What is Extract Chilling?
Extract Chilling is the process of running the first 40-50% of your espresso shot over a pre-chilled ball or cold surface in hopes to preserve the otherwise lost volatile aromatic compounds in your coffee. Extract chilling is also sometimes called blanching but is more commonly referred to as Extract Chilling.
How Extract Chilling Works
Extract Chilling traps the aromatic volatile compounds in your espresso, this has a great impact on the taste of your coffee as our sense of taste is greatly effected by the aroma.
History of Extract Chilling:
While Extract Chilling as we know it was popularised by Hugh Kelly's 2021 WBC routine, the first time the 'techniques' was used would've been when Berg Wu from Taiwan competed in the 2016 WBC as they using cold portafilters to cool the first part of the espresso.
How To Test Extract Chilling
To test the effects of extract chilling all you need to do is use a split shot of 2 single espressos. Extract chill the first 50% of 1 of your espressos and for the other espresso let it freely run in to the cup. The best way to test extract chilling is to taste both coffees side by side, ideally when tasting espresso you want to make sure you stir you coffee before taking a sip to help mix the layers of the espresso together.
Why you should try Extract Chilling Espresso
Coffee nerds and experts love trying new and whacky techniques in order to get a better tasting cup of coffee. We know how much difference a small change can make, I recommend everyone who is interested in coffee to try extract chilling to some extent. While many people are opinionated about this, trying it for yourself is the only way you will be able to comprehend how different your coffee will taste.
Different Coffee Blanching Tools:
- Extract Chilling with a Spoon
A metal spoon placed in the freezer can be used to extract chill, this does have its limitations as spoons are quite thin and aren't as cold as a chilling ball. As well as this, the shape of the spoon isn't a circle and this may effect the flavour.
For best results, try to use an ice cream scoop or something that holds the cold temperature and is more of a spherical shape.
- Nucleus Paragon Espresso Rock
The Nucleus Paragon Espresso Rock is a fluid filled ball with a plastic holder, this holds the ball in place and can be easily moved out of the way after the first 50% of your espresso shot.
The Nucleus Paragon Espresso Rock is quite expensive but is made from high quality materials and design.
- Coffee Alive Extract Chilling Ball
The Coffee Alive Extract Chilling ball features a unique design where the solid stainless steel ball is fixed onto the handle. This handle is also split on one edge so that it can be hung up in the freezer to save space.
The Extract Chilling ball is easy to move out of the way after the first 50% of the espresso shot and it can also be flipped the opposite way (so that the ball sits inside the cup) to save space for low clearance espresso machines.
While this certainly is a unique design its biggest limitation is how the ball can not be removed after the first 50% of the shot.
Does Blanching Coffee Actually Work?
Yes, when doing a side by side comparison of a control espresso and an extract chilled espresso we found that the extract chilled espresso was much more vibrant in flavour and had a richer mouth feel. We should mention that when doing this side by side comparison we tested a medium roasted espresso roasted for milk based coffees, when we tasted the two side by side we found that the extract chilled coffee had a much sweeter taste and while the control espresso had some ashy roasted notes present the extract chilled coffee had noticeably less burnt ashy taste.
Extract Chilling Espresso vs Pour Over coffee
While we mainly wanted to discuss extract chilling for espresso there is a large community of people extract chilling their pour over coffees, while this is a little more difficult to test side by side there is a noticeable difference in taste.
In saying this we found that extract chilling espresso had much more of a difference in taste compared to extract chilling pour over coffee.
There is another issue with extract chilling pour over coffee, unfortunately there is not a good way to somehow position a ball under the dripper with out utilising a brew stand. While the Paragon does use a brew stand I am personally not a fan of stands in general as there is 2 ways to use these:
Why I Don't Like Coffee Brewing Stands
1- To use the brew stand on top of your brewing scales, this is a good way to avoid just weighing your yield and actually does directly weigh how much water you brew with, two major issue with this is that most stands are heavy and can easily topple over and the other is that you may easily reach your scales weighing capacity.
2- You can use the stand underneath your scales but this will only weigh your yield (the coffee after it has brewed into your server) this is a wildly inaccurate way of brewing and requires much much practice in comparison to brewing without a scale at all.