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What’s cryodesiccation and the way can it’s utilized in espresso?

For a lot of business professionals, the World Barista Championship (WBC) is a worldwide platform for rivals to showcase the newest traits and improvements in specialty espresso. These can embody new espresso species and varieties, in addition to distinctive methods of getting ready and extracting espresso drinks.

In his profitable 2022 WBC efficiency, we noticed Australian competitor Anthony Douglas use one of many latter for his milk course class. Throughout his routine, Anthony described a course of referred to as cryodesiccation (which is analogous to freeze drying) and defined that he processed his milk utilizing this method.

Anthony mentions that cryodesiccation helped to reinforce the pure sweetness and creaminess of his milk, and finally created a higher-quality beverage and total sensory expertise.

So how precisely does this course of work, and will it have an affect on the broader specialty espresso sector?

To seek out out, I spoke with two espresso professionals. Learn on to seek out out what they needed to say. 

You may additionally like our article introducing extract chilling in espresso.

A block of freeze dried espresso

Understanding the cryodesiccation course of

Cryodesiccation (also referred to as freeze drying or lyophilisation) is basically a low temperature dehydration course of. It’s primarily utilized in meals, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries to delay shelf life, whereas nonetheless sustaining high quality.

In reality, the overwhelming majority of on the spot coffees are freeze dried. This helps to create a extra handy product; nonetheless, the method nonetheless preserves a few of the espresso’s flavours and aromas.

Broadly talking, there are 4 major levels to the cryodesiccation course of: pretreatment, freezing, main drying, and secondary drying. Total, the method entails the appliance of low temperatures and varied completely different pressures to take away moisture.

Anthony Douglas is the coaching supervisor at Axil Espresso Roasters, in addition to the 2022 World Barista Champion. He explains how he produced cryodesiccated milk for his WBC routine.

“Firstly, we stuffed steel trays with milk after which froze them,” he says. “We then positioned the trays inside a vacuum chamber.

“We lowered the strain contained in the chamber and utilized mild warmth beneath the trays [over a 24-hour period],” he provides. “This causes water within the frozen milk to show right into a vapour, somewhat than a liquid, because it thaws, which leaves behind a powder-like substance. 

“As a result of the method makes use of decrease temperatures, the milk nonetheless retains plenty of its pure flavours, that are then concentrated,” he continues. 

Anthony Douglas wins the 2022 World Barista Championship in Melbourne, Australia

How does the method have an effect on flavour and mouthfeel?

In his profitable 2022 WBC routine, Anthony mentions that the cryodesiccated milk powder he created was concentrated by about 900 instances. He explains that he then recombined 30g of the powder with 300g of recent milk to “double the focus of sugars, fat, and proteins”. 

In the end, this helped to make his milk course drinks style a lot sweeter and gave them a creamier mouthfeel, in addition to presumably serving to to produce better-quality latte artwork due to the upper quantity of proteins within the milk.

“We have been already utilizing high-quality milk from Riverina Contemporary, however we have been struggling to create  consistent-tasting milk course drinks,” Anthony explains. “This led us to strive cryodesiccation.

“We selected to make use of this course of in my WBC routine as a result of it didn’t change the flavour of the milk – as a substitute, it concentrated all of its fascinating points, akin to sweetness and creaminess,” he provides. 

“When mixed with espresso – particularly the anaerobic pure Sidra selection from El Diviso in Colombia – it resulted in a candy and luxurious milk-based drink which helped to reinforce and stability the espresso’s flavours with sure qualities of the milk,” he continues.

Hugh Kelly prepares freeze dried milk at a coffee competition

Have comparable processes been used on the WBC earlier than?

Though no earlier WBC rivals have used cryodesiccated components of their routines earlier than Anthony, some have used comparable processes for milk.

It’s believed that Canadian competitor Ben Put was the primary individual to make use of such a course of on the 2017 WBC, when he concentrated his milk utilizing freeze distillation. Morgan Eckroth, who positioned second on the 2022 WBC, additionally used freeze-distilled entire milk of their routine to additional improve the sweetness of the espresso they served.

Freeze distilling is considerably much like cryodesiccation. The method works by partially freezing a liquid after which eradicating a few of the frozen segments to provide a extra concentrated liquid. With milk, which means it should style sweeter, richer, and creamier as extra of its water content material is eliminated.

Anthony explains the variations between the 2 processes.

“Completely different compounds thaw at completely different charges, so while you create freeze-distilled milk, not the entire compounds will focus at a fair price,” he tells me. “In my expertise, you additionally must get the timings and temperature proper to make sure you can thaw the milk on the similar price every time you perform the method.

