Introduction: Nitro Coffee

Picture of Nitro Coffee
Sometimes the only thing to get me through a Monday is a strong cup of coffee, lately though regular coffee just hasn't been doing it. Even doubling down and getting doppioespresso has little effect. How can I enjoy a good stimulating brew if I've already built up a tolerance to caffeine? (and before you ask, taking a break from it is not an option).

If you're looking for a beverage that will give you neurological disordersinvoluntary twitches superhuman abilities, then this is your coffee, it's time for NITRO COFFEE!!

To make sure that the effects were genuine, wilgubeast and I conducted a series of tests to measure our ultra-caffeinated adroitness. The results were a little surprising.
But before we start there's some important stuff you need to know about what we're dealing with, our friend caffeine.

*Caffeine is some potent stuff, take caution when working with it and when ingesting it.
The MSDS for caffeine is frightening, including such warnings as:

  • Severe overexposure can cause death.
  • Mutagenic for mammalian somatic cells (that's us).
  • The substance may be toxic to heart, gastrointestinal tract, central nervous system (CNS).
  • Can cause birth defects.
  • Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage. Repeated exposure to a highly toxic material may produce general deterioration of health by an accumulation in one or many human organs.
*Other stimulants
In addition to caffeine I also brewed up some coca leaves, no big deal.
*Coca leaves are an alkaloid which are used as powerful stimulants, such as cocaine. Though coca leaves do have stimulant properties the leaves used in this project are far removed from actually doing cocaine (so no angry comments about doing drugs, hmm'kay?).
These coca leaves were bought online and shipped to the USA.

Whew! With all these warnings you'd think that upping the ante on an already potent drink would be crazy. And, you'd be right. So don't do this, I'm a trained professional.

Enough talk, let's make some nitro coffee!

Step 1: Tools + Materials

Picture of Tools + Materials
Nitro coffee is broken down into 3 components: the brew, the sweetener and a coffee whitener.
To make your own nitro coffee you'll need:

    nitro brew:
  • High-caffeine energy drinks
  • ground coffee
  • coffee machine
  • dried coca leaves (optional)
    liquid sweetener:
  • sugar
  • water
  • powdered caffeine
  • half and half cream
  • antacid (white base)

Coca leaves were bought online

Step 2: The Brew

Picture of The Brew

Start with a clean coffee machine.
Open the energy drinks and pour into coffee pot, I used 2 12oz energy drinks. This filled the pot up to about 5 cups (the maximum it could hold). Pour pot of energy drinks into reservoir. Do not overfill.

Like regularly brewed coffee place a filter in the top, with a scoop or three of ground coffee.
To really put this brew over the edge I added a few dried coca leaves on top of the ground coffee, you can choose your own variety. This additional step is entirely optional.

Start brewing coffee.

The smell of hot energy drink combined with coffee was...unique. What started as an unpleasant, sickly-sweet odor, turned into a somewhat enticing aroma. Others in the office were not so open-minded and a few work colleagues openly chastised me for stinking up the office kitchen on a hot day. Some people don't know what they're missing.

Step 3: The Sweetener

Picture of The Sweetener
While the coffee is brewing we can make the sweetener, this sweetener  used a combination of simple syrup and caffeine powder.

The powder directions state that 1/20 of a teaspoon is equivalent to 100mg of caffeine (roughly the amount in 1 cup of coffee). One teaspoon would therefore measure about 20 cups of coffee worth. 100mg is a fine amount to measure and the scale I used was not precise enough to measure it out. Instead, I used an entire teaspoon mixed with a sizable measurement of liquid, thereby diluting the caffeine powder.

The caffeine powder will be mixed with simple syrup. To make simple syrup start by boiling the water, then remove from heat and slowly pouring in the sugar. Stir until completely dissolved. Let simple syrup cool until room temperature. When the simple syrup has cooled, add in the one teaspoon of caffeine powder.
Tightly close lid on container and shake to mix until all particulate powder is dissolved.


The result is 20 cups of coffee in about 1/3 of the volume.

