As part of the Nestlé group, Nespresso has been providing us with different blends of espresso and coffee pads and capsules since 1986. It became a household name long before George Clooney offered his mesmerizing self for seductive TV commercials.
In the first TV ad featuring Clooney, he overhears two beautiful describing something as dark, balanced, unique, mysterious, intense-bodied, delicate and smooth; with strong character and a Latin-American temperament, rich, deep, sensual and with a delicious aftertaste.
Naturally, he can’t help but to ask whether it is their Nespresso they are describing – what else could possibly fit such an elegant description, right? Turns out, there are things in life that are, indeed, smoother than George Clooney and, for many, it’s the range of Nespresso products.
Nothing will please a coffee enthusiast more than a steaming-hot, freshly brewed, quality cup of joe in all its variations – a Spanish sombra, a French café au lait or the world-famous Italian espresso, served with the perfect layer of its signature crema.
Crema is the secret ingredient that keeps coffee-fans reaching for the tiny little cup. As far as Nespresso’s crema goes, there seems to be a big debate as to whether it really is as Clooney-good as advertised or a processed product that is simply marketed incredibly well.
What is Crema?
Espresso wouldn’t be espresso without that airy, rich layer of froth on top– also known as the “Guinness effect” for obvious reasons. Those who aren’t as deeply immersed in the world of coffee culture may mistake it for milk froth, but it is far more special than that.
Reddish-brown in colour, it adds flavour, body and an attractive presentation to this divine shot of hot energy and is made up of an emulsion of coffee oils and gases extracted from espresso machines. The crema is formed when the coffee’s finely ground soluble oils fuse with air.
According to professional baristas and coffee connoisseurs, there are several prerequisites to the perfect crema. Freshly roasted beans make for more crema – only the beans shouldn’t be too dark (less crema production) or too light (less flavour).
The best crema is derived from naturally processed beans, because their oils are left largely intact. Crema formation is far more difficult when made in an at-home espresso machine, as it obstructs the process. This is why companies like Nespresso, have created their own cream imitations.
How is Nespresso Crema Made?
There’s simply no comparing real, manually expressed espresso crema with the kind you will get from a machine designed for home use. In fact, true coffee aficionados and snobs wouldn’t be caught dead with pad and capsule style coffees.
And yet, most will agree that Nespresso has actually done a fine job at imitating the airy, flavourful crema we’re all after.
While some might argue that it is virtually impossible to recreate the exquisite taste without the use of freshly ground beans, Nespresso’s expert selection and packaging process allows for premium quality.
With its own AAA program, Nespresso places great importance in the careful selection of quality coffee beans that go through an expert packaging process to ensure optimum freshness and flavour.
In fact, you’ll find that, Nespresso coffee pads and capsules will keep fresh significantly longer than a bag of gourmet coffee once opened, because it cannot degas or oxidize. This is because Nespresso’s capsules are nitrogen flushed and sealed hermetically.
Nespresso’s crema is made by the machine using a mechanism that produces high air pressure to create foam. While it mimics crema, it is not the real deal – the Nespresso machine itself simply does not have the power to create real crema.
It also lacks that special blend of oils a professional espresso machine encourages and is thus lacking in that intensive flavour. The crema-like Nespresso foam will make a great alternative for regular coffee-drinkers but will not fly with aficionados who will be quick to complain about its lightness.
Nespresso Crema: Is it the Real Deal?
If visiting your local café for a daily shot of espresso isn’t an option, investing in a Nespresso machine is your best possible alternative – all levels of coffee connoisseurs can agree on that much.
Nespresso’s coffee capsules are flavourful and aromatic and can, indeed, evoke leisurely café experiences in your own living room, especially if your pallet has not yet been spoilt by top baristas and trendy, expensive blends from all over the world.
And yes, your homemade espresso will be served with the Guinness effect but, unfortunately, it can’t compare with the real deal: that exquisite, frothy emulsion of coffee oils real, traditional espressos are served with.
So, no, Nespresso crema isn’t real, as such, but it does a fine job at trying to imitate the inimitable – an authentic coffee-drinking experience that excites all senses.