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.
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.
Comes in a range of colours
Requires additional accessories for using pods or enlarging the volume.
Makes one coffee at a time
Staresso Coffee Maker
Ground coffee and pod compatible
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.
Takes ground coffee or pods
Makes one 80ml cup at a time
Large volume brew
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.
Makes larger volume
Brilliant brewing process
Stays hot for hours
More attractive price
Does not use pods
For small espressos
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.
Versions for ground coffee or pods
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 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.
Does all the work
Uses Senseo pods only
Conqueco Portable Coffee Maker
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.
Uses popular Nespresso pods
Comes with cigarette lighter plug and three pin plug
Only makes 50ml of coffee at a time