All the cool kids are doing it.
Coffee on tap is a trend that took off in a big way. Poured like pints of beer and served with or without ice, kegs of cold brew are popping up in specialty coffee shops everywhere. And since our Florida summer is hot and seemingly never-ending, I decided to install a cold brew kegerator as part of our home coffee bar.
You have to drink a lot of cold brew to make such an investment worthwhile, but with 4 adults in the house we go through about 2.5 gallons every week. The convenience of delicious ready-to-pour coffee would make the avid K-cup fanatic jealous, and the full-bodied brew is packed with rich flavor, despite the low acidity inherent in this brew method.
Getting Started with Cold Brew
Setting up a cold brew tap is pretty simple, thanks to the popularity of home kegerators for beer enthusiasts. My Kegco Javarator Cold-Brew Coffee Dispenser is not much different than a standard beer tap, but it uses nitrogen rather than CO2 to charge the keg. Nitrogen is less soluble than CO2, and since we’re not looking for carbonated coffee, nitro is the way to go.
Working with pressurized gas inside the home is no relaxing task. There’s a lot of power crammed into a 20 cubic foot nitrogen canister, and this was my first experience using a regulator. I wasn’t ready to fill my own kegs as soon as the tap was setup, so a big thanks to Frank from Golden Hills Coffee for hooking me up with a couple kegs of his Florida Cold Brew. It helped me get used to the equipment without worrying about the coffee.
Why Not Nitro?
I went into this fully expecting to crank up the gas, going for that frothy, cascading texture that only a nitro tap can provide. I ordered a stout tap to swap out with the standard beer faucet, asked around for nitrogen pressure recommendations, and then ran into issues getting my new tap installed. I’m uncertain if there are slight, uncharacteristic differences in spec that keep the stock shank from connecting properly with the new tap, but I learned to keep a towel handy when tinkering with the equipment.
After a few coffee geysers, I asked myself why I was trying to change what already worked. We enjoy our cold brew over ice, so nitro texture isn’t necessary or even desired. I decided to keep the standard faucet, maintain a softer nitrogen pressure of 10-15psi, and enjoy the chill of iced coffee complete with the cold brew flavor profile I love.
Cold Brew #1: Brazil Bob-o-Link
It’s only fitting that once I was ready to keg my own brew, I chose one of my favorite cold brews: Brazil Bob-o-Link from PERC Coffee. I’ve featured this coffee before with the Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Maker, but this time I was using a much larger commercial Toddy to brew 5 lbs of coffee in one batch. The house smelled amazing, to say the least!
Brewing such a large batch of Toddy concentrate was a lot of fun, and pouring it into kegs, along with a 3:1 ratio of filtered water, was even more fun. There was a magical moment of satisfaction when, after hooking up the first of my two kegs, I pulled back the lever and poured my first glass. It was rich and smooth, with a dark cocoa taste that I just love in cold brew, and it continued to delight day after day.
There will be plenty of cold brew in our future, and next time I’ll grab some photos during the brewing and kegging process. Readers: do you have a favorite cold brew coffee? And what’s your take on nitro vs. no-nitro? (As a wise man once said, comment section FTW…)