Neglected Food Bubbles: The Espresso Coffee Foam

Illycaffè S.p.A, Via Flavia 110, Trieste, 34147 Italy.
Food Biophysics (Impact Factor: 1.63). 09/2011; 6(3):335-348. DOI: 10.1007/s11483-011-9220-5
Source: PubMed


Coffee beverage known as espresso, must be topped by a velvety thick, reddish-brown foam called crema, to be considered properly prepared and to be appreciated by connoisseurs. In spite of the relevant role played by crema as a quality marker, espresso coffee foam has not yet been the subject of detailed investigations. Only recently, some aspects of the Physics and Chemistry behind the espresso coffee foam have attracted the attention of scientists. In addition to sharing several characteristics with other food foams like beer foam, for instance, the espresso coffee foam may contain solid particles (minute coffee cell-wall fragments), it is subjected to a remarkable temperature gradient and its continuous phase is an oil in water emulsion rendering it a very complex system to be studied. Moreover, in the typical regular espresso coffee cup volume (serving) of 25-30 mL, crema represents at least 10% of the total volume, and this is a limitation in obtaining experimental data by conventional instruments. The present work is aimed at reviewing the literature on espresso coffee foam. The traditional espresso brewing method will be briefly described with emphasis on the steps particularly relevant to foam formation and stabilization. In addition to present up-dated experimental data on surface properties at solid/beverage and air/beverage interface, recent advances on the espresso foam formation mechanism, as well as on foam stability, will be critically examined. The key role played by carbon dioxide generated by roasting and the effects of low and high-molecular-weight coffee compounds in promoting/inhibiting the espresso coffee foam will be discussed and emphasized.

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Available from: Luciano Navarini,
    • "In fact an expert consumer can immediately detect from foam colour, texture and persistency dissimilarity possible errors in grinding, percolation, temperature or extraction level (Illy and Navarini, 2011). Physically the crema is a biphasic system compounded by a gas phase surrounded by a liquid phase, named lamellae. "
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