In a hurry? Our top choice is the Wacaco Nanopresso.
But choosing between the many different options available today can be tough.
A lot of portable espresso makers seem identical. But there are important differences to consider before buying.
I went through the most popular options to find the best portable espresso maker.
I pulled out my top seven choices and will run through the pros and cons of each one.
Let’s dive in!
Best Portable Espresso Maker: Our Top 7 Choices
- Wacaco Nanopresso (Best all-around)
- Flair Signature Espresso Maker (Best for the home barista)
- Wacaco Minipresso (Best for people on a budget)
- Handpresso Wild Hybrid (Most travel-friendly)
- Aeropress (Most versatile)
- Wacaco Picopresso (Best pro-level option)
- STARESSO Portable Espresso Maker (Best for double shots)
This is the top of the line in the Wacaco lineup, requiring less from you for even more pressure. The Nanopresso, the successor to the Minipresso, can reach up to 18 bars of pressure. In other words, more than enough for a perfect, cafe-style espresso.
The best part is that you don’t have to work hard to generate enough pressure for the perfect espresso. The Nanopresso does most of the work for you. The new system in the Nanopresso makes pumping easier than their other products.
With a max water capacity of 80 ml, you have control over how long or short your espresso will be. The filter holds up to 8 grams of ground coffee but is not compatible with single-serve espresso pods. You’ll have to bring grinds with you, or a grinder and espresso beans.
The Nanopresso is very travel-friendly. It weighs under 1lb and is only just over 6 inches long. It will fit in any bag or carry-on.
Add to those features an affordable price and you have our top choice for an all-around portable espresso maker. The Wacaco Nanopresso is perfect for someone looking for a workhorse travel coffee machine.
Another perk of the Wacaco lineup is the accessory options. There are options for adding water capacity and single-serve adaptor kits. If you find yourself wanting more features, you don’t have to buy a whole new machine. This makes the Nanopresso a great choice for someone dipping their toes into the portables espresso market.
Flair Signature Espresso Maker
The Flair Signature is a gorgeous portable coffee maker. It works like a regular espresso machine. It comes with a portafilter, tamper, basket, and even lever so you really do “pull” your shots.
It holds up to 60ml of water and has a dose capacity of 12-18 grams. This is a great ratio for pulling excellent shots. Most cafe espressos use a 1:1.5 ratio of water to coffee. The Flair can reach this ratio easily and creates balanced, smooth shots.
The lever mechanism can reach up to 10 bars, meaning you can get great espresso from this machine with a little work. A pressure gauge is an add-on accessory that allows you to precisely measure your pressure.
The Flair is heavy, weighing about 6lbs. That being said, it comes with a carrying case and breaks down easily. It’s still portable, but best for RV’s, AirBnB’s, or taking to a friend’s house.
The Minipresso is small and light, so you’ll be able to take it anywhere you want to go. It reaches up to 8 bars of pressure, so you’ll get good coffee every time.
The Minipresso isn’t compatible with single-serve pods. But there is a pod adapter available for it.
The Minipresso has a built-in cup and scoop. When you pump the device, it pulls the shot directly into a cup attached to the bottom. You don’t have to bring a glass with you, just enjoy it straight from the cup. It also comes with a scoop so you can easily dose your coffee. At just under 1lb and 7 inches long, it will fit in any bag. The Minipresso is a great option for traveling.
This entry makes our list for the price. At an affordable price, the Minipresso is a great option for casual espresso drinkers. It is also good for people who are looking for a travel option for road trips, camping trips, or to have on hand in a pinch.
Handpresso Wild Hybrid
The Hadnpresso Wild Hybrid is one of the very first portable, hand-pump espresso makers. If you’ve ever used a bicycle pump, you’ll be able to use the Wild Hybrid.
I like the Wild Hybrid because the pumping is separate from the extraction. You generate 16 bars of pressure pumping the machine as you would a hand-held bicycle pump, then add water, fill the basket, and press a button to release.
The Wild Hybrid has an integrated manometer so you know exactly when you reach 16 bars of pressure. The gauge fills up and has a marker at 16 bars, letting you know you’re ready to brew.
