Portable espresso machines let you enjoy an espresso wherever you are.
We’ve reviewed five of the best portable espresso makers to see if they make espresso as good as you can make one at home or get from a café.
Also, although important, the best portable espresso maker does not necessarily mean the best one for everyone. What's important to you might be different than someone else!
That’s because there are other considerations such as build quality, portability (of course!), ease of cleaning, and cost.
So based on what's important to us, we have chosen the Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker as our top choice. Keep reading to learn why we chose it!
We will also take you through the different features of different portable espresso machines, from manual ones to electric ones, from self-cleaning ones to hand washing ones, from budget ones to expensive ones.
There is something for everyone, so it can be confusing. Thankfully we’ve done the research for you.
We also give you tips on how to make the best espresso with your portable espresso machine.
So sit back, relax, grab a coffee and let’s get started...
Here are our top 5 portable espresso machines:
This hand-powered espresso maker comes in an array of colors and designs. From Lava Red to Arctic Blue, and Moss Green (you might lose this color if you're camping, it camouflages well into nature). They also have images like waves or fields or ‘tattoo’ designs.
This portable espresso maker certainly has the biggest choice of aesthetics to choose from.
The Nanopresso is easy to use without needing to read instructions. But here are the simple steps anyways:
How to use the Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Machine
The Wacaco Nanopresso espresso machine uses a patented pumping system that works by twisting the piston in the middle anti-clockwise so it pops out. Then turn the Nanopresso upside down and pump the piston while your coffee drips into your cup. You should pump for 20 to 30 pumps until you no longer feel resistance from the piston.
This pumping system offers a maximum of 18 bars of pressure which is more than some home espresso machines have to offer. This results in a dense crema layer on top of your espresso.
The Wacaco Nanopresso works best with finely ground coffee and has a detachable cup, scoop, and brush, so you have everything you need (apart from hot water).
It’s easy to clean, although it needs to be cleaned after every coffee preparation. You can use the brush to sweep away any stray coffee grounds and the portafilter can be separated into three parts and just using soap will do. It can take a little while to dry and reassembling it is a bit cumbersome.
The advantage of this portable espresso machine is that you don’t need to charge it but you do need access to hot water.
The Nanopresso has a heat skin pattern that absorbs the heat to protect your hands. It’s convenient for use at the office or on the go and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.
It’s made with plastic which is robust enough to handle being flung about when you’re traveling. If you’re a rough person (or clumsy like me), then you can get a special case for it.
It’s a simple design but it rivals electric versions for the quality of delicious coffee it produces.
You can get a refund within 30 days if you’re not happy with it. But given its simple design and build quality, it’s sure to last you a long time!
The Wacaco Minipresso is the original version of the Wacaco Nanopresso. It looks similar to the Nanopresso but without the range of designs and colors and instead of a ridged outside, it is smooth.
It’s cheaper than the Nanopresso but works the same and does a similar job.
It has a similar scoop to place your coffee in the basket before tamping down. The water tank is at the other end which you screw off, add hot water and screw back on (tightly). Then use the pumping system by twisting the piston and pumping to extract the coffee into your cup.
The main difference is that it only has an eight bar pressure instead of eighteen but it still makes a nice cup of coffee with a good crema. But it is just shy of the ideal 9 bars of pressure for making the perfect espresso shot.
It is slightly heavier and larger than the Nanopresso, but it's still a compact espresso maker that is easy to carry around.
Unlike the Nanopresso, you can't buy an adaptor to use coffee pods or Nespresso capsules. Instead, you would need to purchase the Minipresso NS or the Minipresso CA.
With the Minipresso GR, you can only use ground coffee, but this is more environmentally friendly instead of using pods, the majority of which get sent to landfill.
The Wacaco Minipresso GR works in the same way as the Wacaco Nanopresso and makes a good quality cup of coffee but it’s slightly a better value.
This elegant espresso maker may appear intimidating at first but it’s actually not as complicated as it looks, and it comes in matte white and black with a copper-plated portafilter base.
