Fellow Prismo: AeroPress Espresso(ish)

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Very recently I discovered the Fellow “Prismo” (via Tools & Toys). It’s an attachment for the Aerobie AeroPress that makes espresso. Well, not technically espresso, but it has all of my favorite qualities of espresso and beats the “Doppio” order at Starbucks for quality and flavor1.

Ever since I discovered it, my coffee consumption has increased significantly (and possibly problematically), but it’s so good I can’t stop using it. It’s sealed with a pressure-actuated nozzle, so you can brew upright without any drip. Which is kind of cool, though I have the inverted technique so ground into my muscle memory that I forget half the time. It also uses a built-in metal filter, so if you haven’t already, you can leave the paper filters behind.

You start with super-fine coffee grounds. I’ve gotten the best results with the grind that’s so fine that it clogs up the chute to the reservoir of my 12-setting grinder.

Use 20g of grounds in the AeroPress. Given I usually brew with 15g, this means I’m now going through beans faster, but on the plus side, I’ve found that the taste is so strong that I can use less expensive beans (local roasters that sell for about half the price per pound vs. Thrasher, my usual beans of choice). So it’s evening out, price-wise. I can even fit a full pound of ground coffee into my 32 Oz Airscape. (Which, admittedly, I also discovered via Tools & Toys. Really, you should probably just be reading that.)

You want water at a full boil. 212° when it hits the grounds. You only need 50-60mL, anything more than that degrades the flavor. Stir well. The directions specify a one-minute brew (including stir time). I’ve experimented with one, two, and three minute steeps. I’ve achieved some great results with a two-minute brew, but one minute is enough and anything more than two changes the flavor in undesirable ways.

Side tip: My Zojirushi water boiler has lasted almost a decade now, and I can have water at a full boil any time in about a minute and a half (I keep it at 208° most of the time). I finally had to replace the top assembly after some chipping/corrosion of the plastic seal, but that’s $30 and it’s good as new, hopefully for another 10 years.

I’ve experimented with using additional grounds, either for a stronger single or to attempt to pull a double, but the 20g/50mL ratio definitely yields the best results.

Pressing takes a bit more effort than you’re likely used to. Fellow says you can press directly into an espresso cup, but between the pressure required and the fact that it’s an even bulkier cap, you probably won’t want to press it directly into a glass demitasse. The Presto cap actually won’t fit directly into some of my regular-sized coffee mugs, but it does fit perfectly in the hexagonal funnel that comes with the AeroPress.

Whereas I usually slow and stop pressing when it starts to hiss, with this you want to keep pressing all the way through. It will sound, fittingly, like an espresso machine. The result is a single, delicious shot of espresso(ish) that’s strong enough to mix into a latte, but delightful to sip on its own. It always has a layer of crema, but you can get an even frothier one if you do a quick bloom2 on the grounds before steeping and the full press all the way down to the grounds.

As you would expect, you can achieve different results with different roasts. You can go dark and oily and get a strong pungency and bitterness3, and the slower the roast, the better. I’m loving a medium dry roast for a smooth and slightly sweeter result. The static cling when doing a fine grind on dry beans is a pain, but the result is worth it. You didn’t get into coffee nerdery because you wanted easy, right?

A couple more tips:

  • The filter usually just takes a quick rinse under the tap, but for a full cleaning I’ve been rapping it on the counter to get the filter out for a full rinse. I’m hesitant to do any prying that might damage the seal.
  • Remove the Prismo from the Aeropress before it cools down. It can get tough to get off if it dries while still attached.

If you love your AeroPress but miss espresso, this is $25 well spent. By the way, it can also do cold brew, though I haven’t tried that yet.

  1. Side story, Aditi (my ex) and I once fostered two chocolate pit bull puppies and named them Solo and Doppio. The story has a really sad part, so I won’t tell the rest of it, but they were great names.

  2. Moisten all of the grounds with just enough water to make a dry paste and let it sit for 10 seconds (usually 30, but it’s a shortened brewing process).

  3. These aren’t bad things at all, it’s just espresso parlance.