A year after first rolling out the trendy, fizzy beverage, Starbucks is also taking its Nitro Cold Brew on the road with a two-tap system on wheels that holds two to four kegs of cold-brew coffee.
The market for cold coffee is getting hot.
Starbucks, which launched its Nitro Cold Brew last summer, will now be expanding the nitrogen-infused cold-brew coffee on tap to 1,500 stores in 26 markets by the end of the year.
Starbucks is also taking its Nitro Cold Brew on the road with the Starbucks Cold Brew bike — a two-tap system on wheels that holds two to four kegs of cold-brew coffee. The bikes are intended to allow licensed Starbucks locations — such as those on college or retail campuses — to reach more people, the company said.
There are currently only two such bikes — in Universal Studios in Florida and Macy’s in California. Eight more are expected to be in operation by later this year, including a yet-undisclosed location in Seattle.
The added cold-brew nitro taps build on the 1,200 stores in 16 markets around the world that currently carry the beverage. (Nearly 1,000 of those stores are in the U.S.)
Cold-brew coffee — coffee steeped for hours, using no heat — has been gaining popularity, championed by the likes of Stumptown Roasters and Caffe Vita. Its taste is supposed to be sweeter, smoother and less acidic than traditional hot coffee.
Then, nitro cold brews, in which nitrogen is infused into cold-brew coffee to create a drink that’s been compared to dark beer, began taking off.
“We have always offered iced options but the launch of our cold brew platform in 2015 was a catalyst for our ability to bring in new options like Nitro,” Sandy Stark, a senior vice president at Starbucks, said in a statement. “As a result, we are seeing less seasonality with cold coffee as it becomes a year-round drink for our customers.”
The company will also be testing two new on-tap cold drinks — a Nitro Flat White and Nitro Peach Tea — in 30 stores later this summer.
The growth in the cold-brew coffee category comes at an opportune time as Starbucks’ same-store sales growth in the U.S. and worldwide has slowed recently.
The coffee chain is also looking at avenues such as expanding its lunchtime food offerings and opening more high-end coffee shops serving premium coffee beverages, as a way to juice growth.