01 of 07
The Best Cold Brewed Coffee in Atlanta
Atlanta’s coffee shops and restaurants have said goodbye to traditional iced coffee, and hello to more elevated iced concoctions. Cold brew coffee has been around for a while, but now you’ll notice there are different variations of the potent beverage. Unlike its cousin iced coffee, cold brew isn’t simply chilled leftover coffee thrown on ice. It’s made from coffee grounds that have steeped in water for several hours, and are then strained leaving behind a concentrate. Craft coffee is ever evolving, though, and now there are two new types of cold brew to add to your repertoire: nitro coffee, and Japanese cold brew. If you’re wondering what all the buzz is about, we have the answers.
Nitro cold brew coffee may sound like an explosive device, but it’s not. Nitro coffee is simply cold brew coffee that’s been infused with nitrogen – a colorless and odorless gas. Cold brew is stored in a keg and comes out of a tap similar to beer. It even looks like a stout once it’s poured, with a beautiful “cascade” of foam on top. The nitrogen gives the cold brew a burst of bubbles and an illusion of creaminess, often resulting in a super smooth and slightly sweet coffee that often removes the need for actual cream (half & half) in your coffee.
Originally just for coffee geeks “in the know”, it’s not clear how nitro cold brew craze started. Eater asserts that it was Cuvee, an Austin-based coffee shop that set things in motion in 2012. In 2015 the craze blew up, especially with the introduction of canned nitro cold brew.
Local coffee cart (and soon to be brick and mortar shop), Banjo Coffee, has sold cold brew since 2014 and recently introduced nitro cold brew. Co-founder Billy Atchison loves the fizzy drink explaining, “Our approach to it is like beer and we like that we can infuse it with different flavors.” For example, this winter they’re infusing their cold brew with cacao nibs to give it a richer flavor profile.
Not all coffee shops have hopped aboard the nitro train. Condesa Coffee in Old Fourth Ward takes pride in using the Japanese cold brew method instead. This method calls for double strength hot coffee to be chilled over ice. Typically this is done as a “pour-over” so the coffee goes from hot to cold immediately. Condesa’s barista, Sarah Harlan says, “The benefits of this iced coffee method, versus cold brew and nitro, is that it enables both a fresher and crisper cup of coffee.” Brewing it with heat allows all the solubles in the coffee to dissolve giving it a more robust flavor profile than regular cold brew.
Regardless of which cold cuppa you prefer, craft coffee is getting a lot more respect than it used to. Atchison says, “Craft coffees, in general, are more popular” and these drinks are an extension of that. So whether you want coffee infused with gas or brewed over ice, there’s something for everyone. Keep reading to see where you can find the best nitro and Japanese cold brews.
02 of 07
Ration & Dram
Ration & Dram is a cozy neighborhood spot tucked away in Kirkwood that is known for their inviting atmosphere and creative dishes, but they also offer nitro cold brew coffee made with locally roasted Batdorf & Bronson. It may just be the creamiest, smoothest nitro coffee in town! Go for brunch and you can find their nitro cold brew in an appropriately light breakfast cocktail called the Speedy Gonzalez, an elixir of mezcal, Fernet, cold brew and agave nectar. Or just sip it straight out of the tap while watching a game at the bar and munching on roasted garlic with pain au levain.
03 of 07
Frequently spotted at farmers markets and events around town, Banjo Coffee is easily recognizable by its coffee cart attached to a bicycle. They peddle traditional cold brew but always have a nitro option, too. Although nitro cold brew doesn’t need milk (thanks to the foam giving it a creamy boost) the folks at Banjo are playful and will experiment with different variations. Look for their tasty take on a latte with nitro cold brew infused with almond milk and vanilla. They’re opening brick and mortar spot in Avondale Estates which will mean multiple varieties of their nitro and regular cold brew at a time. And good news for those of you who want to enjoy their nitro cold brew at home: they hope to start canning it soon!
04 of 07
Sleek and modern, Condesa is conveniently located just off I-75 in Old Fourth Ward. Using Counter Culture, Condesa fuels their customers with high-quality roasts and delicious espresso beverages. Cool off with a cup of their Japanese cold brew, Harlan suggests ordering the Banko Gotiti roast with blueberry and strawberry notes. If you’re hungry, they offer a small but well-appointed menu featuring local purveyors. Breakfast goers can munch on the yogurt parfait made with Atlanta Fresh Yogurt, house-made granola, dried fruit, and honey. Later in the day you can put the hunger to rest with a variety of toasts, like the Phat Beets toast with goat cheese, beets, and arugula on sourdough.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Have you ever been to a coffee shop in a shipping container? Head to Brash and your answer can be “yes”. While the space may seem small it’s plenty mighty with efficient seating indoors and ample seating outside. They offer the usual espresso suspects in addition to nitro cold brew. You can even order a glass of regular iced coffee if you want to kick it old school. Treat yourself to one of the pastries in the glass case made by Proof Bake Shop (one of the best bakeries in Atlanta).
06 of 07
Be prepared for when the cold brew urge beckons at home and stock up on some of the local good stuff. Similarly to Banjo, Wanderlust can be found around towns at markets and events slinging their small-batch cold brewed coffee. They use locally roasted Octane coffee beans, so you know it’s good. You can snag their cold brew in nitro form at either of Octane’s locations, or you can pop by a number of local retailers and buy their cold brew by the bottle. These include Savi Provisions, Candler Park Market, Nature’s Garden Express, and others that can be found online.
07 of 07
If you could use a refreshing pick-me-up right off of the BeltLine head to the Neighborhood Café at Parish. The cavernous café beneath the Brasserie is the perfect spot to retreat to after a jaunt on the BeltLine offering plenty of comfort and, most importantly, caffeinated beverages. This past summer they started offering nitro cold brew made with Parish’s Private Reserve blend from local roaster J. Martinez. They even make the cold brew daily in small batches. While you’re there grab yourself a cookie (or a sandwich if you’re really hungry) and curl up on one of their plush couches for a bit. You’ll be energized and ready to hit the BeltLine again in no time.