To Skim or Not to Skim?…


As you may know, the topic of the week seems to be crema skimming. James Hoffman recently put out a video pointing out the taboos of our industry on crema. Seeing as coffee people are under constant caffeination, I heard critiques on the ‘theory’ within hours, (Twitter doesn’t help either.) Anyways, when I hear random coffee approaches that differ from my own, I never research them first. The reson being is I want to formulate my own theory based on my current approach, apply someone elses and then come to my own conclusion. THEN I’ll start to research the background information that supports the progressive idea. With this crema skimming approach the Coffee Collective has introduced, I did the same.

Today I spent 4 hours down at Slayer Espresso with Eric Perkunder and the Slayer crew.  This visit’s coffee artillery consisted of Square Mile’s Summer Espresso and Spring Espresso, 49th Parallel’s Epic Espresso, Ritual’s Sweet Tooth Kenya Mutwewathi and some of Zoka’s Paladino. *The skimming of crema was only analyzed on Square Mile’s Summer Espresso roasted June 30th.*

But before I get into the crema, I had a chance to work on a Slayer 2 group with these coffees. I’m usually prefer 3 group machines, but there was something about the 2 group that was way more appealing than any other 2 group machine. With Slayer’s already simple design, eliminating a group also means introducing a more compact efficient machine, obviously.  There were only 2 simple gauges visible and it seemed so much more personal than anyother machine. Actually, I have to point out that there aren’t any machines that I’ve been able to work with that I feel like have been designed for the barista and their best interest. I feel the 2 group would be able to keep up with the 3 group any day. If I had the choice of one or the other, I’d actually prefer the 2 group. Since each shot pulled on the Slayer has potential for the barista to make the judgement call at any moment, a 3 group could potentially need 3 baristas to carefully watch 3 shots. I guess in  a way, the 2 group seems more intimate.

Back to crema- I dialed in the espresso and was already amazed at the complexity and  the way it developed. For starters, extremely consistent in both tactile balance and taste balance. I started with just skimming the crema. At first I only noticed a more defined development within the shot. I then started skimming crema and tasting only the crema. I did notice a very astringent aftertaste and a far from pleasant overall balance. But the shots still remained to taste the same, except more defined. All of the shots had slightly nutty beginning, a berry sweet syrupy body with a tart berry finish with a toffee and/or chocolate finish within the finish. A finish within the finish? Anyways, very pleasant shots that left my mouth watering.

I can’t say that I’d personally adapt this service, possibly because the idea of skimming crema off of a shot and then giving it to a customer would probably not be met with open friendly minds around here. People are fairly ultra-traditional in their expectations of espresso service around Seattle. Although, if no one is willing to stand up for what best represents the coffee and farmer, even if it means skimming crema, then who will?  What I can say is that the crema by itself was not what I’d want to taste. But more extractions are needed to say that either way is preferable.

 

All I know is that I need to bring my test tubes back  into the lab to truly do some espresso extraction experiments.

 

Pics to come.

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Categories: Dose

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One Comment on “To Skim or Not to Skim?…”

  1. kasey
    08/01/2009 at 4:47 pm #

    I need to experiment with this myself once I get the chance. It makes sense, considering the sweetest sip of espresso always seems to be the last little bit. Next time I’m in Seattle we need to geek out more. Hope all is well, brother.

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