So, you spent a fortune on a new top quality espresso machine and are struggling with the “No Crema On Espresso” problem then don’t worry this article is for you. I have been there myself, and it’s not fun!
Here are some tips to help get rid of that annoying lack of crema issue.
The first thing we need to do is understand what causes No Crema On Espresso. The most common cause of having no crema on your espresso is poor water pressure in your home or office coffee maker.
Another common cause is over extraction, which means your coffee beans were ground too fine, or your grind setting was set too high.
In this article I will address the main issues that you are facing and get you making a tip-top perfect espresso shot, so keep reading!
No Crema On Espresso – No Crema Meaning
When I am referring to no creama on your espresso shots I don’t always mean zero cream at all, I am in reference to a lack of the tasty, beautiful thick crema that should be on top.
No creama, also refers to thin creama, bubbly crema and crema that dissipates too quickly. In essence, I am referring to worse cases of imperfect crema as well as no crema at all.
What Causes No Crema On Espresso Shots?
There are four reasons why you are not seeing a nice thick rich layer of crema on your shot of espresso like you see at coffee shops.
Reason 1: Stale Coffee Beans
If your coffee is not freshly roasted within the past 7 to 10 days (check the roasted on date!) you will probably have stale coffee beans. Unfortunately the overexposure to oxygen has broken down the coffee oils that you need for making a good thick layer of crema.
the lack of oils means that you will not get a high-quality coffee as the coffee oils are what give your brew their flavor.
Always buy and use fresh beans. It is not essential that you buy locally or from a specialty coffee bean supplier. You can buy online from Amazon, Target, Walmart or anywhere.
Coffee beans have a period where they don’t reach their peak freshness until 3 days after roasting and for 7 to 10 days after.
Coffee roasters roast their beans, pack them and ship them the same day, which accounts for the delivery time, ensuring by the time they get to your home they are reaching their peak flavor.
Reason 2: Your Water Pressure Is Too High
This is not a common reason for there being no cream on yoru espresso shots as espresso machines are well engineered and well calibrated. However, it is a reason.
The lovely thick, rich cream is produced due to a combination of the coffee oils and the water pressure.
Check the pressure setting and ensure that your espresso machine and ensure that is set to the 9 bars of pressure needed (130 PSI).
Reason 3: You Are Using The Wrong Coffee Grind Size
This is the most common reason for shots of espresso to have no crema on top, the wrong coffee ground size.
The perfect grind size in a very fine powder of 200 microns, which is much finer than the pre-ground coffee that you used for drip coffee or standard coffee makers. You need to buy an espresso grind size or buy a grinder and grind for yourself.
The fine powder like size for an espresso is very similar to that of sugar.
Pay attention to the size of your grind as both too large and too small will result in no crema and a poor espresso as a result. Besides the lack of crema, a key to knowing if you don’t have the right size is to time how long it takes to pull your shot.
It should take 25 seconds with a variance of +/- 5 seconds.
Too long (30 seconds+) it is likely that your grind is too fine. Too quick (less than 20 seconds) it is likely that your grind is too large. Use a ceramic burr grinder to get the quality size and consistency of grind.
Naturally, you may need to test and adjust your grinder to get the perfect grind size.
Reason 4: Using The Wrong Coffee To Water Ratio
If you’ve tried and tested all of the above 3 reasons and are still not getting the perfect espresso with rich, thick crema on top, you may not be using the right amount of coffee and thus your coffee to water ratio is out.
A standard coffee to water ratio for an espresso is 1:2 or 1.1.5 for a more focused espresso. Weigh and use 15 grams of coffee for a 1:2 ratio or 20 grams for 1:1.5 ratio.
No Crema On Espresso? This Is How To Get Crema On Espresso!
In this section I’ll talk about how you can get crema on your shot of espresso with a couple of the popular methods of elaborating coffee at home and how to make coffee crema without an expensive quality espresso machine.
The first part is to understand why you’re not getting any crema when you are making your espresso. Thankfully, there are a number of easily fixable reasons why.
As I mentioned earlier, low water pressure is one of the most common causes. Others are using the wrong type of coffee bean or just any old pre-ground coffee.
