coffee on tap

A Restaurant Owner’s Guide to Coffee on Tap

In a world where coffee has evolved beyond the traditional cup of joe, the rise of cold coffee beverages and coffee on tap (also known as nitro cold brew on tap) has taken full effect. More and more, consumers are after unique products that allow them to explore trends and expand their palettes. While entering a new realm of coffee possibilities may seem daunting, restaurant owners can look at this trend as an opportunity to expand their offerings and, potentially, increase their profits.

Coffee on tap is an excellent way to reap the benefits of the cold coffee trend. With its ease of use, cost-effectiveness and trendiness, a cold brew system can provide customers with a new experience – and not just at the coffee shop. Bars and restaurants are even adopting these systems for creative coffee-based cocktails and more.

If you’re a restaurant owner considering a coffee on tap system, you may be wondering what kinds of equipment may be required or what types of coffee beverages these systems can make. At Stuever & Sons, we’ve made ourselves coffee experts to help business owners understand these systems and help their businesses grow. In this blog, we’ll explain what coffee on tap is, how it’s served, it’s benefits to business owners, and more.

What is Coffee on Tap vs. Iced Coffee?

Most of us are familiar with cold coffee beverages in the modern era. In fact, cold coffee beverages now make up 75% of Starbucks’ beverage sales according to Business Insider. So, what are the differences between iced coffee and coffee on tap?

Iced coffee is just what it sounds like – normal black coffee, served cold over ice with any additional flavors or mixers by preference. Typically, iced coffee is made by allowing hot-brewed coffee to chill over long periods in a refrigerator. Iced coffee drinks can also encompass iced lattes, iced macchiatos and other traditionally hot coffee beverages. These are made with cold espresso over ice and any additional needed ingredients.

Coffee on tap is incredibly different from iced coffee because it uses a nitrogen gas-powered dispensing system to pour the drink – hence it is referred to as nitro cold brew. There are two options when serving coffee on tap:

Cold Brew on Tap
Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coarse coffee grounds in cold water instead of hot. The steeping process takes anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, and the result is a concentrated, highly caffeinated cold coffee beverage with a stronger taste than iced or hot brewed coffee. For cold brew on tap, the coarse grounds are steeped in cold water inside the system for the desired amount of time. Then, when ready to serve, the tap handle is pulled and nitrogen gas pushes the cold brew coffee through the lines into the dispenser.

Nitro Cold Brew
The second option for coffee on tap is nitro cold brew. For this unique drink, cold brew coffee is actually infused with nitrogen gas to create a smooth, rich flavor with a frothy head, similar to some stout beers. Nitrogen gas is always used in nitro cold brew, or any coffee on tap. This is because CO2 gas will oxidize the coffee and change its flavor, whereas nitrogen, being an inert gas, won’t change the quality of the drink.

Benefits of Serving Coffee on Tap

3 in 4 Americans drink coffee every day, and we’re only getting more creative with the ways we consume our beloved caffeinated drink. As previously mentioned, cold coffee beverages are rising in popularity, highlighting the notion that Americans are looking for more unique ways to enjoy coffee in the modern era.

This is where coffee shines. Customers can enjoy the drink they love most in a new way, opening up opportunities for new coffee recipes and further innovation. Yet there are plenty more benefits to serving coffee on tap than just variety:

Easy to Operate
Instead of complicated coffee orders involving one pump of this and 2 shots of that, coffee on tap provides a quick and simple coffee solution for busy customers and staff. Just dispense the cold brew and you’re done.

Cost-Effective
Coffee on tap allows you to have 5x more product on hand than standard ready-to-drink options. This means more customers, more sales, and more revenue.
Higher Caffeine Content
Cold brew and nitro cold brew are concentrated forms of coffee, meaning they boast higher caffeine content than your ordinary cup of joe. For today’s caffeine lovers, cold and nitro cold brew are an easy solution for a quick boost.
Trendy
Consumers are more and more interested in niche products and services, and coffee on tap is just one example of a new product soaring to the heights of popularity. These drinks are highly sought after, and adding a coffee system to your business can bring in caffeine-hungry customers.
Various Recipes
Cold and nitro cold brew are no longer bound by the confines of the cafe. More and more bars are adopting these systems to produce coffee-based alcoholic beverages, including the beloved Espresso Martini. With a coffee on tap system, there’s an opportunity for restaurant and bar owners to expand their offerings and get creative with coffee-based cocktails.

Coffee on Tap Equipment – How It’s Made

Now that we’ve become familiar with what coffee on tap is, how is it actually produced and served? To begin serving coffee on tap at your bar or restaurant, you’ll need a few key pieces of equipment.

  1. Refrigeration: Just like other drinks served on tap, coffee must be served at the right temperature to get the desired pour quality and taste. This means you’ll need a refrigeration system to hold the cold or nitro cold brew and keep it chilled. The ideal serving temperature for coffee on tap is 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. High Quality Components: We will always recommend high quality components for any draft or on tap system you use, but this is especially important for coffee due to the drink’s acidity. We recommend 304-grade stainless steel components when serving coffee on tap because this material won’t become worn down over time, and it’s easy to clean. Additionally, you should use the tubing your coffee equipment recommends. Traditional vinyl tubing can allow oxygen to permeate through your tap lines and affect the quality of the coffee, so choose another material that is compatible with your system.
  3. Nitrogen Infusion Equipment: If you’re thinking about serving nitro cold brew, your coffee on tap system will need nitrogen infusion technology in order to create the frothy, cascading head typical of nitro cold brew. Nitrogen infusers are often built into stout faucets, which will allow the nitrogen to mix with the cold brew and create nitro cold brew.

Stuever & Sons Coffee System Sales and Installation

Coffee on tap has been around for a few years now, and its popularity is still trending. With business owners using these systems to create their own unique coffee drinks and cocktails, there’s an opportunity for more innovation with these systems than meets the eye. Considering all the added benefits, including increased sales and ease of operation, adding a coffee system to your establishment is a great way to enhance your customer experience.

If you’re interested in coffee systems and how you can integrate one into your business, give us a call. Our team of tap system experts can help you decide if a coffee system is right for you, and offer insights into the best equipment and practices for great-tasting, high-quality cold brew. We’ve made it our specialty to understand these systems in and out, and we can’t wait to show you just how profitable these systems can be for your business.

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