Crema is an essential feature of espresso coffee: let’s find out more!
Espresso is the Italian coffee par excellenceand what would an espresso be without its hazel-reddish crema?
We could debate endlessly on this issue, instead we will simply share our experience and our opinion with you.
How is the Espresso crema made?
The crema is nothing more than the result of the perfect balance among the temperature of the water used to brew the coffee, the pressure at which the espresso machine works, the quantity, quality and grind size of the coffee.
It is an emulsion obtained by the passage of hot water through the ground coffee and it is characterized by the presence of essential oils, water, carbon dioxide (contained in the roasted coffee beans), caffeine, proteins and sugars.
The crema represents an essential feature of the espresso, which is the only brewing method that allows its formation.
All the tasting experiences start from the eyes. In fact, just observing the crema we can get a lot of positive or negative information about the coffee we are about to drink.
Thick, greyish crema and wide texture? Most likely we are dealing with a blend containing a considerable percentage of Robusta.
This will also explain a less persistent crema.
Thin crema and compact texture?
The coffee we are drinking is very likely a 100% Arabica.
The colour of the crema recalls that of the “friar’s robe” and it will be striped because of the essential oils naturally present in the Arabica coffees.
The genetics of a 100% Arabica coffee will also determine a greater persistence of the crema which will remain tight even after stirring the coffee with a teaspoon or whirling the cup.
Isn’t it odd how many things you can learn about a coffee just by observing it?
And that’s not all!
As already said, the crema does not only talk about the type of product that we are tasting, but it also reveals details about its quality and its correct extraction (or incorrect, in some cases).
There are many details and variables to consider when evaluating the crema; to make things easier we have chosen some photos to show you what is a good cream and what is a bad one.
See that light spot in cup number 1?
It is a bell warning us that we are drinking a Robusta coffee (very rich in caffeine) or that the coffee is over extracted.
The case is the same if we see a dark crema with a dark brown outline (picture 2). What would that mean? Most likely, we are again in front of an over extracted coffee.
If we lengthen the extraction time or use a fine grind, we run the risk of pull out also unpleasant elements!
Beware, however, that the darker outline of the crema can be a symptom of a further “sacrilege” of the espresso sacred world: the hot cup.
A hot cup in fact destroys the aromas of the coffee, spoils the crema and numbs the drinker’s tongue and lips.
If, on the other hand, the crema is evanescent, very light, with bubbles or “holes”, it means that the espresso is probably under extracted, or that a lower dose of ground coffee than required has been used. (cup number 3)
After the visual analysis, it’s time for tasting. If on the one hand, tasting relies on a strong instinctive basis, on the other it is based on one’s previous knowledge, which will help detect defects or anomalies of the product.
What is certain is that the first sip of an unsweetened coffee will be bitter and the bitterness is due to the impact with the cream. To reduce it, we suggest that you whirl the cup or stir the coffee with a teaspoon!
Had you ever noticed these little details before?
In this short article, we have tried to give you some inputs for a first step towards a conscious espresso tasting.
If you are curious or you want to share your tasting experience with us, write us and we will be glad to answer you!
Stay with us! In one of the next blogs, we will focus on how you can get a perfect crema and a top-class espresso!