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To Skim or not to Skim, the Crema that is
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > To Skim or not...  
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SteamPunk
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SteamPunk
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Posted Sat Jun 23, 2012, 9:52am
Subject: To Skim or not to Skim, the Crema that is
 

There seems to be an opinion out there, that the beautiful crema should be skimmed off after pulling a shot.
This is supposed to be due to the fact that the creama is bitter, and why would you want to add a bitter
flavour to something truly magical, if you can leave it out?

I would like to hear from those who have first hand experience in testing and comparing, not just conjecture.
I myself have tried the skimming process, and it does seem to have some merit.

I know one thing for sure, if you stick a finger in the crema itself and taste, it has a burnt, bitter or tobacco like flavour.
As to the opinion that the more crema the better, maybe that translates into,
the more crema there is  to skim off, as a waste by-product, the better the flavour!

I know this opinion will not bode well with those who are into 'latte art'!

Or, is this a function of the grinder?
Does a high quality grinder produce a better tasting crema, which then becomes an integral part of the flavour?
Is this flavour that the crema imparts important to the overall taste, whether bitter or whatever?

Anyhow I suppose it's all a matter of personal taste, but I think it's a very important consideration that hasn't really much been addressed?
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fwtechwiz
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Posted Sat Jun 23, 2012, 12:47pm
Subject: Re: To Skim or not to Skim, the Crema that is
 

Crema is produced when the combination of factors for espresso brewing is right.. yes, it has something to do with the grinder.. proper grind size and consistancy, but moreso the water temperature, freshness of the grind, water pressure, etc.   The crema for me is an important part of the overall taste of an espresso shot.  Without the bitters in the crema to balance out the taste, the espresso seems flat, acrid and 'bright', almost sharp to the tongue.  Enough for me, at least, to want to rinse my mouth out after tasting espresso without the crema.  My vote is a resounding 'NOT to skim'.
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AndyPanda
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AndyPanda
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Posted Sat Jun 23, 2012, 2:08pm
Subject: Re: To Skim or not to Skim, the Crema that is
 

I don't skim ... but I also find that I prefer the taste when I use a spouted portafilter vs a bottomless portafilter.  I believe this is because I get twice the crema from a bottomless since it goes directly into the cup without hitting the bottom of the PF and the spout on the way to the cup.  

Since I noticed that, I've been positioning my cup under the bottomless PF so that the espresso hits the side of the cup and trickles down the side to the bottom of the cup - this seems to break up some of the crema the same way a spouted PF does.

It may be that the bubbles in the crema contribute to the bitterness you are experiencing - try letting the stream run down the inside of your cup during the pour and see if the taste is different for you.

Now ... if you want to make a YouTube video showing off your shot, then most people want to show inches of crema atop a thin layer of liquid.  And it sure does show off how fresh the coffee is and it looks pretty impressive.  

I find I still really enjoy my home roasts even when they are 2 weeks+ post roast and are showing thinner layers of crema - the mouthfeel is less - and I do really enjoy the creamy mouthfeel of the fresher roast with thick crema - but I also really enjoy the flavor of 2 week post roast with less crema.
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
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Posted Mon Jun 25, 2012, 3:12pm
Subject: Re: To Skim or not to Skim, the Crema that is
 

With all due respect, wouldn't this Hamlet-ish question be easily answered by yourself, pulling two shots and "skimming" one but not the other?  Then you could see first hand which YOU prefer, which might be different than what I or others prefer.  It is, after all, a matter of PPP (personal palate preference), is it not?

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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diggi
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diggi
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Posted Mon Jun 25, 2012, 4:00pm
Subject: Re: To Skim or not to Skim, the Crema that is
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

.... easily answered by yourself....

Posted June 25, 2012 link

I see this answer to many questions on this board.  Again, with respect, but is this not just a way to stifle discussion.  Just as educators encourage their students that "There are no stupid questions" (and yes, the reply is often "yea, just stupid people" or "Yea, just stupid answers".....) I would agree that these types of questions do bring up interesting discussion points, even if you aren't interested in trying it out for yourself.

We could all find out the answers to many of the questions that we ask, but if we all did that, coffeegeek would only be a forum to show off espresso shrines.  In this particular instance, I too would find it weird to skim the crema on my shots, even if I thought they tasted better, unless I could get some affirmation from others that I wasn't totally crazy.  It does make sense to some degree that skimming could have some merit, but I've never thought about it or heard about it before.
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CoffeeRoastersClub
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Posted Mon Jun 25, 2012, 4:41pm
Subject: Re: To Skim or not to Skim, the Crema that is
 

SteamPunk Said:

There seems to be an opinion out there, that the beautiful crema should be skimmed off after pulling a shot.
This is supposed to be due to the fact that the creama is bitter, and why would you want to add a bitter
flavour to something truly magical, if you can leave it out?


Anyhow I suppose it's all a matter of personal taste, but I think it's a very important consideration that hasn't really much been addressed?

Posted June 23, 2012 link

If you shaved the beard off the bearded lady can you still call her the bearded lady?

Len

 
"Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water." ~The Women's Petition Against Coffee, 1674

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BeanLink
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Joined: 28 Jun 2012
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012, 12:53pm
Subject: Re: To Skim or not to Skim, the Crema that is
 

Is there a way to pick both? I have had amazing espresso through both methods.

After browsing the Coffee Collective site, I found this:

Click Here (coffeecollective.blogspot.ca)

Up until that point, I stuck by some strict guidelines on how to make and troubleshoot espresso. Afterwards my opinion changed and it really opened me up to experimenting, creating a mix of tasty and god awful shots. Without that experimenting though, I probably wouldn't be writing on this board, and building some really wicked new devices to brew.

Id suggest trying it for yourself. Dial in a coffee and split the shot. Just make sure to cleanse your good ol palate in between.

 
Destination Coffee at your Doorstep
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bittersweet101
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Joined: 14 Apr 2012
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Location: Philippines
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Sun Jul 1, 2012, 11:58pm
Subject: Re: To Skim or not to Skim, the Crema that is
 

According to the study of James Hoffman (barista), crema should be skimmed.
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EricBNC
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Posted Mon Jul 2, 2012, 3:12am
Subject: Re: To Skim or not to Skim, the Crema that is
 

If I skimmed the crema there would only be an empty shot glass left behind...

 
I chew coffee beans with my teeth while gargling with 195 F water to enjoy coffee. What is this "coffee brewing" device you speak of?
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aecletec
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Posted Mon Jul 2, 2012, 5:08am
Subject: Re: To Skim or not to Skim, the Crema that is
 

EricBNC Said:

If I skimmed the crema there would only be an empty shot glass left behind...

Posted July 2, 2012 link

Indeed... how long is one meant to wait? ;)
I've had good tasting crema and not so good tasting crema. Good shots with lots of crema, good shots with very little crema.
I think that skimming (if any) should be on a 'per shot' basis...
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