What is crema? What does it come from? What if my espresso has no crema? Learn all about it in this article.
Crema is the part of an espresso that sets it apart from the rest. An impressive, creamy foam that floats on the surface of your espresso. For many, crema is a visual sign of quality. A properly prepared, classic espresso should have a thick layer of crema on which a teaspoon of sugar should be able to float briefly before sinking into the depths of the espresso. It shows that the espresso is fresh: since crema dissolves within a couple of minutes, it shows that your espresso has succeeded straight from the machine to the table.
But crema is not the only sign of quality. An espresso without the reddish-brown foam can also taste mega delicious. But a crema can also be on a bad espresso.
How is crema created?
The source of crema is in the roasting process, because this is where the bean absorbs a lot of CO2 in the coffee. Then, when you brew the coffee under high pressure, the CO2 is released and dissolved in the water. When the espresso finally flows out of the portafilter and the pressure is reduced, the CO2 pushes out of the water and the foam on the surface is created. It's exactly the same process as when you open a bottle of cola and it foams up.
The amount of crema depends on how the coffee would be roasted and how it was prepared. Lighter roasted coffees contain less CO2, so they produce less crema. And such coffees also require a longer extraction to bring out the full flavor profile, which also results in less crema. Many of our Single Origin Espressos are lighter roasted, so don't be on your last Italian vacation - we promise it will (still) taste delicious(er).
Another factor is the freshness of the beans, i.e. when the coffee was roasted: older beans have a lower CO2 component, which is why they produce less crema. Here, a lack of crema really indicates poorer quality.
Crema: good or bad?
It's impossible to tell the quality of an espresso purely by looking at the crema. Some people even like to skim the crema! The argument here is that there are small granules, bitters, and oils in the crema, and that it's not as tasty. They say that an espresso without crema has a cleaner taste. Don't believe it? Try it for yourself - you can find our latest espressos via the menu or by clicking here.