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Thread: The "red" crema

  1. #1
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    The "red" crema

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I heard this term bandied about on another site and it got me thinking. Some of my recent high points in espresso seemed to be crowned by a very rich deep brick red crema. In fact the day of the last bean bay pickup I had the opportunity to play on a La Marzocco FB70 with some of Brisbanes best baristi, and the espresso that issued was uniformly crowned with this deep red crema.

    Unfortunately, if the beans aint good, even a deep red crema wont save them, but with a decent blend, the taste is sensational; with caramel/toffee/chocolate flavours very clearly defined.

    As a comparison, the crema that I usually get from my machine is much lighter and more golden brown. I usually aimed for this extraction based on the extraction obtained with the same beans at the local cafe at work (which is owned by the local roaster).
    However, after the play on the FB70, I went home and made a few shots, going progressively hotter and adjusting the grind finer until viola... red crema. Unfortunately the shot tasted a bit ashy... which incidentally matched the description/criticism given by the actual ex-roaster of these beans.

    My hypothesis is that the red crema corresponds to caramelised sugars dominating the crema. Me thinks I need to investigate this further.

    Any thoughts?

    Cheers,

    Mark.

  2. #2
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    Re: The "red" crema

    Mark

    How hot did you have to go for the red crema to be produced? And what was the pour time (presumably longer than standard with a finer grind).....

    Would love to get some myself!!

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    Re: The "red" crema


    Actually the term "red crema" was used on the HB site by a new owner of a La Cimbali Junior, as in "now I know how ot get the red crema" or something to that effect.

    During the session on the FB70 I took a look at the grind they were using and it seemed finer than what I was using. Id guess somewhere between normal and ristretto pours. The temp on the FB70 was initially set to 93oC and was bumped up to 94oC later. The crema was invariably deep red for both settings, but the 93oC setting gave a slight grassy taste to one of the SOs being tasted. 94oC cured it. On my machine I just shortened the flush by 1 sec and went finer until I got the slower pour and the colour was very similar, which stopped me blaming the machine...

    Cheers,

    Mark.

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    Re: The "red" crema

    " ... going progressively hotter and adjusting the grind finer ..."

    which of these do you think is the dominant factor in achieving
    red crema?

    have been experimenting with shorter cooling flush myself -- I
    think for the better

  5. #5
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    Re: The "red" crema

    Well I just tried using Marks advice above......

    About a 37 second pour (knocked the grind down a couple of numbers on the La Cimbali (0.04 mm smaller) and reduced the cooling flush by about 1 second.

    Using Monsoon Malabar (which is roasted just to the start of the second crack) and the crema was richer in colour with definite reddish tinges at the start.... tasted pretty damn good as well.

    Bit more experimentation and Ill get there! The elusive red crema 8-)

    The other interesting thing- Malabar is normally a crema monster (at the normal settings) but set this way it produced significantly less crema.

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    Re: The "red" crema

    Thanks. As mentioned above, clearly tending towards a ristretto.

    BTW do you measure time from the first drop appearing, or from
    starting the shot? I always thought the former, but the good folks at HB
    seem to think the latter. With a 5 to 8 sec pre-infusion, the diff is significant.

    On another point:

    " ... the 93oC setting gave a slight grassy taste to one of the SOs being tasted. 94oC cured it ... "

    It so happened that I had pulled a shot earlier this evening from a two day
    Yemeni roast, and observed slight grassiness. So out of curiosity repeated
    the performance with greater temp (not measuring, but by reducing the
    flush). Grassiness no longer apparent. Maybe I have to resurrect the TC
    and calibrate the cooling flush. Oh well ...

  7. #7
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    Re: The "red" crema

    PS forgot to mention ...

    I have occasionally over the last few months made a shot with a
    noticeably red crema, but without being able to repeat it reliably.
    In each case the pour was noticeably on the ristretto side (where I
    like it), and the flavour superb.

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    Re: The "red" crema

    hazbean..

    Yep Im in the HB school - time includes (in my case) about 5 sec pre infusion.

    The higher temp and a more ristretto like pour does produce a superior espresso.... Just got to do a bit more experimentation.

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    Re: The "red" crema


    I believe the reference to red crema referrs to the colour of pours often reported on US/Canadian sites. I used to think that that sort of colour meant a burnt shot. That is until I tasted a few.

    One observation was that red crema usually meant less crema. Hence the crema debate on another site. The arguement went something like: maximum crema = best taste, vs, best taste is not measured by crema volume.

