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8 Best Portable Espresso Makers (Travel, Camping, Handheld, and More)

If you want to be able to enjoy a fresh shot of espresso wherever you are, it’s time to purchase a portable espresso maker.

Whether you’re a backpacker, an office worker, a road tripper, or a coffee nerd, our buyers’ guide will help you find exactly what you’re looking for. We’ve prepared a list of top eight picks to ensure that you get only the best.

Top Pick
“Wacaco

Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker

Light and compact, with a carrying case included.
Up to 18 bars of pressure ensures rich espresso with thick crema.
Can use ground coffee or convenient ESE pods.

How to Choose the Best Portable Espresso Maker

It’s difficult to declare one portable espresso maker the absolute best because it will vary with the needs of the user. Here are some important things to consider when looking for the best portable espresso maker for you.

Product Details Button
Best Overall The Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker The Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker
  • Manual – pumping
  • 11.8 oz
  • Ground coffee, ESE pods
amazon-logo SEE ON AMAZON
Most Compact 61CsVGDrI8S._AC_SL1500_-2 KFLOW
  • Manual – pumping
  • 14.2 oz
  • Ground coffee, Nespresso capsules, Dolce Gusto capsules
amazon-logo SEE ON AMAZON
Best Self-Heating 71tuiM9q+lL._AC_SL1498_-2 Conqueco
  • Auto – rechargeable battery
  • 31.0 oz
  • Nespresso capsules
amazon-logo See on Amazon
Keeps Coffee Warmest The Barsetto Tripresso The Barsetto Tripresso
  • Manual – press
  • 20.4 oz
  • Ground coffee, Capsules
amazon-logo SEE ON AMAZON
Best for Variety 41K5mMhcsiL Staresso
  • Manual – press
  • 16.1 oz
  • Ground coffee, Capsules
amazon-logo See on Amazon
Best for Espresso Geeks 31Yi8Eh-uzL Flair Signature Espresso Maker
  • Manual – pressure
  • 112.8 oz
  • Ground coffee
amazon-logo See on Amazon
Best Espresso Quality UniTerra Nomad Espresso Machine UniTerra Nomad Espresso Machine
  • Manual – pressure
  • 38.8 oz
  • Ground coffee
amazon-logo See on Amazon
Best Camping Espresso Maker Aeropress AeroPress
  • Manual – pressure
  • 6.4 oz
  • Ground coffee
amazon-logo SEE ON AMAZON
The Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker
Best Overall The Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker
  • Manual – pumping
  • 11.8 oz
  • Ground coffee, ESE pods
KFLOW
Most Compact 61CsVGDrI8S._AC_SL1500_-2
  • Manual – pumping
  • 14.2 oz
  • Ground coffee, Nespresso capsules, Dolce Gusto capsules
Conqueco
Best Self-Heating 71tuiM9q+lL._AC_SL1498_-2
  • Auto – rechargeable battery
  • 31.0 oz
  • Nespresso capsules
The Barsetto Tripresso
Keeps Coffee Warmest The Barsetto Tripresso
  • Manual – press
  • 20.4 oz
  • Ground coffee, Capsules
Staresso
Best for Variety 41K5mMhcsiL
  • Manual – press
  • 16.1 oz
  • Ground coffee, Capsules
Flair Signature Espresso Maker
Best for Espresso Geeks 31Yi8Eh-uzL
  • Manual – pressure
  • 112.8 oz
  • Ground coffee
UniTerra Nomad Espresso Machine
Best Espresso Quality UniTerra Nomad Espresso Machine
  • Manual – pressure
  • 38.8 oz
  • Ground coffee
AeroPress
Best Camping Espresso Maker Aeropress
  • Manual – pressure
  • 6.4 oz
  • Ground coffee

How portable do you need it to be?

When it comes to espresso makers, portable can mean a lot of things. So, think about where you plan to use yours. Are you looking to take it on a long hike or prop it on your office desk? Will you carry it regularly or just pack it up for the occasional trip?

Pay attention to things like size, weight, ease of assembly and disassembly. Also, the need for a power supply and/or kettle, and the inclusion of a carrying case when evaluating each machine. Some machines accommodate ESE (Easy Serving Espresso) pods or capsules, which saves you carrying around pre-ground beans or a grinder.

Related: Best Espresso Machines Under $200

How are your espresso pulling skills?

A professional barista might train for years in the art of espresso. Certainly, most of us haven’t invested that kind of time. So, when you’re choosing between the best portable espresso makers in this list, keep ease of use in mind.

If you’re a pro and want a machine that lets you experiment with grind size, coffee quantity, pressure, and extraction time, consider a manual lever machine. If you just want a quick caffeine hit, look for super-fast machines like Jura coffee machines or other automatic espresso machines. Perhaps even some machines that can take Easy Serving Espresso pods or capsules.

