While Fellow’s Aeropress adapter cannot make genuine espresso, it is the best choice for preparing a machine-free shot at home that I’ve found. It also allows you to duplicate the inverted brewing procedure without the risk.
To assist you in deciding whether the Fellow Prismo should be added to your Aeropress, I’ll go through the basics of what the Prismo is, what you can fairly anticipate it to do, and what I’ve learned from using it for over a year.
(The Fellow Prismo was not given to me for free. I purchased it on my own and have been using it for over a year. However, some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase after clicking on them, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.)
What is the Fellow Prismo?
Let’s start with the fundamentals.
The fellow is a San Francisco-based firm best known for its coffee kettles, but they’ve expanded into a wide range of specialty coffee equipment, including the Prismo. As an alternative to the regular Aeropress piece, you attach the Prismo to the bottom of an Aeropress. It has a reusable metal filter with an internal rubber seal and a pressure-actuated valve with a single exterior aperture.
When all of this is combined, the amount of pressure used by the Aeropress to simulate what an espresso machine does is increased. Fellow recommends heavily swirling the coffee grounds to compensate for the restricted pressure because this is still far from what a machine can do.
Can the Fellow Prismo make good espresso with an Aeropress?
If you’re expecting something similar to what you’d find at your neighborhood coffee shop, the short answer is no. You just cannot recreate the level of pressure produced by an espresso machine. However, if you follow the full directions, you can prepare a concentrated dose of coffee that is very close.
Fellow suggests a 20g coffee to 50g hot water ratio. In 10-20 seconds, add all of the water, swirl rapidly for another 20-30 seconds, and then plunge for 60 seconds.
I took Fellow’s advice and plunged with a lot of pressure, maintaining it all the way through. This produces the best results, but it’s easy to goof up, so use a firm cup and a suitable surface. Plunging is far more difficult than normal, and the finer the grind, the more difficult it is.
When done correctly, the shot is powerful, tasty, and comparable to a conventional espresso shot. If you make a mistake, the result is still acceptable, but the difference is evident. I can obtain crema on occasion, but only if I do everything correctly.
The same proportion applies to 30g of coffee to 75g of water, although it takes more trial and error to get the ground and temperature just right. Anything more than that requires two shots back to back.
Go beyond espresso
While the Prismo does a surprisingly good job of making an espresso-like drink, the thing that I really like about it is the versatility it adds to the Aeropress. The combination of a metal filter, a pressure-actuated valve, and an overall sturdy construction opens up numerous possibilities.
Here’s what makes the Fellow Prismo stand out:
It comes with a reusable metal filter that fits perfectly on the Aeropress.
The metal filter converts the Aeropress into an immersion brewer similar to the French Press. The primary difference between a metal filter and a paper filter is that paper eliminates both the coffee sediment and many of the oils, whilst metal does not.
Aside from the variations between metal and paper filters, the Prismo filter features smaller holes than a French Press filter and is intended to aerate coffee as it passes through. When you combine this with the pressure created by the Aeropress, you get a one-of-a-kind brew that can be used with whatever grind you choose.
You have power over time.
As I mentioned in my Aeropress tutorial, one of the most popular brewing methods is the inverted method where you attach the plunger, turn the Aeropress upside down, and add the coffee and water through the bottom. While the normal method will start a slow drip once you add water, the inverted method lets you brew as long as you want. When you’re ready, join the bottom piece and carefully flip it over onto a cup.
With Prismo you can do the same thing much more easily. Plus, you get the added advantages of a metal filter.
The Fellow Prismo can be used with a paper filter.
This may sound funny to mention given that I just talked about how fantastic a metal filter is, but the advantage is that you can put a paper filter on top of the metal filter for an even cleaner full immersion brew.
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Should you get the Fellow Prismo?
If you want to prepare espresso at home without an espresso machine, this is definitely the best option. A Moka pot is another excellent alternative, but I believe the Prismo is closer to espresso and easier to use.
After more than a year, I’ve discovered that I use it far more than I imagined. In fact, I practically never use the original piece that came with the Aeropress because the Prismo can make a complete immersion brew without the difficulty of the inverted approach. I also like to experiment with metal and paper filters to see how they change the flavor of the same coffee beans.
So, if you’re seeking the finest way to brew espresso at home without a machine, the Prismo is the way to go.