The best espresso machines for cars

Don't let a traffic jam delay your caffeine fix.

Best espresso machines for cars

by Chris Williams |

We've become obsessed with caffeine, and there's no shame in it. We'll happily throw hundreds, even thousands of pounds at a fancy coffee machine to adorn our kitchen benchtops. Each morning they whirr and tick and fart and produce magical potions of wakeup juice.

Portable espresso makers have evolved from a novel idea into a totally useable, albeit expensive, reality. A good portable espresso maker is going to set you back at least £50, and there are a number of designs available. Some are tiny and hand-powered, and some plug into a cigarette lighter. Some use ground coffee, some use pods. Nevertheless, what they all have in common is an ability to make a remarkably rich coffee whenever and wherever.

It goes without saying but we'll say it anyway: don't use these coffee makers while driving!

Non-powered espresso machines

The general pros and cons of non-powered machines are as follows: they are cheaper than the powered machines and smaller. However, you will obviously need to carry a flask of hot water with you, and you will need to exert a little energy by pumping or pressing the coffee. All the coffee makers below are from established brands.

Wacaco Nanopresso

Most compact
Wacaco Nanopresso
Amazon

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The non-powered list is dominated by Wacaco, and this is its best unit. It weighs a mere 336g and is just 15.6cm long. Itu2019s ideal for espresso lovers, hence the name, and works by very simple means. You add 10g of finely ground coffee to the filter basket and add hot water into the tank. You then start pumping with the piston. After several pumps, the pressure will be high enough (18 bars) and fresh coffee will begin to dribble out. The coffee should be fully extracted after 20 to 30 pumps. Makes one 80ml cup.

Pros

Simple

Well-made

Comes in a range of colours

Cons

Requires additional accessories for using pods or enlarging the volume.

Makes one coffee at a time

Staresso Coffee Maker

Ground coffee and pod compatible
Staresso Coffee Maker
Amazon

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In a similarly simple way, the Staresso coffee maker works by adding coffee to the basket and hot water into the top chamber and pumping by hand to build the pressure. One of the big advantages the Staresso has over the Wacaco is that it can use either ground coffee or Nespresso pods.

Pros

Price

Takes ground coffee or pods

Cons

Makes one 80ml cup at a time

Wacaco Pipamoka

Large volume brew
Wacaco Pipamoka
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We like Wacacou2019s Pipamoka design, even if it possesses a bizarre name. While it only takes ground coffee, it makes a much larger volume of coffee - up to 236ml. It works in a slightly different way to the Nanopresso. You add ground coffee to the basket-like normal, but you add it to the chamber full of hot water you poured in. The basket of coffee sinks to the bottom of the chamber, and you pop the lid back on. You then twist the orange grip clockwise, which draws the water through the ground coffee. The coffee that is brewed is then sitting in a stainless vacuum insulated mug which will keep it hot for three to four hours.

Pros

Makes larger volume

Brilliant brewing process

Stays hot for hours

More attractive price

Cons

Does not use pods

Wacaco Minipresso

For small espressos
Wacaco Minipresso
Amazon

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This is effectively the predecessor to the Nanopresso but is still very good for those who want an espresso. It works in exactly the same way, too, albeit with a smaller 50ml volume. You can buy a version for ground coffee, shown here, or a version compatible with pods.

Pros

Versions for ground coffee or pods

Simple process

Cons

Produces small coffee volume

Powered espresso machines

The powered ones are a bit bigger and more expensive, but they do all the work for you.

Handpresso Handcoffee Auto

Handpresso Handcoffee Auto
Amazon

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Handpresso is a French company and the Handcoffee Auto is its functional, portable coffee maker for the car. It plugs into a 12V cigarette lighter and will produce a short 80ml or long 110ml coffee within a few minutes. Simply add cold water and a Senseo coffee pod.

Pros

Does all the work

Great design

Cons

Uses Senseo pods only

Conqueco Portable Coffee Maker

Conqueco Portable Coffee Maker
Amazon

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Conqueco is a company that specialises in heated jackets. Its coffee maker is quite nifty, too. It works in effectively the same way as the Handpresso unit but uses Nespresso or Lu2019Or coffee pods.

Pros

Uses popular Nespresso pods

Comes with cigarette lighter plug and three pin plug

Cons

Only makes 50ml of coffee at a time

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