Espresso Myths: Magical Crema

Espresso Myths: Magical Crema


we’ve been making coffee for a long time and there’s always been some
common myths or ideas that people get hung up on yeah there’s there’s quite a few I think
maybe one of the first things that we were talking about earlier was a these crema myths you really look at a shot and if there’s
like beautiful crema with flecking in it then you’ve pulled the perfect shot but, you know not necessarily. the idea you can diagnose an espresso just by looking at the crema is a is a little bit short-sighted
it misses some things crema is an essential part of
good espresso for sure but what color
that crema is and what its consistency is will depend a lot on the coffee as much as
anything I mean you can have a terrible coffee
roasted poorly and get beautiful like
aesthetically pleasing crema out of it, and you can have the the
most like lovely you know special complex intricate coffee around and it’ll get just the
palest kinda saddest ghostly espresso crema.
absolutely I think one of the best examples of that is Italian roasters include robusta into their blends, simply to add this
really thick, dark crema on top of their shots
so it looks beautiful but if you ever just taste a single
origin robusta most people would not tell you that
tastes like a very good espresso there’s also people who will talk
about there is also the idea that you can choose when to turn off a espresso
shot, or when to stop a espresso shot based off of crema and that’s another major issue the idea is that once it starts to
blonde that’s when you need to stop it but that is, its somewhat insane because
every single coffee is going to blonde at a different point and the
crema of every single coffee is going to be a little bit different instead by focusing on the recipe, and the
brew ratio paying attention to your dose and pay attention to your
yield, and getting those things like exactly where you want them, that will
result in a much better espresso than just looking at the color
of the crema blonding is a very subjective thing when I think maybe somethings turning blonde maybe
Charles doesn’t think it’s turning blonde, and only when we
start being able to talk to language thats common like a brew ratio recipe, can we really
start to share what we think taste good and what we think is right and that allows us to move forward
because we can share things that said, crema color will tell you
some things especially with regards to consistancy if you have pulled the same shot twenty
times and it looks a certain way every single
time and the twenty-first time it’s completely different, its probably not any good but it only that knowledge is only important in the
context of everything else that you know absolutely I mean the major thing that’s
going to differentiate the color of the crema, is the level of
roast because if you, if you think about it
you’re going to get a color of espresso that is based on how dark the beans are
in the hopper, so you know for instance somebody that’s
thats roasting really really dark you get these this really dark crema on top but if you
are if you’re brewing something thats a
really light roasted coffee its gonna come out looking “blonde” immediately so, that’s the major the major thing also it is should be noted that crema tastes terrible it’s one of the least enjoyable parts of drinking coffee and, you know, more crema is not
necessarily going to mean a tastier shot there’s also when people pull a shot of espresso, and they let it sit out, and the crema dissapates theres a common idea that like, once there’s a hole in the crema that it doesn’t taste any good and that’s just simply not true. theres
things happening to that espresso shot as it sits but its not going to be the crema signifying a loss a flavor what will happen is the temperature will
change, and as the temperature changes maybe what flavors we pick up on will change a lot of the classic ideas behind
espresso like, “super hot cup” you know “everything
just really hot” has a lot to do with
hiding the flavors of bad espresso

100 thoughts on “Espresso Myths: Magical Crema

  1. This is one of the few ChefSteps espresso videos I almost totally disagree with. The tone in these videos is how important TDS meters are and consistent ratios, with actually diminishing the use of one's five senses (and their brain) to diagnose a shot. When Charles says "the idea that you can diagnose an espresso just by looking at the crema is a bit shortsighted" especially irks me. 

    Watching the shot develop is not the only way to diagnose espresso. But it is part of the overall diagnosis of espresso, especially when trouble shooting a shot. While I do agree that not every shot with beautiful reddish brown tiger flecking on the crema will taste great I can tell you from a lot of experience that shots with blond crema are more often than not the result of problems: over extraction, old, stale beans, old, stale grind, or a temperature pull issues, or a combination of the above. I honestly cannot recall a 4point shot (out of 6) that I've had of espresso with a blond, thin head of crema.

    I like this series for the good education parts within it, but the hosts rely far too much on refractometers and brew ratios as their advice, when those things are, IMO, blinders for the the growing espresso industry pursuing the "god shot" of espresso. (yes, I also disagree with their god shot myth video).

  2. these guys are not the governing body on espresso.  espresso is gauged by 7, possibly 8 different variables.  these two twinks have absolutely zero authority when it comes to judging a shot of espresso.   

