Updated: May 9, 2022 by Owen Richardson
Imagine having to make barista-quality espresso without electricity or away from home, probably while hiking, camping, or traveling. You could get yourself the best portable espresso maker, but will it help?
Surprisingly, this has been a solution not too many coffee drinkers ever thought they would need in such situations. I call them travel-friendly espresso makers. No matter where you are, even deep in the wild, it’ll help you make a shot that’s as perfect as what you would brew at home or get from your favorite coffee shop.
But don’t get too excited just yet. Not all portable espresso makers guarantee that. Some promise heaven and deliver hell.
It’s not enough that your gadget make delicious shots. It has to be easy to clean, light, and reliable. These are among the factors I used to narrow down my list of the best and most reliable espresso makers (more about this shortly).
But first things first. Which espresso maker topped the list?
Since the big factor we are all looking for is portability, Nanopresso takes the crown. But I understand that’s not the only thing that matters. You most definitely want your shot to be perfect and probably to be able to fine-tune the brew to your liking. Guess what? Nanopresso guarantees that and so much more. That’s why it easily towers over its rivals.
My Best Portable Espresso Maker Reviews
|1. WACACO Nanopresso |
|2. Flair Signature|
|3. De’Longhi EMK6|
|4. WACACO Minipresso GR|
|6. Handpresso Wild Hybrid|
1. WACACO Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker – Best Overall
Nanopresso from WACACO may be the lightest espresso maker on this list, yet it’s still the most versatile, capable, and best handheld espresso maker. It produces 18 bars of pressure and gives you that much-desired freedom to fine-tune your brewing experience. You can bring it with you anywhere and never worry that you may run out of space to carry it.
- Manual portable espresso maker
- Works with both ground coffee beans and pods
- Weight: 336 grams/0.74 pounds
- Barista kit (optional)
WACACO Minipresso provides a level of customization not easily found in most portable espresso makers. You can make single or double shots, brew long espresso, and do so much more when you optimize its functions and make use of the optional barista kit.
Even though it accommodates both pods and ground coffee, the best brewing experience is provided by the latter. Provided you do it right, expect a perfect shot with tasty and dense crema. Cleaning thereafter is a quick job that only takes a few seconds.
What’s more, Nanopresso comes with a durable protective case where it fits snugly and is protected from scratches, bumps, and dust.
- At only 336 grams, this model is ultra-portable
- Accommodates both pods and ground coffee
- Offers a higher degree of customization
- Easy to operate and clean
- Comes with a case that protects it from harsh elements and scratches
- Available in different colors to suit your unique preference
- You have to externally heat the water
Despite being higher priced than the majority of its peers, WACACO Nanopresso still maintains the lead in the portable coffee maker market because it can make great espresso, and it’s versatile and compact enough to fit in a tiny case.
Flair pulled out all the stops to build a portable espresso maker that pulls barista-quality shots with minimal resources. You only need to bring your coffee brewing skills, a grinder, and some fresh coffee beans for espresso. Wherever you find yourself, nothing’s going to stop you from enjoying delicious espresso.
- Manual espresso maker
- Compatible with coffee grounds only
- Detachable brewing head
- Carrying case
- Custom pressure gauge
- Weight: 1.95kgs/4 pounds (2.1 kg with carrying case)
- Extras include stainless steel stamper and two-in-one filter
When packed in its case, Flair Signature can be a bit weighty, but it compensates for this with its high-quality espresso. You have absolute control over the brewing, and that’s what draws coffee connoisseurs like me to this machine. The freedom to experiment and stretch your creativity until you make a shot that could win awards is simply priceless.
The addition of a custom pressure gauge, even though not necessary, can help you perfect the brewing because you get to not only track but also manage the pressure.
Flair Signature may be a fully manual coffee maker, but it is so easy to use. Cleaning it is a breeze as well. Simply dump the espresso, rinse the portafilter, and the unit will be ready for the next assignment.
- Works with ground coffee so you get to experience full-bodied flavorful coffee
- Built with strong materials that make it durable
- Gives you complete control over the brewing
- Has extras that help you perfect the brewing experience
- Padded carrying case increases the convenience of carrying it around
- You have to heat the water separately
- Relatively expensive
For an experienced coffee drinker who wants to be fully immersed in the brewing process as they camp, hike, or travel, look no further than the Flair Signature. It is the ultimate portable coffee maker.
For all the years I have been a coffeeholic, De’Longhi has never gotten on my bad side. It’s an almost perfect brand, and their EMK6 is yet another masterpiece from their huge lineup. It may be too big to fit in your backpack’s side pocket, but it’s still travel-friendly. Just get yourself a bigger bag, and you’re good to go anywhere with it.
