Nitrogen carbonated beers have carved a niche for beer aficionados, and now it’s overflowing into the coffee world as well. Made popular by Stumptown Coffee of Portland, this innovative new way to drink java has instilled a bar-like quality into cafes across the nation. The drink is served on draft, making for a creamier and richer alternative to traditionally strong and often bitter cold brew.
While its been generally reserved as an in-store experience, nitro coffee is expanding to the ready-to-drink beverage category. The price point for nitro coffee on-the-go is expected to be higher than your typical single-serve coffees, as the product typically calls for widget-equipped packaging – the same as we see used in canned Guinness beers. This doesn’t seem to deter consumers, because there are a rising amount of companies starting to offer nitro cold brews that aren’t only available on draft.
As leaders in the movement, Stumptown offers a canned nitro cold brew that is available in select cafes and stores. The nitro variety stands apart as the only canned product (all others are contained in cartons or bottles). The word “Nitro” is a strong callout typeset against a white background on top of the can, with the logo and additional information taking secondary hierarchy. It’s a classic and simple design that definitely stands apart from other ready to drink coffees in store refrigerator shelves.
La Colombe is another coffee company trying its hand at retail nitro coffee. Sold in a four pack, the design of the “Draft Latte” is elegant and minimalistic. On package, no mention is made of the carbonation method. Instead, the brand chooses to tout the frothed milk and cold-pressed espresso – promising a rich and flavorful coffeehouse experience. In taking this approach, the message becomes more about the genuine quality of a great latte as opposed to focusing on the rising trend of nitro coffee.
Cuvée Coffee of Austin, Texas takes a strong positioning on its canned nitro coffee, with impactful illustration on package and in-your-face copy to back it up. Named BevNet’s Best Packaging Innovation of 2015, it’s making a splash in the category for taste and design. “It’s really the first time in “third-wave coffee” where a shelf-stable format is truly a straight replica of something you’d buy in the shop.” (BevNet) The Black and Blue cans look out of place with other RTD coffees, as though it may have gotten lost on its way to the beer section, but implies that it packs more of a punch than any other cold brews on shelf.
With most of the options for nitro cold brew reserved to local markets, we’re anticipating seeing them on shelf in more locations, and possibly in some structures that step outside of the can.