Nitrogen-Charged Coffee Has Arrived in Dallas

If the baristas at Mudsmith in East Dallas are anything, they are curious coffee makers. I've developed a habit of newspaper-reading while sitting at the bar, and on a few occasions I've watched as they tinker with something new. There was a brief stage where mixing stout and coffee seemed the thing to do, and there always seems to be a new beer on tap, which is passed around with interest.

The beers on hand are a mix of corporate and local breweries that rotate with some consistency, but the latest brew is actually a coffee -- a cold-brewed beverage that's served in a glass a lot like beer.

It even looks like beer, with a soft, dense head caused by the nitrogen gas used to drive the tap that dispenses the drink. Unlike carbon dioxide, which is used in most beers and sodas and causes round, fat bubbles that quickly rise to the surface, nitrogen yields smaller, softer bubbles. They cause a thick haze in the liquid, which clears with cascading waves that descend downward as the beverage slowly settles. Beer drinkers will recognize those infinitesimally small bubbles in Guinness, Murphy's and other stouts.

The nitrogen also lends a creamy mouthfeel to the coffee, resulting in a chilled beverage with a mouthfeel that eerily mimics beer, with none of the alcohol and a stimulating punch.

The satiny coffee drink was brought to Dallas by Cuvée, an Austin-based coffee company and coffee shop that sells beans, brewing paraphernalia, t-shirts, beverages and, now, kegs filled with nitrogen-charged cold brewed coffee. Called Black and Blue, the product is even named is like a beer, and while December may not be the time of year everyone is thinking about cold brew anything, the drink deserves some attention.

Nitrogen-charged coffee isn't a novel idea; there are plenty of references to the practice online, but it still seems relatively new here in Dallas. Currently, there are currently two places I've found that serve Black and Blue: Mudsmith and Oddfellows. If you know of others, let us know.

Just be careful with the stuff. While it's normal to drink three or four pints of Guinness in a sitting (over the course of a few hours, of course), drinking the same amount of Black and Blue will lend you a completely different sort of buzz. Beat yourself Black and Blue after sundown and you might be bouncing off the ceiling until dawn.

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