Crema in Espresso:
To start it might be best to briefly define what is Espresso before we get to what crema is and what part it plays in am espresso shot.
Espresso is both a coffee beverage and a brewing method. It is not a specific bean, bean blend, or roast level. Any bean or roasting level can be used to produce authentic espresso. In addition, Espresso is not meant to be all crema, Crema is just part of the visual lure of espresso, the aromatics, the mouthfeel, the flavor and long-lasting aftertaste or espresso.
There are 5 variables that affect crema in Espresso and they are as follows:
1) Fresh Beans – Fresh beans are key – and keep them whole until just before you want to brew. Don’t pregrind – grind only seconds before you pull your espresso shot.
2) The machine to make the Espresso – There are more technical aspects to look into regarding the machine which are beyond this scope of this simple post but it goes without saying that the machine should be well maintained and clean, especially around the brew head and portafilter.
3) The tamp pressure used – tamping is a variable you must control on your own to get consistently great shots.
4) The Grind – This goes hand in hand with your tamp. You should grind to a fineness that ties in with the tamping pressure.
5) Water – It goes without saying that its always best to you fresh filtered water.
At first, you will have to deal with a certain amount of trial and error, however if you keeping practicing you will get better, just like anything else. Remember when practicing to vary everything: the grind, the amount of tamping pressure you use, and your beans.
With just a little bit of practice, provided you are using good fresh beans ( from Calusa Coffee hopefully) , you too will be pulling the perfect espresso shot with a rich layer of crema floating on top.