How to Make Crema with the Aeropress to Make it an Espresso

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I love espresso, it's my preferred coffee drink. AeroPress is a great alternative, but it is different, it lacks the intensity of the espresso. I always loved AeroPress but the recipe I was using was a totally different coffee beverage, with a flavor profile that is not even close to espresso. It doesn't have that punch that you can only get with a high pressure brewing method. No acidity, less body, and no crema at all.

My quest was to figure out a way not only to make crema with an AeroPress, but to emulate an espresso without the 9 bar that we get from a pump driven espresso machine. If you are anxious to know right away if you can get a real espresso from an AeroPress, the results are mixed.  Stick with me for a little and you'll see exactly what I mean.

Aeropress With Crema Closeup

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I started to play with the AeroPress a while ago, and tried many recipes. Initially, my AeroPress adventures were just that, little explorations of the coffee brewing world. I always thought about this type of coffee as a distinct way of making coffee and a distinct flavor. 

This until recently, when heard some friends talking about making espresso with an AeroPress. I have my own definition about espresso, so when I heard the discussion I had my reservations about it, but I kept an open mind.

I wanted this to work badly, because I was going to go on a vacation in the Caribbean and the resort I was going did not have espresso. They have a decent grinder and a great commercial espresso machine, but they never brew it properly. Frustrated with my previous experiences, I decided to take the coffee making matter into my own hands, and make the coffee myself. AeroPress was the lightest device to carry, and even if I wasn't to make espressos, the coffee I got from it was better than the resort coffee.

Brewing Espresso With An Aeropress

Make Espresso with AeroPress

You don’t have to sacrifice the simplicity of the AeroPress to create an amazing coffee. If you tried and failed before, read this post thoroughly, follow the recipe and you will get it right.

Learn how to use the AeroPress to make a decent espresso with plenty of crema. We show you a hack and recommend a device to ensure success.

The beverage you will get might not fully qualify as an espresso but it will be deliciously distinctive.

Armed with some tips and tricks from my friends, and with a lot of patience I started to play with my AeroPress. I have to admit that this was not an easy quest, it took me longer than I anticipated, and the results I got are totally different from what I expected.

Here is the first recipe that got me some results. I recommend this recipe for those who want fast results and want to avoid failed attempts. However, this is not far from the recipe I recommend in my AeroPress brewing tutorial.

What You’ll Need

  • An AeroPress
  • Finely ground coffee or espresso beans
  • Water
  • A filter

Your filter can be a paper filter, or a metal filter. Be sure to choose wisely, as your filter choice will affect the taste; paper filters tend to produce coffee with less body, but can include more flavor because they help retain the oils otherwise filtered out of the beans. This, however, can make your espresso lighter with less body.


For detailed article, check our thorough review of the AeroPress where we go through all the pros and cons. 

Back to our tutorial, I just need to mention that I do not use paper filters. Paper filters strip down your coffee of the coffee oils, and filter out the fines. Coffee is lighter brewed this way, and has a different taste. However, from my friend's experience, it seems like brewing with a paper filter does not affect the foam produced with an AeroPress.

A Generic AeroPress Recipe that Makes Crema

  • Rinse your metal filter and attach it to the filter cap of your AeroPress. Place the plunger halfway down the brewing chamber.
  • Heat the water to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Normally you would want a boiling temperature, but the lower temperature acts as a handicap for extraction; the lower the temperature, the less likely you are to over extract.
  • Take your finely ground coffee and pour it into your AeroPress. Make sure your beans are freshly ground and on the darker-side roast-wise for the best extraction results.
  • Start pouring your water in slowly over the ground coffee.
  • After about 10 seconds, or when you’ve reached the amount of water weight you want, grab the AeroPress and swish it around in your hand, letting the coffee water slosh around the chamber.
  • Finally, attach the Prismo or metal filter, flip the AeroPress and place it on the top of your mug or drinking cup, and start plunging. It will take about five seconds for all the coffee to filter out.

This process, from pouring the water to filtering out the coffee into the cup, should take about 30 seconds total.

I got this recipe down to perfection, and got some nice foam floating atop of my drink. The results were decent but I wanted a bit more. I wanted a thick layer of crema and the real espresso taste. This was the point when I reached out again to the community. 

I tried a few other recipes, all with their own merits, but the best one came from Fellow - the creators of Prismo. Prismo is a filter attachment that helps the brewing by retaining the brew in the AeroPress instead letting it drip in the cup. I recommend the recipe from Prismo over the previous one, even though you need to use a bit more beans for each brewed coffee.

I started out with the Fellow recipe which I perfected during my Caribbean vacation and I slightly modified. 

The Perfect Filter Attachment

Before we get to the recipe, I need to talk about a special filter cap, that replaces the original one from AeroPress, and improves the process. Generally, we find that metal filters or filter attachments produce better results. The coffee is generally stronger-bodied, and the crema is easier to produce.

We recommend the Prismo filter from Fellow; it’s a metal filter designed to attach to an AeroPress, allowing pressure build-up to guarantee the perfect espresso every time – crema included.

Plus, with the no-drip seal and reusable 70 micron etched fine stainless steel filter, you don’t have to worry about spillage or being wasteful – enjoy your espresso guilt-free.  

  • The Fellow Recipe
  • My Recipe

AeroPress Recipe for Crema - Lower Temperature

  1.  Start with a fresh and soluble espresso blend (typical blends include dark roasted beans from Brazil and Costa Rica)
  2. Grind 20 g of coffee slightly courser than you would for espresso (think like a course sand at the beach) and add it to your AeroPress/Prismo. (My results were best with a grind size between espresso and drip. Drip grind size works too.)
  3. Set your AeroPress inverted with the plunger at the number 2 mark on the chamber.
  4. Dump your coffee grounds in the chamber.
  5. Pour 30 grams of water right off the boil (212°F/100°C) over the coffee grounds and vigorously stir for 10 seconds.
  6. Pour another 30 grams of water that should fill the brewing chamber up to the rim. There should be no air between the filter-cap and the brew.
  7. Screw in the Presso filter cap and let it steep for about 30 seconds.
  8. Place the cup on the inverted AeroPress and flip it over.
  9. Plunge, quickly and with as much force as possible.

Can You Make a Real Espresso with an AeroPress?The Conclusion

An AeroPress is not capable of creating 9 bar of pressure needed for a real espresso, so the flavor profile will always be milder with the AeroPress. 

There are recipes that will encourage the creation of a froth layer and add more body to an AeroPress coffee.

If you attempt to create a real espresso with an AeroPress you will be disappointed. You can create great coffee, some people think it's better than espresso. However, the foam on top of your coffee is not real crema. It is more like a froth that you sometimes get from great drip coffee, or from a well prepared Turkish Coffee.

More technical details

A typical espresso machine is equipped with a pump that can create a very high pressure. In order to emulate those conditions, we would need to push the plunger down with approximately 300 pounds of force. While this is technically possible, it is impractical and would require a special setup. Not mentioning that the plastic that the AeroPress is made of would be fine for a few "high-pressure" shots, but would eventually need replacement. If you want to see an example of the mentioned setup, check this Youtube video

Also, consider that espresso needs a consistent pressure for about 20 to 30 seconds and you will understand why you can't do this manually. 


Final Words

There you have it – the way to get your AeroPress to produce the perfect cup of at-home espresso. It may take a few attempts to get the timing right, along with determining the amount of coffee and water you need, but once you succeed, you’ll never drink your coffee at home any other way again. 


Let us know if you try this AeroPress crema hack in the comments below. How was your attempt? Do you use your AeroPress differently than the way we suggested?