ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Make Great Espresso Crema at Home

Updated on May 31, 2013
Beauty isn't everything but beautiful crema usually is the essence of a great espresso.
Beauty isn't everything but beautiful crema usually is the essence of a great espresso. | Source

The dream for all espresso lovers is to achieve that crown of good crema. It also looks good when serving and you get a different flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel. Many people pull espresso out of machines and wonder why they're not having any crema on their shots.

Contrary to popular belief, the machine is not always to blame. Here are important factors that play a huge role in producing the perfect crema.

Why do you want crema?

It is not all for visual effect. If you are an espresso lover, you want your shot to taste good. Taste may vary depending on how you like your espresso, the beans you use, and the flavors that you might add to it.

When serving espresso and macchiatos, not only does it look good to have crema, but it also offers another layer of flavor besides the coffee itself and the milk.

Picking The Right Beans

You really can't make great espresso without quality beans. Most supermarkets or cafes advertise their beans to be "espresso roast," there might be some truth to that but the question is, are they able to produce good crema? Since crema is made out of the "fat" from the beans, you should use beans that are high in fatty contents such as robusta beans.

A whole new discussion could be made on the capabilities of either robusta or arabica beans to produce crema. You just have to find the beans that contain a good amount of Carbon Dioxide, oils, and fats.

If you have access to freshly roasted beans (3-5 days old), those beans should be able to produce good crema. Try to visit farmers markets, co-ops, and organic stores to find good beans. Starbucks beans aren't the best option but is good enough to make average lattes at home.

Do you care about crema?

See results

Grind the beans just right!

Carbon Dioxide or CO2 is a huge factor in producing great crema. CO2 is in the roasted beans and is gradually released as time goes on. Using very old beans might not give you crema at all.

You should pull your shot right after you grind your beans. Do not use pre-ground beans as it already lost most of its CO2. Crema is foam composed of CO2 held together by brewed coffee therefore, you must retain as much CO2 as possible to help make that perfect foam.

You do not want the water to pass through the ground beans too quickly. You should be able to make a double shot within 20-30 seconds. If you grind the beans too finely, you might not be able to make the shots within 20-30 seconds.

It is also good to have a grinder with many settings to help you find the right setting for the perfect grind.

Source

Tamp away!

Before you should tamp, make sure that you have a good tamper fits well in the portafilter. The ideal tamp pressure is 30 lbs. To measure this, take a weighing scale, place it on a table, and try to "tamp" on it until you reach 30 lbs.

If the ground coffee beans are too fine, you might want to tamp lightly or if it's too course, you might want to tamp a little harder.

Did you know that Starbucks baristas do not use tampers, and might not even know how to tamp?

A Good Espresso Machine

The exciting part is always finding a great espresso machine. What is the criteria for an espresso machine that makes great shots and great crema? There are tons of discussions online on which machine to get but the main factors to consider are:

A machine that has a pressure rating of 15 bars or more. Some cheap ones rate from 6 to 9 bars. These cheap machines do not make good espresso as they usually lack brewing pressure.

Semi-commercial machines are good enough to have your own little cafe at home. For beginners there are some cheap ones that might be able to help you pull good shots with average crema. If you're looking for good crema as we all are, you have to find a machine that brews at a 200ºF and brews at a pressure of 150 psi.

The Shot

The ideal double shot should be pulled in 20-30 seconds. Do not be too excited if you pull a shot of just crema. Wait for it to settle and evaluate how much crema there really is. There are also times when the crema disappears almost immediately.

Beware of making artificial crema for the sake of visual effects. The crema might be visible but you might be sacrificing the quality of your espresso.

Practice Makes Perfect

You have to repeat the process as often as possible. Try different settings, beans, grinds, and even tampers. Try tamping lightly or harder. It is all up to you. Making great espresso crema can be very difficult but it is not impossible.

If you've tried everything other than replacing your machine, maybe you should upgrade to a better one. The ideal machine has a pressure rating of at least 15 bars and can brew at 200ºF.

Do not however conclude that the machine is the problem. Remember that it could also be your beans, your grind, and your tamping.

The tips mentioned are for making good espresso and not lattes. Milk and flavoring mask the quality of espresso and you might be able to get away with average espresso.


If you would like to add more to this hub, please leave a comment below!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • othellos profile image

      Mario Psomas 

      3 years ago from Europe

      Very nice and detailed instructions on espresso. Very useful to anyone who intends to get involved with... real coffee! Thumb-up & Interesting:=)

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      I definitely learned something new here! Up++

    • Careermommy profile image

      Tirralan Watkins 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I'm thinking about getting an espresso machine so this is good information on making it to fit your taste. Great hub.

    • My Cook Book profile image

      Dil Vil 

      5 years ago from India

      Absolutely good article. I voted it UP, great work!

    • rondmrn profile imageAUTHOR

      Ron Mariano 

      5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thank you Jordan, try the tips if you like making espresso a home! :)

    • Jordan Hake profile image

      Jordan Hake 

      5 years ago from Southwest Missouri, USA

      Great article on espresso, I'm going to like to this on my hub!

      Voted up! :)

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)