- Portable electric espresso maker
- Compatible with ground coffee
- Can make three or six cups of coffee
- Automatic shut-off
- Pressurized safety valve
- Milk frother
- Weight: 1,100 grams/2.2 pounds
De’Longhi EMK6 makes coffee the Italian way. It uses the mocha process, and on your part, there isn’t much to be done. Simply fill the water container, add your grounds to the filter, and let the machine do the rest. Your coffee will be ready in no time.
You don’t have to worry about your drink overflowing or burning; the pressurized safety valve automatically turns off the machine when brewing is complete. And if you are nowhere near it when this happens, your drink will still stay warm until 30 minutes elapse.
Simply detach it from the unit to serve your coffee. It’s up to you to decide how many cups you want between three and six, making it perfect when there’s plenty of you yearning for a delicious coffee.
- Easy to operate
- Quicker brewing process
- Transparent container makes it easy to observe the brewing process
- Automatic shut-off saves power
- Boiler is made of top-grade aluminum to make it last longer
- Perfect for groups
- You need electricity to operate the unit
De’Longhi EMK6 is a no-hassle portable electric espresso maker that’s going to serve you well as you move around either alone or with friends or family.
4. WACACO Minipresso GR — Best Budget
WACACO Minipresso GR is the predecessor to WACACO Nanopresso, yet it’s still a top seller because of its capabilities and simplicity. It requires very little energy to use and can deliver up to eight bars of pressure when you optimize it.
- Manual espresso maker
- Compatible with ground coffee
- Built-in espresso cup and scoop
- Weight: 360 g/0.8 pounds
By just looking at it, you can’t dispute that WACACO Minipresso is a travel buddy. It’s as elegant and stylish as your favorite water bottle. Put it into action and the outcome will be just as impressive as its looks. It’s designed to only pull perfect shots.
However, water for brewing has to be heated from an external source, so make sure to factor this in whenever you step into the wild or go traveling. Luckily, you do not need to carry cups as the espresso maker already has a built-in one.
Because it uses ground coffee, WACACO Minipresso can make intense coffee that is rich in flavor and taste, topped with good crema.
- Stylish looks
- Ground coffee produces rich, flavorful, strong coffee
- At only 360 grams, this espresso maker is extremely portable
- Built-in cup saves you the need to pack cups
- Very simple to use
- Not suitable for groups
WACACO Minipresso may not be as capable and loaded as its older cousin, the Minipresso, but the value you get for its price makes it a valuable travel espresso maker.
Just to put its size into perspective, STARESSO is no different from a typical water bottle. It could fit snugly on the side pocket of a backpack. You can carry it to your office, school, campsite, or any other place far away from your home without feeling any heaviness.
STARESSO also goes the extra mile, ensuring you not only get espresso but also milk foam for a cappuccino.
- Manual espresso maker
- Makes both espresso and milk foam
- Works with capsules
- Weight: 475 grams/1.1. pounds
- Built-in cup
Just like me, you probably prefer your espresso neat and pure on some occasions but other times, you only want its varieties, including lattes and cappuccino. STARESSO kills two birds with one stone. It has perfected the art of brewing both authentic espresso and milk foam without electricity and noise.
What’s more, there’s no restriction on which capsule to use; it accommodates most brands. It gets better when you realize there’s no need to carry cups in your bag, there’s one already built into the unit. The unfortunate side of this is that it’s not perfect for groups because you’ll have to wait until a person finishes their drink for you to have yours.
Cleaning the machine is easy, but when there’s milk involved, you will have to be more thorough. For excellent results, the manufacturer suggests you use a blend of water and alcohol as your cleaning solution.
- Capable of brewing both espresso and milk drinks
- Multi-purpose built-in cup saves you the need to carry cups
- Super portable, making it a perfect choice if you plan to travel light
- Easy to use even for novices
- Inner tank made of non-toxic stainless steel making it safe and durable
- Not suitable if you plan to use it as a group
- Ease of pumping drops with time but the two-year warranty caters to that
STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine excels on many fronts, but it’s most suitable if you are looking to only have espresso and other beverages as you go about your business outside the home.
Handpresso Wild Hybrid’s design is above comparison. I thought it was just me, but it turns out more people are immediately attracted to its bicycle pump-like design and looks. You get to see how it works, and there won’t be any disappointments. It works with both ground coffee and pods and can make a decent shot.
- Manual portable espresso maker
- Compatible with both ground coffee and pods
- Weight: 480 grams/1.06 pounds
- Generates 16 bars of pressure
Using ground coffee with this machine is a straightforward process, but when it comes to pods, first you have to insert the E.S.E. adapter. Still, operating it is a simple process that you are sure to get right on the first try.
