Cold coffees gain traction on menus

Photograph: Shutterstock

Cold coffees in various forms have been gaining traction across the restaurant spectrum, from QSR to fine dining.

These beverages can include Iced Coffee, which has been popular for years, but operators and coffee roasters are now experimenting with more specialty varieties, including multiple types of cold brew coffees, like Nitro Coffees and Nitro Teas infused with nitrogen and other gasses.

Mentions of cold brew coffee have been increasing on menus over the last several years, and now appear on about 2% of menus nationwide, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor.

Nitro Coffee, as it is often called, only appears on a handful of restaurant menus—about 0.2%, but it’s been on a similar growth trajectory, particularly in coffee shops, fast-casual restaurants and quick-service outlets. As the systems that are used to produce these cold coffee products become more user-friendly, specialty cold coffees such as Nitro Coffee may be poised to expand more rapidly in other restaurant segments, including family and casual dining,

Some casual restaurants have incorporated cold brew into their bar menus, such as the Red Star Tavern in Portland, Ore. The restaurant launched a non-alcoholic Cold Brew Old Fashioned earlier this year, combining cold brew coffee with bitters, salted maple and orange peel.

Some recent operators that have added nitro coffee to their menus include Offerdahl’s Off the Grill, a six-unit fast-casual chain in southern Florida specializing in healthy fare, and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, which recently introduced a Midnight Mocha Nitro Cold Brew Latte, described as a “perfectly balanced beverage that’s dark and delicious.”

“Part of the appeal of nitro coffees is that they produce a creamy head with a velvety, smooth mouthfeel like a Guinness®”, said Chairil McClain, Director of Product Management and Product Strategy at BUNN.

Among the challenges for operators seeking to add cold brew or nitro coffee to their menus is that the process of making the beverages can be complicated and cumbersome, she explained. Special training may be required, particularly around the use of high-pressure nitrogen kegs, and procedures need to be followed carefully.

Bunn-O-Matic’s Nitron Cold Draft dispenser, by contrast, is simply attached to a filtered water source and plugged-in, and has its own patented gas mixing system for nitro coffee, so no kegs are required. It holds two, one-gallon bag-in-box containers of concentrate, which can produce up to 13 gallons of finished product each, depending on the mix ratio.

It can be used to dispense two different cold beverages, either or both of which can be nitrogenated. This includes iced coffee, cold brew coffee, nitro coffee and iced teas. The machine is versatile, easy to use and, at only 10 inches wide, takes up minimal space. It could even be used for self-service beverages in some environments, McClain said.

“With Nitron, you could be in the nitro coffee business right away with a payback in as short as 3 months,” she said.

As more and more operators explore the expanding world of specialty cold coffees and teas, they will be seeking efficient, turnkey solutions that provide customers what they are looking for.

To learn more about BUNN Nitron Cold Draft dispenser visit

This post is sponsored by BUNN


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