How to Make Crema Espresso

What is the definition of crema in espresso

The crema in espresso is the coffee bean oils oozing to the surface of the espresso shot. Carbon dioxide is released when brewing espresso and forms many tiny bubbles. This pushes the coffee been oils to the surface of the espresso shot.

Crema is considered the gold standard for brewing a perfect espresso shot.

What should espresso crema look like

Crema in espresso is the top layer of an espresso shot that has a golden caramel color to it.

Crema looks creamy and smooth in its texture.

Crema in espresso should last for at least 2 minutes before dissolving into the rest of the espresso shot.

Espresso crema should be about 1/10 of the espresso shot in size. This is the ideal amount of crema a barista is looking for when brewing an espresso shot.

How to Make Crema Espresso

To make crema espresso, make sure you’re using fresh coffee beans. Espresso is usually not creamy if the espresso beans are old. Freshly roasted espresso beans are needed to achieve a creamy espresso shot.

  1. Clean and dry your portafilter.
  2. Grind your espresso into your portafilter. You can measure the dose of coffee using a digital scale to get an accurate measurement. Use the correct dose based on your filter basket manufacturer recommendation. Only use this measurement. Your dose should never change. For a double shot of espresso it could be anywhere from 18-20g of dry ground coffee beans.
  3. Tap the portafilter to let the espresso grinds fall into the filter basket.
  4. For any extra heaping espresso grinds, use your finger on the top of the basket, to gently guide the espresso into the basket.
  5. Once the espresso dose is level and even around of the portafilter, you’re ready to tamp your espresso.
  6. Tamp your portafilter using ~ 30 lbs of pressure. Use a scale if you need to get the rough measurement of how much pressure to use.
  7. Brew your espresso. The brew time should be about 25-27 seconds.
  8. This should produce an espresso shot that weighs ~30 g. The weight of your espresso shot should be double the amount of your dose. If your espresso dry ground dose is 18g, this should produce a 36 g espresso shot.

How fresh of coffee beans should you be using for espresso

Espresso beans should be roasted and used within 1-3 weeks.

The older the espresso beans, the finer the grind needed to produce the espresso shot of ideal timing.

Make sure to adjust your grind as your espresso beans get older to achieve your ideal 20-30 second brew time.

When should you grind your espresso beans

Espresso coffee beans need to be ground right before brewing. If you grind your espresso beans too soon, the humidity in the air can penetrate the espresso beans, making them damp and not being able to fully be extracted. This can cause the flavor of espresso to be not as strong or flavorful.

Too light of a crema

  • under-extraction. The crema disappears within 1 minute, indicating the crema is too thin. Under-extraction causes espresso to not be as flavorful and strong as it should be.
  • espresso machine not warm enough. The brew head needs to be heated up long enough until it reaches 195-205 degrees F. You can get a temperature gauge to measure the temperature of the brew head.

Espresso machine not making any crema

  • over-extraction: There may not even be any crema showing in the espresso shot. This could be due to over tamping, the grind being too fine, or the brew time being too long.
  • espresso machine too hot. (over 205 degrees F) The espresso beans can become too hot when brewed which can cause the shot to become bitter, harsh, and too thick.

Which coffee beans produce the best crema

Arabica Coffee beans produce a beautiful crema and has the best flavor possible for espresso.

Arabica coffee has caramel, chocolate, nutty flavor to it, with a hint of fruit. Arabica coffee has only a small amount of acidity and bitterness to it.

Robusta Coffee beans produce the best crema, but it is a little more harsh and bitter than Arabica coffee. Robusta coffee has more caffeine than Arabica coffee, and has less sugar. This produces a less than ideal flavor for espresso over Arabica coffee beans.

how to dose coffee

How to Dose Coffee

Dosing coffee refers to the weight of dry coffee grounds placed in a portafilter.

  1. Clean and dry your portafilter.
  2. Grind your espresso into your portafilter. You can measure the dose of coffee using a digital scale to get an accurate measurement.
  3. Tap the portafilter to let the espresso grinds fall into the basket.
  4. For any extra heaping espresso grinds, use your finger on the top of the basket, to gently guide the espresso into the basket.
  5. Once the espresso dose is level and even around of the portafilter, you’re ready to tamp your espresso.

How to measure the correct dosage of coffee

To measure the correct dosage of coffee, you can use a digital scale to measure the number of grams in your portafilter basket.