Step 4: The Milk (optional)

Picture of The Milk (optional)

To make the milk substitute I thought there should be some relief from the caffeine overdose, so I used a mix of equal parts coffee cream and antacid.

The antacid I selected had a thick, cream-like consistency and mixed well with the cream. The antacid had a slightly chalky flavour, but was otherwise flavourless.

Add equal parts antacid and cream in a bowl, mix with spoon until combined.

Step 5: Conduct Testing

Picture of Conduct Testing
In order to measure the effects of caffeine several tests were administered, both before and after ingestion of nitro coffee.

For a comprehensive analysis we conducted testing in a few different areas:
  • cognitive
  • strength
  • oral
  • memory
  • vitals
  • reflexes

Step 6: Results

Picture of Results

nitro coffee
typing test:*wade:
61 wpm, 1 error = 60 awpm
52 wpm, 6 errors = 47 awpm
56 wpm, 0 errors =56 awpm
58 wpm, 5 errors = 53 awpm
wade: decrease
mike: improved
push ups:
(time for 25 push-ups)
wade: 24.72 seconds
mike: 27.24 seconds
wade: 22.28 seconds
mike: 25.02 seconds
wade: improved
mike: improved
tongue twister*
(# of times repeated in
30 seconds)
wade: 5 success / 3 errors
mike: 5 success / 4 errors
wade: 8 successes / 0 errors
mike: 6 successes / 3 errors
wade: improved
mike: improved
memory test:
(17 random words
remembered for 1 hour)
7 / 17 = 41.2% retained
14 /17 = 83.4% retained
wade: 13 / 17 = 76.5% retained
mike: 8 / 13 = 47.1% retained
wade: improved
mike: decreased
heart rate:wade: 56 bpm
mike: 82 bmp
wade: 65 bpm
mike: 76 bpm
wade: increase
mike: decrease
blood pressure:wade: 136 sys / 64 dia
mike: 123 sys / 77 dia
wade: 137 sys / 72 dia
mike: 134 sys / 76 dia
slightly more pressure heart exerted /
slight increase in heart rest
increase in pressure heart exerted/
same heart rest
ruler drop:wade:
11cm/15.5cm/21cm: 15.8cm avg.
13.5cm/11cm/15cm: 13.2cm avg.
17cm/12cm/13cm: 14cm
10cm/17cm/12.5cm: 13.2cm
wade: improved
mike: same

*details of test results:
  • typing test - "astronaut"
  • tongue twisters - #64 "Plymouth sleuths thwart Luther's slithering"
    • If phrase was misspoken an error was counted and the phrase was started again.
  • blood pressure: The first number, systolic blood pressure, measures the maximum pressure exerted as the heart contracts, while the lower number indicates diastolic pressure, a measurement taken between beats, when the heart is at rest.  -source
  • memory test: each subject was given a set of 17 randomly chosen words to memorize in 5 minutes. Then, an hour later, asked to recite as many of the words as possible. For nitro coffee a new set of 17 similar-but-random words were chosen.
  • pupil dilation: Conditions were consistent, but pupil dilation fluctuated, no reasonable data collected.
  • straight line test:
    • each subject attempted to draw a straight line between two points 3' apart. Results were unclear, neither of us could draw a straight line that long..

Step 7: Findings

Measurable findings are a good metric, but do not tell the whole story.
In a debriefing after the tests, we discussed how the nitro coffee made us feel. We found that symptoms of large doses of nitro coffee resulted in:
  • difficulty concentrating
  • elation
  • inability to focus on specific tasks
  • sweaty palms / cold sweats
  • numb mouth and fingertips
  • general discomfort
  • flushed face and neck
  • dizzy or light headed
  • uncomfortably energetic

Total caffeine consumption:
  • Red Bull
    • Caffeine 114mg x 2 cans = 228mg
  • coffee
    • caffeine 100mg x 5 cups = 500mg
  • "sweetener" (per 1.5oz shot)
    • caffeine 100mg
  • coca leaves
    • unknown
  • coffee cream + antacid
    • caffeine none
total = 828mg (414mg each)

The findings show that each of us consumed about 4 times the regular amount of caffeine found in coffee. The results were a moderate increase in some areas, and a general inability to concentrate on any task for more than about a minute.