  3. I am glad I found this video. It reassured me of some of the things i ditched along the way in order to expect consistency. For one i totally agree on the hot cup rule being unnecessary. If you are obsessed about really experiencing every cup intimately (like me) there is nothing more enjoyable than to experience the flavours of espresso change as it cools. It is least interesting when hot. What's better is that every coffee is unique in that sense….. I like to make my espressos with much lighter roasts and I am not a blend kinda guy so  i don't ever expect thick crema. If i do get it then that is a nice surprise but it won't enhance the flavour. I just know I will be expecting a little more body 😉 . Yield is what its all about. It gets to a point where you've pulled that many espressos that  by plain smell I can tell when to cut the shot. It rarely makes a huge difference to yield. I always land it somewhere between 20-27ml. Different origins different yields.. Thanks for the video I really liked it.

  4. I really like to think that these two often get completely blitzed on espresso and compare the subtleties and nuances of their caffeine shriveled raisin scrotums.

  5. I guess the crema being the worst tasting part of the espresso is also subjective. The crema is my favorite part of the espresso; so much so that I always run my finger around the edge of the shot glass after I pour the shot into the demitasse to taste the crema that remains along the edge.

    I do enjoy your videos but I just disagree on that one point. 

  6. In response to Zander van barrel – Its not bad for you if they do – I like good coffee made by my father which he learned to do Im not sure when in life – he is from a more tea oriented society although there are some good things about coffee if consumed here and then and in mod – if you drink it too much it may not be good but no ingredient taken to excess is good for you – regardless to what it is. Just have it like a treat in moderation like you do everything else

  7. haha its funny because I got this thick crema layer with my super old crappy beans which i used just to waste and teach myself (at the time there was the pressurized portafilter). I took the thing out the beans roasted 6 days ago and the crema was muchhh weaker. The second coffee was definitely better. I just watched this because i'm totally new to espresso making (but not to drinking coffee ;p

  8. These are all fantastic videos. Thanks for sharing! I've been going through your espresso class and it's providing a lot of eye-opening information, in spite of how many blogs I've devoured on espresso.

    In particular, I was interested that lighter roasts generally do better at higher temperatures and darker roasts, lower. I always thought it was the reverse. Curious to hear a little more of your thinking on that!

  9. A whole lot of talking about nothing… this doesn't give me any information, "sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't."

  10. We're being able to witness the development of a new culture/science. That due to the fact that never before in history so many people were playing with espresso coffee machines around the world. That's allowed people who are very passionate about espresso (like these guys) to spend their lives developing their palate, exploring new possibilities and sharing experiences, information, ideas and tendencies. I love how the web has allowed us all to be in touch with this level of narrowed down information.

  11. Some rather harsh and, I think, poorly informed comments here. I am no
    expert, but I am taking an exceptionally well-regarded coffee
    preparation course at a Colombian university and have watched dozens
    upon dozens of videos. I find yours to be well-presented and based upon
    sound theory. I have learned a good deal from your videos. Beyond the
    science, there will always be room for subjectivity. It's about taste
    after all and no two coffee drinkers are alike. Thanks so much for your
    videos.

  12. This makes perfect sense – getting rid of personal opinions and relying on a proven brewing recipe and ratio makes great sense! Sounds SO much like brewing good beer. Experience and sticking to a proven recipe matters most!

  13. Thank you Gentlemen for your video! I am coming to "espresso world" from pipe smoking world which has a lot of Myths as you explain in your videos for crema etc.Much obliged for the clarifications and have my best regards from Athens-Greece.

  14. Very interesting. You talked about an expresso sitting and flavours developing/changing which made me wonder about the 25-30 second expiration time of an expresso that I have heard about. Is this a myth too?

  15. I'm such a big fan of robusta though. My favourite blends are at least 30% arabica lacks a certain punch for me I really enjoy the bitterness (without the acidity of badly made coffee…) I'd love to try a robusta only coffee just to test my devotion to the species haha. There is one species of coffee not used commercially Coffea Liberica- how come? I have been looking into anthropology of coffee for my uni work and came across this with no clear explanation…

  16. we all taste things differently……….crema can taste great……the next time you pull a decent shot, add about 9 mls. milk , 9mls. of 10% creme and sprinkle the the top of the crema with a half tspn. of brown sugar…….. now you can spoon up that crema ,

  17. I agree that blonding isn't the best diagnostic tool, but yield seems useful only once you have found the right taste and want to repeat it. Wouldn't a better way to dial in a shot be to use a spoon and constantly taste the espresso as it comes out, stop the pour when it stops tasting good, and then record the dose, the tamp/temp/time and pressure profile?

