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Amount and Quality of Crema? (Lever vs Pump)

Postby Possepat on Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:55 pm

Hi,

I've heard that levers can produce less crema than pump machines. I'm currently looking at purchasing the new Londinium L1 and I got to thinking about this.

Pump (rotary or vibe) vs Large Commercial Spring Lever (L1, Kees Van Der Westen Idro etc).... what if any are the differences in the amount and quality of the crema given same coffee, dose, grind etc.

Looking for that thick almost gel like crema that will give me the perfect canvas for some "milk patterns". I drink proabably an equal amount of straight shots and flat whites, so the taste of the shot is all that matters to me for straight spro, but when it comes to nice pours I'm curious about differences in crema.

Looking specifically for feedback from people who have experience with commercial pump and spring lever machines.

Thanks in advance,
Padraig
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Postby peacecup on Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:44 pm

I don't know. My little home spring lever, that operates at lower brew pressure that a commercial lever, makes plenty of crema for me. Combined with the ability to steam milk while brewing, even the home version of spring levers are a treat for milk drinks. I'm sure the L1 is going to produce as much fine crema as anyone could wish for.

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Postby the_trystero on Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:38 pm

Possepat wrote:Hi,

I've heard that levers can produce less crema than pump machines. I'm currently looking at purchasing the new Londinium L1 and I got to thinking about this.

Pump (rotary or vibe) vs Large Commercial Spring Lever (L1, Kees Van Der Westen Idro etc).... what if any are the differences in the amount and quality of the crema given same coffee, dose, grind etc.

Looking for that thick almost gel like crema that will give me the perfect canvas for some "milk patterns". I drink proabably an equal amount of straight shots and flat whites, so the taste of the shot is all that matters to me for straight spro, but when it comes to nice pours I'm curious about differences in crema.

Looking specifically for feedback from people who have experience with commercial pump and spring lever machines.

Thanks in advance,
Padraig


I have an Astoria spring lever and those who like to do latte art do great work with it. Just like pump machines the beans are more important than the fact that it's a lever.
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Postby Droshi on Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:38 am

You definitely would notice a difference between a pump machine and a small home spring lever. Say a MCaL or something like that.

But otherwise, manual lever, commercial lever...etc, you should get plenty of crema. Though I never much figured out what good crema was, it definitely looks cool, but it doesn't taste good. Still it's a nice indicator that the shot was pulled right depending on it's amount and look and that the beans are fresh.
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Postby gyro on Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:58 am

Either produces plenty for good latte art. The milk texture is far more important than the difference in crema between the two.
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Postby Bluecold on Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:54 am

It's even possible to make latte art without crema (see the fallout discussion on the 'crema is rubbish' post made by james hoffmann)
I also think the fat in the milk would instantly destroy any crema since crema is quite analogous to the foamhead of a beer and even the smallest amount of trace milk completely kills the foamhead of your beer. Drinking milk from a beer glass is enough to ruin it forever.
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Postby peacecup on Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:28 am

And of course everyone knows the best way to stop an overzealously-poured beer from foaming over the rim of the glass is not to try to sip it, but to simple rub one's finger along the side of the nose, and insert the oily finger into the center of the head of beer. But that is a different story.

I'd guess any commerical spring lever will brew at the same pressure you typically use with your Cremina. The difference will be that the milk will be ready at precisely the same second as the espresso, allowing the perfect blending of flavors into the liquid bliss that elevates each morning to it's proper height. That is one small factor in favor of the spring.

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Postby Possepat on Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:14 pm

Thanks for all the responses! Lots to think about. Peacecup, I think you're right the ability to steam while a shot is being extracted would be a big benifit. That crema can be fleeting and disipate quickly at times.
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Postby malling on Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:08 pm

In my modest opinion The grinder has a bigger impact on crema and overall shot quality, Then the espresso machine.

To clarify, if I pull a shot on my T1 that has been ground on my Major, my shots tend to have more crema, be slightly thicker and longer lasting, then with my Pharos.

So whenever i want that, I Can just switch grinder.

But I agree that the Bean has a even bigger impact on crema. Try pulling a a very light roasted filter coffee on a espresso machine and you'll get the thinnest and Pale crema imaginable.
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Postby chopinhauer on Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:32 pm

Possepat wrote:Thanks for all the responses! Lots to think about... That crema can be fleeting and disipate quickly at times.

I notice that you currently have a Cremina so would already know that this particular lever machine is capable of producing copious, thick and lasting crema (not to mention amazing texture and mouthfeel) along the lines found on any decent pump machine, and superior to domestic spring levers with their relatively weak springs. I should think the commercial spring and group of the Londinium should be able to produce crema (not mention espresso itself) the equal of any machine. The decisive factor, as mentioned by others, would be beans and grind, as well as operator technique.
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