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Starbucks Is Taking This Hot Trend in Coffee to the Next Level

May 31, 2016, 2:21 PM UTC

Starbucks is bringing chemical element number seven to coffees around the country.

The coffee giant is introducing a spin on its cold brew coffees— the Nitro Cold Brew—to over 500 Starbucks stores by the end of the summer. When customers order the drink, they’ll be getting a nitrogen infused cold brew, served straight from the beer tap. According to Starbucks, the drink is similar to carbonated beverages, though with smaller bubbles. That makes the cold brew more creamy than bubbly, slightly sweet rather than bitter, and is served sans ice.

The beverage will be available in major cities across the U.S., starting with Seattle, Portland, New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the coffeehouse said in a press release. Coffees infused with Nitrogen are already being sold at some independent coffee shops as well as Caribou Coffee—though Starbucks certainly the largest chain to take the brewing style mainstream. A Tall Nitro Cold Brew (12 fl. oz.) costs $3.95 while the Grande (16 fl. oz.) is $4.45.

While traditional iced coffees brewed with hot water and served over ice, Starbucks’ cold brews are made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for 20 hours before serving.

Starbucks’ expanding portfolio of cold brew drinks is part of their attempt to compete with the so-called third wave of coffee, a growing culture that sees the drink more as an art than just a caffeinated beverage. The third wave has favored smaller, independently-owned coffeehouses that have unique ways of brewing and roasting, but larger chains including Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are also now trying to capitalize on the trend.


In 2014, Starbucks spent roughly $20 million to open its Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle, a “shrine” aimed at the coffee aficionado. It also expects the category of cold coffee to double in the next three years.

“According to [market research firm Mintel and Starbucks], U.S. iced coffee consumption has grown by 75% in the past decade and Cold Brew sales grew 338.9% between 2010 and 2015,” Starbucks’ Tuesday press release stated.

Starbucks is also adding two other drinks to its cold brew portfolio, “Cold Brew with Vanilla Sweet Cream,” a traditional Starbucks Cold Brew topped with house-made vanilla cream, and Starbucks DoubleShot, a chilled espresso with milk and a touch of sweetness.