Brewed Coffee Guide

The Best Portable Espresso Maker

December 07, 2021 | Kurt Parker

espresso

Espresso is one of those drinks that you can only ever make at home or buy right off a coffee shop. It sounds absolutely preposterous that you’d be making Espresso in the great outdoors while you’re camping.

But, innovation in coffee equipment has made it possible for every coffee geek to brew coffee anywhere around the world!

Great thing for you, our coffee-loving community here at the Brewed Coffee Guide have tried and tested the best portable espresso makers in the market so that you don’t have to! We spent the week trying different portable models available online.

You’ll learn about:

  1. Wacaco Pipamoka (Best Overall)
  2. Hand Presso Hybrid (Most Durable)
  3. Staresso SP-200 (Best for Pods)
  4. KFLOW Portable Espresso Maker Hand Coffee Machine (Largest Coffee Capacity)
  5. Wacaco Minipresso GR (Most Compact)
  6. Conqueco Portable Espresso Maker (Best Features)
  7. Simpresso Portable Espresso Maker (Best Pumping Action)
  8. Flair Signature Espresso Maker (Best Taste)

How do I choose a portable Espresso maker that suits me?

Other Espresso Concerns

The 8 Best Portable Espresso Machines

Here are the best portable Espresso maker in the different categories:

#1 Wacaco PipamokaBest Overall

 

 

 WACACO Pipamoka Portable Coffee Maker, Single Serve Coffee brewer

The Wacaco Pipamoka is raved about for being a versatile fix in on the go coffee brewing. It weighs 425 grams and works exclusively with ground coffee (medium to fine grind). Brew time takes 2 minutes and follows a 1:15 coffee to water ratio.

The Pipamoka is comprised of an insulated mug that functions as a thermos. This will keep your coffee hot for longer. It’s also a unique brewing method where the coffee is placed in a coffee filter and twisted for extraction. The twisting enables a vacuum pressure to make delicious coffee.

The Pipamoka is also eco-friendly. You don’t need any paper filters or disposable plastic to use it.

The downside of the Pipamoka is that it doesn’t have a heating source in the equipment itself. You have to heat it separately.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • Most campers love the sleek design and versatility of the Pipamoka. It’s easy to clean and relatively easy to use. The insulated mug is a big bonus as it keeps their coffee hot for hours.
  • They’re not afraid of leaving any waste at the campsite because the material is all reusable! They even mentioned the convenience of lines to help with water measurements.

Negative Reviews:

  • Some people also commented on how the Pipamoka makes great coffee but not worth the effort. Due to its number of pieces for the equipment, some buyers said it was too complicated for them to use.
  • It also posed an inconvenience that they had to heat water before they are able to use the gadget. Others pointed out that it doesn’t really make real Espresso because it’s an immersion brewer.

#2 Hand Presso HybridMost Durable

 Hand Presso Hybrid (Japan Import)
The Hand Presso Hybrid is a unique Espresso machine that takes the shape of a portafilter!

Weighing at 480 grams, it boasts 16 bar maximum bar pressure and 1.7 fl oz coffee yield. It’s an expensive option and a bit on the chunky side. Some prefer a sleeker exterior and the Hand Presso has an awkward finish that most wouldn’t like.

However, the Hand Presso does make good coffee. If you don’t like pumping out Espresso with the other coffee machines, you can try this one. You just have to push a button and hold the portafilter-like equipment above a glass until it expels you delicious Espresso.

It’s compatible with coffee grounds and coffee pods and will need an external hot water source.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • Positive reviews online have raved about the Hand Presso as a great item for making single shot Espresso. It’s machinery is easy to use and the added feels of holding a portafilter-like item brings a comfortable feeling to some of them.
  • It’s also made of highly durable material which makes up for the expensive cost of buying it.

Negative Reviews:

  • Some negative reviews cited that the item is too expensive for them. It’s also harder to store in a bag because of it’s non-conventional design. It can’t stand up on it’s own and can’t be left alone when you’re brewing. They didn’t like that you had to be 100% attentive to make the coffee.

