On Tap

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Annie Johnston calls her creation "fresh and full-bodied - a thirst-quenching iced coffee." Photo by Sarah Arneson
Annie Johnston calls her creation “fresh and full-bodied – a thirst-quenching iced coffee.”
Photo by Sarah Arneson

There’s no need to leave room for cream in a glass of Dolce Nitro, the nitrogen-infused cold brewed coffee served from a tap and over ice at La Vita Dolce. “It’s pretty smooth,” says owner Annie Johnston of the drink that’s developed a cult following. “It’s fresh and full-bodied – a thirst-quenching iced coffee.”

Annie, a Chapel Hill native who took over the Southern Village espresso and gelato cafe in April, spent the better part of a year developing the recipe. She began by selecting the perfect coffee bean – La Vita Dolce is the only place in North Carolina where you will find Seattle-roasted Victrola coffee – and then fine-tuned her cold brew method, which takes 15 to 17 hours per batch. Next came the crucial step: infusing the coffee with the right amount of nitrogen and kegging it. It’s an idea akin to brewing stout beers, with the same goal of yielding a rich, creamy beverage. “I did a lot of online researching,” Annie says. She eschewed taps developed specifically for coffee. (Nitrogen-tapped cold brew is an emerging trend in the craft coffee world.) “Tapped beer has been around a lot longer than coffee,” she says, “so they’ve figured out their equipment. I trust that. I use a Guinness setup.”

The result is bold and satisfying, but not carbonated like its stout beer cousin. And there is perhaps one reason to leave room in your glass of Dolce Nitro: Try a float made with a scoop – or two – of gelato.

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Jessie Ammons

Jessie is a former Chapel Hill Magazine editor-turned freelance culture writer based in Chapel Hill. She tends to structure her days around a morning cup of coffee and evening glass of wine.
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