aeropress and prismo on counter top with joey cup
aeropress and prismo on counter top with joey cup

So when you pull a shot with Prismo, why call it “espresso-style” instead of just an espresso shot? Well friends, a leopard can’t change its spots. Although Prismo makes a pretty damn tasty shot, it lacks some of the features that make up a tried and true espresso shot. The magic of a traditional espresso comes with 9 bar pressure, 25-30 seconds of percolation time, and the right amount of  heat. All of which are difficult to achieve when manually pressing a shot.

That said, we love the espresso-style shots we’ve made with Prismo! And hey, for a much lower price point than an espresso machine, you can get close and have fun doing so. So what is “espresso-style”? Let’s break it down:


The Anatomy of An “Espresso-Style” Shot

prismo on top of cup with diagram explaining espresso style shot
  • Long lasting “crema” – Compared to other methods for hand-pressing espresso, Prismo’s “crema” is longer lasting and more robust.  (Much like how we say espresso-style, we don’t want to claim this is tried and true espresso machine crema, as that takes a great deal of pressure and heat to produce).
  • Full body and mouthfeel – The espresso-style shot Prismo creates has a full body and thick, smooth mouthfeel. It’s unique brewing process is best at extracting deep chocolatey flavors without much bitterness and works great with medium roasted espresso blends.
  • Pull your shot directly into an espresso glass – If you’re like us, you have a favorite little espresso cup for pulling shots at home. With Prismo, you can finally place your Aeropress Coffee Maker right on top of that cup and pull a shot.  We think sometimes the little things can make a big difference.
  • Great for latte art – Prismo espresso-style shots have a thickness, consistency, and “crema” similar to a traditional espresso. The flavor of the deep, chocolatey body is perfect for mixing with steamed milk. We’ve even pulled Prismo shots for office latte art throwdowns instead of using the espresso machine!


So why are we calling it “espresso-style” instead of “espresso”?

Traditional espresso has a long and honored tradition of how it’s made, from tamping the puck to pulling a shot in the right amount of time, to that well-revered 9 bars of pressure. There were enough differences between how “espresso-style” coffee with Prismo works and traditional espresso that we felt the need to let our customers know. Here are a few important differences we wanted to share:


  • The pressure inside Prismo doesn’t reach 9 bars… unless you’re superman! By our calculations, you would need to put over 2,000lbs of force on top of your Aeropress Coffee Maker to reach 9 bars (130psi) with Prismo. That’s not something we recommend trying at home!
  • The temperature of a Prismo shot is somewhat lower than an espresso shot. High end espresso machines tend to have pre-heated group heads, which help to maintain high temperatures in the puck while pulling a shot. Our preferred recipes with Prismo haven’t involved pre-heating, which means the coffee slurry temperature is a little lower. This lower temperature does great for producing chocolatey flavors with a lot of body and is excellent for blends and medium to dark roasted coffee. Your local cafe’s espresso blend will probably work great! However, for some lighter roasted single origin coffees, we’ve prefered brewing a full cup of coffee on the Prismo rather than an espresso-style shot.
  • Our best tasting espresso-style recipe takes about 70 seconds from start to finish. We’ve loved the flavor we’re getting from Prismo’s espresso-style coffee when we give it just a little extra time to develop. With some stirring, the right temperature water, and a strong press, we’ve produced full-bodied shots with a thick, yummy crema that lasts. But yes internet, a traditional espresso shot is about 20-30 seconds. We know that.

All that said, we loved the espresso-style coffee we brew on the Prismo and felt it was a big improvement from simply using an Aeropress and a metal filter. Just like using a traditional espresso machine, “espresso-style” shots from Prismo need to have their grind size and recipe dialed in for best results. In the process of testing our prototypes, we had more than a few shots that really stood out in terms of flavor, body, and crema. Before long, we were hooked on trying to pull that elusive “God shot” and have started a new morning obsession.

All in all, we’re coffee nerds at heart, so we’re not going to tell you that an “espresso-style” shot from Prismo is exactly the same as your favorite cafe is producing from their espresso machine. But for $20, you can get close and have a lot of fun.

And hey…our interns can’t tell the difference.

(Lead photography by Chloe Wen)