How to make coffee with cryodesiccation milk?

For many industry professionals, the World Barista Championship (WBC) is a global platform for competitors to showcase the latest trends and innovations in specialty coffee. These may include new coffee types and varieties and unique methods of preparing and extracting coffee beverages.

In his 2022 WBC-winning performance, Australia's Anthony Douglas uses one of the latter for his milk course category. In his day job, Anthony describes a process called freeze-drying (similar to freeze-drying) and explains that he uses this technique to process his milk.

Anthony mentions that freeze-drying helps enhance his milk's natural sweetness and creaminess and ultimately creates a higher-quality drink and overall sensory experience.

So how exactly does this process work, and does it have implications for the broader specialty coffee industry?

The cryodesiccation process

Cryodesiccation, also known as freeze-drying or lyophilization, is a dehydration process used in the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries to prolong shelf life while maintaining quality. This process has been used for decades, and it has become a staple in the instant coffee industry. Cryodesiccation helps to preserve some of the coffee's flavors and aromas while creating a more convenient product.

There are four main stages to the cryodesiccation process: pretreatment, freezing, primary drying, and secondary drying. The process involves the application of low temperatures and various pressures to remove moisture from the product.

1. Firstly, we filled metal trays with milk and then froze them, We then placed the trays inside a vacuum chamber.

2. We lowered the pressure inside the chamber and applied gentle heat underneath the trays [over a 24-hour period.

3. This causes the water in the frozen milk to turn into a vapor, rather than a liquid, as it thaws, which leaves behind a powder-like substance.
Because the process uses lower temperatures, the milk still retains a lot of its natural flavors, which are then concentrated.

In conclusion, cryodesiccation is a low-temperature dehydration process that is widely used in the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. Cryodesiccated milk is a great option for anyone looking to elevate their coffee game. With its unique texture and convenience, it's definitely worth giving it a try.

How affect the flavor of espresso?

Anthony once explained that the cryodesiccated milk powder he used was concentrated by about 900 times, and he recombined 30g of the powder with 300g of fresh milk to double the concentration of sugars, fats, and proteins. This helped to make his milk course beverages taste Much sweeter and gave them a creamier mouthfeel. Additionally, the higher amount of proteins in the milk possibly helped to produce better-quality latte art.

Although Anthony's team was already using high-quality milk from Riverina Fresh, they were struggling to create consistent-tasting milk course beverages. This led them to try cryodesiccation, which didn't change the flavor of the milk but instead concentrated its aspects, desiring such as sweetness and creaminess.

Anthony combined the cryodesiccated milk with anaerobic natural Sidra variety coffee from El Diviso in Colombia. The resulting milk-based drink was sweet and lush, which helped to enhance and balance the coffee's flavors with certain qualities of the milk.

Overall, the use of cryodesiccated milk powder proved to be a successful technique in creating a flavorful and consistent milk course beverage.

Has Cryodesiccation been Used Before at the WBC?

Anthony Ng, the 2022 World Barista Champion, made history by using cryodesiccated ingredients in his routine, specifically milk and blackcurrant juice. This innovative technique involves freezing ingredients at extremely low temperatures and removing the water through sublimation, resulting in a powder-like substance that can be reconstituted with liquid.

While cryodesiccation is a new technique in the WBC, similar processes have been used by other competitors. Canadian barista Ben Put used freeze distillation to concentrate his milk in 2017, and Morgan Eckroth used freeze distillation in their routine to enhance the sweetness of the coffee.

However, there are significant differences between freeze distillation and cryodesiccation. According to Anthony Ng, not all compounds in freeze-distilled milk concentrate evenly, and timing and temperature are crucial to ensure consistency. Cryodesiccation, on the other hand, produces a consistently concentrated product every time and also extends the shelf life of ingredients.

In addition to milk, freeze-drying has been used with other ingredients, such as ice cream, lychee, and peach, by baristas like Hugh Kelly, a three-time Australian Barista Champion. The technique can create a more consistent product with fresher-tasting fruit notes compared to traditional drying methods.

Overall, cryodesiccation is an exciting innovation that could open up new possibilities for baristas in the WBC and beyond.

What should I pay attention to when using Cryodesiccation milk?

Cryodesiccation is a relatively new process in specialty coffee, and it is crucial to consider several factors when using cryodesiccated milk.

Anthony, a coffee expert, believes that milk concentration is just as important as any other extraction variable, as it gives the barista more freedom to express the coffee's flavors.

Over-concentrating milk can overpower the coffee's flavor, so it is vital to find the perfect balance between the sweetness and richness of the milk and the coffee you are using. The different concentrations of milk can also allow for exploration of different extraction styles.
For example, more concentrated cryodesiccated milk can work better with espresso, which is typically extracted using a higher coffee-water ratio.

When steaming cryodesiccated milk, the method is largely the same as preparing regular milk. However, due to the higher concentration of fats and proteins in cryodesiccated milk, it can improve the quality of microfoam and enhance the coffee's flavors.

Although Anthony has only used cryodesiccation with whole milk, he believes that the process could be used with various different types of milk, including plant-based options. As cryodesiccation is still a new technique, there is still much to be discovered about the process's potential in specialty coffee.

Will the technology catch on at races and coffee shops?

The process of cryodesiccated milk, which involves freeze-drying milk to create a unique texture and flavor, has been making waves in the coffee world. However, it's important to note that this technique requires costly equipment and takes up a significant amount of space, making it less feasible for coffee shops and World Coffee Championship competitors who may not have the resources to invest in it.

While some competitors may continue to use similar techniques as part of their routines, most coffee shops are unlikely to adopt these practices. Concentrated milk is a more accessible option that can still create impact with every sip of coffee, but finding the right balance and intensity is key.

Freeze-dried milk may also be a more accessible option for some coffee shops, but it's important to note that many freeze-dried milk powders on the market don't have the right ratio of fats, sugars, and proteins for coffee.

Despite the challenges, milk processing is an integral part of the WBC, allowing competitors to express different flavors and textures in coffee. Trying milk-based beverages in new ways can significantly improve the overall sensory experience, making it a unique selling point for coffee shops or a focus of a competitor's routine.

In conclusion, while cryodesiccated milk has its benefits, it's unlikely to become a widespread change for coffee shops any time soon due to the time, space, and equipment required. Nonetheless, innovation in milk processing is still important for improving the overall sensory experience of coffee.