A while back, Copenhagen’s Coffee Collective wrote about skimming the crema off the top of an espresso to improve its flavour. Crema is bitter, they said, and coffee tastes sweeter without it.
But the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano says that a ”certified” espresso has a ”hazel-brown to dark-brown foam – characterised by tawny reflexes – with a very fine texture”. So no crema, no espresso.
(I tried it. For a few days I ordered two espressos at a time and skimmed one. Sometimes it tasted better, sometimes not. Depends on the beans. But espresso is definitely creamier with the crema. Duh.)
So what can crema tell you about your coffee? Veneziano Coffee’s Craig Dickson is president of the Australasian Specialty Coffee Association. He’s been an Australian barista championship judge for 10 years and a world championship judge for four, and judged the last two semi-finals.