Where will you use it?

Not all portable espresso makers are suitable for all situations. For instance, some of these espresso makers require a power supply, and most require a separate means of boiling water. Moreover, some are easily operated by hand, while others require a stable, flat surface.

best portable espresso maker review - the wacaco minipresso

Before you buy, think about where you’ll be brewing. In other words, think about what you can access in terms of power and heat. Just know that there’s a perfect travel espresso maker for you, whether you wish to use it in your car, office, or campfire.

Related: Best Espresso Machines Under $1000

What kind of espresso do you enjoy?

Your favorite espresso beverage should also play a role in your decision. Most portable hand espresso machines don’t have the option to froth milk. If you can’t imagine skipping your morning latte, make sure you seek out this feature.

Some machines only pull single shots, a concession that allows for a more compact design. If this doesn’t sound like enough to get your engine running, make sure to choose a travel espresso maker that offers a double shot.

Related: Best Espresso Machines Under $500

Never forget about taste

Last but not least, don’t forget to consider the quality of the espresso. Ideally, you want a shot that is hot enough, rich in flavor, but not too bitter, and with a thick crema. Experts agree that about 9 bars of pressure is optimal to deliver these results. (1)

A portable espresso machine you can use on a mountainside or at your office is great, but only if you’re also getting delicious espresso.

Each of our reviews contains a quality rating from 1 to 10. Look for the highest rating if taste and crema are priorities for you.

Buyer's Guide for Espresso Maker

The 8 Best Portable Espresso Makers in 2020

Portable espresso makers are getting more popular every day. They are a must-have gadget for every coffee geek. But they also meet everyone’s pocket. (2)

With the growing demand for portable smart kitchen appliances and the expanding working-class population base, the portable espresso machines market is witnessing sufficient traction. The increasing trend of social gatherings and outdoor activities is leveraging the demand for portable espresso machines.

Market Forecast Report

The following eight picks prove that there is a niche for every outdoor espresso lover.

1. The Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker – Best Overall

“Wacaco

Specifications

  • Type: Manual – pumping

  • Size: 14 x 2.8 x 2.44 inches
  • Weight: 11.8 oz
  • Brews With: Ground coffee, ESE pods
  • Drink Quality: 8

The Wacaco Nanopresso tops our list because it has something for everyone. It’s exceptionally compact and light and includes a nice carrying case and a built-in plastic cup. You’ll just need to supply coffee and hot water. As an upgrade to the earlier model, Wacaco Minipresso GR, Nanopresso is well made and durable. Therefore, it’s also an excellent value. As a bonus, its attractive design comes in several fun colors.

Although it adds a bit to upfront cost, purchasing the separate pod adaptor means you can use the Nanopresso with Easy Serving Espresso pods and ground coffee beans. A convenient option for espresso drinkers on the go.

After conducting several tests at home and in the woods, I realized that Nanopresso would now become one of my favorite pieces of camp kitchen gear. The coffee I made with this portable espresso machine was amazing – rich and tasty with nice creamy foam on top.

Tanya Kezevska, Trail Chef and Author

Nanopresso can pull either a double or single shot, in a matter of a few minutes. Thus, its advertised 18 bars of pressure, that you generate by hand pump, is more than enough to create great espresso and rich crema without the need for a power supply. It’s interior is pressurized similar to a double-walled filter, meaning even beginners can achieve premium results.

2. KFLOW – Most Compact

KFLOW

Specifications

  • Type: Manual – pumping

  • Size: 2.8 x 2.8 x 6.3 inches
  • Weight: 14.2 oz
  • Brews with: Ground coffee, Nespresso capsules, Dolce Gusto capsules (separate machines)
  • Drink quality: 7

This is the most compact coffee maker on our list, thanks to the clever way the parts fit together. When packed away for travel it resembles a capsule, but it unpacks to reveal everything you need for your coffee (except a way of heating water). This makes it very portable but does mean it needs assembling and disassembling each time. On the plus side, it’s very easy to wash.

The pump at the top makes it easy to build pressure (a claimed 16 bars), with a handy stand at the bottom to keep things stable. Two cups are included, one to sit under the stand and one to measure hot water, with the tank holding up to 110ml. If you opt for ground coffee, you can fit up to 12g in the holder.

These machines work with ground coffee, Nespresso capsules, or Dolce Gusto capsules, but there’s a catch: you can’t use them all with the same model. You have to choose which type of coffee you’ll be using at the time of purchase.

