6 Places to Get Your Nitro Cold-Brew Coffee Fix in Honolulu
For an extra jolt of caffeine, try these smooth brews infused with nitrogen.
To true nitro coffee lovers, there’s nothing more beautiful than the first pour of nitro cold-brew coffee as the tiny bubbles cascade to create a beautiful gradient throughout the cup. We’re getting thirsty just thinking about it!
Coffee brewed in cold water is already smoother in flavor, less acidic and higher in caffeine content, but infusing it with nitrogen steps it up to the next level by adding sweetness and effervescence to the brew. As Bruno Mars might say, it’s “smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy.”
Cold-brew coffee infuses with nitrogen under pressure in a keg and is served straight from the tap, much like a Guinness beer would be. Nitro brewers advise against adding any ice, cream or sugar. With the smooth, crisp taste of the drink, there’s really no need.
Here are our top six picks for nitro cold-brew coffee on O‘ahu.
1. 9Bar HNL’s nitro cold brew
Photos: Alyssa Amasol
Nitro cold brew is 9BarHNL’s most popular drink by far, says lead barista Ryan Plaza. Its system is specifically designed for coffee and only adds nitrogen, unlike other systems commonly made by repurposing old beer kegs that add both nitrogen and carbon dioxide to the cold brew.
$4.50, 9Bar HNL, 685 Auahi St., #118, (808) 369-2299
2. Hukilau Honolulu’s nitro cold-brew coffee
It took about eight months to perfect the taste and science of Hukilau Honolulu’s nitro cold brew, baker and part-owner Kawehi Haug says. Made with a proprietary blend of Costa Rican, Maui, Kaua‘i and Kenyan beans micro-roasted at Koko Crater Coffee Roasters, the nitro brew is specifically designed to go with bakery items at Let Them Eat Cupcakes, often sold at Hukilau and at the bakery a few blocks away on South Beretania Street.
As a result, the brew is multilayered in flavor—strong but mild—with hints of vanilla and chocolate. It’s one of Hukilau’s best sellers, selling about two kegs a day, partner and bar manager Sheldon Lo says.
$5, Hukilau Honolulu, 1088 Bishop St., Suite LL3, (808) 523-3460
3. The Curb Kaimukī’s cold brew
The Curb Kaimukī was the first to introduce cold brew on tap to Hawai‘i in 2014, owner Sumner Ohye says. The Curb uses the toddy system to create a cold brew by steeping the grinds for 16 to 18 hours, and then infusing it with nitrogen. The coffee varies from day to day but is always written on the menu board. When we visited on a recent Wednesday, the nitro cold brew was made from a single-origin El Salvador bean.
Pro tip: Bring your own coffee mug, mason jar or cup to fill if you’re on the go. Each to-go cup costs an extra 60 cents.
$3.75, The Curb Kaimukī, 3538 Wai‘alae Ave., #101, (808) 315-1912
4. Brue Bar’s nitro cold brew
Brue Bar’s popular nitro cold brew is made from a blend of Guatemalan, Brazilian and Sumatran espresso beans created by owner Courtney Heim. The grinds are steeped for 16 hours and then left in the keg for a week to infuse. The result is a creamy, almost chocolatelike drink served in a chilled glass.
Brue Bar also offers a conventional cold brew made from single-origin Verve coffee beans that change weekly. The grinds are put into an Empire machine, which is unique not just in its look but also in that it uses glass filters and takes six to eight hours to drip through.
$4.45, Brue Bar, 1165 Bishop St., (808) 441-4470
5. Lion Coffee nitro cold brew
Although the price is the lowest of the bunch, this nitro cold-brew coffee lacks nothing in flavor. The dark roast is made from Lion Coffee’s Café Honolulu blend of beans from South and Central America and the Islands. Hawai‘i Coffee Co. brews the cold-brew coffee for 12 to 18 hours and delivers it exclusively to Foodland Farms. It’s a smooth, full-flavored coffee with a smokiness that comes from the darker roast profile.
$1.99, Foodland Farms, Ala Moana Center, (808) 949-5044
6. Kaka‘ako Kitchen’s N7 Brew by Russell Siu
Kaka‘ako Kitchen managing director Russell Siu created his own blend of beans with Royal Kona Coffee for 3660 On the Rise, where he is the co-owner and executive chef. The 10-percent Kona blend is cold-brewed for 24 hours, then infused with nitrogen. The N7 brew is almost as strong as espresso shots, with a mild sweetness and notes of cocoa.
$4.95, Kaka‘ako Kitchen, Ward Village, (808) 596-7488
The 2018 Hale ‘Aina Awards ballot is now online! Vote for your favorite restaurants now through June 30 for a chance to win dining certificates from our Hale ‘Aina winners. Click here to vote now. Winners will be announced at the Hale ‘Aina Awards Ceremony on Sept. 17. Stay tuned to this page for updates.