#3 Staresso SP-200Best for Pods

 

 STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine - Manual Espresso

The Staresso SP-200 Espresso maker isn’t for the faint-hearted Espresso lover. Because it makes both Espresso and milk-frothed goodness.

The Staresso portable espresso maker is compatible with Nespresso pods and ground coffee. Just remember that you have to poke holes in the pods to extract your Espresso.

Similar to other portable Espresso makers, the product using a pump to build internal pressure and extract the coffee. It doesn’t have a built-in heat source, so you need to heat your water elsewhere. It’s pretty handy at only 440 grams.

Rating: 4.2 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • Most reviewers have tried using the Staresso for hot and cold drinks and they were not disappointed. The texture and taste of the Espresso yield was characterized as thick and creamy – just like Espresso from a cafe.
  • The material is lightweight plastic and fairly easy to clean with water. It’s pumping mechanism is straightforward and doesn’t have as much complications as other brands.

Negative Reviews:

  • Some buyers expressed their disappointment at the plastic’s durability. Some claim that their Staresso exploded after trying to pump the coffee. Others say that the portable espresso maker worked great for a year and then gave in because of the added pressure of the heat and pumping.

#4 KFLOW Portable Espresso Maker Hand Coffee MachineLargest Coffee Capacity

 Portable Coffee Maker Manual Espresso Machine (for ground coffee)
The KFLOW Portable Espresso Maker Hand Coffee Machine is a 404-gram portable coffee maker that creates rich and flavorful espresso coffee with either Nespresso Original line capsules or ground coffee.

This coffee machine can reach up to 18 bar optimum pressure for coffee brewing. It’s also known to make better long shots that can reach up to 5 oz of Espresso.

It’s completely manual, all you have to do is place your Nespresso capsule/ground coffee and hot water inside each compartment and then start to pump the coffee goodness out! You’ll have decent coffee in a few seconds!

Rating:3.7 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • The KFLOW is praised for its ability to create a delicious double shot of espresso with rich crema. It’s relatively easy to operate and clean which bodes well for people always on the go.
  • It’s well-designed and compact, perfect for camping trips. Some even said that the mechanism is ingenious for allowing the brewer more control over the espresso brewing than actual espresso machines.

Negative Reviews:

  • Some reviewers have said that the mechanism takes too long to pump out Espresso and can become very tiring. Some also complained about how the product was shipped to them, saying that there were a few broken pieces that didn’t make it viable to use.

They have good customer service though, one explained.

#5 Wacaco Minipresso GR – Most Compact

 

 WACACO Minipresso GR, Portable Espresso Machine, Compatible Ground Coffee

And here we have another Wacaco made goodie.

The Wacaco Minipresso GR weighs t 360 grams which hails it as a lighter-weighted portable espresso machine. It’s a compact device made of exceptional quality plastic and a versatile coffee brewer.

The Minipresso uses ground coffee to brew, and it’s completely manual. You don’t need electricity to fire this baby up! Although, you do need to heat your water elsewhere.

Like other Espresso makers, you pack in your coffee grinds using the built-in coffee scoop and cup. Then you use the pressure pump to brew good Espresso.

Since it’s a smaller model, it can only accommodate 8 grams of coffee grinds for one cup.

Rating: 4.4 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • The people who enjoyed the Minipresso have collectively said that it’s a convenient and space-saving alternative to a home Espresso machine. It’s a handy device that can be stored in a kitchen drawer or a sleeve in a carrying bag. It’s also sleek and aesthetically pleasing.
  • It’s a perfect fit for people who like the occasional Espresso on their travels as well.

Negative Reviews:

  • Most of the negative reviews have said that the Minipresso isn’t built for high usage. They say that it’s a great weekend device for hiking and other nature activities but should not be used on a daily basis. They mentioned that it wasn’t durable for repeat use in large volumes.

#6 Conqueco Portable Espresso Maker – Best Features

 

 CONQUECO Portable Coffee Maker

The Conqueco Portable Espresso Maker is an rechargeable coffee maker. It has it’s own heating chamber which is a big plus to people who like to pack light.