3. Conqueco – Best Self Heating

CONQUECO

Specifications

  • Type: Auto – rechargeable battery

  • Size: 12.1 x 6.3 x 4.8 inches
  • Weight: 30.4 oz
  • Brews with: Nespresso capsules 
  • Drink quality: 6

Going off the beaten path often means you’re not going to have access to hot water. If you don’t want to carry an extra thermos, a self-heating machine like the Conqueco is the way to go. 

If you start with cold water, the machine will need 8-12 minutes to heat up before it’s ready to go, but you can also use hot water if you have it on hand. Then it’s just a matter of pressing a button and your coffee is automatically pumped. The Conqueco heats to 194F with a pouring temp of 158F, extracting with 15 bars of pressure.

The battery life will last long enough to heat and extract 3 shots. It doesn’t sound like much but should get you through a day in the outdoors. If you plan to brew for a crowd or need more caffeine in your day, you can buy additional battery packs. Alternatively, it’s a great companion to have on a long-distance drive, as the battery can be recharged through the 12V outlet.

This machine uses Nespresso capsules rather than ground coffee, so if you are using it while hiking, you’ll need to carry your used capsules home with you.

4. The Barsetto Tripresso – Keeps Coffee Warmest

Portable Coffee Maker Barsetto Espresso Coffee Machine

Specifications

  • Type: Manual – press

  • Size: 2.8 x 2.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Weight: 20.4 oz
  • Brews With: Ground coffee, Capsules
  • Drink Quality: 8

The Barsetto Tripresso is easy to use. Furthermore, it makes great coffee and is small and light enough to go anywhere. Still, it’s biggest selling feature might actually be its built-in cup. Unlike any other travel espresso maker where a plastic cup is tacked on as an afterthought, the Tripresso brews directly into a functional double-walled glass mug. It keeps your coffee toasty warm and is large enough to accommodate the addition of milk or water.

Finally, the sleek design of the Italian-made Tripresso was inspired by the Tower of Pisa. But don’t worry, it stands up straight. It’s well-manufactured and built to last. The hand-powered pump system operates smoothly and can be used one-handed. Plus, it also comes with an adaptor for use with coffee capsules.

5. Staresso – Best for Variety

Staresso

Specifications

  • Type: Manual – press

  • Size: 2.8 x 2.8 x 9.6 inches
  • Weight: 16.1 oz
  • Brews With: Ground coffee, Capsules
  • Drink Quality: 6

If you can’t bear the thought of missing your morning latte, even when you’re out of town, or on a camping trip, the Staresso Portable Espresso Maker is the machine for you. Firstly, thanks to a handy froth enhancing adaptor, this portable espresso machine is the only one that froths milk, as well as pulls the espresso. Secondly, Staresso also works with capsules, for even greater variety.

The Staresso looks and feels high quality. It even comes with a stylish little glass cup. The same hand pumping system is used for both extracting coffee and foaming milk. Moreover, it’s quick and easy to use, and equally easy to clean up. You just need a means of heating water, and milk if you plan on frothing any.

One critical thing to remember: preheat all the parts of this machine with hot water before using it. Although this is true of every espresso maker, it’s especially true with Staresso, because your coffee will cool as you froth the milk.

Related: Best Cappuccino and Latte Machines

6. Flair Signature Espresso Maker – Best for Espresso Geeks

Flair Signature Espresso Maker

Specifications

  • Type: Manual – pressure

  • Size: 12 x 6 x 10 inches
  • Weight: 112.8 oz
  • Brews With: Ground coffee
  • Drink Quality: 9

The Flair Signature makes great espresso. And, not just great for a portable machine, but great in any context. Therefore, it’s one of the best manual lever espresso machines. It achieves the 9 bars required for a perfect shot, and it can pull either double or single shots.

If you’re into the craft of espresso and love experimenting with grind size, the quantity of grounds, extraction time, and pressure, this is the machine for you. It comes with a pressure gauge to ensure consistent results, and you can even use it for pressure profiling.

The Flair Signature was designed by and for espresso lovers.

The Flair is a bit more expensive than others on the list. Also, as the heaviest, it’s a bit less portable. Think of it as a beautiful countertop machine that could come with you on vacation. Moreover, its well-machined stainless steel and aluminum parts assemble and disassemble easily, plus, it comes with a handy suitcase in which to transport them. You probably won’t be bringing this on your backpacking trip, but it would be a great addition to your office or RV.

