What’s Wrong With My Espresso? Why is There No Crema

crazy by Editorial Staff | Updated on March 29th, 2023

Crema, the reddish-brown foam that forms on top of a freshly brewed shot of espresso, is a hallmark of a well-prepared cup. It’s not just visually appealing—it also adds to the overall aroma, flavor, and texture of the drink.

But what if your espresso lacks that desirable layer of crema? In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind the absence of crema and provide tips on how to achieve the perfect crema in your espresso.

espresso no crema

What is Crema and Why is it Important?

Crema is formed when air bubbles come into contact with the oils in finely ground coffee during the extraction process. A good crema has a rich, velvety texture and stays on top of the espresso for about a couple of minutes. The quality and presence of crema are indicators of a well-executed espresso shot, and it contributes to the overall sensory experience of the drink.

Factors That Affect Crema Formation

Several factors influence the formation of crema in espresso. These include:

  1. Coffee Freshness: Freshly roasted beans produce more crema due to the release of gases from the beans.
  2. Coffee Roast: Medium to dark roasts are often preferred for espresso, as lighter roasts may produce less crema.
  3. Grind Size: The coarseness of the grind affects crema formation, with a fine grind being ideal for espresso.
  4. Extraction Time: Ideal extraction time for espresso is around 25 seconds. Over- or under-extraction can impact crema quality.
  5. Tamping Pressure: Coffee should be tamped firmly and evenly in the portafilter to ensure proper extraction.
  6. Machine Maintenance: A clean and well-maintained espresso machine is essential for producing quality crema.

Common Espresso Issues and Troubleshooting Tips

esppresso comparison

Let’s address some common espresso-related issues and their potential solutions:

Common Espresso IssueTroubleshooting Tips
Thin Espresso1. Check the roast date (coffee roasted more than three weeks ago may be less dense).
2. Check the shot speed (espresso will be thin if extraction is too slow).
3. Check the volume settings.
4. Check the machine’s temperature and pressure.
Amount of Bubbles and Rate of Dissipation1. Check the roast date (if too close to the roasting date, more bubbles and fast dissipation may occur; wait at least 2 days after roasting before brewing).
2. Check for staleness (stale coffee past 21 days since roast date may have issues).
No Crema on a Long Black1. Check the rate of dissipation (bubbles may disappear quickly).
2. Check the roast date (stale coffee may not produce crema).
3. Check the storage method (store coffee in a cool and dry place).
4. Check the brew temperature.
Shot Channeling1. Evaluate the evenness of extraction.
2. Check the amount of coffee in the basket (the puck should be firm with a spongy surface).
3. Ensure the basket is dry.
4. Check the tamp (tamp needs to be leveled).
Early Blonding1. Check the freshness of the coffee (stale coffee blondes early).
2. Check the speed of pour (a shot poured too fast may blonde sooner).
3. Check for channeling (shot channeling can induce early blinding).
4. Check the machine’s temperature.
Harsh or Bitter Espresso1. Check the roast date (coffee past three weeks since roast date may taste bitter).
2. Check the speed of the shot.
3. Check the machine’s temperature.
Sour Espresso1. Check the roast date (very fresh coffee, too close to the roast date, may turn sour).
2. Check the speed of the shot (faster shots may be sourer).
3. Check the machine’s temperature.

The 5 Golden Espresso Crema Rules

To achieve the perfect crema, keep these golden rules in mind:

  1. Use freshly roasted coffee beans, ideally within three weeks of the roast date.
  2. Grind coffee to a fine consistency suitable for espresso brewing.
  3. Ensure proper tamping pressure (around 30-40 pounds) for even extraction.
  4. Keep your espresso machine clean and allow it to warm up before pulling a shot.
  5. Experiment with a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans for a rich and full-bodied crema.

Reading through this section may have made you realize the importance of having a fresh coffee, proper storage, and accurate technique! There are a lot of things you can constantly do to have a delicious shot every time.

The 5 Golden Espresso Crema Rules

Naked Portafilter

Now, it’s time for a quick review of how to create a perfect crema! A quick tip: a mix of Arabica and Robusta beans is a great ingredient for that excellent espresso crema. The 5 golden espresso crema rules are as follows:

  1. Use fresh beans
  2. Use a high-quality espresso machine
  3. Don’t forget to tamp!
  4. Finer grind is the way to go
  5. Use fresh water only!


Achieving the perfect crema is both an art and a science. By considering the factors that affect crema formation and following the golden rules outlined above, you can enjoy a delicious espresso shot with a visually stunning and flavorful layer of crema. Whether you’re a skilled barista or a coffee enthusiast, these tips will elevate your coffee experience to new heights.

Note: This rewritten version is based on the content provided in the original article, and additional details have been added to enhance the information. The


Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.