“Nevertheless, with cryodesiccation, milk reduces it to a powder-like substance which is persistently concentrated each single time,” he provides. “This course of additionally will increase shelf life, so while you wish to use the powder, you’ll be able to mix it with recent milk on the focus which works greatest, which for us was 1.8 instances concentrated.”

However these processes should not simply used for milk – some rivals have additionally carried out comparable methods with different components.

Hugh Kelly is the coaching supervisor and head of Analysis & Improvement at ONA Espresso. He’s additionally a three-time Australian Barista Champion.

He tells me in regards to the freeze drying methodology, and the way he has integrated this course of in a number of of his WBC routines – and has even used it for espresso.

“I’ve used freeze-dried ice cream, lychee, and peach in a few of my signature drinks through the years,” he explains. “The method has a major affect on mouthfeel and flavour, but it surely additionally often permits for fresher-tasting fruit notes in comparison with dried fruit notes, that are often extra caramelised.

“When freeze-dried components are floor right into a powder and combined with moist components, it creates a really constant product, by way of water and Brix content material,” he provides. “It’s additionally very simple to infuse the powder into liquids.”

A barista steams milk on an espresso machine

What components do you’ll want to contemplate when utilizing cryodesiccated milk?

For Anthony, milk focus is simply as vital as every other extraction variable.

“It’s an additional variable to think about alongside dose, yield, and complete extraction time,” he says. “It offers you extra freedom to specific the flavours in espresso.”

As it’s a comparatively new course of to specialty espresso, there are understandably many components to keep in mind when utilizing cryodesiccation.

“This method continues to be new to us, so we’re nonetheless discovering our method round it,” Anthony says. “Crucial factor is to not over-concentrate your milk, as this may overpower the flavours of the espresso.”

It’s because the sweetness and richness of the milk turns into way more intense, which may masks extra delicate flavour notes in sure coffees. In the end, the improved sweetness and creaminess of the milk nonetheless wants to enrich whichever espresso you resolve to make use of.

“The completely different concentrations of milk additionally can help you discover completely different extraction types,” he continues. “For instance, cryodesiccated milk which is extra concentrated can work higher with espresso which is extracted utilizing a better coffee-water ratio.” 

For context, espresso is often extracted at a 1:2 ratio – which means one half espresso to 2 components water.

Relating to steaming cryodesiccated milk, Anthony says that the strategy is essentially the identical as getting ready common milk.

“Nevertheless, the upper focus of fat and proteins within the milk will enhance the standard of microfoam, in addition to the way you expertise the espresso’s flavours,” he says.

Though Anthony explains that he has solely used cryodesiccation with entire milk, he believes that the method could possibly be used with varied several types of milk – together with plant-based choices.

Morgan Eckroth pours milk course beverages during their 2022 World Barista Championship routine

Will we see this course of extra in competitions and occasional outlets?

Firstly, it’s vital to notice that so as to create cryodesiccated milk, you definitely have to put money into expensive tools – which undoubtedly would additionally take up a major quantity of house. 

In the end, which means for a lot of espresso outlets and World Espresso Championship rivals, cryodesiccation might not be a possible choice.

Hugh believes that though rivals may proceed to make use of comparable methods as a part of their routines, most espresso outlets are unlikely to undertake these practices.

“Utilizing concentrated milk makes extra sense for rivals than it does for espresso outlets as a result of it creates extra affect for each sip of espresso you drink,” he tells me. “However should you drink an excessive amount of of it, it could possibly be off-putting, so discovering the suitable stability and depth is essential.”

He factors that utilizing freeze-dried milk could possibly be a extra accessible choice for some espresso outlets.

“Nevertheless, the primary difficulty could possibly be getting access to high-quality freeze-dried milk,” he says. “There are few freeze-dried milk powders that are particularly designed for espresso as a result of lots of them don’t have the suitable ratio of fat, sugars, and proteins.”

A barista steams milk using a steam wand

Innovation is an integral a part of the WBC, and milk processing can also be part of this – it permits rivals to specific completely different flavours and textures in espresso.

“Making an attempt milk-based drinks in new methods can considerably enhance the general sensory expertise, which is usually a really distinctive promoting level for a espresso store, or focus of a competitor’s routine,” Hugh concludes.

Nevertheless, contemplating the time, house, and tools required for processes like cryodessication, it’s unlikely that it’ll develop into a widespread change for espresso outlets any time quickly.

Loved this? Then learn our article exploring the evolution of milk foaming expertise within the espresso business.

Picture credit: World Espresso Occasions, Melbourne Worldwide Espresso Expo, Hugh Kelly

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