Several years ago my brother-in-law ordered a cold brew at a popular drive-thru coffee shop. I had never heard the term before. I opened my mouth without thinking and sputtered, “so is that served cold?” Everyone had a good laugh. In my defense, I knew iced tea was often brewed hot, especially my favorite sun tea, then served over ice. I figured maybe this particular coffee-drink was brewed cold then served hot, but nope that’s just not the case.  

Cold brew is coffee brewed with cold (or even room temperature) water for 12 hours or more; time, not temperature, brews the coffee. Slow, cold steeping  produces a less acidic drink often described as smoother and less bitter than traditional hot-brewed coffee. Many people find cold brewing eliminates the desire for additional cream or sugar. I had always been a sweet-latte kind of-girl before discovering cold brew. I could not drink regular brewed, hot coffee without drowning it in some sort of milk and lots of sugar or honey. These days, however, I drink cold brew black or sometimes with just a splash of almond milk and no sweeteners of any kind.  

Just when I had cold brew figured out I stumbled into the world of Nitro coffee. Nitro coffee is even  fancier cold brew coffee. Its made the same way, but then infused with nitrogen and served out of a tap like a dark beer. Nitro coffee cascades as you pour it, has a frothy head and creamy texture.  It tastes much like you’re sipping a beer. Nitro coffee has become my favorite and I believe it to be the perfect summer coffee drink.  

People debate about how to properly drink Nitro coffee: To ice or not to ice? That is the question. I think you should enjoy coffee according to your personal preferences, but be sure to order how you like it as I have found nitro cold brew is not served the same way in every establishment. Personally, I like to sip my nitro coffee like a good beer — no straw, open cup, no ice.

Cold brew is now fairly popular. In fact, when I searched for cold brew and nitro cold brew coffee in and around Oak Park I found enough options to keep me sipping all summer. The coffee game is strong in this area. 

Here’s a glimpse of some noteworthy chilled caffeinated beverages offered around Oak Park! 

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