    Id like to hear what Luca has to add to this discussion, as hes had experience on both a Synesso and an LM FB80, which seem to dispense red crema at the flick of a switch.

  10. #10
    Senior Member askthecoffeeguy's Avatar
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    Re: The "red" crema

    Ive been getting some lovely red crema recently from a Ethiopian Sidamo based blend that Ive put together.

    And I think it helps that Bazza the Bezzera has a lovely long slow extraction time, with approx 10sec of pre-infusion time, before the coffee begins to extract...

    Yum!

    Pat

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    Re: The "red" crema

    I too find that redness is more likely to happen when a good many seconds have passed before the first drops tentatively make their debut from the spout.

    With respect to timing: I always time from the instant the brew switch is pressed. Otherwise, if you go by actual extraction time, you can get into ridiculous situations where for the first 15 seconds nothing happens (grind too fine) and then it takes 50 seconds for 60 mls worth.

    --Robusto



  12. #12
    Senior Member askthecoffeeguy's Avatar
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    Re: The "red" crema

    I start timing from when the coffee begins to extract which on my Bezzera is usually 10 after flicking the switch...

  13. #13
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    Re: The "red" crema

    Im with robusto on this one.... Always consider the stop-watch has started from the instant the brew switch is turned On. Mind you, I only time maybe one in every 15-20 shots to just ensure Im in the ballpark, all other shots are pulled on colour.

    Mal.

  14. #14
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    Re: The "red" crema

    Same here.
    Hazel tells me a good shot might have an 8 sec delay before I see the first drops and that Im still looking for a 30 sec total.

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    Re: The "red" crema

    You can always tell if youre in the ball park just by looking at it....doesnt hurt to check once in a while though

  16. #16
    Senior Member askthecoffeeguy's Avatar
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    Re: The "red" crema

    That means Im pulling a 30ml in 40sec on my domestic machine!

    But I too go on colour and the rate of extraction.

    BTW nice new visual, Mal!

    P

  17. #17
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    Re: The "red" crema

    Hhhhmmmm....Im in the 25 seconds from the first drop school of thought. This is, as best as I can determine anyways, the root definition of the time of a shot.

    If you count preinfusion time then there can be no standard time as different machines have different preinfusion times. The only possible standard that can be applied to all machines with any hope of accurracy accross the entire spectrum of machines out there is the length of time from the first drop to the ending of the pull. On many machines this yields about a 30 second time from when the switch is flicked. Which is where this oft quoted time comes from.

    And of course any time that is given is just a starting point. A number to be tweaked and adjusted in either direction as dictated by the quirks and eccentricities of such things as the machine, beans, and tastebuds. :)


    Java "Getting to the root of it all" phile

  18. #18
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    Re: The "red" crema

    Yep,

    I time from flicking the switch to 30/60 in 30 seconds as my "reference" (actually always 60 in 30 because I never use the single basket....)

    But bottom line - its whats in the cup that counts - so I vary the time to get the flavour I want from a particular bean... some times this is more like a ristretto.... the only constant is I always stop the pour at the first sign of blonding.

  19. #19
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    Re: The "red" crema

    Speaking from my experience with the Silvia -- one thing I dont want to see is coffee the second the brew switch is hit.

    In 10 out of 10 times that will indicate a gusher is on its way.

    But hit the switch and...nothing happens, things are looking up.

    No coffee emerges, but you can hear the pump being taken to beyond 9 bar, and the overpressure valve kicks in...

    Then, eventually, the puck surrenders to the massive pressure, and instead of by-passing the basket, the water starts to filter through.

    Most times, that heralds a good shot is on its way. You just have to wait for it.

    The reward for patience is that initial very dark thin trickle which doesnt fatten out to a pale stream very quickly.

    But when it reamains a very thin trickle for too long -- that too may disappoint.

    The indication is usually that the grind is too fine, combined with an overloaded basket.

    HOWEVER --- because the extraction is so very slow, the PID does manage to keep the boiler temperature very steady at set point in this latter case.

    Its a consolation. Of sorts.

    --Robusto

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    Re: The "red" crema

    I always find that the coffees I find that the best coffees (to my taste) are pours just on the safe side of overextracted. if it tastes burnt then Ill back the grind off untill it doesnt anymore. rarely do I time a shot.

  21. #21
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    Re: The "red" crema

    Quote Originally Posted by askthecoffeeguy link=1172734173/15#15 date=1172966780
    BTW nice new visual, Mal!
    Kind of caught my eye and generated memories of our two lads when they were little ;) :)

    Mal.

