If you love espresso but don’t love waiting in coffee shop lines, you may want to invest in an espresso maker. But to make high-quality espresso at home, you’ll need the right equipment. Before you blow your budget on a pricey Italian espresso machine, there’s another option you may want to consider: a portable espresso maker.
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We compared the espresso makers on four factors: ease of use, build quality, espresso quality, and price. Which model is the winner? Keep reading to find out!
At a Glance
Ease of Use
As an espresso lover, you know that pulling the perfect shot is rarely a simple process. However, these ingenious devices make it as straightforward as possible. Both machines require you to supply finely-ground coffee beans and hot water. They’re also both hand-powered, so you’ll need to manually pump a piston to build pressure. We found that both took an average of 40-50 pumps per shot.
The Handpresso offers a little more flexibility, as you can use ground coffee or ESE (Easy Serving Espresso) pods via two included filter baskets. You can build the pressure before adding coffee and water, and there’s an attractive pressure gauge so you can tell when you’ve hit 16 bars.
To use the Handpresso safely, you have to pay attention to a few things, like not pumping into the red pressure zone and ensuring that the infusion button is up. It can also be somewhat finicky — you may have to experiment with grind size and tamping to get the best shot.
The Minipresso is straightforward and produces a consistently good shot of espresso. You have to add water and coffee before building pressure. Once you start pumping, you have to keep the machine aimed at your cup. The espresso will start coming out after about 10 pumps, but there’s no indicator or gauge.
There are fewer things to remember with the Minipresso. You’ll want to be careful when attaching the hot water compartment and ensure that all of the pieces are fully screwed on.
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Both the Handpresso and the Minipresso are nicely-built and feel sturdy.
The Handpresso has a more expensive feel, with durable metal and matte plastic pieces. Even better, it has just four pieces: the body, the cap, and two filter baskets. It’s also slightly heavier, weighing a little over a pound. This heft is nice in your kitchen but less convenient on the trail.
On the other hand, the Minipresso is sturdy and self-contained, making it a great choice for travel or camping. It’s made of lightweight plastic but doesn’t feel flimsy and weighs just 0.8 pounds. There are many convenient features, like a cap that doubles as an espresso cup and a coffee scoop that doubles as a tamper. The downside is that there are many pieces to keep track of.
To compare the espresso quality, we used the same coffee beans ground in the same way. We bought Starbucks Caffè Verona and ground it finely using a JavaPresse Manual Grinder.
The results? Despite the Handpresso’s higher pressure (16 bars to the Minipresso’s 8), the Minipresso produces significantly better espresso.
The Handpresso espresso is dark and full-flavored, with a good aroma and mouthfeel, but there is very little crema. The results are closer to a Moka pot or AeroPress.
The Minipresso espresso is rich and complex, with an appealing aroma and a generous golden crema. If you’d like to approximate your favorite coffee shop’s espresso, the Minipresso could be for you.
On this one, the Minipresso is the clear winner. It’s quite a bit less expensive than the somewhat pricey Handpresso.
Both of these espresso makers are well-designed and portable, and you’ll get tasty shots of espresso either way. So, which should you choose? That depends on what you’re looking for.
If you’re shopping for an expensive-feeling espresso maker that will impress your friends, you may want to try the Handpresso Wild Hybrid. Watching the pressure gauge rise is satisfying, and the machine is small enough to throw in your suitcase or car for a trip.
Are you looking for a camping-friendly espresso maker that produces truly impressive espresso? Consider buying the Wacaco Minipresso GR, a wallet-friendly model that’s self-contained and simple to use. And wait until you see the crema!
Whichever model you choose, we hope you’re delighted with your espresso.