What is Coffee Crema, and Its Importance in Espresso Quality


Last Updated on November 15, 2022 by Timothy Byron Smith

Espresso being a sophisticated beverage is distinguished by a beautiful thick “crema” on the top. Many people consider this foam to be an essential component of the espresso and the quality of the shot. While others characterized it to be a pointless byproduct of the brewing process.

After getting insight from different forums and professionals. We did understand what is coffee crema and whether is it that important for a good espresso shot. Here we will discuss all the key points about “Crema.”

What is Coffee Crema Actually?

An espresso shot is topped with a Tan-reddish froth called “coffee crema” or simply “crema.” This frothy layer is aromatic and rich in flavor.

This crema is formed when CO2 gas stored in the ground coffee reacts with the soluble oils and results in the air bubbles forming the tick crema layer.

crema at time of brewing espresso

Rich foamy “crema” on top of an espresso shot is a sign of high-quality brewing and a professional barista. Compared to drip coffee, espresso has a unique flavor, and smell. The “crema” provides a significant aftertaste as well.

Perfect Crema According to Baristas

There are many opinions in the coffee World in regard to “crema.” When taking the time to listen to what baristas think about it, there are mixed opinions.

Thick layer of crema topping an espresso shot

Some say an ideal espresso shot has a crema that lasts around two minutes, which determines the quality of an espresso shot. While others are scraping crema out of their espresso before serving.

Getting a peculiar answer to “What does crema actually signifies?” might be challenging, yet remembering a few points can help.

  • There will be less espresso inside the cup if there is a lot of crema. Most professional baristas aim for the ideal crema that is usually 5mm thick and covers one-tenth of the espresso shot.
  • A good espresso machine would typically filter out the coffee within 15 to 30 seconds, although that can change for different machines.
  • The form of crema, taste, and thickness can be affected by your grind size, and the overall extraction process.
  • To keep getting perfect crema with each espresso shot, always let your machine heat up a bit before brewing coffee. Maintain your espresso machine, and keep it clean to avoid bitter and uneven-tasting espresso.

Get the Best crema on Your Espresso Shot

Whereas the crema is developed during the coffee brewing process, there are variables that contribute to the taste and quality of crema.

  • To get the best crema possible on espresso, roast the bean freshly and keep their medium roast. Darker roasted beans yield less crema.
  • Beans that are without any artificial preservatives and are naturally processed produce better crema as they get more oils preserved while being processed.
  • As for domestic espresso machines, many of them come with automatic settings. However practically, this extraction process may prevent better crema formed in comparison to a manual machine.

Is Crema Really That Important?

As it might appear that a nice thick layer of crema is the key to the best shot of espresso, this is not necessarily the case.

Yet, crema does enhance the flavor of an espresso cup. Still, in practice, a cup of espresso can taste excellent even without the crema.

Aroma and flavor are important with espresso. In the end, it doesn’t really matter as long as you like your espresso drinks. Avoid getting rid of your shots on the basis of crema, the only way to tell if a shot is good or not is by tasting.

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