The Conqueco weighs 880 grams which is more than most. It’s probably because of the electronics involved. This coffee maker uses Nespresso pods for brewing and includes a get-go bag that you can throw in your luggage like no big deal.

This Espresso Maker advertises 15 bar pressure and a self-cleaning mode that is easily an attractive feature. It’s also one of the priciest.

It boasts accurate temperature that’s ideal for Espresso brewing and yields around 45 ml of Espresso.

Rating: 3.9 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • Buyers have praised the Conqueco Espresso Maker for having less pieces to assemble and use of other external equipment. It’s an all-in-one coffee brewer that self-heats, self-cleans and makes delicious espresso on the go.
  • The use of Nespresso pods is also a plus.

Negative Reviews:

  • Some reviewers of Conqueco commented on the likelihood of a battery defect. This made them frustrated as their main purpose for buying the device was for convenience. Others have also stated that the Conqueco yields a warm cup and not a hot cup.

#7 Simpresso Portable Espresso Maker – Best Pumping Action

 

 Simpresso Portable Espresso Maker

The Simpresso is another push-pressure Espresso maker but with a patented lever that’s too pretty to not swoon over. This manual coffee maker creates thick and rich crema which a lot of Espresso lovers love.

It’s compatible with both Nespresso pods and home ground coffee which is a thumbs up. It’s also made from BPA-free material.

It weighs 350 grams and is compact. Perfect to store in a small drawer or knapsack.

The Simpresso claims to hit 19 bar pressure for it’s coffee extraction but does not have a heating source in itself. It comes with a Premium Travel pack with the Simpresso unit, a detachable cup, smart capsules (reusable coffee pods), scoop, and manual.

Rating: 3.7 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • Coffee enthusiasts who have bought the Simpresso were impresso with the lever. Other Espresso makers take forever to pump out the coffee but the Simpresso made coffee like a breeze. It’s also sturdy and durable.

Negative Reviews:

  • Other coffee enthusiasts had a difficult time with the Simpresso. They said that the material looked cheap and might break easily. The coffee yield it produced wasn’t as what they expected from a good Espresso machine.
  • One even wasted 20 pods and none of them came out delicious.

#8 Flair Signature Espresso Maker – Best Taste

 

 Flair Signature Espresso Maker

By far the heaviest and bulkiest of the list, the Flair Signature Espresso Maker is a force to be reckoned with. It’s hailed as the best portable Espresso maker in the market despite weighing 3.2 kg.

Coffee from the Flair Signature is 100% handcrafted because it’s not engineered to adjust pressure with a few pumps. This machine is human powered, so you have to have a pretty good grip to make Espresso on this.

There is a custom pressure gauge able to brew at 6 bar to 9 bar pressure. The package also comes with a bottomless portafilter and stainless tamper.

With the Flair Signature, making coffee is similar to brewing it with an Espresso Machine. Except for the fact that you have to hand press the water to the grounds for the best Espresso.

The Flair Signature is only compatible with coffee grounds. Make sure you’re using freshly ground beans for this one.

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Positive reviews:

  • Reviewers have said that the Flair Signature makes perfect Espresso, even better than Espresso Machine made Espresso. They even said that it’s the only portable Espresso maker to claim to make Espresso and actually do.

Negative Reviews:

  • Reviewers have stated that the Flair Signature is too expensive for a manual coffee maker. It’s also too bulky and heavy to be lugged from point to point, especially on outdoor hikes. Although it makes good coffee, it’s not as convenient as most compact models.

How do I choose a portable Espresso maker that suits me?

Preferred Complexity

Even coffee experts have trouble with new equipment claiming to make coffee brewing easier. Sometimes, nothing beats the classics! So, it’s best to know what kind of complex pieces or gadgets you’re getting yourself into.

lightest portable espresso makers

Some coffee makers are as straightforward as the cold brew method. While others may need a little more practice, like Espresso brewing and Pour overs.

I personally don’t like coffee makers – portable or no – to have a lot of pieces. They feel like too much of a fuss. They also take longer to clean.

