Introduction: Nitro Coffee

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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 disorders involuntary 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.

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

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 leaves (optional)
liquid sweetener:
  • sugar
  • water
  • powdered caffeine
  • half and half cream
  • antacid (white base)


Step 2: 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 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

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)

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

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

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
  • 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.