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Espresso mit Crema

21 tips for more crema on your espresso

The crema belongs on the espresso like the foam in Guinness. You can create a beautiful crema on your espresso at home - but there are a few simple rules to follow. Tips for the preparation, choice of coffee and roasting can be found in this article.

Barista Crema Tipps

21 possible mistakes why you can't get a real crema on your espresso - and how you solve it

The perfect espresso is full-bodied and has a beautiful crema! The crema belongs to the appearance of an espresso, but it also influences the aroma, the mouthfeel, the taste and the aftertaste of coffee. But unfortunately she often doesn't want to succeed - and in most cases the coffee doesn't taste as good as desired. The typical errors and the corresponding solutions can be found here.

Roasting Mistakes

1. Your coffee is too coarsely ground

It is perfect if the espresso extraction takes between 20 and 30 seconds. If you grind the coffee too coarsely, the water shoots through the sieve too quickly and absorbs too few coffee particles - your coffee is under-extracted. The crema becomes light and thin and disappears quickly and the coffee tastes sour and flat. 

2. Your coffee is too finely ground

Here the opposite happens from above: the coffee runs much too slowly or hardly through the sieve. As a result, too many parts are dissolved and the coffee is over-extracted. It tastes bitter and slightly burnt. The crema is dark brown, uneven and shows air bubbles. 

3. You take too little coffee

This will have the same effect as in step 1 - your coffee will be under-extracted. To find the perfect grind and the right amount, you should adjust only one of the two factors at a time. 7 grams of ground coffee per espresso is in theory the guideline for the perfect espresso - I usually use 10 grams and tampe a little less.

4. You take too much coffee grounds

Well-intentioned, but unfortunately it doesn't help. Too much ground coffee in the sieve over-extracts the coffee. Here too, we recommend that you adapt only one aspect at a time and thus work towards the perfect extraction.

5. Your water is too soft

Very soft water (< 0.7mmol/l) prevents your espresso from forming crema. You have four options:

  • If you filter your water - do without the filter, you probably don't need it.
  • Ask a friend who lives in the Midlands if he can send you a can of water and mix it with yours.
  • Use water from the bottle.
  • Enjoy the soft water - so you never have to descale your machine

6. Your coffeemaker is not clean

Coffee oils and other deposits in the coffeemaker and sieve are the enemy of the beautiful crema - and influence the taste. Clean your machine regularly. Tips and the right products can be found at a specialist dealer.

7. Your cups aren't clean

Honestly: You buy a great espresso machine and a high-quality grinder for more than 1000 francs, take the time and leisure to roast a perfect coffee, watch Youtube tutorials for the perfect espresso extraction in every free minute - and then you are too lazy to clean your cup?

Shame on your head. You will be punished with a tired and thin crema. 

8. Your coffee is too old

The oils in coffee are mainly responsible for the crema. When the hot water is pressed through the powder at high pressure, these oils are dissolved from the coffee powder together with various proteins and sugars. Under the high pressure, the water is saturated with CO2 and swirls the insoluble substances in the water. In this way the finest foam bubbles are formed. This aromatic foam finally collects in the cup on the surface. If you put some sugar on the espresso, the crema holds it for about three seconds.

If the coffee is old, the essential oils and CO2 have already evaporated - the coffee tastes boring and the crema may no longer form. Therefore always drink the coffee as fresh as possible.

9. Your coffee was ground too early

The grinding process breaks up the structure of the coffee and thus increases the surface area exposed to the air and thus also to oxidation. Therefore, the above processes are much faster than with un-ground coffee. If possible, you should consume ground coffee within 30 minutes. .

10. Your coffee's been in the grinder for too long

As your coffee was no longer in the protected and sealed coffee bag, but open in the grinder, the whole oxidation process is much faster. In addition, many of the coffee beans slide along the whole bean container and leave the coffee oils there. You must have seen grinders that look totally sticky and dirty - not a nice picture for an espresso and crema lover.

11. You tampered too softly

This also leads to a too fast throughput time and an under-extraction of the coffee. Orient yourself to 9kg pressure during the rope. You'll find a lot of great YouTube videos, check out some of them. With small technical changes you can massively improve your coffee.

