Crazy about Crema
Among the espresso related questions that we receive, one of the most common is about how to get more crema on top of your espressos.
Accordingly we thought it might be worth explaining in more detail about what crema is so that you can understand better if you really do want to have more of it.
First, what is crema?
The “crema” on an espresso or americano coffee is akin to the head you get on a glass of well poured stout beer: i.e., it’s a lighter, foamier layer that sits on the top of your coffee and makes it look very elegant and authentic.
This foamy layer results from air bubbles created from the oil content of the coffee when it is extracted (especially when pressure is used as with an espresso machine).
The lighter colour is a result of the CO2 contained in the beans once they have been roasted, but which will eventually “out-gas” or pass out of the roasted beans over time. If you’ve ever wondered why some packages of coffee have a little valve on them, it is for the sake of this out-gassing.
As we said many people love the way crema looks sitting on the top of your coffee, you may not like the way it tastes, as generally speaking it is sour.
With some roasts, this sour layer will blend with the other flavours quite nicely, but with other roast it will definitely be an unwelcome addition, and in these cases keeping the crema low is actually preferable.
And if you are struggling to produce crema but just can’t get any, be aware that certain roasts simply cannot make crema because they don’t have enough fat content.
Factors contributing to more or less crema
The fat content of the bean, as well as the time since its being roasted, are the primary factors involved in how much crema you are going to get. First of all, the more fat you have in your beans, the more crema.
A large part of the bean’s oil content simply has to do with the climate in which it is grown, but natural or honey process roasts can also help to hang onto more of the fat content of the bean. Secondly, the freshness of the beans, and the amount of CO2 in them, is also a major factor.
The CO2 levels of the beans will be highest right after they’ve been roasted, and it will usually take around 72 hours for the beans to de-gas, so you will usually get a lot more crema during the first 2-3 days after roasting.
Some baristas even recommend to wait at least 72 hours before using freshly roasted beans in order to avoid going overboard with the crema.
Some other factors include the level of the roast and the equipment you are using. Darker roasts tend to have less oil once ground because most of their oil gets pulled out to the surface of the bean, and so in general these roasts will make less crema.
Also if you are using a machine that uses pressure in the extraction process, like an espresso machine, than you are certainly going to create more crema this way (although it may be less rich than “natural” crema produced without using pressure).
So this should give you a better idea of the factors that go into creating crema, but also keep in mind that crema is not always a good thing! Depending on your roast, it may actually be idea to aim for less or even no crema at all.
So although it looks nice, if you overdo it you may make your coffee too sour. Think of it like the head of a beer: a bit of head is nice, but too much is usually a sign that the person pouring it doesn’t know what they are doing.
Pierro commercial coffee machines are an Australian owned company manufacturing commercial coffee machines specifically designed for the Australian coffee industry.
If you are looking to buy or rent a coffee machine for your work environment which is simple to use and produces 100% pure espresso then our Pierro corporate coffee machine range is perfect for you.
For more information on The Pierro coffee machine range, for purchase or rental, please contact us direct or feel free to visit our Sydney head office and showroom at 8 – 12 Robert Street, Rozelle NSW 2039.