Nathan Anderson grabs a chilled pint glass from the cooler behind the counter at Second Best Coffee (328 W 85th Street). He tilts the glass under a tap, pulls the handle and watches as a frothy head builds over the chocolate-colored pour. Rather than a pint of Russian Imperial Stout, Anderson hands over a glass of nitrogenated cold brew coffee.
Each sip is cold and refreshing with the unmistakable robust flavor and aroma of roasted coffee. Anderson, who owns Second Best with his wife Leia, says, “I like the way it mimics a pour of Guinness.”
Anderson and barista Luke Shelton, hired three months ago, developed an in-house system, where nitro cold brew coffee is stored in kegs and poured on tap at the coffeehouse. Shelton, a Kansas City native who previously lived and worked in Austin, brought the technique back from the Lone Star state. Second Best Coffee recently introduced it at the Kansas City Caffeine Crawl this spring. [PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. also features cold brew on tap — their Nitro Cold Front — at its shop in the Crossroads.]
Nitro cold brew coffee filled a niche for the Waldo coffeehouse.
“I was looking for ways to expand the Second Best Coffee brand beyond our four walls,” Anderson says. “In addition to our roasting program, I wanted to have a product with minimal labor that could be served at farmers markets and other places.”
Serving cold brew coffee on tap involves less preparation and setup time on-site, allowing the barista more time to interact with customers out of a coffeehouse setting. Anderson is still fine-tuning the nitro cold brew coffee process. Soon, he also plans to offer the coffee to area restaurants and bars.
“It will be a finished product, ready to go,” Anderson says. “I think it will be popular, especially during brunch. It makes an interesting ingredient because of its texture and weight with respect to layered flavors in a cocktail.”
Anderson suggests that a high-end, ready-made cold brew coffee has additional appeal for use by bartenders. He explains: “Some bartenders don’t necessarily like the bar flow interrupted by an espresso machine. Having coffee created by people passionate about coffee helps.”
Currently, Second Best Coffee uses an organic coffee bean from Chiapas, a southern state in Mexico. The organic status satisfies organic requirements for products sold at some area farmers markets.
“This coffee has a nutty character that works well with the nitro,” Anderson says.
Fruity and acidic coffees don’t deliver the same balanced flavor profile when served as nitrogenated cold brew.
Anderson outlines the fundamental brewing process for this technique. “We coarsely grind the coffee and do a full-immersion cold brew. We shock the coffee with hot water first, instantly cool it with cold water and store it for a 12-hour brew,” he says. “We filter the coffee, pump it into kegs and nitrogenate it.”
Kegged cold brew coffee has a shelf life up to one month. Once available to area bars and restaurants, Anderson ideally prefers selling a one-week supply. He says, “It’s better to serve the freshest product possible.”
Until nitro cold brew coffee is commonplace around Kansas City, Anderson and Second Best will be ready with a pint.