What does the crema say about your espresso?

Crema on espresso

There is a lot of talk about it, and there are also many myths about it... The crema layer of your coffee.

And I'm talking in particular about the crema on your espresso. First of all, an espresso with a good crema layer is generally judged to be more visually attractive.

Whether this is justified, and whether this actually says something about the quality of the coffee, I will discuss in this blog.

On the internet you read a lot about the crema layer of an espresso, and I personally think this is because there are actually many causes for a thick, thin, firm, dark, light (etc.) crema.

Fresh coffee beans

It is often the case, but I emphasize not exclusively , that fresh coffee beans give a good crema layer.

This is partly because fresh coffee still contains a lot of CO2. This is why coffee should always rest for a while (7 days) after roasting before drinking. This CO2 creates many small air bubbles.

This ensures a thicker and firmer crema layer. In any case, coffee stays best within max. 6-8 weeks after roasting, so always check the roasting date of your bag of coffee beans , then you know for sure that you have tackled this aspect!

You don't want too fresh coffee, on the other hand. Then you may have a very thick crema layer, but it will not be very tasty.

Type of coffee beans

The type of coffee beans also plays a role. I'm not a fan of Robusta coffee beans myself, but with Robusta coffee beans in your espresso blend you get a thicker crema.

This would be related to the lower percentage of oil in Robusta coffee beans as opposed to Arabica coffee beans .

A higher oil percentage would make the crema layer more unstable... Besides Arabica and Robusta, there are two other types of coffee beans . Unfortunately, I have not yet made an espresso with this myself. Hopefully to be continued ;-)

What is an espresso

An espresso is a concentrated coffee that you brew in about thirty seconds. Under great pressure (9 bar), hot water is forced through a puck with finely ground coffee.

Read also: What is espresso?

Making the perfect espresso (SCA)

In addition, it is important to consider the role of setting. Making a perfect espresso isn't rocket science, but it's not that obvious either.

I myself have completed my SCA training Barista Skills Foundation and Barista Skills Intermediate, and a lot of attention is paid to the perfect espresso.

Think of the only perfect grinding degree for that specific coffee bean, the only perfect ratio (the recipe), the only perfect processing time, perfect pressing, etc.

Only then will you achieve a beautiful crema layer (provided that the other conditions are also met). Otherwise the cream layer is too white, too dark or too thin.

Read my step-by-step plan for the perfect espresso with a semi-automatic machine here.

latte art

Perhaps not equally relevant in all coffee situations, but for latte art you definitely need a good crema layer!

Latte art is created by the contrast of the color of milk and the color of the crema layer.

The frothed milk stays in place due to the firmness of the crema layer in the espresso. So here you definitely need the crema layer!

Random matters

In addition, there are probably 100,000 other peripheral issues that have "an" influence. Think of a nice preheated cup, always important by the way, and a clean cup.

This is like a clean (and slightly wet) beer glass for the connoisseurs...

Does it matter?

This is also a good question! If you look at this question as a complete picture, so in terms of: is the espresso perfectly brewed so that both the taste and crema layer are perfectly expressed, and is the coffee fresh? Then the answer is definitely yes!

But... I understand that a crema layer seems to be a standard part of the perfect espresso, but don't be fooled by this.

Sometimes it just doesn't come out very well, and your coffee can still be delicious. 1-2 minutes after brewing it is normal for your crema layer to sink in a bit more, but your coffee is probably not drinkable before then ;-)

In addition, a crema layer often has a bitter taste, and in my opinion that is not the most delicious part of your coffee experience. But hey, tastes differ!

What is your experience with the crema on espresso? Do you have another golden tip?