Kyle Ramage won the 2017 US Barista Championship using a controversial method. Ramage used dry ice to freeze the beans, giving them a better grind and flavour. In a Nature journal study, scientists used liquid nitrogen and dry ice to freeze coffee beans to extreme temperatures. Following is a transcript of the video.
My name is Kyle Ramage and I competed in the United States Barista Championship. I placed first this year, and I did utilise a somewhat experimental freezing and grinding process. I took a specialty coffee and I froze it with dry ice, and it did improve the flavour.
Basically coffee is incredibly fragile. If you’ve seen roasted coffee and you’ve like maybe dropped it on the table a few times, like just coffee seeds, beans, whatever, they sound kind of hollow and they’re kind of light and kind of brittle.
So if you push on them with your thumb, they will actually kind of crack and explode and break into a ton of tiny pieces. So that’s basically what happens when you grind coffee, is that you crush it into a bunch of smaller pieces so that you can dissolve those solids into a liquid. Which is what we drink as coffee, right?
Once you take coffee past, say, negative 50 degrees Celsius, it becomes extremely fragile, and because of this extreme fragility, it breaks up in the grinder more consistently. So what that means for me, all the little particles were more the same size, which just meant that they extracted into solution easier and with more flavour clarity. The coffee that I used was also exceptionally delicious, well over $US100 a pound roasted.
So you’re not just going to be able to put coffee — freeze it with dry ice and put it in the freezer and it’s going to make your coffee taste sweeter every time. So it is this work between art and science. People always say, “How do I get a great cup of coffee or a great espresso?” I say, “Find a local café that you know that does great coffee and continue to support them so they can keep their doors open. So they can continue to make amazing coffee for you.”
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