Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Espresso Crema Longevity

A while back when I was pulling some shots of espresso, I decided to video the whole process. Here it is in all its glory (or lack of, depending on how desperately bored you are). It lasts until the end of the song, just so you know and half way through, there's pretty much no action, it's just to show how long the crema will stick around.

Now this shot is not even an ideal shot because it was just a random one, I can't remember whether I pulled a shot to adjust stuff like grind before hand, but I didn't put much effort into making sure it was a perfect shot for the video. I didn't measure how long the pull was, but it looks pretty short. If I had tamped harder and gotten a longer shot, the crema would have lasted much longer. These days I'm pulling 35 second shots, so it comes out much thicker and while it doesn't start out with a full cup of crema, it is very abundant and lasts really long.

In this video I pulled the shot and just let the espresso sit, so you can see how long proper espresso crema should endure. It seems like every coffee shop in Houston (except for Petrol Station in Garden Oaks and I'm sure there must be some good ones out there I haven't been to) serves espresso that fizzles out in mere seconds. What do I mean by fizzles out? I mean the crema dissipates way too quickly. If you want to see how good your crema is, pull a shot and let it sit still like in the video and measure the time it takes for a hole to appear in the crema. If it's quicker than a minute, it's definitely not a professional quality shot. I didn't wait for a hole to appear in the crema because mine usually takes between 15 and 30 minutes. You can expect less than a minute from a Houston coffee shop almost every time. What's sad is you can roast your own beans at home and pull your own shots with a machine from 1950 and get shots way better than almost every coffee shop in the country. Seems like very few people are seeking to improve quality through innovation and artistry. Instead they're finding new ways to reduce cost and and make more efficient business models. Sad.

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