We’ll let you in on a secret—you don’t need an expensive espresso machine to get a full-bodied, crema topped espresso-style shot. All it takes is a Prismo AeroPress® Attachment and a bit of “dialing in” to pull a great shot.
When done correctly, Prismo makes an incredibly flavorful, dense, and tasty espresso-style brew. When done wrong, like with an espresso machine, you can produce suboptimal results like sour taste notes and a grainy texture. It takes a few brews to settle into your favorite routine, but once you find that sweet spot, Prismo can pull tasty espresso-style coffee shot after shot.
Wondering how to make the best possible shot with Prismo? Here are a few tips and tricks we’ve learned from product testing and from our friends in the coffee world…
Setting Up For Your Shot:
A great cup of coffee starts with great coffee beans. To pull a great shot on Prismo, use the freshest coffee you can find. Less than 10 days off-roast (10 days after the coffee is roasted) works best in our experience. We prefer using an espresso blend or darkly roasted coffee when pulling a shot.
Grind your coffee as fine as you would for espresso (which is usually as fine as you can go). Burr grinders produce better results than blade grinders or pre-ground coffee. If your coffee is pre-ground, it will be harder to pull a good shot with Prismo, much like with an espresso machine.
Use boiling water (212°F) when pulling Prismo shots. Very little water is used (50 mL) and a lot of heat is lost to the AeroPress® Coffee Maker, the coffee, and Prismo itself. You’ll find the final shot comes out at a very drinkable temperature. Using water that’s even a little under boiling, such as 200°F or so, can really throw off the recipe and produce a sour shot.
Stir, stir, stir! Prismo produces more pressure than a standard AeroPress® Coffee Maker, but less pressure than a real espresso machine. This can be compensated for by stirring the coffee a lot. Stirring increases extraction and helps develop the thick syrupy body that tastes great in a shot.
Not all presses are created equal! Our best shots have been produced by pressing very hard on the AeroPress® Coffee Maker plunger to initiate the shot, then keeping constant pressure until the plunger squeezes all the way down to the coffee bed. This quick initial pressure compresses the coffee bed down into a “puck” inside the AeroPress® Coffee Maker and helps to keep fines from getting into the coffee. Pressing slowly when pulling a shot can allow fines to get through the filter and sometimes creates a grainy texture.
Ready to push your next shot? Here’s a recipe to start with!
Standard Espresso-Style Recipe:
- 20 grams coffee, freshly roasted espresso-blend
- 50 grams water, boiling (212°F)
- AeroPress® Coffee Maker
- Demitasse/espresso cup
- Burr Coffee Grinder
- Stagg EKG Electric Pour-Over Kettle
1) Attach Prismo to the bottom of the AeroPress® Coffee Maker and set it on the scale. Add 20 grams of coffee to the AeroPress® Coffee Maker and zero out the scale.
2) Slowly pour 50 grams of water into the AeroPress® Coffee Maker. Start the timer as soon as you start pouring water. It should take 10-20 seconds to add the water.
- Pay attention to your amount of water! Going over 50 grams by even just a few extra grams can throw off the shot.
- Make sure the water is 212°F (boiling) for optimal extraction!
3) Stir the coffee for 20-30 seconds. More stirring increases extraction and makes a stronger, more syrupy body.
4) Once your timer reaches 60 seconds, place Prismo on top of your demitasse. Hold Prismo firmly onto the cup with one hand, and use the other hand to position the plunger solidly on top of the AeroPress® Coffee Maker. Use a strong, quick initial press to compress the coffee into the filter. Hold consistent pressure after the quick initial press to push the shot into the demitasse. It should take 10-20 seconds to push the plunger through. If you find the plunger moving very quickly, try using a finer grind.
5) Remove Prismo and chuck the coffee bed into the trash. Rinse Prismo and the AeroPress® Coffee Maker. Clean Prismo by attaching it to the AeroPress® Coffee Maker and filling it with hot water and a couple drops of soap. Push the soapy water through Prismo using the plunger and push the plunger forward and backward to get some reverse flow through the filter. Rinse everything with fresh water and set to the side to dry.
Wondering if you are doing something wrong? Here’s a few mistakes we’ve made, that make a world of a difference if they are avoided!
Most common mistakes with Prismo shot pulling:
1) Using coffee that isn’t fresh = no crema or sour taste
2) Lightly roasted or non-espresso blend. *You can still pull a great shot with lightly roasted coffee, but there is less of a chance of producing crema and a higher chance of pulling a sour shot – just like with an espresso machine.
3) Pressing gently on the plunger or not using a swift initial press = a grainy texture in the shot
4) Not stirring enough = no crema, sour taste, or watery body
5) Grind is not fine enough = so crema, sour taste, watery body, or low extraction
Wondering if you’re using Prismo to its full potential? Here’s a few attributes to help understand if your recipe is on the right track:
Great Prismo shot:
- Rich, frothy, long-lasting crema
- Complex, layered flavors
- Clean, dense texture
- Tasty on its own or pours a great latte
Sub-optimal Prismo shot:
- Scummy, bubbly crema that doesn’t last more than a minute
- Flat flavor, sour taste
- Grainy texture and watery body
Looking for a good coffee to brew with Prismo? Here are a few coffees we recommend:
- Blue Bottle Hayes Valley Espresso
- Chromatic Gamut Espresso
- Starbucks Espresso Roast (whole bean, not pre-ground)
- Stumptown Hairbender Espresso
- Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso
You have the tools and tips, now get to pulling! Let us know how you like our classic Prismo recipe or if you develop a recipe or any techniques you prefer. We’d love to hear about your adventures with Prismo!