What is coffee crema?

Who invented it? The Swiss! This applies not only to the advert for Ricola herbal sugar, but also to Kaffee Crema or Café Crème or Caffè Crema or as it is more commonly called: Schümli (please read this with a Swiss accent!)

What is coffee crema? It is clearly a coffee specialty, with the same amount of coffee as an espresso... but four times the amount of water . But that doesn't make it thin and tasteless.


What is Coffee Crema - Basics

Caffè Crema (as it is called in Italy) is somewhere between filter coffee and espresso . However, it is stronger than filter coffee and has a more powerful character. Café Crème (as it is sometimes called in French-speaking Switzerland) is not brewed using the pour-over method like filter coffee; instead, pressure must be applied to make a crema coffee . This is why this coffee speciality is made using a portafilter, stovetop pot or a fully automatic machine. Portafilter machines, particularly piston coffee machines, have become the standard method for making Schümli in Switzerland . This is why it is also often called piston coffee.

What is Coffee Crema - Special Features

The best roast for coffee crema is a lighter roast than for espresso, for example Wilde Milde orBrasil Capim Branco . The beans are also ground a little coarser than for espresso , but finer than for filter coffee. You use the same amount of powder as for an espresso, i.e. 8 to 10 grams. However, you increase the amount of water by four times, i.e. a good 120 milliliters. The pressure during preparation creates the eponymous crema, the head of foam. However, real, genuine crema can only really be created with a portafilter machine. With fully automatic machines and special stovetop pots with a crema valve, you can only get half-real crema. But that's not a bad thing, because real foam is traditionally made in Swiss households with fully automatic machines. That's why a half-real crema is totally fine. A blend of Arabica and Robusta is also often used for a coffee crema , as the Robusta bean generally produces a nice crema.

Tip: Real crema is light brown and very fine-pored. If the air bubbles in the crema are larger, then it is called coffee foam.

Crema – what is it?

Crema is a very dense, creamy and golden brown or hazelnut brown emulsion consisting of, among other things, coffee oils, coffee fatty acids, aromas, CO₂ and water , which forms on the top of the drink when coffee is prepared at high brewing temperatures and under high brewing pressure in an espresso machine.

Crema – how is it made?

Crema is a type of foam, but not based on externally supplied air, but on the CO₂ that is created when coffee beans are roasted - and released during the brewing process! The coffee oils combine under pressure and heat, at around 9 bar water pressure and around 92 degrees water temperature, with the CO₂ in the ground coffee. This makes crema much "creamier" than many other types of foam. Since crema also consists largely of water-insoluble coffee bean oils, the crema floats on top of the espresso - which consists mainly of water.

Crema distinguish

To create crema on a coffee, hot water must be pressed through finely ground coffee powder at high pressure. Rule of thumb: If you don't see any air bubbles in the coffee foam, it's probably crema. If you see a lot of air bubbles, it's probably coffee foam.


Coffee Crema – the recipe

You need: A portafilter machine (or a fully automatic machine; the fully automatic machine, once set up correctly, does everything automatically, so here is the portafilter recipe), 8 – 10 g of coffee ground coarser than espresso, large cup

  1. Remove the portafilter and wipe it with a cloth
  2. Now put the weighed coffee for a coffee crema into the carrier
  3. Distribute the coffee grounds evenly, then compact them using a tamper
  4. Rinse the brewing group and clamp the portafilter
  5. Place the cup under the spout and start the brewing process. This should take about 25 – 30 seconds, even with the required 120 ml
  6. optionally add some coffee cream
Tip: use a blend with Robusta for a more stable crema and a medium roast rather than a dark one.

Coffee crema and filter coffee

Schümli coffee or coffee crema is basically Swiss filter coffee . However, it is not made like filter coffee, but like espresso. The pressure during brewing creates the crema that gives the coffee its name, which does not exist with filter coffee. In addition, a light roast is preferred for filter coffee, while a medium to dark roast is preferred for the Swiss equivalent . The optimal roast is actually between medium and dark, which is why many roasters offer their own Schümli blends, especially in Switzerland. For us, for example, a Wildsau would be suitable, our “lightest” espresso roast.


Coffee Crema and Americano

More water and the same amount of ground coffee. That's all an Americano and a Schümli have in common. OK, the preparation in the portafilter. The difference is the preparation : with the Americano, a simple espresso is lengthened with the same amount of hot water, while with the Kaffee Crema, four times as much water is pressed through the portafilter. The Café Crème fills a normal cup, but has a more intense taste. The Americano, on the other hand, becomes milder and more delicate in taste when diluted .

Coffee Crema and Caffè Lungo

And with the coffee lungo, the coffee crema has a more or less hunchbacked relative, but it is made differently. The lungo comes from Italy and means "long" in English. In short, a lungo is an espresso that is prepared with twice the amount of water. The coffee is also ground just as finely as an espresso. The intensity and taste of the lungo differs significantly from normal coffee. Due to the longer brewing time, the lungo tastes milder than the espresso, but more bitter than filter coffee or coffee crema.

Coffee Crema - Serving suggestion

Traditionally, crema coffee is drunk either black or with a dash of liquid cream . Of course, you can also mix it with a dash of milk and/or sugar - depending on your personal preference. Crema coffee is served in a normal coffee cup - simply because of the quantity. Have fun brewing it!