- Portable espresso maker buying guide: Don’t make this decision under pressure
- Best Travel Espresso Makers of 2021 [Top 9 Reviews]
- 1. Wacaco Nanopresso - Our Top Pick
- 2. Flair Espresso Maker - Quality Espresso
- 3. Wacaco Minipresso - Best Value
- 4. Wacaco Pipamoka - Best with Travel Mug
- 5. STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine - Most Compact & Best for Pods
- 6. Cafflano Kompresso - Lightest & Most Eco-Friendly
- 7. UniTerra Nomad Espresso Machine - Most Precise
- 8. AeroPress - Best for Drip
- 9. Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker - Most Iconic
An espresso on your RV home? Absolutely. On your commute? Why not. During a hike in the middle of nowhere? That can certainly be arranged!
Thanks to the best portable espresso makers, you’re no longer tied to bulky machines and a source of power.
Once you find the right travel espresso maker for your needs and habits, you can enjoy strong shots of coffee on the go, too.
Let’s find out!
OUR TOP 3 PICKS
- Coffee shop-style quality
- Comes with a case
- Ideal for RV homes or holidays
- Affordable but reliable
- Includes a drinking cup
- Popular solution among hikers
Portable espresso maker buying guide: Don’t make this decision under pressure
There are several different types of travel espresso makers, so you should first focus on figuring out which one matches your expectations.
How portable do you actually need your travel espresso maker to be?
None of the travel espresso makers that we’ve included require batteries or electricity, so you don’t have to worry about plugging them in. This feature alone makes them way more portable than traditional espresso machines.
However, think of where you’re planning on brewing your espresso.
If it’s during hikes or when camping, then you need a travel espresso maker that can fit in your backpack and is as light as possible: we don’t recommend going above 18 oz. This is also a handy option for work, unless you have plenty of room on your desk and can consider leaving it there.
If, on the contrary, you’ll take it on holiday with you but are thinking of hotels or your RV home, then you can easily look at bigger and more professional models that weigh a bit more.
Type of espresso brewing: grounds or capsules?
Traditionally, espresso is made with fine grounds. This is also the most eco-friendly choice and, if you pack a hand coffee grinder too, it’ll give you full control over extraction. Luckily, all the travel espresso makers that we’ve included in this list let you brew with traditional grounds.
However, if you can’t get enough of your Nespresso machine and were hoping to replicate the same experience, we’ve got you. We’ve included a couple of portable espresso makers that are either compatible with Nespresso capsules or can be paired with a separate adapter.
Only espresso or filter coffee, too?
If you’re after the purest, most impeccable espresso, then you should stick to the best travel espresso makers that focus on just that, especially since pressure is such a key component when it comes to this special type of extraction.
If, on the contrary, you mainly like espresso for the stronger caffeine hit but could do with some drip coffee on the go too, here’s a good compromise: choose a portable coffee maker that gives you both.
In most cases, it won’t be technically classified as espresso (mainly because of the pressure problem) but it’ll get pretty close to it, and these coffee makers will offer you more flexibility.
Don’t forget about the water
Sure, no electricity is involved, but don’t forget that, in order to brew espresso, you don’t only need grounds: you must add hot water, too!
That’s why, no matter what portable espresso maker you opt for, you must also find a solution for your water. The easiest options are to either boil it at home or on your RV and keep it in one of the best thermoses during a hike or to take a small camping stove with you.
Best Travel Espresso Makers of 2021 [Top 9 Reviews]
From timeless models to new inventions, there’s such a wide array of portable espresso makers currently on the market that we thought we’d start with a little overview:
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Flair Espresso Maker
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Bialetti Moka Express
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Already spotted the perfect espresso sidekick for you? Let’s tell you more about it.
1. Wacaco Nanopresso - Our Top Pick
Size: 3.35 x 3.35 x 7.48 in
Weight: 11.85 oz
Best for: espresso on a camping trip
The travel espresso maker par excellence, the Wacaco Nanopresso is the improved version of an already fantastic product, the Minipresso.
All you need to do is add and tamp the grounds, pour hot water, flip it, and start pumping.