The caffeine "crash" after the caffeine wore off was a little worse for Wade than it was for me. I think that may be because I'm a regular coffee drinker, while Wade is not.
Though a fun experiment I'm not sure that nitro coffee would make a suitable replacement for regular coffee, so don't expect to see it in your local Starbucks yet.


519Franco (author)2015-12-09

And how does it taste

mikeasaurus (author)519Franco2015-12-09

Like pure adrenaline

infestacool (author)2015-10-25

This was disappointing. Nitro Coffee is something else.

mikeasaurus (author)infestacool2015-10-25

I published this project in 2011, before nitrogen enriched coffee was a "thing". I like the cold brew nitrogen coffee, it's like morning beer :)

infestacool (author)mikeasaurus2015-10-25

oh cool that makes a lot more sense.

SebaR1 (author)2015-10-23

LOL! awesome!

AlphaBeast (author)2015-04-03

Not sure if the thumping sound is my heart or my foot boring a hole in my floor

Goodguerra made it! (author)2015-01-13


Seidenfisch (author)2013-04-22

Aperture science mug: 'Cuz if it isn't dangerous, it isn't science.

I do wonder what would have happened if you would've dropped something like 5 or 10 mg ritalin in there.

MMoyce (author)2011-12-22

I waz on this stuff when i waz under 10

woodstockbirdy (author)MMoyce2012-05-02

Arn't you dead yet?

MMoyce (author)woodstockbirdy2012-05-03

No im still going strong , Monster energy works well too :-)

instruct39 (author)2011-07-03

gee, sounds dangerous for a drink!

spectacular (author)instruct392011-10-25

Yeah, is this actuallyb safe to drink?

No, not really. The world's most deadly drink is Vodka and red bull. This is not far off.

Mm. Sounds it.

wilgubeast (author)spectacular2011-12-02

It wasn't too unsafe. If you have a heart condition, unusual sensitivity to caffeine, or dislike the flavor of Red Bull, this is one you'll want to stay away from.

I tried it. Still alive. Wouldn't drink it again on purpose. But if you just really need to power through because you are a long-haul trucker or procrastinating college student... go for it.

woodstockbirdy (author)2012-05-02

And an Aperture science mug to fit.

80$man (author)2011-10-24

Extreme! I love coffee, too much sometimes... brewing something like this might make me wake up then!

I will try something similar and post when a 'win' has occured!

RamyOmar (author)2011-10-22

OMG! I will never try this with tempur ... it will destroy it!!

diabel (author)2011-08-27

LOL oral. xD

rochte (author)2011-06-30

I *strongly* suggest that you at least remove the links to the coca leaves supplier. The leaves are illegal in the United States and prohibited acts under 21 USC 841 include:

"(C) serving as an agent, intermediary, or other entity that
causes the Internet to be used to bring together a buyer and
seller to engage in the dispensing of a controlled substance in
a manner not authorized by sections (!2) 823(f) or 829(e) of
this title;"

You don't want to be that intermediary or other entity, nor does Instructables! Please, please remove the coca references and re-post this article.

DeusXMachina (author)rochte2011-06-30

Read the website. The leaves are "de-cocainated" - e.g. they have the controlled substance removed, and are ergo legal.

"As coffee can be decaffeinated, the coca tea can also be decocainized. Just like "decaf" coffee does retain a minute quantity of caffeine, "Decocainized" coca tea will still contain a minute quantity of the drug. When the cocaine is removed, the amount of cocaine is small enough for the product to legally sell in the USA according to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs"

lukeyj15 (author)DeusXMachina2011-07-01

So what happens to the cocaine they remove?

DeusXMachina (author)lukeyj152011-07-21

Probably sell it to pharmaceutical companies. Cocaine is a totally legit (when used by the correct people) topical anesthetic used by medical professionals such as Ear Nose & Throat specialists, though it's been largely superseded by related compounds such as benzocaine in the US. Doctors in other countries still use it because it's cheap.