How many grams in a double shot of espresso

In a double shot of espresso you should put 14-18g of ground coffee beans in your portafilter. This will produce 30-36 g espresso shot.

Find your recommended number of grams for your filter basket from your manufacturer. Each portafilter basket is different for their recommended dose.

How many espresso grounds in a single shot of espresso

For one shot of espresso, you’ll need about 6-8 grams of dry ground coffee beans. The volume of a single shot espresso will produce 12-16 g of liquid espresso.

Espresso brew ratio

Espresso brew ratio is generally a 1:2 ratio. 1g of ground dry coffee beans will yield 2g of liquid espresso.

However, you can change your espresso brew time to increase or decrease the yield of espresso. You can dose the exact same, but brew it for less time or more time.

Espresso Brew Ratio of 1:1 – your espresso will be under-extracted, and therefore much thicker and stronger.

Espresso Brew Ratio of 1:3 – your espresso will be weaker and thinner.

Your espresso brew ratio can change depending on your preference for your coffee. The dose will always be fixed.

You can measure your dose using a digital scale. Place your portafilter on a scale and measure the amount of espresso going into the portafilter basket to get an accurate dose, every time.

How long to brew espresso for

If your shot comes out too fast – less than 20-25 seconds, your espresso will be too acidic and bitter.

If your espresso shot is too slow – more than 30 seconds the espresso will be weaker and too thin. It will not have the pungent flavor and taste espresso normally has.

Ideally an espresso shot should be brewed for 20-30 seconds.

How hard should you tamp espresso

Espresso should be tamped with about 30 lbs of pressure.

You can also use a distribution tool which will level the coffee and tamp it for you which will give you consistent espresso shots, without having to use a tamper. This will produce the best crema possible for your espresso shot.

If you’re still having difficulties pulling the best espresso shot, try our espresso troubleshooting guide.

how to dose coffee

Espresso Shot Troubleshooting

Espresso shot troubleshooting guide

If you’re struggling with your espresso shot brewing too fast, too slow, or is lacking crema, try a few of these different fixes that might help solve your espresso problems.

Espresso machine drips too slow

If your espresso machine is dripping to slow, try:

  • adjusting the grind to a coarser grind. The larger the espresso grind, the faster the brew flow of the espresso.
  • tamping too hard – if you tamp the espresso too hard, the compacted espresso beans will not allow water to flow through it well. Try tamping a little less hard and see if your espresso brews faster.
  • machine needs descaling. If your water is heavily mineralized, your espresso machine will be coated in minerals, which will cause a buildup and water will not be able to travel through your machine. Try running white vinegar through your machine to remove the minerals. Only use distilled water through your machine if your water contains too many minerals. This way you will not have to descale your espresso machine.

Espresso shot drips too fast

If your espresso shot is dripping out too fast out of your espresso maker, try these simple fixes:

  • adjust the grind to a finer grind. The smaller the espresso grind, the slower the espresso will come out of the machine
  • old coffee beans – coffee beans will age over time, and change their ability to pull a good shot of espresso. Use fresh beans that have been recently roasted to have your espresso pull slower out of your espresso machine.
  • tamping too lighting – aim for tamping 30 lbs of pressure. Try using your tamper on a scale to see how much 30 lbs of pressure is. Then try tamping your coffee at the same amount of pressure.
  • gasket not fitted correctly – could be a buildup of coffee underneath the gasket. Scrape the excess coffee grounds and refit with a new gasket. Gaskets should be replaced once a year.

Espresso channeling

Espresso channeling can give an espresso shot a lack of crema, weak flavoring, and can cause the espresso to brew too fast. This results in too much espresso that you would expect for an espresso shot.

Water flowing through espresso is going to find the path of least resistance.

If you’re filling your portafilter with espresso, sometimes you’ll get one side too high and the other side is lower with espresso beans. If you tamped an uneven dose of espresso, you’ll get espresso channeling.

Espresso channeling can cause under-extraction and over-extraction at the same time, if not dosed correctly.

If you inspect the espresso puck after brewing, you can tell where the water is channeling around the puck.

Espresso channeling can be due to:

  • undersized tamper – if your filter basket is larger than your tamper, you’re not tamping all of your coffee, even if you run it along the edges of the basket. Try a precision basket with your properly fitted tamper, and this should help
  • uneven tamping – espresso is not dosed correctly.