This model has especially reached new levels when it comes to pressure (1):
“When making espresso, you usually want nine bars of pressure, or nine times the weight of the pressure at sea level.” Perfect Daily Grind
With the Wacaco Nanopresso, you can pump up to 18 bars… and with 15% less force than previous models!
Plus, it’s light, durable, easy to clean, and includes a drinking cup.
PRO TIP: Should you wish to brew a bit more espresso in one go, you can always purchase the separate Wacaco Nanopresso Barista Kit or, to use your Nespresso capsules, the Wacaco Nanopresso NS Adapter.
Bottom line: The AeroPress of the espresso world and a favorite among coffee nomads.
2. Flair Espresso Maker - Quality Espresso
Size: 12 x 6 x 10 in (with case: 12.5 x 9 x 3.25 in)
Weight: 80 oz
Best for: those who still put quality before portability
If you won’t settle for anything less than an espresso that tastes just like what a barista would brew, the Flair Espresso Maker won’t disappoint you.
It’s inspired by traditional lever machines, except that it’s completely manual.
This superior quality obviously comes at a higher price compared to most portable espresso makers, but it’s still cheaper than investing in a traditional machine.
As for portability, it’s also bigger and much heavier than most travel models, but it includes a practical case that makes it easier to pack in your car or RV home.
Plus, keep in mind that this is mainly because it’s made with high-quality and durable materials like aluminum and stainless steel rather than plastic.
The Flair is currently available in black, chrome, black and red, or white.
Bottom line: The quality of a traditional espresso machine… for a fraction of the size.
3. Wacaco Minipresso - Best Value
Size: 6.89 x 2.75 x 2.36 in
Weight: 12.8 oz
Best for: an affordable but satisfying experience
This is the older version of the Nanopresso, but it’s still an all-time favorite among lovers of espresso that are also frequent travelers or hikers.
As you can read in our Wacaco Minipresso review, it usually reaches 8 bars of pressure, so just below the recommended amount. Still, keep in mind that it’s also a bit cheaper and that its espresso does taste delicious, usually topped with a layer of crema.
Just like the Nanopresso, the Wacaco Minipresso includes a drinking cup and, while being slightly bigger, you won’t even feel it in your backpack.
Bottom line: One of the most affordable but reliable travel espresso makers.
4. Wacaco Pipamoka - Best with Travel Mug
Size: 3.15 x 3.15 x 7.87 in
Weight: 15 oz
Best for: drinking on the go
All the best travel espresso makers allow you to brew on the go, but how about drinking the actual coffee during the rest of your hike or commute without spilling it?
We couldn’t help including another Wacaco gem since the Pipamoka has solved this problem.
This portable coffee maker doesn’t actually focus on espresso as it was designed for drip, but you can certainly brew espresso-style coffee with it, too.
Because it relies on vacuum pressure, all you need to do is add the water and filter basket, twist the top ring to create enough pressure, and wait for the water chamber to rise in less than 2 minutes.
You don’t even have to rush to drink it as this coffee maker/travel mug will keep it hot for 3-4 hours.
Bottom line: Not the purest espresso, but a practical solution to enjoy both filter and stronger shots on the go without making a mess.
5. STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine - Most Compact & Best for Pods
Size: 2.75 x 2.75 x 9.64 in
Weight: 14.08 oz
Best for: a quick capsule espresso
This award-winning espresso maker is a highly practical choice (2):
“With its very compact and fresh look, Staresso convinces just as much as with great functionality in a small space.” Red Dot Design Award
What we love the most about it is that you can use it with both grounds and Nespresso pods without investing in a separate adapter nor making any additional effort.
In fact, thanks to the Staresso’s newly patented pumping system, you can reach up to 20 bars without anywhere near as much elbow grease as you would expect.
Bottom line: The most compact travel espresso maker currently on the market and a handy option for those who can’t decide between grounds and capsules.
6. Cafflano Kompresso - Lightest & Most Eco-Friendly
Size: 7.3 x 3.1 x 4.1 in
Weight: 8 oz
Best for: coffee nomads with an eye for sustainability
Unlike most models that rely on pneumatic air compression, the Cafflano Kompresso has introduced a hydraulic water compression system, making it a breeze to reach over 9 bars consistently.
