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Coffee on Tap

How Does Coffee on Tap Work?

Serving coffee on tap relies on the same draft technology as beer and wine. With the pull of a handle, kegged cold brew is forced by way of gas pressure through food-safe lines to a waiting glass.

Benefits of Coffee on Tap

  • Freshness

    Draft systems restrict coffee’s contact with air, thereby slowing the oxygenation process that degrades coffee’s volatile flavor compounds. Less exposure to oxygen means your coffee stays fresher, longer.

  • Efficiency

    Kegging your cold brew allows you to make and serve large batches quickly and easily. With the simple pull of a tap handle, it goes from keg to glass to your thirsty customers’ hands.

  • The Nitro Option

    With the right pressure and faucet, you can choose to serve your cold brew “nitro” style. When nitrogen is pushed into the coffee, it creates a rich, velvety texture and creamy head that is very much in demand among coffee consumers.

  • Wow Factor

    A draft system that dispenses coffee generates buzz that attracts people to your business.

How to Dispense Coffee on Tap

Setting up a coffee on tap system isn’t all that different from a draft beer system. But there are some special requirements and considerations.

    Required Equipment
    • Nitrogen gas tank (with a CGA 580 valve). It stores the gas that will power the dispense. Find more on why nitrogen is preferred to carbon dioxide below.
    • Dual-gauge nitrogen regulator OR dual-body nitrogen regulator. Both monitor the gas left in your nitrogen tank and control the amount of pressure between your tank and draft system.The latter lets you set two different pressures, which is necessary if you plan to serve both flat and nitro cold brew on tap.
    • Gas line. It runs from the nitrogen tank to the keg.
    • Coupler or disconnect. Both connect the gas line to the keg. Couplers are used with sanke kegs; disconnects are used for cornelius (corny) kegs. It will depend on which type of keg you use.
    • Keg. You can choose a cornelius keg or a sanke keg. Cornelius kegs are easier to fill and clean, so they tend to be more appropriate for cold brew coffee setups. They come in a variety of sizes, though five gallons is common.
    • Coffee line. It’s the tubins that carries the coffee to the faucet.
    • Shank. To connect your coffee line to your faucet and to mount your faucet to something stable (like a beer tower).
    • Faucet. You can go with a standard beer faucet or a stout faucet. Standard faucets are perfect for flat cold brew served at low pressure. Stout faucets are best if you want to serve nitro-style cold brew. They are designed with restrictor plates that agitate the nitrogen, causing the cascading effect and thick white head associated with nitro cold brew (and nitro beers, like Guinness). Whichever you choose, be sure it is stainless steel (not chrome plated) to avoid contaminating your coffee with off flavors.
    • Inline nitrogenator. This is only required if you plan to serve nitro-style cold brew. It’s the piece of equipment that force infuses the coffee with nitrogen as it’s dispensed.
    Setup

    Gas

    We recommend using 100% nitrogen for draft coffee. If you use carbon dioxide or a combination of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, it will carbonate the coffee over time, which is not ideal. Not only do bubbles change the mouthfeel, they also introduce carbonic acid to the coffee, which will alter its flavor. Nitrogen is not as soluble, so it will not affect coffee in the same way.

    Pressure

    Nitrogen can be used under low pressure to serve standard cold brew or under high pressure to create the creamy head and texture we associate with stouts like Guinness.

    For low-pressure pours with a standard faucet, set the PSI in the 6-8 range. You might adjust slightly below or above this range to change the speed of your pours.

    To pour nitro-style cold brew, use a stout faucet and higher pressure. Exact PSI can vary widely depending on your altitude, serving temperature, distance from keg to faucet, and desired effect, so you will have to experiment. Start at around 30-35 PSI and go up from there as necessary.

    Have questions about your unique program or setup? Give our draft specialists a call at 1.888.415.2803.