Talking of grounds, yes, even not using the correct grind setting can result in you having not only a lesser quality shot of espresso, you’ll end up with none of the rich, thick crema that’s associated with the distinctive coffee.
The wrong water temperature and poor tamping are also common causes. This causes shot channelling and, yep you got it, a lack of crema.
How To get Crema On Stove Top Espresso Machine – The Moka Pot Method
The biggest problem with stove top espresso machines is the lack of water pressure. An espresso machine produces 6 bar of water pressure to make an espresso, whereas a stovetop is typically 1.5 bar.
There is a nice get around that works well though. Follow the steps below:
- Use a very finely (espresso roast) ground coffee. Make sure it’s freshly roasted.
- Be sure to use boiling water to reduce the contact time. Fill your stove top machine to slightly below the valve.
- Fill the part where the coffee goes so that it is overfull. You want a pyramid of grounds.
- Press gently down on the pyramid until it is flat. Use any flat object. Do not tamp down the coffee grounds until they’re level or hard.
- Screw the parts together as tight as you can. Use a cloth (the water is hot!)
- Ensure your stove is on at a high as possible of a heat setting.
- When the coffee starts oozing out slowly, lift up the pot to allow just enough heat to keep the coffee flowing. Do not let your moka pot burp.
- Crema. You have it!
This is the well known Moka Pot Method.
How To Make Coffee Crema With French Press
This is a question that I see getting asked a lot, as it seems that coffee lovers are not getting crema with their French press.
It’s not at all surprising to baristas who know their trade. It’s impossible to get crema from a French press due to the lack of pressure created. There’s currently no work around with this brewing method or brew temperature.
You can get some kind of crema on the surface as you pour it, but it will not last long at all. The common way to get a resemblance of a “surface crema” is to pour from a height from the French press.
Still, it disappears quickly. I’m sorry, there’s no way to make coffee crema with a French press, so forget about a quality espresso using this method.
How To Make Coffee Crema Without A Machine (French Press Method)
This one is a little tricky and can be done but the quality of the crema is questionable for the same aforementioned reason – a lack of water pressure. It’s the best way that I know using a French press.
If you have a better way or method, drop a comment on our social media.
The following method produces “a crema”. Try, experiment and see how it works for you.
Heat a cup of water in a microwave or kettle. Put 2 tablespoons of well-ground coffee at the bottom of your French press. Use a digital thermometer to ensure that your water is 205F (96C)
Now put a drop, a splash of hot water on to the grounds until they are wet. Let the grounds bloom. This is simply allowing the natural gasses to be released from the grounds for 30 seconds or so.
Press down on the grounds slowly with the plunger of your French Press.
Now pour slowly the rest of the hot water on to the coffee grounds and allow them to steep for approximately 4 minutes.
Now press down slowly again with the plunger until halfway down the cylinder. Pull the plunger back to the top and then again push down until it goes all the way down to the bottom.
Hold the plunger at the bottom and pour from a height into your espresso mug.
You should have a light crema on top.
Frequently Asked Questions About No Crema On Espresso
Coffee Crema Disappears Quickly?
Yes, unfortunately, this happens quite often when you use a French press. The problem here is that the pressure needed to create crema doesn’t exist.
You need to either increase the amount of time you let the coffee sit before pressing or decrease the size of the grinds used.
Espresso Crema Too Light?
If the crema on your espresso goes away (also known as drops) after less than a minute, it’s usually because you’re using a roast that’s too light and not an espresso roasted coffee.
Another reason for this phenomena is that your extraction is too fast.
A quick fix for both causes of crema being too light is using the correct coffee roast for making an espresso and fixing the flow of water and adjusting the water pressure.
Too low a water temperature is a common reason for crema that’s too light. Check your water temperature and adjust as required or have it replaced if needed. You need the correct brew temperature to get good quality crema and, often, a finer grind.
Espresso Blonding – What Is Blonding In Espresso?
The term Blonding in Espresso refers to the change in color of a fresh shot of espresso when it changes from a dark fresh coffee type of color to a tiger striping kind of color and then to a pale blonde color right at the end which is the correct time to end the extraction.
If you let your shot run for too long, you run the risk of the espresso turning bitter. Too quickly and you will have no blonding and no stable crema or a less than perfect crema.
