The Prismo AeroPress Adapter
The Prismo is an AeroPress attachment that turns your AeroPress into a tool for brewing espresso-like coffee. The Prismo adapter was developed in late 2017 by Fellow, a specialty coffee company that makes a variety of beautiful coffee brewing accessories.
Although the Prismo adapter produces espresso-style coffee, it’s best to use a scale to ensure you have the right bean-to-water ratio so you can brew great coffee. The need to use a scale flies in the face of the portability of the Prismo + AeroPress combo, but I suppose that if you’re this into coffee, you probably are toting a scale, gooseneck kettle, and your own mugs along with you wherever you travel.
All in all, the Prismo has enabled the AeroPress to achieve a totally different brew style with minimal impact to your wallet.
Not many Americans drink espresso straight, and most espresso machines have built-in steam wands that enable the creation of a wide range of espresso-based drinks.
The AeroPress, however, is bare bones. It doesn’t have a steam wand but requires additional equipment to weigh the beans, heat the water, and grind the beans. That said, the Prismo seems to confuse the mission of the AeroPress. Is the AeroPress meant to be the ultimate tool in portable coffee making? Or is it an exceptionally inexpensive way for one to get into craft coffee?
On the one hand, having a portable espresso maker for quite cheap is a godsend. On the other, achieving true, machine-quality espresso requires many variables to become constants – water temperature, water volume, grind consistency, bean mass, ground-to-water ratio, pressing force – things that can’t be reasonably controlled with the AeroPress system.
So our question still holds: Why espresso?
How it Works
The premise behind the Prismo is simple: add a mechanism to prevent coffee from flowing into the cup until sufficient pressure has been reached within the brew chamber. This is one of the basic principles of espresso-making and what creates the delectable crema garnishing the top of a fresh espresso shot. The Prismo accomplishes this feat by adding a one-way valve to the bottom of the adapter. This one-way valve will only open when the pressure in the chamber reaches a certain value. Fellow isn’t clear on their website what the pressure will reach to trigger the valve, but it seems to be enough to make decent “espresso-style” coffee.
The adapter comes with a 70 micron stainless steel reusable filter, emblazoned with the Fellow logo. It also has a built-in rubber gasket running along the circumference of the filter. This is what prevents the ultra-fine grounds from slinking into your fresh espresso shot. As an aside, the filter is ultra-thin and may be susceptible to breaking over time due to the Aero-pressure exerted on it. I’ve noticed that ours seems to be warping a bit around the edges, but time will tell whether this is a fatal defect or a charming indicator of a seasoned machine. The filter nestles inside of the adapter, just above the one-way valve and then the entire assembly is twisted onto the AeroPress chamber. The adapter seals tightly against the AeroPress chamber and I have had no leaking whatsoever, thanks to the integrated filter o-ring.
Does it actually work?
Yes and no. For what it is, an inexpensive add-on to the AeroPress, Fellow has knocked this one out of the park. But for what it isn’t (unfair, I know), it doesn’t hold a candle to coffee coming from a lower- to mid-tier espresso machine.
I love the prospect of offering burgeoning coffee enthusiasts a low-cost way of producing espresso, but I shudder at the idea of calling this espresso. That’s probably why the folks at Fellow have consistently called it “espresso-style” coffee; they agree, it’s nothing like what their La Marzocco can brew.
If your plan is to pick one of these up to improve your coffee making routine while you’re traveling, you might want to reconsider. Achieving a good espresso-style coffee from this machine requires close attention to the many variables in coffee brewing. This means you’ll likely want to bring along a portable grinder, a temperature-controllable electric kettle, and a brew scale with timing functionality. Plus, if you don’t drink espresso straight, you’ll want to bring along some way of steaming milk, lest you risk cooling down your steamy shot just after Aero-pressing it. None of this ushers in the idea of portability. While it is disappointing that there’s still not a great way to travel and make great coffee (without tons of additional devices), this is nothing on the Prismo; AeroPress as a whole has the same issue.
If your plan is to learn more about making great coffee, the Prismo is definitely for you. It enables you to get started with home coffee brewing without a serious capital investment. If you like the lengthy process—and trust us, this will add at least 10 minutes to your morning routine—it’s a great way to try the waters before purchasing a high-end grinder or espresso machine. While it will feel kludgy, if you’re truly a budding barista, you will be able to live with it until you upgrade from making “espresso-style” to 100% authentic espresso.
Cleaning the Prismo
The Prismo is a breeze to clean. In fact, it’s easier to clean than the AeroPress filter adapter that comes with the AeroPress. The Prismo adapter twists off just as easily as it twists on. After it’s detached, you can easily rinse the adapter and the filter to remove coffee debris. The filter is a bit difficult to remove from the adapter once it’s wet, but with a strategically placed fingernail or butterknife, I’m able to pop it out.
The coffee geniuses at Fellow also sized the Prismo perfectly so that the plunger does not travel the full height of the chamber before coming into contact with the filter and adapter. This way, when you remove the filter and adapter, you can just push the plunger into the chamber and out pops a neat little “espresso-style” coffee puck. The ingenuity in this decision really gives credence to their coffee engineering and I look forward to seeing what they think up next. Overall, the Prismo is very easy to clean and improves upon the original AeroPress cleanup routine.
The Prismo AeroPress adapter is an exceptional device to pick up if you’re looking to get into brewing great coffee without the steep investment. It is certainly more time-intensive than a traditional espresso-making routine, but that’s something the AeroPress grapples with as well. The construction of the adapter is solid, but the filter is very thin and may prove to be too delicate over time.
The coffee that is extracted from the device isn’t quite espresso, but it is close. Occasionally, you can even get some crema, but I’m not quite an expert on that front yet.
While I’m definitely suggesting this device to people looking to start getting into coffee, I also recommend it to seasoned baristas because hey, who doesn’t need more coffee brewing apparatuses in their kitchen? Especially if you already have an AeroPress. Pick one up today; they’re inexpensive!
- The adapter makes your AeroPress into a portable espresso machine
- The adapter is exceptionally easy to clean
- The Prismo AeroPress adapter is easy on the wallet!
- No leakage whatsoever — the regular AeroPress adapter is prone to leaking unless it is twisted on with exceptional force. The Prismo, on the other hand, has a filter with a rubber gasket that provides a perfect seal to keep your white button down shirt white.
- Making good coffee is inherently non-portable. This isn’t really a shortcoming of the Prismo, but the Prismo suffers from the same affliction
- The filter is ultra-thin and may be susceptible to bending or other damage after prolonged use
- A heightened fear of shattering a delicate coffee cup under the Aero-pressing force