One of the main qualities of espresso is the creamy foam called crema which is produced when espresso is brewed.
The Aeropress is commonly praised as the best press coffee and espresso maker. We did an article on creating espresso with the Aeropress and the biggest difference between an espresso maker and the Aeropress is that the Aeropress doesn’t normally create crema. We have to emphasize that the method outlined here is for people who are willing to go the extra mile to get exactly the coffee they want. For most people going the automated route such as using an automatic coffee maker with grinder will provide more consistent results.
How is Espresso Crema Created?
Crema is created when several requirements are met. Below are all the things needed to create crema.
- Coffee Beans – Not all coffee is created equal, and not all coffee beans produce crema. Even espresso specific roasts can sometimes not create crema. If you buy beans from a reputable source then read around or ask the brand if the beans are known to make crema, or try the beans yourself. You can also use ready made Ground Coffee, although beans are recommended for best results.
- Coffee Grinder – Generally an espresso roast needs to be ground finer. The finer grind prevents water from passing through the coffee too quickly. This is important when we talk about the next requirement – pressure.
- Brewing Pressure – The brewing pressure needed to create crema is roughly 130psi. This pressure measurement may also be rated in bars. Generally speaking you need about 9 bars of pressure to create crema.
- Brewing Temperature – In order to caramelize the sugars in the coffee needed to create the crema, a water temperature of 198-205 degrees F (92 to 96 degrees Celsius) is needed.
- Tamping – When you tamp a coffee shot you need to apply roughly 30lbs of pressure to the ground coffee to create a ‘puck’. Correct tamping ensures a proper flow of water through the coffee grounds.
Can the Aeropress Produce Crema?
The short answer is YES! The Aeropress can create crema when the correct techniques are used. The above requirements can be met through various techniques.
How to Make Crema with the Aeropress
Use our tips on meeting the needed criteria to have your Aeropress creating crema.
- Choose the Right Coffee Beans – If you are missing any of the other parts of the process you won’t know if your coffee beans are capable of creating crema. We suggest trying the roast through an espresso machine to see if it creates crema before using the roast in the Aeropress. If you don’t have access to an espresso maker then try searching online for roasts that are reputable for creating good crema.
- Grind Your Roast – Follow the same procedure you would to grind up an espresso roast. Use a fine grind to keep the water from passing through the roast too quickly. Generally the fresher the roast and the fresher the grind, the more likely to produce crema.
- Heating Water to the Correct Temperature – Heat water to the ideal temperature range of 198-205 degrees F (92 to 96 degrees Celsius). Try a temperature controlled electric kettle for quick and easy water heating.
- Filter and Add Coffee to Your Aeropress – You need to have the correct filtering and coffee amount used in order to be able to apply high pressure to your coffee without the water passing through too quickly. Try using a filter that allows less water to pass through like a Metal Filter or multiple Paper Filters. Then add your coffee to the Aeropress. It is better to use more coffee here since the more coffee you use, the slower the water will pass through.
- Brewing Pressure – This is where things get tricky – if you set your filter and coffee amount up correctly, you should be able to put a considerable amount of pressure on your Aeropress. Hopefully this will be enough to create crema, but research shows its probably not humanly possible to get enough pressure going without some sort of mechanism. This means you will have to get creative to create the needed 130psi/9 bars of pressure. Check out this YouTube video for an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIfZ84qtBOc
We hope that you find success brewing creama with the Aeropress. If you have any suggestions or techniques, please leave them in the comments below.