Coffee Science – Compound Chilling: Gimmick Or Genius?

I've seen a lot of espresso trends come and go...

but one recent thing that seemed to make a quick re-emergence, and then subsequent disappearance, is the idea of compound chilling. The name itself may not ring a bell, but the image of syrupy espresso running over frozen steel whiskey ball seems to have made its mark. Videos showing the technique garnered millions of views across multiple video sharing platforms, but beyond the aesthetics, there's some interesting conversations that could be had regarding this unusually satisfying to watch espresso trend.

The idea behind compound chilling isn't new, it's essentially like the cooking technique called blanching. Taking something how and placing it quickly into an ice bath to stop the cooking process dead in its tracks. Most recently this was seen on stage at the 2021 World Barista Championship when Australian Champion Hugh Kelly used as part of their routine. Something similar was done by Matt Perger in 2013 as he pulled espresso into frozen cups.

In the end the idea is the same, it shocks and cools the espresso quickly. This allows it to hit a more optimal drinking temperature for picking up and tasting the more nuanced and delicate flavors in the coffee. A lot of this, including another interesting side effect was lost in the sauce with its flash in the pan popularity, but I figured it could be a fun thing to discuss in longer form, so hit play on the video above and let's brew this!

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