By Emily Cook
With temperatures high and a back-to-the-grind mentality, September is the quintessential month for cold coffee.
This is where nitro works best. Using a pressurized keg tap, the cold brew is forced through a disc with small holes to create a creamy consistency and cascading effect—like that shimmering stout beer pour. It achieves velvety chocolate-like flavor without cream or sugar.
Alexander Gable, director of coffee and training at Warrenton’s Nova Coffee Labs, credits the stout-style spigot for what he calls the “Guinness-like mouthfeel everyone’s been going crazy for.”
With what can be twice the caffeine of a typical cup of joe, Arlington’s The Java Shack limits customers to one 10-ounce cup of nitro. “We’re looking out for everybody’s safety,” laughs manager Ariel Pizzamiglio.
Nova Coffee Labs
$4.25, 12 oz.
This mobile coffee bar-turned-permanent shop is experimenting with lighter roasted, more acidic coffees for its nitro, making it fruity and bright. “Most cold brew is viscous and chocolatey, which we love, but we also like a fruity, fizzy tea complexity almost like a soda,” Alexander Gable says. “Consumers hear acidic and cringe, but the acidity is what makes it complex and is actually the most beautiful part of a coffee. It’s absolutely refreshing.” / 26 Main St., Warrenton
Swing’s Coffee Roasters
$4, 11.5 oz.
Brewing coffee directly over ice, Swing’s nitro coffee takes 96 hours to make, “allowing the brew to rest with a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide,” says Neil Balkcom, director of coffee operations. “It has a dark, candied flavor, reminiscent to an oak-y whiskey.” / 501 E. Monroe Ave., Alexandria
Mom & Pop
$4.50, 12 oz.
With a teaspoon of housemade vanilla syrup and a tablespoon of heavy cream, Nitro and Cream “is like a milkshake that will get you totally jacked,” says owner Robb Duncan. / 2909 District Ave., Fairfax
Beanetics Coffee Roaster
$3, 20 oz.
Using beans from Sumatra and Brazil, roaster Dennis Tran describes his nitro coffee as “smooth, just like a Guinness.” / 7028 Columbia Pike, Annandale
South Block Juice Co.
$4.50, 16 oz.
This juice bar sells Stumptown’s nitro cold brew right from the keg. / 2121 N. Westmoreland St., Suite B, Arlington
Happy Creek Coffee & Tea
$3.16, 12 oz.
Infusing honey into its nitro, Happy Creek offers Cold Gold, a slightly sweet, honey-flavored cold brew. “The honey adds a flavor nuance of the tea world to the creaminess of nitrogenized cold-brewed coffee,” says roastmaster Brandon Belland. / 18 High St., Front Royal & 6485 Main St., The Plains
The Java Shack
$4.50, 10 oz.
Partnering with an all-female co-op in Indonesia, this coffeehouse offers the dark roast Sumatran Blue Ridge Bluff for its nitro that manager Ariel Pizzamiglio describes as earthy and resembling dark chocolate. / 2507 Franklin Road, Arlington
$3.80, 16 oz.
With beans imported from Bolivia, Cervantes blends one measure cold brew, one measure regular brew and two measures water before introducing it to nitro in a keg. “The cold brew provides the base flavor while the regular brew provides the touch of acidity missing from the cold brew, which people like in any coffee,” owner Marialy Justiniano says. “In the end you have a strong drink with a flavor of coffee and yet a very smooth experience.” / 7644 Fullerton Road, Suite 1, Springfield & 21586 Atlantic Blvd., Sterling