How Important is the Espresso Foam Really for Me and for all Espresso Lovers in The Whole World?
“The crema is the most important part of a good coffee.” or “The coffee crema has to pass the biscuit test.” I beg your pardon? “The crema at the first gives coffee’s taste.” For real? Sometimes you could get the impression that everything in the coffee world is all about the coffee-crema. You see this word permanently not only in coffee advisers for the coffee preparation, but you hear it in very serious Coffee-shops and the term has now taken something like an adventurous flair.
Coffee brands on the supermarket shelves have some Tips about “Café Crema” and tell you how to get a full-bodied coffee and with the right coffee taste and aroma with their coffee beans better than the other competitors’ products. Coffee lovers which are beginners in this area, may not know about beans choices or brewing temperature, but be sure that a good crema is as an award for their own coffee. And then the “crema hysteria” drives even to such ideas as the biscuit test, which show you how the foam on the coffee allegedly must exist. Complete nonsense. First of all, this test refers to milk foam and not the coffee foam (crema) and, secondly, is now obsolete. Anyway, it was time that I dealt with the Crema more intensively and precisely apart, because the coffee foam it’s very important. And Yes, it has its rights for this. But this is actually only a very small part of the coffee world. And everything that goes beyond, you can forget confidently.
What is the crema? And what is not?
When we talk about crema, we mean the hazelnut brown, slightly frothy layer that lays on an espresso. And only on a real espresso from the sieve carrier coffee machine. What comes out of the coffee machines and is advertised as a crema, is not. And there is a reason for this: the espresso foam is a mixture of coffee oils, proteins and sugars, which are produced by the sieve carrier coffee preparation under high pressure. In the process, the carbon dioxide -contained in the beans- dissolves perfectly and, together with the water, makes air bubbles to which the particles are bound and whirled up into foam.
Coffee Crema is thus less a general coffee feature than a “by-product” of a specific method of preparation. But of course, it looks totally awesome and its optical quality can be estimated relatively well even by beginners – after all, the buzz word Crema has been shouting into our faces since the hype surrounding Italian coffee specialties. So, it was clear that coffee brands and the fully automatic coffee machines manufacturer wanted to transfer this visually convincing feature to their coffee beans and devices. But that does not function for the coffee automatic machines, because the water pressure here is for the most of them too low and the coffee components in the brewing (!) cannot really be stirred up and tied to air bubbles. In addition, the extraction process is a little bit different and it is functioning very good to create the right crema. So, the automatic machines have to trick the coffee preparation and use, for example, mini quirks or valves, which open (hit) the coffee after brewing (!) again and create a pseudo-crema on the espresso. That crema still looks totally awesome.
But from this coffee foam a crucial component is missing! Because the espresso-based crema is an integral part of the process, the fine froth absorbs many flavors in a unique combination and concentration. The specific combination of crema and aromas is slightly different for every coffee bean type and coffee brewing process and adds the final kick to the drink. Nevertheless, it is especially responsible for the velvety mouthfeel. This of course is not possible with a fully automatic machine because here, the crema formation is not a part of the brewing process, but just a mechanical matter. That’s why you can also remember. Anyone who thinks he has a special coffee taste using an automatic crema is lying to himself because sometimes confuses feeling with taste. However, we still go the wrong way from the wrong side if we focus too much on what the crema is in itself. Basically, the crema is just one part of a good espresso and, secondly, it’s just an indicator of whether the coffee preparation process and all the other components are right – and that’s what I think really matters.