Espresso not creamy

Creamy espresso is the golden standard for an espresso shot. Crema is formed by pulling a fresh shot of espresso using fresh beans, tamping 30 lbs of pressure, and using the proper grind.

Espresso is usually not creamy if the espresso beans are old. Freshly roasted espresso beans are needed to achieve a creamy espresso shot.

Portafilter Wet or Dirty

Clean your portafilter with water to remove all of the remaining coffee beans that may be present. Dry the portafilter thoroughly before grinding your next espresso shot. You don’t want your espresso to be prematurely wet prior to extraction. This can cause uneven tamping and a more bitter espresso shot.

When to start timing espresso shot

Start timing your espresso shot when the first drop hits your mug.

Your espresso shot should brew within 20-30 seconds.

espresso machine drips too slow

Best 9 Bar Coffee Machine

9 bar is the gold standard set by Italian Institute of Espresso. The best 9 bar coffee machine is the Rancilio Silvia coffee maker. The pressure is set at 12 bars when it is shipped to you. But sometimes it does only brew as a 9 bar, depending on pressure and how much water is flowing. It brews as one of the best 9 bar coffee machine with a little practice.

What is Italian Certified Espresso?

  • hazel to dark brown foam
  • smooth texture
  • floral aroma mixed with toasted bread/chocolate notes as it brews
espresso brewing
Reviews

What’s the difference between 15 bar and 9 bar espresso?

The best extraction for espresso is between 8-10 bars. This is dependent on your espresso machine, type of espresso beans, grind, water temperature and tamping pressure. Fine tune what works best for you, but 9 bar espresso is the Italian standard and won’t make too much of a difference at 15 bar.

Why is the Rancilio Silvia the best 9 bar coffee machine?

The Rancilio Silvia is only manufactured in Italy. They test every machine to make sure it’s working perfectly before they send them out. The compartments are made so that any part can be replaced or fixed if needed. They want you to have this machine for a long time, it’s built to last. You can expect to have this 9 bar coffee maker for over a decade.

coffee-made-by-rancilio-silvia

How do you get the best espresso crema

  • brew using a double filter basket to pull 2 shots at once
  • use a bottomless filter basket
  • freshly roasted coffee beans

What is the maintenance on a Rancilio Silvia?

There are only 2 maintenance procedures that need to be done on a regular basis:

  1. Backflushing (recommended 1 x week) 
  2. Changing the rubber gasket/cleaning screen (1x year)

When the coffee starts tasting not as good as it usually does, you should clean the screen. This will give you the aromatic flavour from your italian coffee maker that you love!

I purchased my own Rancilio Silvia in November 2012 and I absolutely love it. I had never owned a coffee maker before this so it was a steep learning curve. Watching videos and practicing daily made me be able to improve my skills and pull delicious crema for my morning coffee.

Best Milk Pitcher for Latte Art

I’ve had the Espro milk steaming pitcher for about 7 years now. My husband gave it to me for Christmas after I got my Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine. I wasn’t very seasoned at making espresso or frothing milk when he got it for me. I basically just wrote off latte art for years. But after perfecting my espresso game and milk steaming I decided to give latte art another try.

best milk steaming pitcher

The Espro milk steaming pitcher is the best milk pitcher for latte art. 

Why?

  • The sharp V shape when pouring the milk lets you go as close to the espresso surface as you possibly can
  • The V gives you the control to create the designs you want more accurately than a U shape
  • Creates smooth velvety microfoam

Espro has designed their pitcher in a way that the milk swirls around in a perfect circle.

espro milk pitcher

The center of the bottom of the pitcher is raised. This allows the milk to create a vortex when the steam wand is forcing air into the milk. 

espro milk steaming pitcher

There are fill lines on the inside of the pitcher so you can replicate the volume of milk you need every time you make your latte at home.

best milk pitcher

Espro guarantees their milk steaming pitcher will last you for life. I personally have had mine for over 7 years and I’ve had no issues.

How to clean your Espro Steaming Pitcher?

  • Use soap and water with a cloth and wipe down after each use

Where to store your Frothing Pitcher?

  • Store it in the fridge or freezer so your milk is very cold when you start steaming your milk

How to use your Espro Steaming Pitcher?

