Preserving Crema when Pouring Espresso into a Drink

Crema, the golden layer of foam that tops a well-pulled espresso shot, is a prized element in the world of coffee. It adds visual appeal and contributes to the overall flavor and texture of the drink. When pouring a shot into a drink, such as a long black, it can be a challenge to preserve the crema without it dissipating or breaking apart. In this article, we will explore expert techniques and tips to help you master the art of preserving crema when pouring a shot into a drink.

Pouring Technique

The way you pour the espresso shot plays a crucial role in preserving the crema. Here are some key techniques to keep in mind:

  • Slow and controlled pour: Pour the espresso shot slowly and precisely. Avoid pouring too quickly, as this can cause the crema to break up. A gentle and controlled pour allows the crema to blend smoothly into the drink without losing its integrity.
  • Angle and position: Tilt the cup slightly and pour the espresso along the side of the cup. This technique helps the crema float on top of the drink, minimizing contact with the hot liquid. Pouring along the side creates a gentle stream that prevents the crema from dispersing too quickly.

Equipment and Tools

Using the right equipment can make a big difference in preserving the crema. Consider the following:

  • Espresso brew jug: Choose a vessel with a pour spout, such as an espresso brew pitcher. The spout allows for better control and precision when pouring, minimizing disturbances to the crema. Choose a pitcher that fits your pouring style and feels comfortable in your hand.
  • Proper handling: Ensure that the espresso grounds are tamped and distributed evenly in the portafilter. This step will help ensure even extraction and a consistent crema. Inadequate tamping can result in uneven extraction, leading to a weaker crema that is more likely to dissolve.

Practice and Experimentation

Mastering the art of maintaining crema takes practice and experimentation. Here are some additional tips to help you refine your technique:

  • Pouring speed: Experiment with different pouring speeds to find the optimal speed that allows the crema to blend smoothly into the drink. Practice pouring slowly and gradually increase the speed while observing the crema’s behavior.
  • Cup size and shape: Consider the shape and size of the cup you are using. A cup with a narrower opening can help concentrate the crema and prevent it from spreading too thinly. Experiment with different cup styles to find the one that best suits your desired crema preservation.
  • Temperature control: Pay attention to the temperature of both the espresso shot and the beverage you are pouring into. Extreme temperature differences can affect the stability of the crema. Ensure that both the espresso and the beverage are within an appropriate temperature range to maintain the integrity of the crema.


Preserving the crema when pouring an espresso shot into a beverage requires attention to detail, technique, and experimentation. By mastering the art of a slow and controlled pour, using the right equipment, and refining your technique through practice, you can achieve a beautifully preserved crema that enhances the visual appeal and flavor of your coffee creations. Enjoy the process, and may your future cups be adorned with a velvety layer of crema.


How do I preserve the crema when pouring a shot into a drink?

To preserve the crema when pouring a shot into a drink, it is important to pour the espresso slowly and with control. Tilt the cup slightly and pour along the side to minimize contact between the hot liquid and the crema. Using a vessel with a spout, such as an espresso brew pitcher, can also help preserve the integrity of the crema.

How long can an espresso shot be left to sit?

It is generally recommended to serve an espresso shot immediately after extraction. The aromas and flavors of an espresso shot are at their freshest in the first few moments. If the shot is left to sit for a long time, the flavors may be lost and the crema may disappear. For the best experience, enjoy your espresso shot immediately after drawing.

Can I refrigerate an espresso shot to preserve it?

Refrigerating an espresso shot is not recommended. The cold temperature can change the flavors and affect the quality of the shot. In addition, low temperatures can cause the crema to break down and lose its texture. It is best to consume an espresso shot immediately after extraction for optimal flavor and crema preservation.

Why does the crema disappear when I pour hot water over it?

Pouring hot water over crema can cause the air bubbles in the foam to expand and release the trapped carbon dioxide. This causes the crema to dissipate, losing its volume and texture. To preserve the crema when making a drink like a long black, it is recommended to pour the espresso shot over hot water instead of pouring hot water over the crema.

Does the type of coffee bean affect the preservation of the crema?

Yes, the type of coffee bean can affect the stability and preservation of the crema. Crema is formed by the emulsification of oils and carbon dioxide released during the brewing process. Different coffee beans have different levels of oils and carbon dioxide, which can affect the thickness and longevity of the crema. In general, freshly roasted beans with higher oil content tend to produce a thicker and longer-lasting crema.

Are there alternative methods for maintaining crema when pouring a shot?

In addition to the traditional pouring techniques mentioned above, there are alternative methods you can explore to preserve crema. Some baristas use a spoon or small saucer to gently pour the espresso shot into the drink, allowing the crema to float undisturbed. Others experiment with preheating the cup or using different cup shapes to concentrate the crema. It’s worth trying different approaches and observing the results to find the method that works best for you.

How do you keep crema on Americano?

You can certainly preserve the crema in an americano by pouring the water in very slowly and down the side of the mug/cup.

What happens if you let espresso sit?

As espresso sits, some important chemical reactions take place. All of the lovely oils and lipids that give coffee their rich body and long aftertaste will oxidize. This results in funky, off flavors of rancid fats (think musty or acrid).