Handpresso Auto Capsule Portable Coffee Maker review: Roadside cafe in your car

Could this be the secret to avoiding a drive-through on your way to work?

The Handpresso in the cupholder of an Audi R8

by Ryan Gilmore |

Coffee is simultaneously very cheap and also incredibly expensive. Buy a bag of it for your home and you'll make 60 coffees for a couple of quid, head to a coffee shop and you can spend that and more for a single cup of java.

It makes sense to brew your coffee at home and bring it with you in a travel flask so there's no need to wait in a queue. But what if you want the freshest coffee possible and weren't afraid to pay for it? What if there was a third way? Welcome then, to the Clintonomics of coffee production, the car-based Handpresso Auto Capsule.

The Handpresso Auto Capsule

The Handpresso plugged into the 12V socket in the boot of an Audi R8
©Photo: Richard Kilpatrick

Designed to fit in a car's cup holder, this portable espresso machine can heat water and pressurise it to make a proper espresso. Two versions are available, one for Senseo pads and the other for standard coffee pods. We're testing the pod variant to see if it's worth the money.

The review

The Handpresso pouring coffee into a cup
©Photo: Richard Kilpatrick/Parkers

It's immediately clear that the Handpresso is excellently made, there's a reassuring weight to it and all the materials feel top-grade. It features a simple interface of one button, one switch and a small screen which should aid in ease of use. You also get a small plastic espresso cup to enjoy your coffee in too, a nice little touch.

Moving away from the excellent design and build quality, the Handpresso begins to let its shortcomings show. Filling it with water is a difficult affair because there's no way to know if you have enough water until you plug the machine in. On both attempts, I either had to add more water or remove some for the machine to work. After that, all you need to do is add the coffee pod.

Boiling the water is a simple enough job, it takes roughly two and a half minutes and the screen shows you a handy percentage guide as it boils. Pouring it however is not so simple. You need to turn it upside down and press the switch for it to pressurise, scary the first time you do it, especially if your legs are in the splash zone.

You then need to place a vessel underneath the machine to catch the coffee. The machine will pressurise the water and begin pouring it which means you'll be needing to hold the machine the entire time you pour it.

The resulting coffee wasn't bad to be fair, it had a nice foam to it, a creamy texture and was the perfect temperature. Obviously, the taste will depend on what pods you use but I rather enjoyed my coffee. Still, it was a right faff to get a single espresso.


The espresso made by the Handpresso
©Photo: Richard Kilpatrick/Parkers

There's no denying that the coffee it made was good, with a nice texture and heat but the fact remains that this device is a real one-trick pony. It can only make espressos, is expensive to buy, only accepts coffee pods and is littered with irritating design quirks.

For roughly the same price you could have a very good home espresso machine, like this De'Longhi unit that accepts ground coffee and froth milk for making cappuccinos, macchiatos and lattes. Buy that and a decent flask and you'll be set for your coffee needs.


How we tested it

The coffee and Handpresso on the rear of an Audi R8
©Photo: Richard Kilpatrick/Parkers

As a regular coffee drinker, I was excited to try this espresso machine and compare it to other espressos I've had. We tested the coffee machine by plugging it into the 12V socket of an Audi R8 V10 Spyder using Tesco Finest Ristretto Espresso Capsules to provide the coffee.


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