The ability to pump before extracting your shot means you have more control over how long your shot is. The Wild Hybrid will deliver 50ml of espresso every time and is compatible with single-serve pods.
It is light and narrow, making it easy to pack and use on the go. Accessories include a carrying case, insulated flask, and cups.
The Wild Hybrid is very simple. It doesn’t have many moving parts and is super easy to use. It’s perfect for someone looking for a quick espresso without much work.
The Aeropress needs a little introduction. One of the most popular portable coffee makers around, the Aeropress is known for its versatility. It can make anything from standard coffee to Americanos.
The Aeropress isn’t capable of producing pressure enough to create rich and creamy espresso. But it comes very close. The pressure comes from how hard and fast you plunge into your cup.
The Aeropress brews in under one minute and cleanup is as simple as running the plunger underwater.
I included the Aeropress on this list for its versatility. You can make anything from a simple cup of coffee to espresso-like coffee perfect for lattes or Americanos. Fully customizable recipes mean this coffee maker will be a staple in your arsenal while at home or on the road.
This coffee maker is also a great budget-friendly option. If it could make a true espresso, it would be the best portable coffee machine on the market.
The Aeropress is perfect for someone looking for a do-it-all coffee maker and someone who doesn’t need a true cafe-style espresso. The durability of the Aeropress makes it a great daily user (I’ve used mine every morning for years).
The Picopresso is for the home barista. With a naked filter, a distribution tool, and a tamper, this is a pro-level device. You will have control over every aspect of your shot from grind to cup.
It has plenty of water capacity at 80ml, enough to ensure a perfect single shot every time. It works the same way as other Wacaco portable espresso makers and doesn’t take a lot of work to reach the 18 bars of pressure.
The Picopresso is super compact and is one of the smallest portable espresso makers out there at just over 4 inches. It is also very light, coming in under 1lb.
The naked filter allows you to see exactly what your extraction does and make changes as needed. You do need to know what to look for, but having the option to see your shot from start to finish is great for experienced baristas looking for more control.
To be clear, this isn’t a good option for beginners. To use this espresso maker to its full potential, you need to understand how to dial in espresso from grind size to extraction. That being said, this is the best option on the list for an experienced coffee brewer looking for a great espresso on the go.
If you’re looking for total control over your espresso in a hand-held and portable device, the Picopresso is for you.
STARESSO Portable Espresso Maker
Capable of reaching 15-20 bars of pressure, this device will produce great espresso. You need to reach a high enough pressure to push through the coffee. Reaching up to 20 bars ensures more than enough pressure for quality coffee. It works like an Aeropress with the plunger, except it has a dedicated filter, basket, and espresso-style brewing chamber.
The dedicated espresso plunger makes this a great compromise of function and good coffee. You don’t have to repeatedly pump the device to achieve great results.
The STARESSO makes the list for its water capacity and precise measuring cup. Able to hold 110ml of water, you can easily create double shots of espresso. The measuring glass holds up to 150ml, meaning you can create a latte or add milk straight to the glass without needing an extra cup.
The measuring glass has markers on the side to give you extra control over your espresso extraction. You can create longer or shorter shots depending on your taste preference.
This device is also compatible with single-serve pods, making it a great choice for on-the-go espresso drinks.
At just over 8 inches and right around 1lb, this is a small device that fits in almost any bag or bottle holder.
The STARESSO is perfect for someone looking for double shots while road tripping, at the office, or anytime on the go.
Portable Espresso Makers: What You Need To Know
Each portable espresso machine has unique features. Deciding on those features will help narrow down your search.
From versatility to extraction, let’s break down the most common features and why they might be important for you.
What Will You Use It For?
Figuring out what you need a portable espresso maker for will help narrow down the many options.
Are you looking for a rugged, camping espresso maker? Or are you looking for an espresso maker to take with you to brunch parties with friends?
Understanding when and where you will use your portable espresso maker will go a long way in narrowing down your choices.
For brunch parties or general use at home or at the office, find a portable espresso maker that is sturdier than the hand-held ones.
If you’re going to bring it camping, backpacking, hiking, or any other adventure, find a simple, hand-held device that packs down and doesn’t add much weight.