What To Do When Your Espresso Blonding Too Quickly
When your espresso coffee blonds too quickly, you’re running the risk of a reduced quality as the natural sweetness and body will not be there and result in an ash-like bitter flavor. A cause of this could be your shot being pulled too quickly or channelling or the incorrect temperature of the water.
Fixing the channelling is mostly caused by poor tamping or too low or too high a tamp pressure. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
The channelling problem may be with your portafilter and the coffee puck. You should be able to tell if you have a problem here by examining your puck of coffee.
An ingenious solution I have seen on a coffee/Barista forum is to tamp lightly and then use a fine needle to break the compressed coffee puck until it is even and then re tamp.
Fixing the temperature will depend on which machine you’re using. You should be able to easily adjust the water flow, water pressure and the temperature. Here you will need to apply the golden rule of coffee – TAFO — Test And Find Out!
Stale coffee will also blonde quickly. The solution to this is obvious: use fresh espresso beans.
Thin Crema Espresso
A common cause of thin crema on your espresso is using old beans. When you are looking to make quality fresh coffee, always have and use freshly roasted coffee beans in or around your coffee station.
You should pay attention to the roasted on date rather than the use by date. Don’t use beans that you have not stored properly or are more than 2 or 3 weeks old.
Use only espresso beans for making an espresso.
Another reason for a thin crema espresso is very similar to the previously mentioned problems of a slow pour. You need to pay attention to the shot speed and calculate if you need a faster shot by means of adjusting your machine or by using a finer grind or a coarser grind to manipulate the flow shot speed.
You will need to have a look at your pressure and temperature as well as the steam pressure and pump pressure on your espresso coffee machine.
Why Is My Espresso Watery?
There are several reasons as to why your espresso may turn out as watery, ranging from under extraction of your brew, incorrect grind used, the wrong brew temperature, poor tamping and the wrong coffee dosage in your portafilter.
All of these are, thankfully, easily fixed.
I hope that you’re beginning to see the importance of simple key elements of good tamping, correct dose, correct beans and roast for the job at hand. The right temperature, flow and pressure.
Help! My Espresso Bubbles!
Bubbling is not exclusive to espresso. It’s common to see air bubbles and plenty of bubbles depending on which brewing technique you are using.
This is more commonly seen in pour over, cold brew and French Press methods. The bubbles are not actually air bubbles but the escape of CO2. Carbon dioxide is a by-product of roasting.
When you see bubbles, just leave your grounds for around 30 seconds and let them escape. The phenomena is called blooming in the coffee world. It’s unlikely that you will ever see this in your portafilter.
When you use coffee that is freshly roasted, you have a tendency to see bubbles in the crema. This unfortunately results in a faster breakdown of your crema. The simple solution is to let your fresh beans rest and degas to allow for a stable crema.
Too Much Crema Espresso
This is one of the easier problems to solve and often requires that you do nothing at all. The crema is formed thanks to the CO2 of the beans or by being too fresh and oily. In both instances, simply just let your beans sit for a day or two for some carbon dioxide to escape.
Other reasons could be using the wrong blend or type of beans.
How To Reduce Crema In Espresso – Fixing Foamy Crema!
If you’re having trouble getting good results from your espresso machine, chances are you may be experiencing one of these problems:
Your Water Pressure Is Too Low: – This can happen if your house has low water pressure. It could also mean that your water heater isn’t working properly. Either way, you should try raising the temperature of your hot water tank by turning up the thermostat.
Your water temperature Is Too High Or Too Low: The result of which can be too much crema or simply a low quality crema. Be sure to use the correct grind, temperature and pressure as well as beans that are not too fresh.
Frappé-ing It All Up – No Crema On Espresso
No crema on espresso shouldn’t be a problem for you at all now that you’ve checked out this article. Pay attention to your machine, know it well, keep a good eye on it and keep it well maintained and ensure your water pressure, quality and temperature are spot on.
Once you have those elements fixed the rest of your Crema issues are relatively easily fixed with using the right beans, technique and good tamping. Making great coffee is a skill that anyone can learn.
Did you fix your lack of crema on your espresso shots using a different technique?
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