Four surprising reasons why Café Crème is successful beyond the Swiss borders
Café crème – an unrecognized Swiss export hit?
"Es Kafi crème, bitte" we hear on every corner in Switzerland. More than every third coffee drink ordered in the catering trade is an ordinary Café Crème. The Swiss remain loyal to their classic despite the many hip coffee-milk foam variations. They drink more than 1,000 cups of coffee a year. With this amount, they are among the world's best. This consumption of coffee results in an average of over three cups per day. The high status of Café Crème has been maintained for generations. Older people prefer a Café Crème where they can dose the amount of coffee cream by themselves, or a so-called coffee bowl already made with a shot of hot milk. Younger people drink more Café Crème than they would guess. Café Crème remains the basis of many coffee specialities, from café lattes to trendy drinks like Bulletproof Coffee.
The definition of the term "cream" has not been fully clarified. Is it the liquid cream (French: crème) that gave Café Crème its name, or the unique crema, the golden-brown "Schümli", which is produced on the surface of Café Crème? Regardless of which interpretation of the name is correct, the history of Café Crème is directly linked to the development of the fully automatic coffee machine in Switzerland.
The first fully automatic machines were developed in the 1970s and then introduced for home use in Switzerland in 1985 with the support of Swiss companies. Schaerer was one of the pioneers who significantly shaped the industry by introducing this innovative technology. Instead of many individual preparation steps, the operators only had to press one button. This innovative technology made the daily work of the gastronomes more efficient and also made the preparation of hot beverages much faster. Furthermore, the handling of fully automatic coffee machines paved the way for self-service by guests. Schaerer-technology called this masterpiece: KM77. From then on, the coffee grinders were integrated, and the beans were no longer ground separately. The fully automatic coffee machine brought the coffee fresh from the bean into the cup by the push of one button. The cleaning process is easy, as well. "The real fully automatic coffee machine gained points with its user-friendly handling.
The fully automatic machines quickly replaced filter coffee in many areas and offered an excellent alternative to espresso. Swiss entrepreneurs stayed leaders in the manufacture of Café Crème: Thermoplan from Weggis, Schaerer from Zuchwil, Jura from Niederbuchsiten, Nespresso from Paudex and Eversys from Ardon are just a few examples of Swiss companies that internationally ensure coffee enjoyment from Swiss machines.
Café Crème is prepared like a typical espresso from the filter holder. The difference is in the amount of water. Café Crème uses the same amount of water as a regular cup of coffee.
The optimum Café Crème is prepared under the following conditions:
- High pressure during preparation. This creates a subtle, delicate foam, the Crema.
- Extraction time of 25 to 30 seconds (comparable to the time for espresso)
- coffee quantity from 14 to 15 grams
- Brewing pressure of 9 ±1 bar
- The temperature is between 88 and 93 degrees Celsius (3 to 4 degrees lower than for espresso, depending on the machine)
- Water quantity from 110 to 130 ml
The "crema", the thick golden-brown crowns the Café Crème, binds a large part of the typical aroma and is responsible for its taste. For coffee lovers, the crema is an essential quality feature. The crema must be a firm consistency with a hazelnut-brown grain. Besides some types of sugar, carbon dioxide and proteins, the crema contains coffee bean oil. The fat content of the oil is responsible for separating the foam from the rest of the coffee.
A successful Café Crème does not taste bitter and contains more than 800 aromatic substances, twice as much as wine. By the way, the strength of a Café Crème is not precisely defined. It refers to the proportion of dissolved coffee particles in water and is between 1.2 and 1.5 percent for filter coffee and between 8 and 12 for espresso. The strength of a Café Crème is between 2 and 3 percent.
With a fully automatic machine, the production of Café Crème is uncomplicated and straightforward. However, if a fully automatic machine is not available to prepare a Café Crème, it is possible turning an Espresso Lungo into a Café Crème. This procedure brings difficulties with it: a large amount of water leads to over-extraction, the coffee is watery and tastes bitter. This taste can be prevented by a second grinder; thus, the beans for the Café Crème are ground a little coarsely. This means that fewer bitter substances are released from the beans. It would be even better if more ground powder were used to prepare the Café Crème. Fortunately, Café Crème is served with coffee cream. This balances out bitterness and acidity and transforms not so perfectly brewed Café Crème into a full-fledged hot drink.
Café Crème is basically not magic. If fully automatic machines are used, the right setting, regular cleaning of the machine, suitable raw materials and adequate training of the staff is needed.
- Café Crème is produced all over the world only a few gastronomes really know what a great drink they are holding in their hands. Café Crème is very often called espresso!
- Coffee machines from Schaerer are in use worldwide, in restaurants, offices, take-away coffee shops, hotels etc. All Schaerer coffee machines feature the Café Crème recipe based on the concentrated Schaerer coffee know-how.
- The very aromatic Café Crème is ideally suited as a basis for many other coffee drinks, such as the coffee drinks Schale, Cappuccino, Café Latte or Flat White.
- Let's be serious: the drink tastes good, but few people think about what exactly they drink. And that's the way it should be.