12. You tampered too hard

If you press the coffee into the sieve with too much pressure, the powder is so densely pressed that the water hardly flows through and your coffee tastes over-extracted, bitter and spicy. The crema is dark brown, uneven and shows air bubbles. 

And attention: many baristas knock on the screen with the tamper after the rope or are a little careless, so that the screen carrier still strikes somewhere on the machine. This can cause small cracks in the pressed powder. The water searches for the "path of least resistance", flows through these small cracks and can only loosen little of the coffee powder, so that you get a thin and again under-extracted coffee.

13. The water is too cold

Ideally, your espresso machine has a temperature indicator so you can check the temperature of the water before and during extraction. A water temperature below 88°C leads to under-extraction, sour and thin coffee as well as a barely existing crema.

14. The water is too hot

On the other hand, too hot water with more than 94°C leads to an over-extraction and a thin, dark brown to blackish crema with a white spot or a black hole in the middle..

15. The pressure is too low

See also point 8 - Espresso needs pressure. Too little pressure means that not enough particles dissolve and your coffee is under-extracted, the crema hardly present. The pressure should be around 9 bar. Your espresso machine must be able to do this. At the same time, too coarse a grinding, too weak a rope or too little coffee grounds mean that no sufficient pressure can build up - everything is connected on the way to the perfect espresso. 

16. The pressure is too high

If you have a reasonably professional espresso machine, it will easily build up more pressure than 9 bar. This will happen (probably no surprise after point 15): if the grinding is too fine, too firm or too much coffee grounds. So, correct all the above factors to get to the 9 bar pressure.

Siebträger Crema Checkliste

17. Home Roaster only - Your coffee is too fresh

If you don't roast your coffee yourself, you can skip this chapter, because you will hardly ever find yourself in a situation where a coffee is too fresh. Most coffees on the shelves are weeks, if not months old, so there is almost never a roasting date.

As a home roaster, you may remember when you first extracted a freshly roasted espresso - the crema was spectacular! This has to do with the fact that there is still enough CO2 in your fresh coffee, which evaporates very quickly after roasting and especially after grinding. 

This carbonic acid also slightly overlays the fine taste nuances in your coffee. This is why the espresso only becomes really good about 4-5 days after roasting. If you have the patience, we definitely recommend that you leave the coffee after roasting for a few days.

18. You chose the wrong coffee

Not all coffee types and finishes provide a perfect crema. That's not too dramatic, because first and foremost you should look for the taste that suits you best. As a rule of thumb, you can be guided by the fact that natural and honey-pulped beans (see also processing) usually have more sugar and oils than washed coffees and therefore enable more crema.

The chocolate-nut natural bourbon from Brazil, for example, is perfectly suited as an espresso..

19. You don't have Robusta in the espresso blend

Robusta makes a denser crema. This is not a secret trick, most Italian espresso blends therefore have a Robusta share of about 25%. Unfortunately, there are many inferior Robustas that taste like burnt rubber or railway track. Make sure you use a high-quality Robusta, e.g. Parchment from India

20. Your coffee is too lightly roasted

Roasting too light (around the first crack) can make your crema pale and shrink quickly. But you don't have to have too much respect for that, you can roast the coffee quite lightly (e.g. City - roast degrees see in the knowledge section) and still extract an espresso with a clean and beautiful crema.

21. Your coffee is too dark roasted

If the coffee is too dark roasted, you often have less crema. This is because after the second cracking (see also the knowledge section) oil droplets emerge from the beans, which get stuck in the bag and in the grinder during storage. Therefore you have less oils in the powder and thus also less crema.

Espresso-Checkliste for Crema

  • freshly roasted coffee
  • freshly ground coffee
  • natural or honey-pulped beans in the blend
  • some Robusta in the blend (no must)
  • Ideally Full City Roast grade (until shortly before Second Crack)
  • 25 - 35 ml water
  • 88 - 94°C Water temperature
  • 8 - 10 bar pressure
  • 20 - 30 sec. Pressure time

I hope this information helps you and wish you from now on only excellent espresso with a nice crema. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me!


Ingo Albrecht Kaffee

More questions? We're here for you.

Do you have any further questions about the roaster? I'm a trained roaster and a member of the Specialty Coffee Association and the Roasters Guild of Europe, working with the machine every day. Please contact me at any time.

Telephone +41 76 261 97 17 or Email ingo[at]roastrebels.com

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