Like the previous portable espresso makers, it also does not use electricity, and it’s hand-powered.
It works by taking off the spout and transferring the coffee grinds into the basket and tamping them down. Then slide the screen on top and put the spout on the bottom. Take a pre-heated cylinder and add it to the basket and fill it with water. Press the stem of the custom pressure gauge, slowly bringing the handle down as the coffee comes out.
The custom pressure gauge helps to get instant feedback and to create a quality espresso shot.
It is made from durable materials such as aluminum and stainless steel. It has a surprisingly small carrying case with dedicated places for each of the pieces, which protects it from breaking even if you decide to bring it along to the Amazon jungle.
It is easy to clean with a removable attachment for the portafilter base and a detachable brewing head.
It takes under ten minutes to set up and around 25 to 40 seconds for the extraction time.
You do need to pre-heat the brewing cylinder which is a bit cumbersome. You can do this by using the steam from the boiling kettle. Or you can set it into a pan of water and remove it using tongs or gloves.
It does look complicated but the instructions manual helps you get the hang of it quickly. So you can pretty much perform magic tricks in front of your friends!
It is expensive for a hand-powered espresso machine and while it does make great coffee, so do cheaper models.
However, its use of premium materials should mean long durability, so this could be a good investment in the long run. Flair Espresso is so confident that they back this product with a 5-year warranty!
The Conqueco Portable Espresso Maker looks like a flask and is operated by rechargeable lithium batteries. At around 1.94 lbs and 9.9" H x 3.03" W x 3.22" D it’s easy to carry around, and it’s made with food grade plastic colored in black, with a red silicone holder.
This portable espresso maker only uses coffee pods, such as OriginalLine Nespresso capsules. So if you are looking for one that uses ground coffee, then you can skip this one.
You can use either hot or cold water with it but using cold means the battery won’t last as long.
You use it by unscrewing the cap and placing your pod inside with the foil facing you. Screw the cap back on tight to ensure you pierce the pod. Turn it upside down, add the hot water, and then close the cap. Finally, press the button and unscrew the detachable cup, and voila, your coffee has been extracted.
When using hot water, you need to press the button for 5 seconds to start the brewing.
When using cold water you should press the button for two seconds to start heating it and it could take 8 to 12 minutes to extract your coffee because it needs to heat the water first.
The Conqueco uses Nespresso OriginalLine pods which can be more convenient but more expensive than ground coffee. Pods, although recyclable, generally go to the landfill, so they’re actually not environmentally friendly. Unless you use reusable Nespresso pods.
The Conqueco has a 15 bar pressure pump which creates a tasty espresso with thick crema. It’s also pretty quiet and comes with a car charger and a home charger. It can be charged without disassembling the battery to use outdoors and it takes about 4.5 hours to fully charge.
The auto wash function is a great way to easily clean and maintain this portable espresso maker. To start this function, all you have to do is press the button for 5 seconds while the machine is empty (no pods).
Unfortunately, the coffee could be hotter once brewed, and this machine can’t be used while it's charging. But the battery power could also be increased to speed up the heating of the water.
Highest Working Pressure
The Staresso Basic offers something a little different than the previously mentioned portable espresso machines. This one comes with a glass cup that has markings for the right measurements. Plus it allows you to see the shot and the beautiful crema as you pump it into the glass cup.
It's quite beautiful but also dangerous because we all know that a Clumsy Claire will break that glass cup and no one on that camping trip will get to enjoy a fresh shot of espresso... Am I right?!
To use it, start by unscrewing the cylindrical part, screwing off the cap, and placing your coffee grounds in the basket. Then tamp the coffee grounds before screwing the lid back on and placing the cylindrical part back on.
Screw off the top and place the hot water inside. Pump the lever down and watch as the coffee starts filling up your cup.
It's another hand-powered espresso maker that uses hot water as well as iced water, although we don't recommend pulling an espresso shot with cold water.
It makes coffee in one minute and uses either finely ground coffee or capsules, although you need to poke a few holes in the bottom of the coffee pods since it doesn't automatically do that itself.