There are even options for experienced baristas. If you know what you want from an espresso and how to get results, find a portable espresso maker that gives you control over every variable.
Another thing to consider is how much control you want over your espresso’s extraction. Do you value perfect extraction every time, or do you want the device to do most of the heavy lifting for you?
You have to decide between portable espresso makers that are compatible with espresso pods and those that aren’t.
Extraction dictates how your espresso will taste. Under extracted espresso will taste sour and watery. Over extracted espresso will be bitter and have a texture like tar. A well-extracted espresso will have a smooth texture and be balanced, even a little sweet.
That being said, many of the coffee makers on this list are forgiving and don’t give you a ton of variables to control. This can be good or bad, depending on what you want from an espresso maker.
If you want the most forgiving espresso maker, either choose one with few variables to control, or one that is compatible with espresso pods.
Capacity in a portable espresso maker is the difference between one or two shots of espresso. Because portable espresso makers tend to be smaller and more compact, the capacity tends to be low.
These espresso makers are designed to travel, so space plays a big part in their design. If you plan on sharing coffee with someone, you might want to consider a portable espresso maker with a larger capacity.
If you will use your espresso maker mostly for one person, and you don’t tend to need a lot of coffee, buying a lower capacity espresso maker will do just fine.
If you generally drink single shots, find a portable espresso maker with a water capacity of around 80ml. For double shots, look for a water capacity of 100ml or higher. Keep in mind that because grinds soak up some water, not all water gets through to your cup. An 80ml capacity will generally result in 40-60ml of coffee.
Portable espresso makers are unique in the coffee world for their focused use. Most of them are targeted at on-the-go or adventurous people. Their main use is making espresso, and all of them do it very well.
Some portable espresso makers only make espresso, but they do cafe-style shots really well. There are other portable espresso makers that do everything from standard black coffee to near-espresso-like coffee.
Many portable espresso makers are designed to be used outside while camping, hiking, or biking. Others are meant to be used in a closed environment like at home or at the office.
It really comes down to when and where you expect to use your portable espresso maker. If you want to use your device anywhere and anytime, find one rugged enough to travel with you.
There are espresso makers out there that have many accessories. Anything from carrying cases to adapters for pods. Figure out what features you need now (like easy-to-use or water capacity) and any features you think you might want in the future. Look into the possible accessory add-ons for each espresso maker before buying.
Ease Of Use
It can be challenging to create enough pressure by hand to extract a good espresso.
Some systems for building pressure store that pressure and release it with the push of a button. Others require you to pump all the way through the brew. Both systems will produce enough pressure for good espresso, but deciding between the two should be a conscious decision.
There are some espresso makers that require a little more effort, either through levers or plungers. Those devices, though, tend to reward that extra effort with higher quality coffee. The trade-off is convenience versus quality.
As far as cleaning goes, all the espresso makers on this list are designed to be easy to clean. They break down into smaller pieces that are easy to wash and put back together.
The final thing to consider is the grinder. Espresso grinds need to be very fine, like a powder. If you plan to use your portable espresso maker while out and about, you will need a quality burr hand grinder to get the best results.
If you plan to use your espresso maker at home or in a setting with access to an electric grinder, you don’t need to worry so much.
Hand grinders are usually small and can pack down easily to pair with your espresso maker. But keep in mind that if you don’t already have one, you’ll need to pick one up.
Related Reading: Best Espresso Machine With Grinder Built In
Portable espresso makers are perfect for the adventurous, the busy, or the casual espresso drinker. They are both cheaper than espresso machines and much more versatile.
Picking out a portable espresso maker depends on its size, versatility, and quality espresso.
The Wacaco Nanopresso is one of the best portable espresso makers because of its balance of convenience, budget, and quality coffee. It’s easy to use, requires very little effort to reach enough pressure, and is compact and durable enough to pack into any bag.
Wacaco’s ecosystem of add-ons is a great way to get your feet wet in the portable espresso maker market without dropping a lot of money up front. The accessories are perfect for adding versatility to the already great espresso maker.
Hopefully, this list gave you a good primer on the portable espresso maker market. You should have all you need to make a decision!
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