Espresso Crema- The Virtue and Sin of Espresso

Oct 18, 2011


In:coffee pods, Uncategorized

Espresso Crema – The Virtue and Sin of a Perfetto Espresso

If we exclude the wonderful art of the roaster from the equation – then the recipe for a fine espresso is simply temperature / pressure and time

Temperature 90 degrees +/- 5 degrees

Inlet water pressure 9 bar +/- 2 bar

Percolation time 30 seconds +/- 5 seconds

For 6.5 > 7 g of coffee

Get one of these variables wrong and you will end up with a disappointing result – and one which the espresso, in all its honest virtue, will exhibit to you… through its crema

How and why is complicated… but reflects the mystery that is the perfetto espresso

Espresso is a concentrated solution of salts, sugars, acids (Acetic/ Formic/ Malic /Citric & Lactic) and caffeine

A typical 25 ml ristretto contains 50 mg (cumulative weight) of caffeine and a standard espresso of 35 ml around 60mg

The caffeine content varies according to the relative Arabica/ Robusta content of your chosen espresso recipe… Robusta contains 45% more caffeine than Arabica coffees… and subsequently, also produces a denser beverage and one with more soluble solids…hence why the authentic Italian espresso always contains 10 > 20 % of a good quality Robusta origin

Espresso crema is technically a ‘biphasic system composed of gas globules held within liquid films called lamellae’… these globules are typically in a honeycomb structure… and their persistence is both an important characteristic and a measure of the quality of the espresso produced

Any error in judgement when grinding, brewing/ extraction / temperature is immediately shown in the colour, the texture and the persistence of the espresso crema

If the Crema is light tan coloured / inconsistent and thin (the cream should be c 10% of the total liquor produced) this has resulted from either under extraction …too coarse a grind or an insufficient water temperature

If the Crema is whitish in colour and made up only of big bubbles then the brew has been over extracted and potentially the water temperature is too low

And if the espresso is topped with simply a whitish spot or ring in the middle of the cup and the brew is very black then the temperature has been too high

If the Crema is the correct medium tan / Cadbury milk chocolate type shade – but is simply thin and disappointing…then it may  be that your beans are no longer fresh!

It will be ok – but weak and uninspiring…!

The Crema then is the virtue and the sin of a fine espresso…it traps the volatile compounds which make that beautiful aroma… and if not there…we have a beverage which is thin, burnt and without that burst of espresso ‘wowee!’ aroma



The easiest way to make the perfect espresso is with the ESE espresso pod. It really is simplicity personified…. fresh pure espresso each and every time you need it… simply tear open your favourite brew and sit back and  make your perfect espresso… then enjoy that espresso moment!

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