mikkelhaas Senior Member Joined: 2 Jul 2004 Posts: 126 Location: Grand Rapids, MI Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: La Spaziale S1 Vivaldi II Grinder: Mazzer Mini Drip: Technivorm, Aeropress Roaster: homemade drum roaster
Posted Sat Oct 28, 2006, 10:29am Subject: Re: Crema by James Hoffmann
I have a question about crema as it relates to flavor. Intelligentsia emphasizes in their training that one ought to pour milk into the espresso as quickly as possible after pulling the shot, so as to preserve the crema and its flavor-enhancing properties. I've also heard that one should serve and drink a shot of espresso as soon after it's pulled, for the same reason. Any thoughts on this?
Well, to quote Robert Timms: "(A light brown or white foam indicates the beginning of over extraction and a hint of bitterness)"
Apart from the understatement about "beginning" to over extract and "hint" of bitterness, especially when using Robert Timms coffee, it's probably pretty right. More hilarious is this.
As for Mike's question, I can only say that I have always found the espresso to be better after resting for a minute or so, or combining the crema and liquid by gentle swirling. The crema itself often has bitter elements not necessarily present in the liquid, even in the best extractions. You should, however, also be able to taste more pleasant, often sweet, overtones alongside the bitters. I'm sure this depends on the coffee, to an extent, and others will have different opinions. But I think the balance is better when not consumed immediately. Also, I find the flavours better when the temperature is a bit lower than when pulled, and you will find that the profile changes with the temperature, as with all foods.
ericsenf Senior Member Joined: 11 Nov 2006 Posts: 1 Location: St. Paul, MN Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: KitchenAid Proline Espresso... Grinder: KitchenAid Proline Burr... Drip: I don't do drip
Posted Wed Nov 15, 2006, 5:57am Subject: Re: Crema by James Hoffmann
This was a great read and held valuable information being a self-taught, hobby barista at home. Now that I have a machine capable of producing professional results, learning and tuning my technique has become my passion in my pursuit of the "perfect cup".
Luca Senior Member Joined: 27 Jan 2004 Posts: 2,658 Location: Melbourne, Australia
Espresso: H: Maver W: FB-80 Grinder: H: Super Jolly W: Brasilia... Vac Pot: Hario TCA-2 Roaster: Sample Roaster at Work
Posted Sun Nov 19, 2006, 12:50am Subject: Re: Crema by James Hoffmann
As for the Aussie thread on machines, I think that got out of context - that those buying certain machines are chasing a goal of taste and sensation in the cup, not huge mounds of foam. In truth I suspect it will be more about the coffees they select and brew than the equipment.
That is both an accurate and a concise summary!
Personally, I've got to say that whilst crema is a good indicator of a lot of things, nothing compares with actually putting espresso in your mouth and drinking it.
caffemela Senior Member Joined: 21 Jul 2006 Posts: 4 Location: Wenatchee Expertise: Pro Barista
Espresso: La Marzocco 3-gr FB70 w/ PID... Grinder: Mazzer SJ and MINI
Posted Thu Nov 23, 2006, 3:02am Subject: Re: Crema by James Hoffmann
Kudos on a great article James! I learned much about the chemical make-up of the delicious frosting of a well-poured shot. Overall the article was very inspiring and has helped fuel the fire of understanding and appreciating good espresso. I must say that I was a bit confused when I read the portion of the article relating to the color of crema indicating either over or under-extraction. I have always been taught the opposite of what was written in your article and after a long deliberation, I would like to present a different perspective on the color indications.
In the article you wrote: "In espresso, a fifteen second shot typically has a much paler crema because it is a much weaker brew. The water has had less time to capture the coffee solubles, and the resulting brew doesn't have the same viscosity that a 25 second well prepared shot may have."
What you say is true that shorter shots are weaker which is due to the fact that there is a lesser volume of coffee in the basket (possible less compacted when ground too coarse). This does indeed take less time to extract but less time does not mean less extraction.
For example, when I purposely under dose the basket, the shot is very fast, very light in color, filling two shot glasses. If I over dose the basket the shot is slower, darker in color, and there is a significant residue of "coffee oils" in the bottom of the basket. In each case the SAME amount of water is passed over the grounds. So let's consider the coffee to water ratios here.
The basket that has a lesser dose sees MORE water per particle than the basket that is over dosed. In the resulting weaker, light colored brew, each particle then is actually more extracted than an over dosed basket. The extraction time is less because there is less resistance to the flow of water, not because the coffee itself is less extracted. In the other case with a longer, darker pull and more coffee, the oil left behind in the basket illustrates that the full extraction is not taking place.
I hope I'm making sense, basically,
more coffee in the basket = slower pull with dark crema = not enough water to fully extract the coffee = under extraction. less coffee in the basket = faster pull with lighter crema = too much water and pressure for the dose = over extraction.
This is what I've always been taught and in my experience it is true. Please let me know your thoughts.
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