Summertime is cold brew season, and no cold brew is trendier than nitro cold brew.
Nitro cold brew is essentially cold brewed coffee infused with nitrogen gas and dispensed out of a tap. The result is smooth, lightly-carbonated beverage that drinks like Guinness, and is now so ubiquitous that you can find it at Starbuck’s nationwide.
Since it requires nitrogen gas and a tap, one place you can’t typically find nitro cold brew is in somebody’s home. But uKeg Nitro, a new device on Kickstarter from Portland, OR-based company GrowlerWerks, is aiming to change that. The device lets at-home baristas brew, store, and pour nitro cold brew coffee on their countertop.
To brew, users can either brew their own cold brew in the keg itself or just fill it with pre-made cold brew coffee. Charge the keg cap with Nitro gas, let the pressure build to desired carbonation level, shake to infuse the gas throughout, and that cold brew is ready to pour. The homemade nitro cold brew will stay fresh and carbonated for two weeks.
Suggested retail price for the uKeg Nitro is $199. Early backers can get it for $169, along with two Nitro gas chargers, four coffee filter bags, a coffee funnel and a drip mat. Considering that nitro cold brew often goes for at least $5 a pop at trendy coffee shops, the uKeg Nitro could actually pay for itself in just one summer (though you still have to buy the coffee beans themselves).
Clearly I’m not the only one intrigued by GrowlerWerks’ new product. The uKeg Kickstarter launched on June 5th and reached its $75,000 goal within 90 minutes. At the time of this writing, the uKeg has raised just over $262,000 with one month left to go.
As cold brew rises in popularity, companies large and small are husting to provide solutions to make it at home. PicoBrew has cold brew capabilities for the Pico Z and Pico C. Cuisinart and Dash have devices that will let you make a cup of cold brew — which typically takes at least 12 hours — in just 30 minutes (with varying degrees of success).
I never quite got why people would pay for a device to make cold brew when it’s so easy to do at home: cover ground coffee with water, let sit overnight, and boom — cold brew. (Maybe that’s why the Gravity Cold Brew Coffee Maker failed to meet its Kickstarter goal.) However, the uKeg Nitro adds an extra benefit that most people couldn’t DIY: the creamy fizziness of nitro. Its booming Kickstarter shows that there’s clearly consumer demand for more accessible, affordable nitro cold coffee, especially as summer rolls in.
GrowlerWerks is aiming to ship the uKeg Nitro in early October of this year. As always with crowdfunded hardware projects, there’s a risk that the uKeg won’t meet that October ship date — or even ship at all. However, GrowlerWerks already launched their original uKeg product (for beer, not coffee) on Kickstarter in 2014, which raised over $1.5 million.
While they had a few production hiccups, hopefully GrowlerWerks can leverage the lessons they’ve learned over the past three years — as well as their existing manufacturing partners — to make sure the same problems don’t happen with the uKeg Nitro.