Espresso Crema

Espresso Crema

Author: ChemViews Magazine

Espresso must be topped by a foamy, reddish-brown, consolidated surface layer called crema. This metastable foam with a specific lifetime of ≤ 40 min is a marker of quality for expresso.

What is the Crema?

Espresso Crema

It has been suggested that triacylglyceride, diacylglyceride, fatty acids, glycolipids, glycoproteins might be involved in formation and/or stabilization of the foam.

How is the Crema Formed?

How is the espresso crema formed


How Should the Crema Look Like?

Espresso Crema

promising

stable, reddish-brown, pervaded by wispy, lighter stripes (tiger-skin effect)
consolidates itself even after vigorous stirring

chemical composition in ppm includes

  • ethylgujacol 1.2
  • 2-ethyl-3,5-dimethylpyrazin 0.9
  • 2-ethyl-3,6-dimethylpyrazin 0,8
  • 2,4-decadienal 0,7
  • 2,4-nonadienal < 0.5
  • methylsalicylat < 0.5
  • dimethyl trisulfide (DMTS) < 0.5
  • isovaleraldehyde < 0.5
  • α-ionon < 0.5
  • linaloole < 0.5
Espresso Crema

overextracted espresso


dark brown, hole or white spot in the middle
– too fine grind

– too much coffee powder

– too hot water temperature

– too long brewing time

– too firmly tamped filter cake

  • ethylgujacol 2.1
  • 2-ethyl-3,5-dimethylpyrazin 1.3
  • 2-ethyl-3,6-dimethylpyrazin 1.2
  • 2,4-decadienal 2.6
  • 2,4-nonadienal < 0.8
  • methylsalicylat < 0.8
  • dimethyl trisulfide (DMTS) < 0.8
  • isovaleraldehyde < 0.8
  • α-ionon < 0.8
  • linaloole < 0.8
Espresso Crema

underextracted espresso

light, thin, unstable

– too coarse grind

– too little coffee powder

– too low water temperature

– too short brewing time

– too old beans

  • ethylgujacol 0.6
  • 2-ethyl-3,5-dimethylpyrazin 0.8
  • 2-ethyl-3,6-dimethylpyrazin 0,8
  • 2,4-decadienal 0,3
  • 2,4-nonadienal < 0.3
  • methylsalicylat < 0.3
  • dimethyl trisulfide (DMTS) < 0.3
  • isovaleraldehyde < 0.3
  • α-ionon < 0.3
  • linaloole < 0.3


How Does the Crema Affect Taste?

After enjoying a cup of espresso with a good crema, one can actually still smell and taste it 20 – 30 min later.

Why is the Crema Important?

The crema prevents too rapid cooling, holds aroma volatiles back, and protects against hydrolysis.

Coffee Blends

In this article we are referring to Coffea arabica. From the over 60 Coffea species, also Coffea canephora (Coffea robusta) is used commercially.

Espresso Crema; Coffea Blends

References

[1] Ernesto Illy, Luciano Navarini, Neglected Food Bubbles: The Espresso Coffee Foam, Food Biophys. 2011, 6, 335–348. DOI: 10.1007/s11483-011-9220-5

[2] Klaus Roth, Espresso – A Feast for the Senses, ChemViews Mag. 2010. DOI: 10.1002/chemv.201000016

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