Wanna power up your day with some nitro to turbocharge your morning commute?
Before you swing into that drive-thru lane, let’s look at how much caffeine is in your Starbucks nitro cold brew.
What Is Nitro Coffee?
Nitro coffee is cold brew infused with nitrogen gas.
Typically, a pressurized keg will pump the gas into the cold brew. The bubbles created by nitrogen are small, lending the drink a creamy texture rather than a harsh carbonation.
Most coffee shops that offer nitro cold brew serve it from a tap. But you can also purchase cans of nitro cold brews.
Nitro cold brew coffee arrived on the third-wave bean scene in the early 2010’s. There’s some dispute about the drink’s exact origins. Most people credit nitro coffee to Nate Armburst at Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
Regardless of where it originated, this nitro cold brew has quickly gained popularity. But why?
Nitrogen gas has a naturally sweet taste. The long process of cold brewing extracts a deep chocolatey flavor from the coffee beans. Combining this gas with cold brew coffee creates a drink with a rich, subtly sweet flavor.
Nitro cold brew coffee also has a lower acidity and milder taste than iced coffee.
And in the age of the influencer, we can’t overlook the visual appeal of nitro cold brew coffee. As the cold coffee is infused with nitrogen gas, the drink develops an attractive ombre.
Straight out of the tap, nitro cold brew coffee looks similar to a frothy pint of Guinness. It is a deep amber liquid with a dense cream-colored foam head. The mouthfeel is also similar to that of the Irish stout. Smooth, creamy, with a robust dark coffee taste.
Nitro cold brew is served black, without ice. Personally, I don’t think you need to add milk or any kind of sugar. The nitro cream mimics the taste of these additions. I think of it as black coffee for people who don’t like black coffee.
(Reducing the amount of milk and sugar in your cup of joe is an easy way to reduce calories per drink.)
But it’s your beverage. Make it something you enjoy!
Because nitro cold brews require additional equipment (namely, a pressurized keg), your local coffee shop might not offer these drinks.
If you’re averse to supporting the local Starbucks, fret not. Coffee lovers can create this frothy texture using a cream whipper and nitrogen cartridges. No fancy keg required.
Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew Caffeine Content
A grande nitro cold brew contains 280 mg of caffeine per 16 fl oz.
This measurement is according to official Starbucks nutritional information. How much caffeine Starbucks nitro contains will vary depending on customizations you can make to the beverages.
You can also order this drink as a tall. At 12 oz, this slightly smaller cup will give you the same frothy texture and 215 mg of caffeine.
Just a heads up, your local Starbucks probably won’t serve you a venti nitro cold brew. Officially, this beverage only comes in two sizes: tall or grande.
The company claims that serving the drink in a larger size will cause the cream to go flat. (I wonder if it’s more to do with the caffeination kick in the beverage. But that’s just me speculating.)
Related Read: Nitro Cold Brew Caffeine
Is the Caffeine in Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew High?
Since nitro cold brew is a relatively new addition to the coffee scene, it’s difficult to say if Starbucks nitro cold brew contains as much caffeine as others.
If you purchase it in cans, you should be able to find caffeine info under the nutritional facts.
If your local coffee shop sells nitro cold brew, they might not be able to provide an exact measurement. But ask them how they make the nitro.
Since nitrogen does not change caffeination, the nitro brew will have the same amount of caffeine as the cold brew if they use the same batch for both purposes.
Does Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew Contain More Caffeine Than Cold Brew?
Yes. Compared to a regular cup of cold brew, Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew contains an additional 50 mg caffeine.
A tall (12 fl oz) cold brew contains 155 mg of caffeine. A tall nitro cold brew contains 215 mg. In other words, 60 mg more caffeine.
A grande (16 fl oz) cold brew coffee contains 205 mg of caffeine. A nitro cold brew of the same size contains 75 mg more, at 280 mg.
Nitro coffee, by definition, does not need to contain more caffeine than regular cold brew. It just needs the infusion of nitrogen… which doesn’t change coffee’s caffeine content.
So we must assume that Starbucks uses a different batch of cold brew coffee to create the nitro variant.
Starbucks also sells vanilla nitro cold brew, topped with sweet cream. The caffeine amount varies only slightly, at 265 mg for a 16 oz vanilla nitro. The additional caffeine amount is presumably thanks to the sweet cream.
All of this being said, Starbucks serves its cold brew coffee in a 30 oz size, known as a trenta. (Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew is not available in this size.) A trenta cold brew contains 360 mg of caffeine.
But when you compare beverages of equal serving sizes, nitro has a higher caffeine content than regular cold brew.
Is Nitro Cold Brew At Starbucks the Most Caffeinated Drink?
Surprisingly, no. Nitro cold brew is not the most caffeinated drink at Starbucks locations.
By serving size, the Veranda Blend freshly brewed coffee is the most caffeinated drink at the global coffee chain.
Several factors influence cup caffeination: bean type, roast profile, and brew method. Here is where roast comes into play.
Arabica beans contain less caffeine than robusta beans. But Starbucks only uses arabica beans for its drinks. So bean type isn’t a variable here.
Brew method changes many factors such as grind size, extraction time, and whether you use hot or cold water. Typically, cold brews are the most caffeinated thanks to a long steep time.
But we can’t forget about roast profile. I’ll sum up some complicated science very quickly: the lighter the roast the more caffeine.
The Veranda Blend is the lightest roasted bean at Starbs, claiming mellow & soft tasting notes. And yep, it is the most caffeinated cup of java on the menu.
A 16 oz cup of freshly brewed Veranda Blend contains 360 mg of caffeine.
A venti Veranda Blend gives you a staggering 475 mg of caffeine per 20 fl oz. That’s 75 mg more than the FDA’s recommended limit of 400 mg caffeine per day. So you might want to think twice before you buy that second cup.
Let’s look at a few other drinks available.
A fresh brew of Pike Place blend gives you 310 mg per 16 oz cup. Meanwhile, a 16 oz cup of Starbucks Dark Roast contains 260 mg. (You can see that caffeination decreases as the roasts get darker.)
How about espresso drinks? The company measures a single, or short, shot of espresso as containing 33 mg. A double, or doppio, shot contains 66 mg. Adding milk or water doesn’t change the drink’s caffeine content.
Keep in mind, all of these measurements assume you’ve ordered a standard cup — i.e. no extra espressos, sweet cream, or five pumps of mocha sauce.
Original or sweet cream? It doesn’t matter. Nitro cold brew is a luxurious coffee experience. Infusing cold brew with nitrogen creates a silky sweet foam that will cool you down — and caffeinate you — in style.
A tall Starbucks nitro cold brew contains 215 mg of caffeine. That’s over half the FDA-recommended daily limit.
Remember, consuming too much caffeine may cause health issues. If you feel the effects of over-caffeination but still want to drink coffee, you might want to avoid this particular java drink.