"Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

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"Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby Marshall on Mon Jul 06, 2009 4:51 pm

Seems there are three options now: discard, stir or keep. James's video here: http://www.jimseven.com/2009/07/06/video-1-crema/
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby Deferio on Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:52 am

seems like much ado about nothing
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby jdavidwaldman on Wed Jul 08, 2009 7:22 am

interestingly, we have been crema scraping for quite some time AND adding 0.26 cc "C5H4N4O3" per shot as a body enhancer with noteworthy results.
... but how does it taste?
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby seankohmescher on Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:53 am

I was wondering if anyone would comment or disagree with the great James Hoffman.

I think it comes back to the question of "what is espresso?" To what extent do we make something better-----or more balanced as James says. Should we take the funk out of blue cheese to make it more balanced?

The process of espresso makes crema. Because James does not like the taste of crema, does not make it "rubbish."
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby Deferio on Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:33 am

Agreed.
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby James Hoffmann on Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:02 am

There has been plenty of disagreement, which is rather wonderful, and some amusing name calling and accusations along the way from various corners of the web.

I wanted people to try an experiment, to see if they had a similar experience to me after I read about it from the Coffee Collective. I really wanted them to try it as an Americano too but that got a little sidetracked. I am not proposing some sort of ban on crema, nor demanding people skim their shots from now on.

I had my conventions challenged and had a good experience. I still drink my espresso intact (but stirred). However I am now learning lots as people across the world experiment as well and post up their results. Surely this is a good thing?
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby Deferio on Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:26 am

yes...it is a good thing.
No one is against the topic or experimentation.
Just the kind of reactions that are knee jerk ones...at no particular fault of your own...just viewers over willingness to adopt an idea that is put forth rather than experiment for themselves.
-chris
P.S. i hope in my own responses I have not been offensive to you personally...not my intention.
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby James Hoffmann on Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:23 pm

No one has offended me (yet), though I did get some good quality abuse in a german coffee forum - the best bit being someone concluding that the video was so preposterous that it must be fake.
Awesome.
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby Brent on Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:38 pm

I (and a few others down in the far reaches of the antipodes) have had the quickest of quick tries, and can't decide.

This morning on my way to my car I tried a normal shot, a crema skimmed shot and a stirred shot. While I could taste a difference between the three, my recovering from a cold, flu or swine flu was also affecting my taste, that and I was already running about 15 minutes late.

I can conclusively say however that the chocolate biscuit I had after the taste test still tasted good.

James, I did appreciate your comment buried in the video where you mention balance in taste... I think there are plenty of people ignoring balance in the pursuit of *something* and not always with positive affects on taste.

So I think at this point, I still like espresso, and will continue to enjoy it :)
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby Andy Schecter on Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:49 pm

jdavidwaldman wrote:interestingly, we have been crema scraping for quite some time AND adding 0.26 cc "C5H4N4O3" per shot as a body enhancer with noteworthy results.


Thanks for the head's up. I guess your cafe's motto should be:

"'Urine' good hands at Rojo's!" :-)
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby jdavidwaldman on Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:52 am

Andy - sorry if i offended anyone, just wanted to add some humor. of course we serve the feline urine on the side in a shot glass, for the customer to add at their option ... sorry, can't help myself ...
... but how does it taste?
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby Brent on Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:27 pm

jdavidwaldman wrote:Andy - sorry if i offended anyone, just wanted to add some humor. of course we serve the feline urine on the side in a shot glass, for the customer to add at their option ... sorry, can't help myself ...


to quote your signature "but how does it taste?"
:lol:
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby Conrad Altmann on Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:22 am

After watching Jim's video, I decided to swing by our cafe and try a few shots. We had a new crop Kenya as SO so I tried that, after explaining the theory to the barista on duty. The first shot I had (and we use double baskets only) I had straight with the crema, second, the skimmed crema, and third, straight stirred. I have to admit, the point is valid and the crema that I just tasted off of the spoon was a bit overly dusty, the skimmed was very sweet and smooth, but this coffee in particular in my opinion is very well balanced with the crema (though now I prefer it stirred). It gives it more character as every character needs a flaw, however slight to make it complete and interesting. By no means did it leave a bad taste in my mouth either way, but this is just personal preference.