  22. #22
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: The "red" crema

    Which one looks most like you then?

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    Re: The "red" crema


    I managed to get a "red crema" shot last night... Taste had definite hints of sweet caramelised sugar... This is a first for this blend and is keeping me on the hunt for more...

    I actually thought Id pulled the shot too hot, but again it wasnt the case. The shot was somewhere between a ristretto and an espresso, probably closer to the ristretto side.


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    Re: The "red" crema

    Hi Guys

    Ive just done a big read on blonding [on this and other sites] and got myself more confused and so need a quick refresher [Blonding 101] or a slap across the face.

    Yes, I try and stop my shots at the onset of blonding and also try and get this to occur the 25 sec mark [after first drips] but I notice different things from different beans and my possibly inconsistant technique[should I admit that!!!]

    for example I get really consistant textbook results from some beans [eg Concordia]
    ie: Start with drips, goes to thin dark rat tails [5 sec] and then thick glooping tiger striped crema.....perfect!
    If I purposely over extract this [keep running this into 30+ sec] the extraction goes watery and blond......this sounds like blonding to me.

    But with a Yemin Moccha Ive tried, the crema flow [following the 5 sec dark trickle] comes out a very thick foamy blond colour.
    And boy what a crema.....I need a "crema-unenhancer" thingy.
    Its crema all the way.
    If I purposely run this shot into 35 sec territory I loose the foamy flow and again get the thin watery stream, but overall for this blend, the colour seems to stay the same all the way through the pour.
    This may be the "blond gusher" some refer to, but its undoubtably a guiness pour and the coffee tastes thick and sweet, so to me it seems fine.
    Varying gring and tamp with this blend seems to effect the speed of flow, but not the colour.

    So what Im really trying to understand is:
    Is blonding simply a colour thing, or does one also look for other things such as the transition such from thick foamy gloopyness to watery brown dishwater?.

    Any thoughts gladly taken on board.

  25. #25
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: The "red" crema

    Im not sure whats happening with your Yemin Mocha but blonding to me is a colour thing but goes hand in hand with the thinning of the flow to a more watery consistancy.

  26. #26
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    Re: The "red" crema

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod link=1172734173/15#21 date=1173056042
    Which one looks most like you then?
    Why, Pooh of course TG ;)

    Mal.

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    Re: The "red" crema

    Thundergod,

    I think there is a problem with my YM too.
    It was an emergency 200g Id kept in the freezer which was thawed out last week......probably related to the freeze/defrost process.....I wont try that again.

    I tried another blend today after a couple of blond YMs and it was fine.

  28. #28
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    Re: The "red" crema


    Well, getting back to the red crema, Ive noticed, having done a lot of readjusting of grind/dosing with my new grinder, that with the red/dark brown crema, I definitely get an earthy taste. This is with a 40 second pour with nice fat drops blobbing into the cup. Probably a bit too slow, but there ya go. Definitely an earthy taste.

    my 3.5 cents

    Belinda

  29. #29
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    Re: The "red" crema


    Thats contrary to my experience. Dark brown maybe, but the rich red shots are usually reminiscent of caramelised sugar and have some sweetness. But you got to get all the other indicators right. The one I managed on the Pav (before the replacement pump died) dropped out vertically from the spouts with no hint of a mouse tail in sight. The rate of pour and thickness of the streams was nearly constant throughout the shot. The crema had flecks of red on tan (or tan on red..). The taste had no excessive bitterness and no detectable sourness/grassiness.

    The Pav was running quite hot with the pstat set at 1.1 bar and the group idling between 91-97 oC, so it needed a huge flush to get it within reason. Once I get a new pump sorted (I now have 3 dead procon pumps) Ill adjust it down and see how it goes.

    I guess to be on a level playing field, wed need to be using the same beans/machine/barista and taste the same shot once the red crema zone is reached.

    Cheers,

    Mark.

  30. #30
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    Re: The "red" crema

    " ... reminiscent of caramelised sugar and have some sweetness ... "

    This is my feeling too after a couple of days of experimenting with
    significantly reduced cooling flush, hence higher brewing temp.

    When all goes well with the pour, thats usually what I get.
    Will keep trying ...


  31. #31
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    Re: The "red" crema

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight

    Must admit Ive had the caramelised sugary taste before with this kind of a pour. So Im thinking maybe its the blend Im using at present.



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