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Since I’ve had my AeroPress, I’ve found myself wondering why there’s noticeably no crema present in any of my brews. No surprises that this then lead me to see if it’s possible to get crema from an AeroPress, like you might get from an espresso coffee. I love espresso coffee and definitely get good use out of my espresso machine at home. But I’m not always at home, so espresso is not always an option. If you’re not sure what an AeroPress is, I wrote an article about it here.
As for crema from an AeroPress, here’s what I found out.
What is coffee crema?
Before we can determine whether or not you can get crema from an AeroPress that is similar to an espresso coffee, we need to first define what “crema” is.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines crema as “a layer of creamy tan froth that forms on the top of freshly made espresso”, whereas Seattle Coffee Gear in their article titled “Coffee & Tea 101 | What is Crema?” goes a little more in-depth and says “Crema is the initial light/tawny colored liquid that comes out during an espresso extraction. It is what causes that ‘Guinness effect’ that folks sometimes reference. As the lighter liquid infuses with the darker liquid that comes after, it filters up and ‘settles’, leaving a tan colored layer on top of the darker espresso below.”
You may have noticed that in both definitions, the brewing method mentioned was… espresso.
Can you get crema from an AeroPress?
So now we’re back at the original question again, “can you get crema from an AeroPress?”. Well according to the above definitions (minus the part about espresso, but who knows, maybe the AeroPress wasn’t around when those definitions were written!), I believe it is possible to produce a crema from an AeroPress. Having said that, there’s definitely some disagreement about how this is best done. For example, some people say that you must use a metal mesh filter, while others say they can get the same result with a paper filter. One thing is for sure, technique plays a very big role.
The most important factor in successfully achieving a crema with an AeroPress is the technique that you use. This is because it’s not likely to be achievable by brewing with the AeroPress in the traditional method. The reason for this is that in the traditional method, after the hot water has been added to the coffee grounds, it’s suggested that you stir the coffee for about 10 seconds. The method we want to use to get a crema doesn’t disturb the coffee grounds after adding water and is therefore similar to how you would make an espresso. It involves tamping the grounds and applying as much pressure as you can muster when pressing the coffee. Let me explain the steps:
- Add a filter (some people suggest a metal filter to keep it similar to an espresso, others say paper is ok. Experiment here and use what gives the best results for you) to the cap of your AeroPress and screw the cap onto the AeroPress.
- Pour in your desired amount of ground coffee into the AeroPress chamber.
- Tamp the coffee grounds with a coffee tamper that can fit inside the AeroPress chamber (if you don’t have a suitable tamper, you can put a paper filter on the end of plunger tube of the AeroPress and push that into the chamber all the way to the bottom. If you happen to have a 3D printer or have a friend who does, you can even print your own AeroPress coffee tamper!).
- Add a paper filter to sit over the tamped coffee grounds. This is to stop the grounds from stirring up when water is added.
- Sit the AeroPress onto your coffee cup/glass.
- Add a small-ish amount of hot water to the AeroPress chamber.
- Insert the AeroPress plunger into the tube and push hard, being careful not to slip.
Here’s a short video demonstrating the method outlined above.
If you follow these steps, you should be able to produce a decent crema from your AeroPress. Of course it’s not likely to be as good as an espresso, but I don’t need to tell you that the AeroPress isn’t an espresso machine.
It’s worth mentioning that in the video above, the crema was achieved with an additional 3rd-party attachment for your AeroPress called the Fellow Prismo. It may not be absolutely necessary, but may yield better results because of the way it functions, as it allows for a build up of pressure.
I very recently bought a Fellow Prismo attachment and will do a follow-up post to this showing my results.
To get something even close to an espresso crema from an AeroPress, you need extreme pressure! Watch this neat invention using a lever and the following results. Pretty impressive!
Have you had any success with getting a crema from an AeroPress? Let me know in the comments below.