I'm tempted to say that I agree with pretty much everything that was posited in the video, but until I experiment with the espresso blends and other SOs I'm inclined to say that it depends mainly on the type of coffee that is being pulled and of course the tasters palate.
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby jason dominy on Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:57 am

Almost frustratingly, I have found the things James said in his video to be true. I am not sure what it means for my world, my training info, and all that, but I have to say that at least for our espresso, scraping the crema off the top lended a sweeter shot. And tasting the crema by itself was not the "buttery-rich creamy" flavor I've always taught and thought it was. But, that's what I like about this industry. We are literally learning it as we go.
I can say also, that I know of a couple of other people that have done it with different results. The crema to them, made the shot better. So, I think that the espresso used is definitely a variable, as taste is subjective from mouth to mouth. I think that as this conversation goes on, we will definitely see proponents on both sides.
For me, it's a good conversation to have, and there's lots of learning to do. I spent several hours Friday using the naked trying different methods of espresso for an upcoming Advanced Espresso Methods workshop I'm doing here, and there were interesting things I learned that I will continue to learn. So, good job James for starting good conversations that push us all forward to the ideal cup, and the ellusive perfect shot.
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby Dan Streetman on Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:11 am

try tasting the crema after you stir the espresso....
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby phaelon56 on Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:41 am

Call me an unsophisticated Neanderthal if you wish but I put about 1/4 tsp of raw sugar in the bottom of my demitasse and stir vigorously throughout the process of pulling the shot. Every now and then I'll try an espresso without that wee bit of sugar but only if I'm in the company of some raised pinky espresso purist like Andy Schecter :wink: who probably doesn't even have sugar in his house (I should have asked but was afraid he'd throw me out before I had a chance to play with his Speedster).

My point is simply that I've never tried the experiment but owe it to myself to do so. I do know that in shops where the shots are extra ristretto and, if consumed quickly, are nearly ALL crema from top to bottom (begins with a "V" and it's located in Seattle)... it requires rigorous attention to detail and consistency to get them right. The "nearly all crema" shots are to my taste excellent when done right (which in that shop they nearly always are) but must be consumed within 60 seconds or so after being pulled in order to fully appreciate their qualities.

It's a fine wire to balance on - I've been in shops that try to achieve the same thing but too often fall of to the side into noticeable bitterness.

So there's another question: Is the crema in an extra ristretto shot that is nearly all crema and consumed immediately (no stirring) different than the crema from a more conventional shot that is espresso liquid topped by a thick layer of crema?
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby IanClark on Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:20 pm

Here's quite a random thought I had the other day -

We've observed that some people find scraping crema to be beneficial, while others find the idea to be without merit. There must be a reason for this beyond personal preference. I wonder if the divide is due to the difference in fines/cellulose concentrations in the crema between different preparation systems.

It's known that with differing coffees, grinders and - perhaps most significantly - portafilter baskets, the range of fines concentrations in the crema can be quite large. I've heard of fines concentrations tripling due to differences in portafilter baskets alone. So my thought was - would it not make sense that one potential cause for dissent on this subject could be that those who find a benefit in skimming are working with higher concentrations of suspended fines in their foam?

I haven't done any experimenation on this - it's just a thought. There surely are a number of other causes too... like maybe foam density and the degree of fines suspension in the foam?
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Re: "Crema is rubbish" - James Hoffman

Postby Instaurator on Mon Sep 14, 2009 7:51 pm

I was very interested in James' video about crema. I have been tied up as president of the Australasian Specialty Coffee Association for the last 12 months and as a result I have missed out on a lot of stuff, so I only just got around to checking this out. (I stepped down a week ago! Man I don't know how anyone could cope with being president of a country - good luck Obama.)

I have always felt that crema for the most part is harsh tasting. I noticed though in the video the crema shown, had subsided quite a bit. One thing that should be kept in mind when it comes to crema is that there is a difference between fresh and volatile crema. Crema that has been extracted from coffee that has been stored in a pack with residual oxygen of <1% in a stable temperature of say 18 degrees C. (64'F) for 2-3 weeks will taste much better and smoother than a crema from a coffee less than a week after roasting that has been stored with 20% oxygen in a heat-sealed pack. The right storage (dare I say cellaring?!) improves not just the crema flavor but the espresso flavor itself also becomes much more integrated and better. 'Fresh coffee' as mentioned by James, if it is coffee that is less than a week old with 20% oxygen in the pack is not fresh, but volatile and creates a large part of the bad tasting crema.
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