85 Comments Video 1 – Crema

  1. James Hoffmann

    Personally I would speculate that it is to do with the amount of fines suspended in the foam (that we see as mottling/tiger striping.) These probably don’t taste great in isolation and would certainly explain the decrease in both bitterness and body that most people are reporting.

  2. IncognitoScott

    Thanks for this Jim.

    I have tried this during the week, and I really feel like this benefits cappuccinos more than a straight shot of espresso. In the past I have always tried to “aim” for the spot in the cup where there is no crema on top. When skimming off the crema, it creates a uniformily sweet and creamy cap. I tried it with some customers and they all agreed that the capps were smoother.

    I do have to say that I miss the mouthfeel in a straight shot though…

  3. pravspresso

    Hmmm…so i tried to skim the crema off in a latte as well as stir thoroughly.

    Oddly enough, i didn’t like either option.

    My shots are pulled straight into a heated cup timed at 25-30 seconds for subsequent latte.

    To me the taste was much better then skimming. I tried 5 different beans and roast variations.

    All of which tasted better without skimming.


  4. K.C.

    James this proved to be true for us. Our team was blown away by the results . . . now onto asking ourselves what we are going to do in changing protocols.

    Muchas Gracias

  5. triptogenetica

    Perhaps, crema was only ever a surrogate marker for a good espresso?

    (Please excuse the digression / talking down, if this is familiar territory).

    In biomedical research, quite often a ‘surrogate’ marker, or endpoint, is used/measured, rather than the thing we’re really interested in. This may be for several reasons – it may be easier to measure, cheaper to do so, or it may produce results faster than waiting for the real endpoint of interest. (Drug companies often like this type of study, as it shows up promising data sooner).

    A good example would be much of the research into drug treatments for HIV/AIDS. In this case, the real endpoint, (the index we’re interested in), is usually mortality, deaths. But it can take a long time, decades, to collect that sort of data. So instead, we can measure another index, in this case the number of CD4 T cells, in the patient’s blood. We do this before and after the treatment, and look for an improvement. Then, we hope that an improvement in this index will correlate with an improvement in the real index, the one we care about. Often, only time will tell, though we can suggest mechanisms why there might be a correlation in advance.

    Crema on espresso may be like this – it correlates with fresh beans, clean equipment, reasonable skills at the machine – but it doesn’t tell us what the cup will taste like. Confounding factors, like the extreme of ‘perfect crema’ devices, make it an imperfect index.

    So when we have access to the real index (when we can taste the coffee), we shouldn’t care about the surrogate. Perhaps crema has its place, for instance in telediagnostics and internet forums where tasting the espresso is impossible – and I’m also quite attached to it – but perhaps its importance has been taken way out of proportion.

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  7. Stephan FILMgauge

    The crema, like the contents of any of these 4 shot glasses, lends flavor and mouth feel to the entire shot. But, also, like the contents of any of these 4 shot glasses, is raw and one sided alone, and needs the contents of the other glasses the create the full experience of “the shot”.

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  9. Thommo

    A researcher in the US found that CO2 tastes sour and has a specific taste receptor on the tongue. So, because of the dissolved CO2 in an espresso crema it tastes more bitter.

    Interestingly, when cupping I remove the grounds and foam from the brews I’m testing somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes to prevent the cup becoming bitter as it cools.

  10. Ivan

    An espresso without crema is like a decapitated man and plays a fundamental role in the definition of espresso. When we take the crema out of the espresso, aren’t we applying an additional “manual brewing” method in the overall brewing process? If so, should we still call it espresso? Crema is also a decorative element, an important detail in Gastronomy.

    Ey, just some ideas for the future if we want to continue further beyond on experimenting, why we do not blend espressos on the cup? e.g. transfer the best tasting crema of one espresso into a decapitated espresso.

  11. Tim

    HI James, Is stirring in the crema similar to swirling the crema in the cup before drinking. I seam to get similar results, though the stirring is more romantic and classy. Maybe my taste is not refined. Thoughts?

  12. nathan

    I think the answer to this debate is based soley on opinion. I t really depends on how you like your espresso. For example, some may like the thinner espresso made in a more authentic italian way in a moka pot with very little if any crema. On the other hand, many like the more viscous shots, thick with crema pulled on 9 bar espresso machines. We often forget that the most important thing about coffee is taste, so this debate is not black or white.

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  14. Jason Coffee

    mind blowing if it’s true. I am going to try it very soon. I am with many of the other people who commented on this, I think it what it comes down to is preference. I don’t know yet for sure but I have a feeling there will be more depth in flavor with the crema and a “cleaner” cup without it. And if I want a “clean” cup I will brew a Chemex.

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  21. Ben

    Maybe the grinder is creating too many fines which float up with the crema? Was the coffee ground with a good grinder?

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