We also appreciate the fact that, instead of traditional plastic, they opted for an eco-friendlier material: Bioplastic Ecozen. Nice one, Cafflano!
Bottom line: An interesting alternative to air pressure, and so light that you’ll barely notice it.
7. UniTerra Nomad Espresso Machine - Most Precise
Size: 6.69 x 6.69 x 5.91 in
Weight: 41.6 oz
Best for: the perfect extraction
Another Kickstarter creation, the UniTerra Nomad is more than a basic travel espresso maker: it’s just like having a portable manual lever espresso machine.
Obviously, the price is also closer to one of those rather than cheaper travel models, and the Nomad is considerably heavier too, so we only recommend it for RV homes, holidays, or your office.
Featuring a high-quality machined metal tamper, it relies on the seesaw motion of its lever to operate two piston water pumps, building up around 8-10 bars of pressure within a few strokes. You can also keep track of it through the interactive pressure control with live monitoring.
The result? A perfect espresso topped with crema and the satisfying feeling of being fully in control of extraction.
You can currently find the Nomad in green, red, or white.
Bottom line: An investment that will reward you with impeccable espresso.
8. AeroPress - Best for Drip
Size: 5.12 x 5.12 x 11.02 in
Weight: 16 oz
Best for: those who also want to brew drip coffee on the go
The AeroPress is a cult among coffee nomads as it allows you to brew between one to three cups of drip coffee in around a minute wherever you are.
However, as well as being one of the best travel coffee makers, did you know that it’s also one of the best methods to make espresso without an espresso machine?
Sure, it won’t be the perfect shot since the AeroPress doesn’t focus on pressure, but it’s good enough if what you’re after is just some stronger, espresso-style coffee.
The AeroPress is perfect when hiking or camping as it’s extremely lightweight. Keep in mind that, unlike all the other travel espresso makers that we’ve included, it needs small paper filters, too.
Bottom line: A practical solution for drip coffee and espresso-style brews.
9. Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker - Most Iconic
Size: 5.51 x 3.94 x 6.69 in
Weight: 17.6 oz
Best for: bringing some tradition to your camping trip
This portable espresso maker has the seal of approval of the country of birth of espresso.
While it can’t reach the coveted 9 bars of pressure, it makes much stronger coffee than traditional drip.
To brew with a moka pot on the go, you’ll need a heat source for the actual coffee rather than just the water, but, as long as you have a small portable hob or even a campfire, you’re good to go.
Bottom line: Best solution for some espresso-style coffee to be enjoyed both at home and on the go.
1. How do you make espresso when camping?
To make espresso when camping, you need fine grounds, one of the best portable espresso makers (which don’t require electricity), and some hot water.
You can either obtain it through a portable hob or take it with you in a good thermos.
Alternatively, you can always use a moka pot.
2. How do you use a portable espresso maker?
The way you use a portable espresso maker really depends on what model you opt for. However, they usually involve adding fine grounds, hot water, and pumping pressure into a brewing chamber to reach around 9 bars.
Some portable espresso makers like the Minipresso or Nanopresso include a drinking cup, whereas some others will require you to bring it separately, such as with the Flair or Aeropress.
3. What is the difference between Nanopresso and Minipresso?
The difference between the Nanopresso and Minipresso is that, while they’re both made by Wacaco, the former is an improved version of the other model. In fact, the Nanopresso can reach double the amount of pressure and it’s a bit smaller and lighter, too.
The best portable espresso makers have found different solutions to let you drink strong coffee outdoors. Read our reviews to find the right one for you!
- Kilbride, D. (2017, June 8). How Does Pressure Affect Espresso Quality?. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/06/how-does-pressure-affect-espresso-quality/
- (n.d.). Staresso. Retrieved from https://www.red-dot.org/project/staresso-33600
- (n.d.). Awards. Retrieved from https://cafflano.com/product/brand05.html?cate_no=68
- (n. d.). Cafflano® Kompresso, a Portable Authentic Espresso Maker. Retrieved from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cafflano/cafflano-kompresso-a-portable-authentic-espresso-m
- (n.d.). The Legendary Moka Express. Retrieved from https://www.bialetti.co.nz/pages/the-famous-moka