3 Parts of an Espresso Shot – Body, Heart, Crema

Crema, Body, and Heart Make Up Shot of Espresso

You have purchased fresh-roasted coffee, stored it properly, and ground it just before brewing. You made sure to grind it properly for your particular espresso machine, tamped it properly into the portafilter basket, and used all of the proper espresso technical specifications. during brewing including brewing temperature and extraction time.

Now the freshly brewed espresso shot sits in the glass and can be observed. The premium gourmet espresso shot should reveal three distinct layers.

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Top Layer: The Crema

Sitting on top of the espresso shot in a thin layer is the thin, golden-brown to brownish-red layer called the crema. This foamy layer atop the fine espresso shot holds the finest tastes and aromatic qualities of the espresso shot.

The composition of the crema includes proteins and sugars as well as vegetable oils.

During the process of pulling the espresso shot the coffee beans’ finest oils are extracted, and when this process is complete you will see a whitish ring begin to form atop the crema. Make sure to stop the extraction process once you see the whitish material as it is bitter and will taint the shot.

Middle Layer: The Body

Beneath the crema and above the heart of the espresso shot is the body of the shot. This is the middle layer and should be a caramel brown color.

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Bottom Layer: The Heart

Beneath the body of the espresso shot is the heart of the espresso, at the bottom of the shot. The color of the heart should be a deep, rich brown. Within the heart of the espresso shot are the shot’s bitter qualities which balance out the sweetness of the crema and the espresso’s aroma.

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A Note About Espresso Consistency: The high pressure that is used during the espresso extraction process results in an excellent concentration of flavors. This means that the espresso shot works well for blending into specialty espresso drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes without loss of flavor due to dilution.

When you are pulling an espresso shot make sure to follow the proper technical specifications. Also follow our tips for steaming and frothing milk.

Check out our tips on how to Pull A Perfect Espresso Shot. We also provide advanced instructions in our How to make Lattes and Cappuccinos.

For definitions of coffee terms see our Coffee and Espresso Glossary and read about the intriguing history of the revered bean in the World’s Best History of Coffee.

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