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Thread: WOW - how much crema?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Rocky's Avatar
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    WOW - how much crema?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    While I am very happy with the flavour I get from the WOW and the other varieties I have used to date, I do notice that I dont get much crema on anything. (maybe 1-2 mls in a demi-tasse) Now I am wondering what are your opinions on:
    1. Do you think you can extract the optimum flavour from a given bean in the absence of a thick crema? (you will understand that what I am asking is "Is a certain amount of crema indicative of an optimum extraction").
    2. If you think it IS possible to increase the amount of crema, what would you try to achieve this? (tamp? grind? temp? what?)

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    Re: WOW - how much crema?

    There are two good examples that show that crema isnt necessarily proportional to tastiness. First, you can increase crema by using robusta and monsooned malabar. Such a blend has the potential to taste like rubber and wet socks, but it will probably have a ridiculous amount of crema that will persist for a long time. Second, coffee that is extracted quite fresh will often have a lot of crema that will quickly collapse. As the coffee ages and gas escapes, the crema will become more stable, but remember that as the gas escapes, so, too, do some of the more volatile and tasty components that you might want to drink in your espresso. The age of the coffee at which it delivers optimum extraction will depend on the roast profile, the packaging and the coffee itself.

    There are a number of ways of increasing crema, but the key thing to consider is that everything that you do will affect the flavour of your espresso. Whether or not this is a better result depends entirely on your own subjective taste. As I mentioned above, you can add robusta or monsooned malabar. Dry processed brazilian coffees can also help you to build up crema. Obviously whether or not you want to do this depends on whether or not you like the flavour of the coffees that you can find. You can also age the coffee so that the crema that extracts contains less gas and is more stable. Some world barista champions have won the WBC using coffee that was three weeks or a month old specifically so that they would get better scores on crema. If you want to do this, how you store your coffee will be important. Vacuum packing immediately after roasting and nitrogen flushing will help. Whether or not you want to do this also depends on the type of espresso that you like. If you like heavy, rich espresso rich with sugar browning flavours like chocolate and nuts, this is probably an approach worthwhile trying, since those flavours seem to be due to heavier molecular weight compounds that will hang around. If you like espresso that has more interesting enzymatic flavours like fruit and floral flavours, this might not be such a good idea, seeing as those flavours seem to be due to lower molecular weight compounds that go away fairly quickly. If you want to preserve more of the flavour, possibly at the expense of decreasing body and increasing acidity, you can roast slightly lighter and store slightly longer. Whatever you decide to do, a useful exercise might be to actually taste the crema on a teaspoon.

    Personally, I dont really care that much about crema. I remember that when Mark set up St Ali and Andrew set up Maling Room and we first started to learn how to use the temperature control on the Synessos, we were getting fairly low crema on espresso made with wet processed central american coffees. Synessos were the new kids on the block and some people posted online to the effect that "the emperor has no clothes." My response then was the same as it is now - Id choose better tasting espresso over better crema any day of the week.

    Cheers,
    Luca

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    Re: WOW - how much crema?

    Quote Originally Posted by 162B272F3D440 link=1251604867/0#0 date=1251604867
    I do notice that I dont get much crema on anything.(maybe 1-2 mls in a demi-tasse)
    Strange, Ive had just the opposite. *Ive been wondering if Ive been using the beans a little early - crema almost frothing out of the handle, and blonding occurring early in the pour.

    I noticed last batch that about 7 to 10 days after the tagged roast date, that they settled down and I was getting some consistency in my shots again.

    merr1


  4. #4
    Senior Member Rocky's Avatar
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    Re: WOW - how much crema?

    Thanks for the insightful response, Luca. Like you, I dont care too much about crema as long as the taste is good. As far as personal preferences go, I am imagining that the 80/20 Rule applies to coffee and that about 80% of us would more or less agree on a given cup of coffee as good or bad.
    My concern was whether minimum crema could be interpreted as a sign of less than optimum extraction. (i.e. if its not extracting all the oils then maybe its not extracting all the flavour either)
    I would be interested to know (as a kind of benchmark) whether other WOW users get a lot or a minimum of crema, and what the variables are (type of machine, grind, tamp, etc)

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    Re: WOW - how much crema?

    i had it a long time ago, but i remember good stable crema, not too much, not too little......if that helps....

    oh and luca, yet another comprehensive answer! ;)

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    Re: WOW - how much crema?

    Im using it for lrg strong flat whites- very fine sandy grind- full double basket with very hard tamp- thirty sec almost dripping shot. Its been about ten days since the roast and the shots only have about 3mm of dark crema. I was stuck on Merlo espresso for quite a while but the WoW has such a blissfully nice taste. So yea I also strive for a nice looking crema but it doesnt matter that much once you taste it. Very impressed, Ill have to order some more because all the other beans Ive got are getting too old to bother with.

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    Re: WOW - how much crema?

    when you say 30 sec "dripping" shot, what sort of volume are you getting in your cup?

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    Re: WOW - how much crema?

    I hadnt measured it before but just did and there almost 60ML. Thirty secs is me counting and probably a bit slow so it may be about 40 or so seconds. Gee that felt like working out someones IV drip rate. Ran out of the WOW today and went back to the Merlo I had mentioned before and definitely not as much crema and syrupy consistency as the WOW. The Merlo is over 2 weeks old and is still very nice, just didnt expect such an enjoyably fresh roast. Will try some other beans from here after I get through one more bag of the WOW I think, unless someone can suggest an even better roasted bean I may like.

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    Re: WOW - how much crema?

    Little known fact: crema tastes rubbish anyway:

    http://www.jimseven.com/2009/07/06/video-1-crema/

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    Re: WOW - how much crema?

    Hi Rocky,

    In answer to your last question, I have done about 3 WOW roasts and they all give pretty good crema, on my Breville Cafe Roma (unpresurised PF).

    And just last night I fired up for the very fist time my c1970 La San Marco 2 Gr Lever and in the attached photo you can see the very first shot I poured - a decaf WOW and it came out pretty well. The beans are about 9 days old.

    I have found so far that that bean age, dosage and tamping do all affect crema. I poured another shot which poured too quickly but had loads of crema that dissappeared more quickly. I havent done any tests on roast level affects on crema.

    Have fun experimenting!

    Cheers
    Mokka




  11. #11
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: WOW - how much crema?

    Just tried the crema separately on my last shot.

    Yes it is bitter.
    So is the rest of the ristretto.
    No it is not ashy.
    No it is not gritty.
    Doppio ristretto piccolo latté is more like filtered coffee than usual--cleaner, but lacking some of the flavours I like.

    Did anyone else notice that Jims shots were a very unappetising shade of grey rather than a nice rich brown?

    Greg

  12. #12
    Senior Member Rocky's Avatar
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    Re: WOW - how much crema?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Thanks Guys, and Mokka for the photos. My current bag of WOW is a lighter roast than usual and likewise a more subtle flavour, but the same crema as the previous darker roasts. I have been experimenting with grind (although I suspect the Rocky is more of a Bowie knife than a scalpel) and some pretty firm tamps. I have had a spectrum of pours from about 15secs to 45secs and while the quality of the coffee varied considerably, the amount of crema remained pretty much the same. No worries though, the coffee is fine.



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