Trial and error was the name of the game for Pie Maker Bakery’s latest concoction, nitro brew coffee.
Nitro brew coffee is gaining steam in larger cities with established food scenes like Portland and Austin, said Pie Maker owner Tim Stubbs, but there was nowhere within driving distance that he could sample the beverage firsthand.
“Opening up a new business leaves lots of opportunities for waking up in the middle of the night and doing Internet research,” joked Stubbs. “That research led me to nitro brewed coffee. ... I saw a picture of one, and it looked gorgeous in the glass. Like a Guinness.”
A self-proclaimed coffee nerd, Stubbs says he spent months collaborating with Mancos roasters Fahrenheit Coffee on the right bean and brew process.
“Coffee beans have a complex flavor profile, and they react and extract differently depending on the temperature of the water,” he said. “(With this process) I brew for 16 to 20 hours. That was a revelation.”
Getting the brewed coffee into a pressurized keg with the right level of nitrogen was a challenging feat, but Stubbs tapped the expertise of Mancos Brewery to get the taps right. Lessons learned from that experiment was that carbon dioxide – commonly used in most beer kegs for carbonation – gives coffee a metallic taste.
“I had no knowledge of beer and kegs and how all of that worked, so I collaborated with Dwayne at Mancos Brewery on that. Through some trial and error, we found that the gas mix used in beer kegs actually muted the flavor of the coffee,” Stubbs said. “Nitrogen actually has a sweeter taste, and forces out the oxygen and keeps the beverage from going stale.”
The result is slightly effervescent caffeinated beverage has the creaminess of a stout and flavor of a carefully roasted cup of coffee without the bitterness.
Stubbs and his Pie Maker counterpart Shani Winer have been taking the nitro brew to the Cortez Farmers Market on Saturday and are planning to bring it to the Harvest Beer Festival in Cortez this month. They say they’re proud to have been able to be the first to introduce a speciality product to Cortez foodies.
“This area is kind of overlooked when it comes to the food scene, so it’s so cool that we’re able to introduce ‘a first’ to the area and be ahead of the curve,” said Winer.