7. UniTerra Nomad Espresso Machine – Best Espresso Quality

UniTerra Nomad Espresso Machine

Specifications

  • Type: Manual – pressure

  • Size: 6.7 x 6.7 x 5.9 inches
  • Weight: 38.8 oz
  • Brews With: Ground coffee
  • Drink Quality: 10

Although UniTerra Nomad is the most expensive machine on this list, it makes hands-down the best espresso. So, if the quality is your primary concern, this is your machine. Its espresso is as good or better than some of the best espresso machines in the market.  The Nomad’s built-in pressure gauge provides constant feedback so that you can extract perfectly every time. Moreover, it easily reaches 9 bars, and the included filter basket accommodates up to 17 g of coffee, which is necessary for a good, strong double shot of espresso.

A unique feature of the Nomad is its patented True Crema Valve (TCV). This mechanism, similar to a pressurized filter basket, helps you consistently achieve a beautiful thick crema. In the context of a portable machine, where you might be more inclined to use pre-ground coffee for convenience, this is a smart addition. And if you think that sounds like cheating, don’t worry; it’s removable.

At 1.1 kg, the UniTerra Nomad isn’t exactly something to toss in your purse. But, for a road trip, campsite, office desk, or campus dorm room, it’s an excellent option. At least, for a truly delicious coffee.

8. AeroPress – Best Camping Espresso Maker

AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker with Tote Bag

Specifications

  • Type: Manual – pressure

  • Size: 5.1 x 5.1 x 11 inches
  • Weight: 6.4 oz
  • Brews With: Ground coffee
  • Drink Quality: 4

The AeroPress is a longstanding favorite among travelers. It’s the lightest by far, and its simple plastic construction is nearly indestructible. You can toss this camping coffee machine at the bottom of your backpack and hike all day. You won’t feel weighed down, and it won’t be damaged.

But, notice how I said “coffee machine” and not “espresso machine”. Though AeroPress markets itself as an espresso maker, this isn’t entirely true. Its pressure maxes out around 0.7 bars (3), nowhere near what is needed to achieve a true espresso with a rich crema. What it does make is a very strong shot of coffee, suitable to be diluted with hot water or milk into your favorite beverage. If anything else, that strong cup of coffee is undeniably delicious. Therefore, the AeroPress is highly popular. Have a look at our Aeropress Coffee Maker review for more information.

The Verdict

Our all-around winner is the Wacaco Nanopresso. Indeed, the best portable espresso machine for you depends on your particular needs. But, this little feat of engineering packs the perfect balance of functionality, durability, and high-quality espresso into one neat small package. Plus, all at a price that won’t break the bank. Pick one up today, whether you wish to go to the office or the mountains, and you won’t be disappointed.

Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker

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FAQs

The difference between a portable espresso maker and a portable coffee maker is in the way coffee is made. To be classified as an espresso, water must be forced through ground coffee at 8 to 10 bars, and crema should make up at least 10% of the beverage (4). While not all portable espresso makers will necessarily meet this strict Italian definition, they come pretty close.
Other travel coffee makers have no such requirements and the resulting beverage won’t have a crema. Good examples would be pour-over devices or French presses. The Aeropress, which uses lower pressure, is a bit of a hybrid.

Operating an espresso machine without electricity isn’t new. With the first steam-driven espresso machine patented in 1884 (5), before electricity was commonplace, it’s actually a bit of a throwback.

The two main ways to achieve the high pressure needed for an espresso without electricity are a hand pump or a lever press. In the former, the operator uses a pump to build up enough tension to force water through the grounds. In a lever system, the barista pushes down on a lever to force water through the ground coffee. This takes a bit of muscle but allows optimum control over extraction.

You get good crema by following several rules. So, to make it thick and rich (which is the hallmark of good cream and espresso) you have to include different factors. First, you want to use freshly roasted beans that you’ll grind and tamp. You need to use just the right amount of coffee for that. Then, you want to ensure you have an espresso machine that can produce 9 bars.

ESE pod stands for Easy Serving Espresso Pod. These pods, similar to coffee capsules, were developed by Italian coffee company Illy so that baristas could produce consistently good espresso with less training. Essentially, they take much of the guesswork out of good espresso, though coffee connoisseurs will suggest that they never produce great espresso. They’re a convenient option for travelers as they are easy to toss in a bag and mess-free.

References
  1. Kilbride, D. (2018, June 21). How Does Pressure Affect Espresso Quality? Retrieved from https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2017/06/pressure-espresso-quality/
  2. Portable Espresso Machines Market Forecast, Trend Analysis, & Competition Tracking – Global Review 2019 to 2029. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.factmr.com/report/3876/portable-espresso-machines-market
  3. AeroPress FAQs: Everything you ever wanted to know about it. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aeropress.co.uk/pages/faqs
  4. Espresso Coffee. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.coffeeresearch.org/espresso/definitions.htm
  5. Stamp, J. (2012, June 19). The Long History of the Espresso Machine. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-long-history-of-the-espresso-machine-126012814/

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