  18. so basically, what all their videos are saying is everything is just a myth, nothing necessarily means anything, and just do whatever and it's all GREAT!   YEA!!!!!

  19. I having been drinking coffee for years but really did not know anything about it other than it helped me stay awake at work, or it gave me that pick me up in the morning. I recently participated in a cupping class at Texas Coffee School and that one simple class has broaden my desire to delve into this culture of coffee. I want to learn as much as I can about it. I have been watching a variety of videos and I must say your series of videos have been extremely informative, especially the Espresso Theory video. Thank you for posting.

  20. I never knew I'd be so into coffee. I started as a barista for Starbucks and I learned to love everything that has to do about coffee. I bought a little mr coffee machine for home use and I really like to toy with it, although I would really like to purchase a really good one in the future. What type of machine do you recommend? I'm looking for something under $500.00. I tend to drink coffee quite often and I also prepare for guests and family. Thanks,

  21. This is great to know, I have been using different types of arabica beans from different areas of the globe, and I get a different result on the look of the shoot, while every other variable such as the grind and the timing and temp are on the money, or at least pulling the best shot I can. They taste great, but because of the level of crema on the shot, I've been under the impression that I'm failing somewhere. So this make perfect sense, I was thinking I sucked bad at it lol!!

  22. Great topic. Only thing I would challenge is the blonde assertion. The fact that "blonde" is subjective does not mean stream color can be ignored.

  23. You guys have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Americans really know nothing of espresso! So many points I can correct you and educate you on but I'll be here forever. Stick to your stale filtered/plunger/instant/drip/rubbish that you have been drinking for donkeys years and have been loving it. Your other video of pulling a ''great shot'', just demonstrates just how inexperienced you are. Why did I come here? because I am so curious of how much myths and misinformation [verbal diarhoea] is being stated. Hilarious!

  24. I don't understand what is the butthurt is about in the comments. crema is pretty important for coffee presentation, nice crema gives you better opportunity for nice latte art, looks pretty etc.

  25. U guys suck terrible horrible you made me sleepy with your new noses and non experience coffee culture.. White people donut have a clue about espresso and the example is you guys drink espresso in a shitty plastic cup. We Italian drink it in a real cup.

  26. Yes, thank you! All the obsessing over crema as though it makes or breaks espresso on it's own is ridiculous.

  27. Excellent – a reality check for the perfectionists who dwell on and spend way too much time trying to achieve something that is for the most part a once a week "I did it right" experience. One truth is as we know, most people's tastes are different and there is that magical pure point and acceptable range for all of us no matter if it is wine or espresso.

    Find your likings, if not commercially selling, and try to stick with a consistent routine. The prep variables are not 100% the same every day. Stick with a go to recipe and a PRACTICAL, repeatable, disciplined routine in how you prepare and then draw, and you'll 99% of the time be rewarded with very good results within your pure point taste range.

  28. In Italy, every espresso has lots of crema. They could taste bad, but they all have a fantastic density. Crema is not just visual. It feels different in the mouth.

    So, while it's true that crema is not everything, it's also true that is absolutely a lot.

    Also, taste is extremely subjective. Some of the blends I tried here in London are absolutely disgusting to me, while I see people queueing to drink it. I am for stronger blends, without any acidity, while many Londoners like acidic, fruity tastes.

    But debating if one is "clearly better" than another is like saying that key lime pie is clearly better than a sacher torte.

    This also works for the taste. It's not true that crema is the worst part of an espresso. It's subjective. You should have said that "some people don't like the taste of it". But claiming that it's the worst part… well… too subjective.

  29. 2 Americans talking about espresso is like 2 Italians talking about Matza Ball soup!!!! If the Creama in your opinion doesn't taste good, I would like to know what kind of coffee are you guys drinking?

  30. Pseudo intellectual masturbation, if everything is subjective neither of these guys is "an authority" on what should or should not be a perfect shot. To each his/her own..drink it the way you like it and stop wasting peoples time.

