The company believes it has improved the nitrogen-infusion process to allow it to be effective applied to various beverages: with nitro offering another dimension to the flavor, mouthfeel and visual appeal.
And as nitro-infusion gives a creamy, velvety mouthfeel, there's potential for the technology to replace milk or cream and thus create lower calorie beverages.
Customizable infusion levels
By infusing beverages with nitrogen, tiny bubbles are formed which gives a creamy, velvety texture.
In the cold brew category, kegs are traditionally filled three-quarters full. Nitro gas is pumped into the keg, then shaken manually. The end result is the frothy nitro drink now commonly served in cafes nationwide. But Shelby Van Slooten of EBS told BeverageDaily that there are better infusion paths forward.
Nitrogen as a gas is not water soluble, and does not want to bind with coffee, Van Slooten said. So after a while, the product starts to separate within the keg and must be re-shaken. When the nitrogen floats to the top, it leaves customers with inconsistent beverages from day to day and location to location.
The EBS Nitro Infuser uses multi-vortex infusion chambers that can make the infusion level up to 25% nitrogen. It incorporates in the kegerator, between the keg and tap. It performs the process on demand when drawing from the tap.
The beverage creators can customize how much nitrogen is going in, which makes it flexible to a range of beverages. Van Slooten said that coffee, tea and wine are all very different and require different infusion levels.
EBS said, “It wasn’t long ago that tap lines in bars were known for their neglect. The tap lines weren’t always cleaned and it wasn’t the freshest way to get your beer.
“But, over the last few years, tap lines have gained a very different reputation -- one of freshly brewed craft beer; each glass poured individually for each customer.”
EBS founded in 2017 and now works with thousands of cafes, bars, restaurants and offices that use its Nitro Infuser. It plans to launch three new adjacent products this year.
The nitro customer experience
The appeal behind nitro-infused drinks lies in the texture. Van Slooten said the small nitrogen bubbles create a perception of creaminess. This can make it taste like milk was added to the cold brew when it wasn’t, making it a lower calorie option.
Nitrogen can also bring forward different tasting notes. A bitter hibiscus-based tea can be smoothed out with the creaminess of running it through the infuser. And because nitrogen increases aromatics and improves flavor, it adds new levels to wine drinks.
Van Slooten emphasized that nitro-infusion is primarily a customer experience attraction. The novelty of the texture and visual of the tap pour are making it a powerful trend. And with the EBS Infuser, it’s possible to infuse much more than cold brew.
Tea is a major category for infusion, but experimentation has led EBS to keg dark stout beer, kombucha, wine and cocktails. Van Slooten said the nitrogen binds well with milk and milk alternatives, which is why nitro-infused cold brew lattes are so popular.
Millennials are driving the cold beverage trend, and they typically want a fun drinking experience even with non-alcoholic drinks.
“I do think within the next year you’ll start seeing a lot more of the other beverages enter the spectrum,” Van Slooten said.
This year, EBS will launch a cold brew and nitro cold brew roadshow, coming to six US cities. It will feature comprehensive education seminars and beverage innovation labs. It will kick off this month in Los Angeles.