  1. Put your pitcher in the fridge/freezer for a few hours
  2. Pour milk into the pitcher (up to 12 oz.)
  3. Place steam wand straight down into the milk.
  4. Turn on steam wand.
  5. Hold the side of the pitcher. When it’s too hot to touch, it’s done!
  6. Pour milk into espresso
  7. Enjoy!
latte art espro milk pitcher
I still have a long way to go until I can make beautiful latte art!

Here are a few tips on milk steaming!

Learn from the pros how to make latte art! Once you can make delicious espresso and microfoam, you’ll be well on your way to creating beautiful lattes for all of your friends and family!

Best Italian Coffee Machine for Home

I started my search for an espresso machine after I moved out. I had started having Starbucks a little too often for my wallet to handle, and I figured I would like to have coffee to wake up in the morning. I started researching Italian coffee machines for home use for 3 weeks straight, several hours a day. I was trying to find one that was going to last me a long time. 

Styles of espresso machines.

  • Automatic
  • Semi-automatic
  • Super-automatic

I wanted one that I could still steam the milk myself, and do the dosing/tamping myself (semi-automatic). I didn’t want to just push a button and have the coffee made for me (automatic).

How to learn how to make a latte at home

Here are a few videos to help you learn how to make a latte at home. Learn how to grind, tamp and steam milk.

I came across one machine that was a semi-automatic and it was more of a professional grade machine. It took some time for you to get the hang of it, but once you did could achieve quality coffee for years to come

I wanted an espresso machine that was going to last me awhile. I didn’t want to just buy the cheap one and throw it out in a year or two. 

The best Italian coffee machine for home use is the Rancilio Silvia.

It is only manufactured in Italy. They test every machine to make sure it’s working perfectly before they send them out. The compartments are made so that any part can be replaced or fixed if needed. They want you to have this machine for a long time, it’s built to last. 

I wanted a machine that I was going to have little maintenance to do on it. I’m not one for cleaning every little thing all of the time, so this was going to have to be something I could handle but not interfere with my busy life.

After thoroughly researching the Rancilio Silvia, I discovered there was only 2 maintenance procedures that needed to be done on a regular basis:

  1. Backflushing (recommended 1 x week) 
  2. Changing the rubber gasket/cleaning screen (1x year)

When the coffee starts tasting not as good as it usually does, you should clean the screen. This will give you the aromatic flavour from your italian coffee maker that you love!

I purchased my own Rancilio Silvia in November 2012 and I absolutely love it. I had never owned a coffee maker before this so it was a steep learning curve. Watching videos and practicing daily made me be able to improve my skills and pull delicious crema for my morning coffee.

pulling espresso shot

I’m so glad I put in the time and effort to learn this machine because looking back, I never knew I was going to have this machine for years to come. 

I visited my aunt at her house 6 months after purchasing my espresso maker and I noticed that she had the exact same machine and grinder I did!! (Rocky grinder)

I had no idea she had the same one! She told me how her brother had owned the same machine as her for longer than her. My aunt at the time had already owned her Rancilio Silvia for 10 years. She still owns it today and loves it!

One thing that isn’t the greatest is that the drip tray is very short. You have to drain the tray every few days or it overflows. I try to do it every time I use the machine so I don’t have it overflow on me. I’ve had a huge mess to clean up when I’ve forgotten about it! 

One of my favourite desserts to make with my espresso machine is affogato.

homemade affogato
Homemade Affogato

Affogato is made with a couple scoops of ice cream, freshly brewed espresso and white chocolate shavings on top. It’s to die for!! 

Another dessert I like to make with my espresso machine is Espresso Ice Cream. It’s decadent and rich with flavor!

vegan espresso ice cream

I also love making iced coffee with my espresso machine. I typically add 4 pumps vanilla, 2 shots of espresso, ~6 ice cubes, and 1 cup of milk. Throw it all in a blender and enjoy your freshly made iced coffee! For an extra treat, put 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream or birthday cake ice cream for more of a creamy flavour. Yum!

If you’re looking for a new skill to learn and a coffee machine that will last you a long time, the best Italian coffee machine for home use is the Rancilio Silvia by far! You will love learning how to make coffee and maybe one day you’ll be able to create beautiful latte art with your milk steaming skills. I have not mastered this at all…. It’s been almost 8 years so maybe I’ll get there one day!