  31. As a coffee professional I say that the "brew ratio" is just as useful/not useful as the "crema color". This convo shows some insight but leaves much very important info unsaid. Espresso extraction is all about the avoidance of channeling through proper distribution, and stopping extraction at the desired bitterness level, period. Assuming good coffee and roast, it is up to the grinder to provide a good grind (particle size distribution, etc. etc. etc.) It is up to the barrista to do the rest. That is, to pack the shot in a way that has the best likelihood of eliminating variance in puck density and also pulling the cup out of the espresso stream at the desired time. This last can be done in a few different ways, through brew ratio or threw crema color, it doesn't really matter if the barista is experienced in his trade and with the coffee in question.

  32. Good video. I've had shots that did not look like a model espresso but the flavor was amazing. I've also had shots that looked awesome but were terrible. It should come down to the flavor.

  33. Sounds like bad beer and bad espresso have one obvious commonality: serving temperature extremes to hide the bad flavor.

  34. Crema does not "taste terrible." It is incredibly complex and imo, the absolute BEST part of an espresso. Referring to crema tasting terrible is not unlike a teenager's first sip of alcohol coming to the same conclusion. After admitting such a foolish perspective it's clear dude in the dark shirt is in the coffee business for reasons other than the flavour of the actual coffee – which is disappointing. My money is on the air of aristocracy combined with the selfish desire for the perceived wealth in an industry saturated with entitled wannabe's. AKA hipster. VIVA LA CREMA!

  35. They’re mostly right, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is what you get when well-educated people are making coffee for a living.

  36. I disagree with this line of thinking. Like with all foods, coffee is not just flavour but also texture. I personally prefer moka coffees over expressos, and they have very little "crema", but that's just personal taste. However, in the world of expressos, my favorite is a good Neapolitan style expresso, in my opinion it balances texture and aroma. Neapolitan coffees will try to find the right balance between Arabica and Robusta, so to get most of the aromas of Arabica, but to get the nice "crema" texture from the robusta. Good Neapolitan coffees made for expresso are at least 70 percent Arabica and the rest quality robusta (which is not just some common robusta), this usually gets the right flavour/texture into the expresso. How you like your texture will be very subjective, I'm personally not a fan, but I think this is just my own taste, not something that can be determined for everyone.

  37. Also, don't want to be rude here, but i think you're talking a lot of hipster nonsense. What's the point of making a coffee without crema (hence without robusta) in a 5000+ dollar expresso machine if you don't want crema, you'll get the same result with a 50 dollar moka machine, it will taste the same and you will save money by making it at home. If I go to a bar to drink an expresso, I will expect a more bitter taste, because this sort of taste can only be achieved through using an expresso machine with a arabica/robusta blend, this is what expresso lovers expect, those who don't (like me), just brew their coffee with a moka or other methods. It's just pointless of using an expresso machine in the first place if you don't want to get crema.

  38. I’ve done plenty of taste degradation tests on shots. Dark roasts “die” much faster than med to light. Make a latte with shots that sit for 0 sec and then make one that sit for 60 sec. the darker the roast the more sensitive to becoming “dead” or oxidized. But all the snobby baristas love their medium roasts so much that the don’t bother testing with dark roasts.

  39. What's up with the comments? Are they didn't watch the video or what ,

    "Aesthetically crema is not always necessarily got a better taste "

  40. So two office coffee-nerds in the U.S. decide that during the espresso tradition that exist arguably since 1948 (Invention of the lever espresso-machine) The Italians got it al wrong?……

  41. I loved how they simplified 'coffee jargon' that people love to throw around, often to make themselves appear like connoisseurs

    (much like I love throwing around Latin and french phrases when speaking English, sometimes ad nauseum!).
    At the end of the day, everyone of us has (and I daresay should have) different tastes, lies and dislikes.
    For example – my good coffee is coffee in a small ceramic cup, with milk, a little sugar, and not too bitter.

    Sometimes I like foam, sometimes i don't.

    Sometimes I like more sugar, sometimes I like less / no sugar.

    Sometimes I like my coffee to be strong, sometimes I don't.

    I nearly always like to make my own coffee, since I enjoy doing so. Perhaps others don't.

    Anyone who has stepped into a kitchen and made enough food knows that there is no one single way to make a dish (or coffee) that is right. There are many ways, and what appeals to some is disliked by others. It is normal.
    To think one coffee expresso is perfect and the other is not is simply gross arrogance!

  42. My Favorite Ground has a low/small but thick Crema……maybe 3/16 inch high. But it's my favorite, so who IMO should care about the DEAPTH of the crema if it's not your favorite ground. I agree with you.

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