Or just dispose of it.

bobthewizard3 (author)rochte2011-06-30

Fortunately, there is nothing to worry about regarding the sale of these particular coca leaves! They have been processed (like decaffeinated coffee) to remove the illegal cocaine alkaloids, but still contain other legal and stimulating compounds. I have tried several products, like coca candy and a few leaves, and the flavor is unique and pleasant, and contains a little bit of pep. Nothing drastic compared to some energy drinks or a strong cup of regular coffee, but still worth the experience.

emerson.john (author)rochte2011-06-30

The "coca" product in this article is shipped from Charlotte, NC, or Boston, MA, via US Postal Service. Is it legal? Probably. Is it my business, or yours? No.

I will say that publication of this speaks volumes about the author. The whining, terrified right wingers in this country have put a lot of energy into the invasion of privacy and erosion of individual rights, so it's probably not too smart to publicly associate yourself with coca leaves.

I love coffee. This Crack Coffee sounds nasty. Ugh. Well produced instructable, nevertheless!

jessipurpleswirls (author)2011-07-04

This is awesome!! I experience the same disappointment in caffeinated beverages every day. How long did it last?

corkey123 (author)2011-07-01

WHAT IF, you boiled the Red Bull down so it was a concentrated syrup of the sugar, taurine and caffeine and brewed the coffee with that??

Alderin (author)corkey1232011-07-04

Taurine and Caffeine are fairly volatile compounds and would likely not survive the process of boiling down. Old coffee is less caffeinated than fresh brewed, as well the second brew with the same beans yields decaffeinated coffee. Not sure on the taurine, but I expect it to have similar behavior.

A slower, lower-temperature evaporation may work, but it is possible that these desired compounds would evaporate with the water. I'm not a chemist, so I'm not sure. Would be interesting to test.

BtheBike (author)2011-07-03

when taking a break is "not an option" ,its time to take a break.
can you say 'broken adrenal gland' ? =)

svereecke (author)2011-07-03

This will probably have a "mild" laxative effect , like say , a total fill up of the porcelain throne , followed up by excessively farting highly statically charged clouds of noxious methane . In other words you would turn into the "red spot" on Jupiter. My daily dose of energy drinks is 4 and my heart does not even go faster.
I stay my morose self (Mind you , I never checked myself if I am an android).

Squibb (author)2011-07-02

You forgot to add a portal gun to the list of supplies.

vipTricks (author)2011-07-02

(comments rephrased)
Is there any possible contradiction between NitoCafe and other medication (like: Viagra) for example?

asteidl (author)2011-07-01

I like the scientific approach, and thorough reporting, however, I think some of the ideas could be improved upon.

First, coca leaves have coca alkaloids in them, including cocaine. This makes importation into the United States a Federal Felony, unless the the coca leaves have undergone a so-called "de-cocaine-ing," similar to decaffeination of coffee. See If the coca leaves have undergone cocaine removal, it still leaves a minute amount of cocaine in the leaves, leaving a possible risk if you need to take a drug test that day or the next, or if you frequent this beverage on a heavy, daily basis, then for up to a couple weeks. Namely, if you're drinking this at work, don't get hurt and ask for worker's comp.

Second, though a lot of thought evidently went into this experiment, the end result is not very remarkable (no offense intended). At only 4x the amount of caffeine than an average cup of coffee, it seems to me that drinking four cups of coffee would be preferable than brewing energy drinks through coffee grounds.

Third, energy drinks contain more than a few extra chemicals than just caffeine. These chemicals include (but are not limited to) carnitine, inositol, taurine, and creatine. (see Some of the chemicals can be taxing on internal organs other than just the heart. Also, some of the other chemicals in the energy drink (ie: preservatives, aftificial flavors, etc) may react if heated. And don't forget how much sugar is in the energy drink, plus the simple syrup. Might have wanted to do a glucose test before and after drinking this.

