Does good espresso always have to have the cream on top???

jmurphy115

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Jun 7, 2005
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I have recently became a coffee person, I purchased a New Krups machine that has an espresso maker and coffe machine($99 from BedBath ).
The machine did not come with the part that will allow you to stamp the espresso coffee into the filter, Any idea where I can buy one of these??

I was told by a person who owned a coffee shop, that a good espresso will have this cream on the top for along time. He said the keys to a good espresso were the following. The steam must be a temp of 180, the espresso must be packed tightly, the filter holding device must be warm and the coffe cup itself also must be warm.

I have checked all these things and my espresso still does not come out with much of that cream on the top, the espresso tastes okay but not as good as the ones i had in Paris when i got hooked on the espresso.

Any help would be appreciated

thanks
 

topher

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Aug 14, 2003
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Its not cream...its crema...and yes it is a must...you need a machine with a decent pump...
 
OP
J

jmurphy115

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thanks for the reply back, Not sure if my machine has a pump?? I know it heats the water, but not sure... This is a stupid question but how does the "espresso" machine work. I am engineer but involved with magnets only, not sure about how this heat is pumped thru...not sure if my machine has a pump??

thanks for your help, whoever you are
 

ElPugDiablo

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Jul 16, 2004
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Hartford and New Haven, CT
You can buy a espresso tamper on eBay, just make sure you buy one with the correct diameter.
To make a good single shot of espresso, first and foremost, you need fresh and good quality beans. Then you need a good burr grinder to grinder the beans proplerly. Once grinded, use immedately, otherwise in less than 5 minutes your grinded beans will start to lose flavor. You need a pack about 7 grams of espresso grind at about 30 to 40 pounds of pressure into a hot, not warm, portafilter. The water temperature should be higher than 180. In my shop, the temperature is set at 203 degrees. Your machine should have a pump strong enough to extract 1 oz of espresso in 25 to 30 seconds. The espresso should ooze out of the portafilter in a thick syrupy consistency, and the crema should be dark reddish brown in color. Drink you espresso immediately, don't wait for a long time to see how long the crema will hold.
 
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jmurphy115

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thanks for the help. I have used beans that are fresh, and still not much crema is on the top of the espresso, so it must be some other issues.

I tried running two shots of just water thru my portafilter, to get it hot, but still not much crema on the espresso, but this time the beans were about 2 days old.

i will try it again, i need to measure the temperature of this water. I am going to buy a thermoter and check this a little more accurately.

Thanks for the post, let me try a few experiments with some of your great suggestions then i will post back. it sounds like you are the experts, t

thanks,
 
LL, there are a few other pieces that might help.

"To make a good single shot of espresso, first and foremost, you need fresh and good quality beans."

That's is part of it, but not a complete desciption. You need an espresso roast coffee. If you try to get crema from a French Roast, you're going to be disappointed.

Crema is made from the development of the oils in the coffee. If you get hold of a video called Espresso 501, Dr. Illy gives this amazing technical description of espresso. Unlike drip coffee that is just a suspension, espresso is a solution, a suspension, and and emulsion. Here is an article on the web that gets into the details.

Before you read it, a few more words on beans. A couple years ago I volunteered as a runner at the world barista competition in Boston and got close to some of the best of the best. Several of the top baristas put a few robusta beans in their blends because it made for a thicker crema. Some purists will poo poo robusta, but it is an easy way to get crema. If you want to make sure you have the right coffee and that it is not your machine, go on line and get some pre-ground coffee from IllyUSA.com. From there, experiment with your tamp. Use a bathroom scale so you can calibrate the tamp.

If after all that, you're not getting decent crema, it is your machine.

Okay, now, because you are an engineer... (http://www.wholelattelove.com/articles.cfm?articleID=25)

Protein strands, available from the ruptured cellular material and denatured by the hot water, become surfactants and stabilize the tiny bubbles. The polysaccharides and lipids increase the viscosity of the fluid, resisting the pull of gravity and slowing the drainage. As the fluids drain off, the bubbles dry out and when the surfactants can no longer support them the walls collapse. The breaking down continues until the crema foam dries out or disappears completely. Too much information? Okay. Let’s just say crema is a foam of carbon dioxide and espresso.

------

Ok, so if you're not getting crema it is because your protein strands are not developing into surfactants. That could be the coffee or the brewing. If you get crema and it is not lasting, that would be your polysaccharides and your lipids. Ain't this fun?

Last note. If your crema is more white than reddish brown, you grind is too fine and you're over extracting. If you are getting a lot more than 1 1/2 to 2 oz with 30 seconds, then your grind is too coarse. 30 seconds is from pushing the button to start the pull. Another way of measuring that time is about 24 seconds from when the first drips of coffee come through the portafilter and land in your cup.
 
Another thought about testing what is going on. Get yourself a stovetop espresso maker (sometimes called a Moka). You can get a nice one for under $20 on Amazon. You could probably pick up a Moka at a flea market for a buck.

Brew your espressoin that. We used one for a week while on vacation in Massa Lubrense near Capri and even though the coffee was in a can, it was a real Italian espresso experience, crema and all.
 

rcs1

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Feb 10, 2005
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With the small exception that moka pots are incapable of producing actual crema. Yes, they do produce foam, but this foam isn't the same as what sits on top of an actual shot from a pump (or lever) driven machine.

What wasn't mentioned yet is the difference in pressure. The machine from BBB, is steam driven. IE, water heats in a closed chamber, forming vapor pressure, which forces water up a tube to where you have the coffee in the basket. It then is forced through the coffee under the power of steam alone. The maximum pressure of this is around 1.2 bar.

An actual espresso machine is quite different. Basically they work under much higher pressure, using 9 bar (approx 135 psi) to force 197-203 degree water through a finely ground and compacted cake. How it arrives at this pressure can either be through a pump (very common) or a lever (somewhat uncommon).

What you are getting out of your BBB machine isn't espresso, it's strong coffee. The same goes for moka pots. Yes, they are called espresso makers, but they really aren't. True espresso must have the high pressure extraction, because only this is able to produce the emulsion of coffee oils and particles with the water that is truly crema.

Chris
 
Crickey, mates!

That Isomac Millennium I have on my kitchen counter must not be a real espresso machine because it operates between 1 and 1.5 BAR. Better weld a loop of stainless on the top and use it for a boat anchor.

http://www.coffeegeek.com/proreviews/fi ... um/details

I just don't know how to explain the crema I get with it what is on par with the La San Marco and the La Marzocco at work. Hmmmm. Occam's Razor. I must not know what I'm talking about.
 

rcs1

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Feb 10, 2005
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Ahh, but that is your Isomac's boiler pressure, not the pressure at which it extracts a shot. That's what the pump inside it is for. It sends fresh water from the reservoir through the heat exchanger, pressurized to 9 bar, which is what is hitting the top of the coffee puck.

The Millenium only has a boiler pressure gauge, but several other machines, including the Tea, have both a boiler pressure gauge, and a brew pressure gauge.

Chris
 
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