But, what may come easily to me, may be hard for you and vice versa. Just keep in mind that some portable coffee makers are more complex than others.

Do your research and surely, you’ll be fine!

Does Size Matter?

Don’t laugh. It’s a valid question!

If you’re concerned about bringing your own coffee maker or buying from nearby coffee shops on your travels, then it’s important to take note of the size and weight to ensure it matches your carry-on specifications.

It’s different when you’re bringing it in a suitcase from carrying it in your overnight bag. And hotel room staycations versus camping trips have to weigh in convenience.

Is your portable espresso maker worth the extra weight?

portable espresso makers

See, some coffee makers can be bigger and bulkier than others. It’s all about finding the right fit, after all. Even portable Espresso makers can be not-so portable for others.

Grounds, Pods, or the best of both worlds?

And what’s a coffee machine without the coffee, right?

If you’re a traditional coffee brewer, obviously freshly ground coffee beans are the way to go. But if you’re a can’t-be-bothered type, you’re like to go with coffee pods.

There are versions that can accommodate both grounds and pods but it’ll cost you more. Of course, apart from these look-fors, you also have to consider your budget. For outdoors, the best manual coffee grinders are very handy.

coffee grounds and coffee capsules

Before you purchase anything, you should consider if you’d like the extra baggage of whole beans and a grinder as opposed to the portable espresso maker and compatible pods.

Don’t forget to bring hot water!

You’re in the great outdoors and you whip out your portable espresso maker. But it doesn’t have a heat source. What do you do?

kettle on top of a camping fire

Obviously, this is a problem.

There are Espresso makers that have built in heat sources and there are those that require an external source. You should also consider your usual travel destinations to match the need for travel Espresso.

You could bring a thermos with boiling water but the likelihood that it’s still the right temperature to make Espresso is a risky move. Better to think about this before you hike the trail!

Other Espresso Concerns

Espresso isn’t just a shot of coffee. It’s liquid gold. Hence, it’s vital to be aware about knock offs.

Espresso-like Vs True Espresso

There are a couple of coffee makers out there that claim to make Espresso but are frauds. They only make Espresso-like coffee and not true Espresso. And yes, I’m talking about the Moka Pot and the Aeropress.

espresso machine

If you’ve been wondering why they weren’t on the list, it’s because they shouldn’t be on it!

Making true Espresso requires coffee to be extracted with at least 5 bars of pressure. The Stovetop Espresso Maker by the Italians (Moka Pot) can only do 1 bar to 2 bars. The Aeropress can only do 0.35 bar to 0.75 bar of pressure.

double espresso

Although these equipment can brew a mean cup of coffee, the intensity needed for true Espresso is not met.

Espresso and Crema

Does Crema matter?

A defining factor of a good espresso is the rich crema. And yes, it does matter.

Espresso with foamy crema

Crema is this tan foam that sits on top of your Espresso shot. Some coffee enthusiasts would tell you that more crema is indicative of a perfect shot. While it’s true that a slightly darker crema can indicate a bitter cup and a slightly lighter and thinner crema can indicate a sour cup, that’s not always the case.

Even a thin, tan foam of rich crema floating on top of your Espresso can mean it’s a good shot.

Is it worth it to buy a travel Espresso maker?

Yes and No.

If you’re one to hate on hotel coffee, then you should buy a portable Espresso machine for your needs. If you’re one to go on an outdoor adventure without any cafes in sight, then you should totes buy one.

If you’re not really a fan of the extra effort and would rather buy something from the area, then don’t buy one.

It’s the need for a travel Espresso maker that makes it worth your time.

If you like the best espresso machine under 200, we have a list here.

The Best Travel Espresso Maker is…

In conclusion, the best portable espresso machine is the one that fits your budget and your needs!

I’m leaning towards the Wacaco Pipamoka for its versatility and the Flair for its coffee quality, but I can’t speak for your caffeine needs! You just have to do more research to be sure before you purchase!

More coffee blogs and coffee product picks await you! Explore our blog here!

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