Espresso? Doing this today might be more complex than what we believe

In Italy is very common to meet and admire people from the most diverse backgrounds, discussing with incredible mastery of the subject how the espresso crema is an essential coffee fundamental.





DSC 0054 Espresso



In a Country like ours, deeply related to all kind of traditions, there are topics impossible to be discussed.

Particularly in the world of coffee it is often difficult to leave behind concepts related to habit, even if widely exceeded by studies and research.

Quality of espresso, for example, is for many connected to irreplaceable criteria and visual standards like the espresso crema consistency and colour.

This is only “for many” as not everyone is still related to quality standards established in the early 1900s, fortunately.


In this article we'll see how the espresso crema is often considered more important than it actually is.


How can we define espresso?

Doing this today might be more complex than what we believe.

In speciality coffee for example, we often see diverse and sperimental recipes, where the short-strong shot is replaced by a longer-more delicate espresso.

Both difficult to brew perfectly but both potentially delicious when it happens.


Understanding which recipe better suit a certain coffee it's for me a key part of the barista role.

And this is when many visual criteria and numbers that define the perfect espresso begin to lose importance as every coffee might find the perfect balance when brewed to a recipe that doesn't work so well for another coffee.

We all agree on another topic: espresso crema is the result of pressure applied by the espresso machine through the brewing process.


Despite the classic numeric standards (7g in, 25ml out, 25 sec, 9bars...).

Visual parameters define the “perfect crema” as the one that is hazelnut, dense and with the right amount of stripes.


These visual parameters are mostly due to machine and equipment performances, type of coffee, roast and brew recipe.


Here is a list of important element NOT guaranteed by the perfect crema:


- espresso will be tasty


- the recipe used is the most ideal for that coffee


- roast profile and blend are spot on


- green coffee selected is excellent


For instance, a dark roast Arabica-Robusta blend, poorly extracted with dirty equipment and a not ideal brewing water might still present the perfect crema. Will it taste good?

As opposed to a coffee processed with excellent standards, roasted and correctly rested, brewed to its ideal recipe (that might include a different pressure than constant 9bars), it might eventually not have a perfect crema. It might have a lighter and thinner one, without stripes and it might break easily, but this won't ever tell us that is an inferior coffee to the one with perfect crema on.


A lightly roasted Geisha will never have the same dark roast 60-40 blend type of crema, but character and flavour profile wise it'd be hard to compare them.


We love espresso with a good crema on and we love who tastes before judging.






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