Everyone likes a nice warm bath. You know the ones: they’re like two hours long, maybe with a few soothing botanicals, and a water jet wouldn’t be too much to ask for. In the bathroom, this is called relaxing, but in the kitchen it’s referred to as sous viding. And as it turns out, your coffee is game for a leisurely soak, too. Once just a wacky experiment seen only on the stages of barista competitions—in particular Chan Kwun Ho at the 2015 WBC finals and Sam Schroeder at the 2016 USBC Finals—sous vide coffee has now found a home at Chicago’s Michelin-starred Band of Bohemia.
The sous vide technique works by putting whatever you want to cook—in this case coffee grounds and water—into an air tight bag that then soaks in a temperature-controlled water bath for an extended period of time. For things like steaks, sous viding allows the entire cut to reach the ideal temperature without overcooking the outside. For coffee, sous viding has a slightly different effect. Band of Bohemia’s Head of Coffee and Tea Tom Santelle tells Extra Crispy, “Generally, the longer coffee is extracted—without being over extracted—the more the natural sweetness and fruit character of the coffee is expressed.”
For their sous vide coffee, Band of Bohemia uses a naturally processed El Salvador grown by Café Tuxpal’s Frederico Pacas and roasted by Chicago’s Dark Matter Coffee. Depending on the season, they will also throw in different flavoring agents like “tarragon, black cherry, and rosemary” in the winter and “gooseberry, grape, and yarrow” in the summer. The result, according to Santelle, is an “integrated, comforting, and intriguing beverage that doesn’t taste flavored.”
For those who haven’t yet jumped on the pour-over takes too long hot-take bandwagon (because that’s the new thing now, right?) but want to extend the coffee making process by trying your hand at making sous vide coffee at home, Extra Crispy has included a recipe as well as tips from Santelle. You will of course need a sous vide machine. But once you have that, all you need to do is pop your coffee and yourself in a tub for a few hours and let the water bath do its thing.
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