With 16-bar pressure, this can only mean one thing: perfectly extracted espresso. Once that is done, the manufacturer recommends that you clean your espresso maker, which is a breeze. But be careful not to use alcohol or solutions not approved by Handpresso.
- Portable enough to fit in a backpack
- Easy to use
- Makes exceptional espresso because of its higher pressure
- Compatible with both pods and ground coffee
- Doesn’t require descaling; cleaning it is enough
- Water has to be heated externally
Handpresso Wild Hybrid is one of the few hybrid portable espresso makers that have stood the test of time. But if you are on a budget, it may not be an ideal choice. You are better off with WACACO Nanopresso.
What Makes the Best Portable Espresso Maker the Best?
The market for espresso makers is massive. You have probably noticed that already. That’s why you must filter your options until you are left with the most suitable. And to help you do that, I discuss in detail the factors you should consider before settling on your final choice.
This sounds obvious, right? But there’s more to it than you may know. Portability varies from model to model. Some are lighter and compact while others are pretty heavy and sizable but still easy to carry around.
Only go for a unit that’s going to serve your needs. For instance, a light espresso maker weighing 340 grams or thereabouts can fit in any bag and serve you right for one-day trips. Some even come with a special case for carrying them around.
Heavier ones, on the other hand, say 1 kilogram, will probably need a bigger bag, but they are ideal if you will be away from home or coffee shops for a few days.
This takes me back to the early morning fights with my fellow campers over who should use the coffee maker first. We would later resort to taking turns over the few days we would be in the wild.
It’s dawning on me right now that this could have been simply avoided by getting a model that can brew multiple shots in one go. That’s what you want to consider too, especially if you won’t be the only one using the coffee maker.
Price is a big deal for a lot of us. But if it isn’t for you, then go for an espresso maker that best serves your needs. Keep in mind that the higher you go on the price range, the better the quality of the coffee maker. But that doesn’t automatically mean every highly-priced coffee maker is of great quality. Thoroughly examine your options.
However, if you have a specific budget in mind, you will want to go for a coffee maker that offers the best value while still satisfying your needs. There are actually plenty of relatively cheaper options that you can count on for a perfect shot.
Pods/Capsules or Ground Coffee
What’s your preference between the two? Ground coffee for me! Even though the brewing scene can get messy, I love the aftermath, which is delicious, full-bodied coffee.
Capsules, like the ones from Nespresso, make decent shots, guarantee a consistent flavor and taste, and are convenient in many ways. But let it not be lost on you that the quality comes second to that of ground coffee.
You will come across espresso makers that only work with either ground coffee or capsule/pods, so be keen not to end up with the wrong unit for your needs. However, some hybrid models are compatible with both options.
Check the video to best understand the differences between the two:
Electric or Manual
Planning to go on an adventure? If so, a reasonable choice for you would be the manual travel espresso maker. You don’t want a situation where you are deep in the bushes and wondering where you can find an electric socket. But if you are sure of having electricity where you will be using the coffee maker, then the electric option would be the better choice.
FAQs on Travel Espresso Makers
How do you use a portable espresso maker?
This will depend on the kind of espresso maker you have. From the list above, you have seen that there are manual and electric options. Also, some use pods/capsules, others use coffee grounds, and a few combine both.
Manual varieties are generally more hands-on than their electric-powered counterparts. You will have to heat the water, for instance. Check your device’s manual to learn more about how to operate it.
What is the difference between Nanopresso and Minipresso?
Nanopresso is the predecessor to Minipresso, but that’s not the only difference between the two. Other things that separate the two include:
- Nanopresso produces 18 bars of pressure, while Minipresso only makes eight.
- Nanopresso weighs 336 grams, whereas Minipresso is heavier, weighing 360 grams.
- Nanopresso has a water capacity of 80ml, whereas Minipresso can only accommodate 70ml.
- Nanopresso is compatible with both pods and capsules, while Minipresso comes in two varieties, one of which is compatible with capsules (NS version) and the other with ground coffee (GR).
Is there a portable espresso maker with a built-in grinder?
Unfortunately, no portable espresso maker comes with a built-in grinder. You have to buy one separately or grind your beans at home.
Espresso on the Go
I’m sure you agree with me that this list is competitive. It can be hard to tell which product is better than the other. But when it comes to portability, versatility, and performance, Nanopresso from WACACO is undoubtedly the best portable espresso maker.
It’s the lightest in this roundup and just as capable as any other best handheld espresso maker. Whether you prefer to use coffee grounds or pods, Nanopresso works with both and will make you a perfect shot. And for seasoned coffee drinkers, you have the freedom to customize your drink, which is also not common in such machines.
It may be slightly more expensive than its peers, but for all it offers, you will be getting the best value.