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Can't get crema
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Discussions > Espresso > General > Can't get crema  
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Soleya_12
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Jan 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Sacramento, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Jan 12, 2013, 4:17pm
Subject: Can't get crema
 

Hi!

I was reading this forum for quite a while and I thought I knew it all and that I wouldn't have any problem making good espresso. Nope, not that easy :).

I recently got LeLit PL041TQE with PID machine and Baratza Preciso grinder (from 1-st line). I also got the right 57 mm metal tamper and Red Bird espresso coffee beans.

I experimented with grinder's settings from 0 to 14 like the instruction says, I set up temperature for 92-95 - I believe the machine only shows Celcius and this seems to be the recommended settings, the beans are fresh roasted (I believe so), I tamp it as hard as I can and still I get almost no crema or very, very thin crema that disappear almost instantly.

I am pretty disappointed because my previous inexpensive deLonghi gave me so much thicker crema even with pre-grinded espresso.

I keep reading coffee forums and articles on-line and keep experimenting but I can't see any improvement at all.

Any advice is very much appreciated. I would also appreciate very much if somebody could tell me the exact grinder settings for Baratza Preciso and maybe give some more tips on what I can do to improve the shots.

Thank you so much in advance!
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,053
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sat Jan 12, 2013, 4:38pm
Subject: Re: Can't get crema
 

You're making doubles? what dose are you using? how long does your shot run? what is your yield?

if you got your red bird recently it ought to be fresh. Most people receive their beans from Jeff two days after roasting.

Your cheap delonghi probably used a pressurized pf which gives fake crema. It sounds like you need to get you grinder dialed in better. Sometimes you have to calibrate a new Preciso. If yours is properly calibrated, get the grind fine enough to choke the machine, then gradually back off until you're getting a shot that runs about 30 seconds.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Jmanespresso
Senior Member
Jmanespresso
Joined: 18 Jan 2009
Posts: 2,109
Location: Westchester NY
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto II
Grinder: Compak K10 - Vario
Vac Pot: Yama-SY5/SY8/TCA5
Drip: V60, Beehouse, CCD
Roaster: Hottop B
Posted Sun Jan 13, 2013, 3:04pm
Subject: Re: Can't get crema
 

Soleya_12 Said:

Hi!

I was reading this forum for quite a while and I thought I knew it all and that I wouldn't have any problem making good espresso. Nope, not that easy :)

Posted January 12, 2013 link

Recipe for disaster right there!  Myself, and people who have been doing this even longer than I, and even Pro Baristi, never, ever, know it all.  Coffee is the most complex beverage we drink(yes, more complex than Wine), and we are ALWAYS, ALWAYS learning something new about it.

That said, you should be able to get some nice shots without too much trouble.


NO crema at all, is so very hard to do unless you are doing something so blatantly wrong it would be hard to miss.  Even with stale, months old supermarket beans, pre-ground in the store, without enough coffee in the basket, will STILL produce a crema like substance purely from the pressure of the machine pushing water through it.  SO, with fresh coffee, even the real bad ones, those 15second gushers and those 50second chokers, should still have plenty of visable crema.


Double Basket, filled with coffee so their is a little mound above the rim.  Level it off with your finger, evenly swiping it back to front, front to back.  Tamp, straight down, once.  Its not important how hard or how soft you tamp, what is important is that its A)level and B)the same pressure each time.  Whether thats 5lbs or 50lbs, just be consistent.   You want to get about 1.5oz-2oz of liquid(including crema) in 25-35seconds.  Ballpark it.  You can tweak it from there once you find what you like/dont like.

As long as your grinder can grind fine enough so that you can completely choke the espresso machine(no espresso comes out even after 10-15 seconds of pumping), it should be fine.  And if you can get a shot that looks halfway decent following those parameters, its your coffee.  Redbird is quality coffee, no doubt.  But how old is your Rebird?  From the day its roasted, you've got a maximum of 14 days to use it up.  If its old, get new coffee, and start over.

Rest assured, you're not the first person to not get it right the first time with new gear..  We ALL need to dial in our shots to our liking.  Hang in there bud, you'll get it in no time.

 
Follow Your Bliss

Coffee makes your constantly overcome your prejudices and re-evaluate your own "received wisdoms" when it comes to judging cup flavors. -Tom Owen, SweetMarias
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,076
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Mon Jan 14, 2013, 11:53am
Subject: Re: Can't get crema
 

+1 to all of the above!

If you are lacking crema then you must dial in your grind to a finer setting.  One thing I learned from SeattleCoffeeGear is the grind, check and adjust method to dial in coffee grounds.  When I dial in my hand grinder I grind 0.5g or so and pinch the grounds in my hand.  If you are in "espresso territory the grounds should stay pinched in the palm of your hand.  If not then you’re still to course. After a few dials in I am able to dial in the grind in the first or second attempt.
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Soleya_12
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Jan 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Sacramento, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Jan 14, 2013, 1:27pm
Subject: Re: Can't get crema
 

Thank you so much for all your advice and guiding me through the process!!!!

I am getting crema but it is thin, probably less than 1 mm. And I hoped much for thick crema.

I am making doubles, coffee beans are around 1 week old. I got 5 lbs of Red Bird Espresso and no way I can use it all within 2 weeks. I am the only one at home who drinks espresso, so even with all my love for coffee it's still a little too much :). And getting just 1 lb of Red bird beans seems to be a little pricey. Any ideas how to handle this for the future?

I experimented yesterday for a while, crema seems to look much better (thanks to you!) but still far from being thick and I still haven't figured out the proper settings for the grinder. I'll experiment more tonight and tomorrow and measure the dose to 1.5-2 oz of liquid (didn't know it yesterday) and will certainly report the results.

Once again, thank you all so much!
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steven_meyer
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Jul 2003
Posts: 506
Location: San Bruno, ca
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0, ECM  Giotto...
Grinder: HG-One, Mahlkonig K-30 vario
Posted Mon Jan 14, 2013, 1:47pm
Subject: Re: Can't get crema
 

Most everyone who orders 5lb at a time freeze in separate containers only to be taken out of the freezer when needed. I store mine in 1lb mason jars.
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 968
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Mon Jan 14, 2013, 2:13pm
Subject: Re: Can't get crema
 

Soleya_12 Said:

I am pretty disappointed because my previous inexpensive deLonghi gave me so much thicker crema even with pre-grinded espresso.

Posted January 12, 2013 link

As stated above it as pressurized and preground will not produce better espresso.  You should be focusing on the taste.  Crema is just gravy and shouldn't be a goal in itself.  Robusta beans will produce tons of crema and taste like burnt tires.

Soleya_12 Said:

I would also appreciate very much if somebody could tell me the exact grinder settings for Baratza Preciso

Posted January 12, 2013 link

There's no one-size-fits-all setting even for a specific grinder.  You have to dial it in.

Soleya_12 Said:

Any ideas how to handle this for the future?

Posted January 14, 2013 link

Portion and freeze*.  Order less.  Find a local roaster so you don't feel like you have to order 5 lbs at a time.

  • Make sure it's stored in an air tight container with as much air removed as possible and don't remove the beans until you're ready to thaw and use the entire portion.  Thaw the portion of the beans sealed and do not open until they're up to room temperature.
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