How come there’s no crema on my espresso?

by Don
(Vulcan, AB)

Portafilter packed with coffee grinds of the correct size.

Portafilter packed with coffee grinds of the correct size.


QUESTION:


Dear Coffee Detective. I watched your video review of the Breville Duo Temp Pro and bought one. I’m not saying you steered me wrong or anything, but when I use it to make espresso I don’t get any crema on the espresso. Also, the machine feels like it’s struggling, like the pump isn’t strong enough.

Is this a breville problem or a me problem?

Please help as I REALLY want this to work.

Don


ANSWER:

Don, hi

I’m guessing that it’s neither a Breville problem or a “you” problem.

From the sound of it, it’s a coffee particle size problem. It sounds like your coffee is too finely ground. When that happens, the puck of coffee creates a near-solid block, the machine has a problem pushing water through it, and you get a trickle of espresso with no crema.

You didn’t say whether you bought pre-ground coffee for your espresso, or whether you grind it yourself.

If you grind the beans yourself, change the setting so the grinds are a little coarser.

If you bought coffee pre-ground for espresso, try switching brands. This may sound a little weird. You’d think a company would know what size was just right. But years ago I had the same problem. Exactly the same as you describe.

These days I mostly grind my own beans when I make espresso. But when I’m feeling a little lazy, I have been known to buy one of those “bricks” of espresso from a store.

And I make sure to avoid the brand that caused me trouble before.

The thing is, the particle size is really important when making espresso. Too small and you get the problem I described above. Too big, and water goes through too fast, under too little pressure, and you get a very weak and watery espresso.

I hope this helps!

Best wishes,

Nick

More on espresso and espresso machines.

Video review of the Breville Duo Temp Pro

Choosing an espresso machine for your home.

What is espresso?

Making stovetop espresso with a Bialetti.

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