Espresso and its crema


Espresso drinkersalways expectcrema on their coffee. Some of them try to judge the quality of the coffee by the way it looks or by its height or density. I'm sure reading the title of this paragraph made you think of commercial coffee advertisements that entice you with really thick crema. This marketing ploy takes advantage of people's fondness for the sight of crema and attributes to it the ability to distinguish good coffee from bad. But more crema does not mean better coffee.

Whether the crema is high, low or thick is the result of many factors. For example, whether the coffee is of the arabica or robusta variety, how it has been processed. The crema can also tell you about the age of the coffee and whether it is ground correctly for espresso.

For latte art in particular, crema is very important. The presence of crema on the surface of the coffee is essential to ensure that it is not just pure white milk. Into this brown layer, special movements are then used to draw patterns resembling a heart, a flower or even a swan.

As a rule, the prediction of a good espresso is that such a coffee has a crema on the surface with the typical tiger-like appearance. That is to say, dark spots. The sight of such an espresso is pleasing to say the least. However, this effect can never guarantee and define a great coffee. It is only the taste that will determine that.


The higher crema is encountered in coffees with an admixture of robusta. However, this crema falls off more quickly and does not form an elastic layer on the surface of the espresso. A thicker and longer-lasting crema is formed on espresso made from Coffea Arabica beans. The way these beansare processed also affects the appearance of the crema. It is generally known that coffees that have been processed by the dry or honey method have a stronger crema than washed coffees. Weaker crema is found in old coffees and also in over-extracted coffees. The crema is also affected by the temperature of the water and the pressure used to prepare the coffee.


What theappearance of the crema can help in is estimating the correct extraction of the coffee. We know we have fresh natural arabica, we use a constant temperature and pressure, but the crema on espresso seems weaker? We probably need to move the grind a notch finer. If we had the grinder set at too fine a grind, the crema will seem darker and richer. However, the perfection of your espresso isalways best judged by your own taste.


We see it in coffee every day, but few people know how crema is made. Crema is made up of microbubbles of carbon dioxide, oils and so-calledfines, or the finest particles. The carbon dioxide is formed during roasting and gradually escapes with the freshly roasted coffee. This is why you will find a small one-way valve on coffee packets. So that this gas can escape and the packet doesn't burst.

In addition to puffing coffee packets, this gas is clearly visible when making filter coffee. When you put a paper filter in your dripper, rinse it out and sprinkle in ground coffee. Now it's time to preinfuse. The first watering with a small amount of water, called blooming. This effect is caused by CO2 escaping and being pushed to the surface by the water, which causes the coffee to rise and swell, i.e. bloom. CO2 reacts in the same way when making espresso. In a coffee machine, however, it doesn't have much of a place to escape the water, so it travels with the espresso from the lever to the cup, where it, along with the oils and insoluble particles, evaporates into the crema.


Now that you know how and what crema is made, you may also be wondering whether it's a good idea to drink crema at all. Also, who wants to get carbon dioxide bubbles trapped in oil into their body? You can simply take a spoon and scoop thecrema off the surface of the coffee . However, doing so will also affect the overall taste of the coffee. The crema itself is bitter. Removing it would give you a more sweet coffee. However, the flavour would not be complex. At the same time, the crema carries the texture of the coffee. The oils and finesse when sipped cause that thick espresso mouthfeel we love.


If we agree that crema is indispensable to the overall espresso experience, we start to think about whether we should blenditinto the coffee. Mixing all the layers of espresso would achieve acomplex flavor in every sip. With filtered coffees, it is already customary to stir before serving or sipping. Such a " decanter overflow" is first stirred in a circular motion in the hand before being poured into cups. This movement is sometimes seen in espresso lovers. It ismore efficient to take a spoon and stir the coffee with it. Stirring, not stirring and what kind of stirring, James Hoffman explored. He tested samples of coffee stirred ( and not stirred) in this way and found that the most effective way to enjoy espresso is to stir the crema into the espresso with a spoon.

Also try this experiment and ask your barista for two cups of espresso and one spoon. On purpose, which coffee will taste better or do you think there will be no difference?

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