The metal water chamber and the glass cup have volume markings, making the espresso-making process easy and straightforward.
The materials are BPA free plastic and stainless steel, but they don’t seem to be as robust as other portable espresso makers. That’s to be expected as this espresso maker is among the cheaper ones on this list.
It’s easy to clean with detachable parts but it can be a little messy compared to the other espresso makers.
Portable espresso makers are either hand-powered or electric coffee makers that pull espresso shots using water pressure as a brewing technique.
They are travel-size versions of an espresso maker and can be taken anywhere, like the office, camping, traveling, or on a hike.
For some, you will need hot water, so you need to have an external heat source, but others use batteries to heat the water up before pulling a shot of espresso on the go.
Caffè Espresso in Italian means "pressed coffee" and that's because of the brewing method used to extract the espresso.
Espresso is made by forcing a small amount of almost boiling water under pressure through finely-ground espresso beans.
This type of brewing was only made possible with the creation of machinery that could create this pressure in order to produce quality espresso.
The first coffee steam machinery patent attributed to Angelo Moriondo of Turin, Italy, helped create the first espresso.
His patent in 1884 pushed water through coffee grounds then steam would flash the bed of coffee.
Luigi Bezzerra and Desiderio Pavoni improved on this design to produce a single serve espresso in the 20th century.
And now espresso machines have come a long way from the bulky designs of the past.
There are automatic espresso makers that have become available for home brewing and even portable versions allowing us to enjoy an espresso almost anywhere we want.
Yes, but there are exceptions...
To us, this was one of the most important questions to ask! Because the worst thing to experience is waking up on a plane and having to drink a watered-down and bland cup of coffee.
Now instead, imagine waking up and having a fresh shot of espresso. To us, this is key and the only reason we needed to buy one of these portable handheld espresso machines.
I bet you, everyone around you on that plane would be so envious because of the smell of freshly brewed espresso at your fingertips!
So the simple answer is yes, you can bring them on a plane, but keep in mind that the ones that come with a lithium battery will most likely have to be checked in with your luggage.
No. A Moka pot, also known as a stovetop percolator, is a great way to make coffee but it doesn't make authentic espresso. Like a portable espresso maker, it’s also good for traveling because it’s a small and sturdy coffee maker.
All you need are some coffee grounds, water, and a heat source to heat it up.
So, why is a stovetop espresso maker not a portable espresso maker? Because technically it doesn’t make espresso. It makes a strong espresso-style coffee but espresso is made with high pressure, typically around 9 bars.
There are many reasons why a portable espresso maker is necessary for every espresso drinker, such as our main reason, which is to make great coffee on a plane!
But here are a few other reasons, just in case you need a little more of a nudge in the right direction:
If you’re traveling for work or camping or even going for a hike, a portable espresso maker is convenient and compact, so it can fit anywhere in your backpack or luggage.
Most of the portable espresso makers you can get are cheaper than a home espresso machine. If you want to enjoy cafe-quality espresso at home, then getting a portable espresso maker will certainly be cheaper than an actual espresso machine.
Take it with you to work and have yourself a shot of espresso or a double espresso without having to spend the money at the coffee shop next door. Buying coffee every day adds up and saving that cost can help you buy other, more important things sooner!
Like that flight ticket to Italy, so you can show off by using that portable espresso machine on your flight there...
Do you want to use a manual pump to extract your coffee yourself or do you just want to press a button and let the espresso maker do the work? It’s ok, we don’t think you’re lazy if you want the espresso maker to do everything for you.
We are all about convenience, we get you!
An electric portable espresso maker will simply require you to press a button but it will need to be charged and you won't be able to show off on the plane since some of them are made with lithium batteries and those are required to be checked in with your luggage.
Another reason why you might not want one that is battery-powered is the risk that you would be taking if you go camping. I cannot imagine the horror if your battery dies and deprives you of your espresso first thing in the morning.
But on the other hand, battery-powered handheld espresso makers will also heat up your water, which is ideal while camping or hiking, when you don't have access to hot water or if you're not able to heat it up yourself.
