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How to Make the Perfect Cup of Espresso Coffee With a Delicious Crema

Updated on January 7, 2019

Perfect Crema

Add a little froth and you have a Macchiato, my favourite!
Add a little froth and you have a Macchiato, my favourite!

Achieving the Perfect Crema

For any coffee lover walking past a café, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee will titillate and delight the senses. With a wide variety of coffee machines available to purchase online anyone can have that same experience at home. A quality espresso maker is not absolutely essential to making the perfect cup of espresso coffee but will be a good start to creating a delicious crema every time. As long as you follow the same techniques used by the barista experts, you will soon be making perfect cups of espresso coffee at home.

Quality Espresso Makers

If you are in the market for an espresso machine take time to research the wide variety available online as well as in stores. Buying a quality espresso maker will give years of satisfaction but for the budget conscious there are a number of reliable units that can produce a good cup of coffee. Keep in mind that the cheaper the unit the more likelihood of having to replace in a shorter time frame.

Which Coffee Maker Should You Buy?

They type of espresso machine you buy will depend on a number of elements:

  • do you need a top of the range?
  • how many cups of coffee will you be making?
  • do you have to have a grinder or can you buy this separately?
  • will the capsules satisfy your coffee cravings?

Espresso Coffee Beans

It is not only the type of coffee beans that will make a perfect cup of coffee but the way they are ground and packed. If the grind is too fine the coffee can taste bitter or burnt and the crema may be too dark. An ideal crema should be a dark hazelnut colour and this can be achieved with practice depending on the texture of the beans. Manual grinders work well but take a bit of effort.

There are reasonably priced electric grinders that will do the job in less than a minute and if you intend to be making a lot of coffee over the life of a machine then investing in one with an inbuilt grinder will make the entire experience a pleasure rather than a chore.

Clean and Fresh Water

Connoisseurs of coffee will swear the best cup of espresso is all about the purity of the water. While it certainly makes a difference using fresh and clean water from the tap is usually adequate. Purified or shop bought water may improve the final taste but this is probably more of a personal preference.

Why Not Buy Coffee Already Ground?

Do you really need a coffee grinder? Why not simply buy the coffee pre-packed in ground coffee? For some it doesn't seem to make much difference. But others swear by the freshness of freshly ground coffee. Personally, there is nothing better than the aroma from the fresh grinds. So again, it's all about personal choice.

Packing the Ground Beans

Tamping is the art of applying the right amount of pressure to the ground beans. This is truly an art that the best baristas have practised for dozens of cups before achieving perfection. Not too loose, nor too tight, you may need to try, try again to get the perfect result. Make sure the rim of the holder is clear of any stray grinds before attaching to the machine.

My husband has mastered the art of the tamping. Somehow when I make the coffee it has that weak, watered down flavour. He's not always around though when I'm ready for an espresso, so I keep trying. I'll let you know when I get there and can make a cup of coffee with the perfect crema, all by myself.

Once you’ve invested in a quality espresso machine be sure to experiment with all the dozens of variety and blends of coffee available. Keep practising the techniques until you can serve a cup to match any of the finest baristas in any upmarket café – a little patience and perseverance can pay off in the long run.

Anyone for Coffee?

What's Your Favourite Coffee?

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What are the Ingredients?

Short black is espresso in its purest form, one shot, not too much, 15ml will do.

Long black is one shot of espresso, hot water to taste.

Cappuccino, one shot, warm milk, topped with froth and covered in sprinkled chocolate powder.

Latte, one shot, more warm milk than the cappuccino, less froth, served in a heat proof glass.

Coffee Making Perfected

After many years trying to get it right I am happy to report I can now grind the beans, tamp the coffee and make a perfect cup of espresso. I do believe the secret is in the coffee grinding and the tamping.

© 2010 Karen Wilton


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