Anyway, if you are looking to increase energy in a natural way, try eating a balanced, healthy diet, lay off the coffee for a couple weeks, then limit yourself to a few cups a day at most, and only when needed to give a boost.

Good luck!

abnor (author)2011-07-01

Haha! This was a fun read. Applying science to normally ridiculous experiments is a fantastic way to test your professionalism!

I do hope nothing was hurt in this experiment.

H1T4TCH1 (author)2011-07-01

hahaha that's just awesome, no matter what's in it (cocaine or coca leaves) :P

excessive.insurgence (author)2011-06-30

uhm.. im not posting an 'angry drug comment' but coca plants are illegal in the states as with all parts.. how did you say you got it shipped here again?

with the fresh coffee beans he also ordered from columbia haha

dyule (author)sgouthro2011-07-01 is not the University, it's the country. Sorry, a pet peeve of mine. I'm on a mission to help people spell this correctly! Oh, and you can buy coca tea anywhere online, including Amazon. It is wonderful and has no "drug" properties!

hdaniel-1 (author)2011-07-01

Interesting recipe. I don't know how efficient, but a nice read :D
The problem for me is that I am immune to High-caffeine energy drinks :( I can drink 4-5 of those at once without any effect (I do drink energy drinks, but only for the taste. I really like it :) ..and for thirst, of course). And a strong expresso only has a slight effect.
Caffeine ampoules are the answer! =))

philerskine (author)2011-06-30

Why didn't you just use a caffetiere and lots of coffee grounds, brewed for longer?

Treknology (author)philerskine2011-06-30

The 'drip' coffee-machine only passes the water through once at a fixed rate, so you have to over-use coffee grinds.

If you want stronger you need a cyclic percolater where the water is continually cycled around through the coffee 'basket' until you achieve the strength desired. The back slap from this is that you end up with a more bitter product.

The caffetiere, or french press, coffee maker can use (almost) as high a proportion of ground coffee to water as you like. It works by simply steeping the coffee grounds in water from a kettle, then pressing the grounds out of the brewed coffee.

I can make coffee of any strength between fairly weak drip coffee and espresso (the flavour is different, and better than either, imo). The only drawbacks are that it's less efficient (since you use a coarser grind) and not filtering through paper leaves more of the oils which may not be good for you and may bother some people, although other people prefer the flavour.

I was restricting myself to the device used in the 'ible, and admit ignorance as to the meaning of caffetiere.

You are right regarding lack of efficiency, and regardless of length of time brewed I find the final product weak and watery.

At least I learned a new word today.

My point exactly, machines can't make MY coffee

lukeyj15 (author)2011-07-01

I remember doing something similar. I mixed about 20 teaspoons of instant coffee granules, 30 teaspoons of brown sugar in a 600ml water bottle. The intention was to add a small amount to a glass of milk to make iced coffee. I did however end up drinking it straight in shots. *Please note, I never did, or intended to drink all that coffee at once. Simply to have a concentrated coffee syrup.

maxhuey (author)2011-07-01

So Please help me understand, why is it I get sleepy or even fall asleep easily when ever I drink a cup of good coffee? Cheers, max

MajikAly (author)2011-06-30

I'm a big fan of coffee (and a real late-night person) so I'll probably give this a try :)

Slight Warning (just for some people though)
Caffeine can cause problems in large amounts and a drink like this would be a definite no-go for pregnant women, people with heart conditions, children or people sensitive to caffeine.

Most adults can consume up to 300mg of caffeine (four average cups of coffee)
per day without unpleasant side-effects, but if you're having this stuff be mindful of what other types of caffeinated things (even wid small amounts) that you're having; such as tea, chocolate, medications, soft drinks.

lol. Sorry for being a pain; It's one of the areas I work in, so it's the first thing I think of after "Ooooo... I wants it".

wilgubeast (author)2011-06-28

I had no idea what I was volunteering for when I participated in this little experiment. It was... mildly uncomfortable. Like someone injected fiberglass insulation into the front part of my skull, removed my eyes and thoroughly dried them on paper towels, then made me do push-ups.

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Bio: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!
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