If you want to carry it with you when you go camping or traveling, then a more compact espresso maker will suit you better.
For hiking or camping, you’re already trying to limit the items in your bag. So a portable espresso maker that takes up little space is going to suit you better.
This also applies to those that travel only with carry-ons, as we do.
The range in pricing for portable espresso makers is quite large. From around $50 to over $250; that’s quite a difference.
If you’re not sure whether you’ll get your use out of a portable espresso maker, then you’ll want to try one of the less pricey options first.
While a lot of portable espresso makers look like flasks, there are others such as the Flair Signature Espresso Maker, which have a striking design.
If you don’t care what your espresso maker looks like then any will do, but if you want one to match your purse that you’re carrying it in, or you just love the design of the Flair, then this will play a more important role in your decision-making process.
Some of these machines have auto wash functions while some you will have to wash by hand. It’s ok to be lazy and want the auto wash one (we understand).
Most of the best portable espresso makers on our list are made robustly but some are better than others. If you’re one to throw around your overnight bag then you’ll want a more durable espresso maker to withstand this treatment.
Some of the espresso makers will contain glass (like the Staresso) which might be a no-go if you’re a Clumsy Claire.
The whole point of a portable coffee maker is to enjoy delicious espresso wherever you are, so quality is the most important factor when purchasing.
Some of the best portable espresso makers will rival home espresso machines with a lovely aroma and a thick crema. Some will produce espressos that aren’t technically authentic espresso because they don’t have enough pressure.
So make sure you choose wisely...
ALL the machines on our list qualify as proper espresso-making machines!
Dark roasts are generally better for espressos because of their depth of flavor and the crema they produce.
You can also choose between Arabica and Robusta beans. While Arabica beans are seen as better quality, Robusta beans have more caffeine which is good for that energy boost you want from an espresso.
Robusta beans also produce more crema which is an important part of espresso.
You can also have a mix of Arabica and Robusta beans to get a balance of flavors. In fact, most espressos will be made from a blend to get a smooth texture with hints of chocolate or nuttiness.
Espresso is best when it is made with fresh beans, so check the "roast by" date on the packaging. It’s also best to grind your own beans as needed.
Use finely ground espresso beans to extract the most flavor for your espresso.
The fresher your coffee beans, the better the flavor.
If you choose to follow our advice and grind your own beans, then make sure you get a portable and manual coffee grinder to complement your portable espresso maker!
If your grinder isn’t up to par, then it could give an inconsistent result which will affect the taste of your coffee. Look for a grinder with different settings for you to choose the size of your grind.
The most obvious thing to make good espresso is to select high-quality coffee beans. Some prefer Arabica beans as they have less bitterness but experiment with different types of coffee from different parts of the world to find which ones suit you best.
There are cheap tools you can use to make sure your coffee grinds are level. The tools have a variety of names such as distribution tools, coffee stirrers, or stirring tampers. It is basically a handle with some wires coming out of it.
First, give the basket a shake, and then you can use the stirrer to mix the grind to ensure it is consistent.
We rated the Nanopresso as the best portable espresso maker. The Nanopresso coffee maker is more expensive but slightly lighter than the Minipresso and offers a higher brewing pressure.
A Nanopresso is better than an AeroPress in our opinion because a Nanopresso can make an actual espresso.
But, an AeroPress is still a good portable coffee maker. It’s one of the cheapest and you can make different types of coffee from espresso-style to a cold brew.
If you’re always on the go and love your coffee then any portable espresso maker, including the Nanopresso, will be worth your while.
No. Most portable espresso makers require hot water.
An electric portable espresso maker will be able to heat the water so you can use cold water in them, however, it takes more power so it will make fewer cups using cold water than it would if you use hot water.
Our list of the best portable espresso makers will ensure you can enjoy coffee everywhere you go including on your next camping trip. The quality of coffee is just as good as some home espresso machines but they are more affordable.
Remember to use good quality coffee and next time you make an espresso from the top of Mt Kilimanjaro think of us!