading pour.
Because of the conical shape, the nitro bubbles are not able to dissipate as quickly, making for a good waterfall effect.
Snifter or Cognac Glass
The snifter or cognac glass has a wide bottom and narrow top. It’s mostly used for drinking bourbon, brandy, and whiskey. The design may work well for spirits but not for nitro coffee. The bowl shape hinders the cascading effect of a nitro pour because the nitro bubbles have to fill up more area as they go down.
The cascade that does occur is hidden in the center of the pour because of the narrow top. So, the snifter isn’t recommended for nitro coffee.
The tulip glass is stemmed and tightens in the middle, opening up at the mouth. It’s similar to the sifter but flares out at the top. The bowl makes it great for beer, allowing you to swirl the beer to release the aromas. Even with the slight difference of the flared top, the pour is identical to the sifter glass and not recommended for nitro coffee.
Tom Collins Glass
The Tom Collins glass is a tumbler, usually 10 to 14 oz, which is the perfect size for a glass of nitro coffee. The narrow, tall cylindrical shape means there is no expansion that has to be filled, creating a solid waterfall for the perfect nitro pour. Since the glass doesn’t taper at any point, the bubbles do not get caught on the sides, allowing them to freely push to the top of the glass for a fully defined head.
So, for our vote, the Pint Glass or Tom Collins-style glass is the Perfect Glass For Nitro Coffee! The shape of the pint glass with the narrowing taper really seems to accentuate and enhance the cascade effect, whereas the cascade seems to get a bit lost in a glass that goes from narrow to wide.
Want To Serve Your Own Cold Brew Nitro Coffee On Draft?
We’ve shared with you the perfect glass for pouring nitro coffee, so let us also share the perfect guide for brewing and serving nitro coffee: The Ultimate Guide To Cold Brew & Serving Coffee On Draft ebook. Our guide will take you step by step through the process of brewing a great batch of cold brew coffee. It also outlines how to set up for nitro coffee and the best way to serve it all year round.