Make espresso with AeroPress—or die trying

cup of aeropress espresso
Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on pinterest

The AeroPress coffee maker, invented in 2005 by Alan Alder, is convenient, easy to use and easy to take on the road. The device has often been marketed as a low-cost alternative for making home espresso or as a manual espresso maker. However, most experts agree that the beverage it makes is a strong filtered brew, but not as flavorful or nuanced as a proper espresso. 

This hasn’t stopped people from trying to make espresso with AeroPress. Baristas have experimented with longer steeping times, finer coffee grounds, and hotter water to more closely approximate espresso. There are also AeroPress espresso attachments such as the Fellow Prismo available that can get you a drink that comes closer to espresso.

If you have an AeroPress and you want to try to make espresso with it, our aim with this post is to get you as close as possible.

How the AeroPress works

The AeroPress produces richly flavored coffee drinks through a combination of steeping and pressurized filtering. The device consists of two cylinders, with one acting as a plunger within the other. You place a paper microfilter over the end of the larger tube, which you then fill with finely ground coffee and hot water (175-185 F). Stir the mixture and allow it to steep for a few minutes. Then you use the plunger to force the liquid through the filter into a receiving vessel.

AeroPress parts laid out on a counter
All the parts of an AeroPress. The plunger and brewing chamber on the right are most important. (© Bean Poet)

Can AeroPress make espresso?

AeroPress cannot make true espresso, which requires hot water to be forced through coffee grounds at about nine bars of pressure. This equals 130 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure. The most a person could possibly drive through an AeroPress plunger is 25-50 psi. Even if you could produce more pressure, the device couldn’t stand up to it.

Espresso isn’t the only coffee drink brewed under pressure. Moka pot and AeroPress coffee also use it. Authentic espresso just happens to require a lot of it, to quickly break down the coffee grinds and extract the rich taste of espresso. High pressure is also essential for creating the identifying layer of crema on the top of a true espresso shot.

How pressure makes espresso

Pressure is the force needed to quickly break down the walls of coffee grounds, extracting microscopic compounds, acids and oils within the coffee that interact with the water. Sustained pressure over the correct amount of time extracts the full flavor and then allows the liquid to flow through the grinds quickly before absorbing any bitterness. When it’s done right, the result is a concentrated but balanced coffee with intense flavor and full body.

Espresso brewing
It's the pressurized brewing process, not the beans, that defines espresso. (© Adam Ross | Flick Creative Commons)

How to make an AeroPress espresso

You may not have access to a fancy espresso machine or the expertise to use one. An AeroPress is inexpensive and easy to use. With some tricks, you can achieve an espresso-like brew.

You’ll need to make some adjustments to increase the pressure and decrease the amount of time water spends in contact with the grounds. The simplest method involves very finely ground coffee, only a small amount of water and a very rapid plunge. The result will not be as intense as true espresso, but much richer than brewed or French press coffee.  

An AeroPress espresso is rich and somewhat strong with a heavy texture. The taste is crisp. The drink may be topped with a layer of big bubbles that quickly absorbs back into the shot. You can use this AeroPress espresso to create classic drinks like cappuccinos and flat whites, or it can substitute for an espresso shot in cold brew-based drinks and desserts.

What you need to make an AeroPress espresso

To make an AeroPress espresso, you will need:

  • AeroPress coffee maker
  • coffee grinder
  • kitchen scale
  • timer
  • water

Experts suggest using a metal filter on your AeroPress for this recipe. It will allow more of the oils and fine grounds into the drink. If you do not have a metal filter, be sure to run some warm water through your paper filter to remove the papery taste before adding coffee.

AeroPress espresso recipe 

Grind 17 grams of coffee very finely or to the consistency of sugar.

17 grams of coffee beans on a scale
Weight out exactly 17 grams of beans and grind them fine. (© Bean Poet)

Insert the plunger slightly into the Aeropress and invert the whole contraption so it’s resting on the plunger. Place the coffee in the AeroPress. Put the filled AeroPress on your scale and adjust the scale to zero.

Heat the water to 195 F and add to the AeroPress very slowly. It should take 10 seconds to add 55 grams of water to the device. Then stir or swirl the grounds and coffee in the AeroPress for 15 seconds.

AeroPress ready to plunge for espresso
Once the coffee is stirred, you're ready to plunge. Choose a sturdy cup! (© Bean Poet)

Place a paper filter in the filter cap and moisten it with hot water. Place the cap on your AeroPress, flip it over your sturdiest coffee mug, and plunge as hard and as fast as you can. Note that there is little to no steeping time when making an AeroPress espresso. You will rely on pressure to extract flavor.

Enjoy your AeroPress espresso!

The Fellow Prismo

One tool that can get you even closer to real espresso with AeroPress is the Fellow Prismo. The Fellow Prismo is a specialized filter attachment that forces the liquid through a smaller silicone valve. This increases the pressure and produces a more espresso-like drink. You may even get some crema. AeroPress users also like the Fellow Prismo because it has a built-in stainless steel filter which allows for more coffee oil in your cup.

To use a Fellow Prismo, attach it to the bottom of your AeroPress coffee maker and place it over a sturdy mug. Add 28 grams of finely ground coffee and 84 grams of water heated to 206 F. Stir and let steep for one minute. Drive the plunger through with medium pressure.

A Fellow Prismo attachment can also be used with cold water to produce a slow drip method cold brew.

The next best thing

The AeroPress coffee maker is an inexpensive and foolproof way to make a great cup of coffee. The device allows you to try many different grinds of coffee, water temperatures, and brew times. Even if you cannot make a perfect espresso with the AeroPress, try the recipe above, or explore using the Fellow Prismo. You can make a very drinkable espresso substitute at home or on the road.

If you do try it, leave us a comment and let us know how it turned out!

Welcome to Bean Poet!

We’re here to help you make and enjoy better coffee. We aren’t coffee snobs, but if you want to become one, this isn’t a bad place to start. Please know that as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. You can sign up for our occasional newsletters below.

Featured

What is French roast coffee?

The English came up with the name, and it has nothing to do with where the beans were grown. Here’s all you need to know about French roast coffee.

Leave a comment