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Whether it’s hiking or camping, many of us love spending time in the Great Outdoors. Sadly, you can’t exactly drag your bulky home coffee maker or espresso machine with you to your favorite campsite. And even if you’re staying in a 5-star hotel, you may not want to deal with the extra expense associated with getting your daily caffeine fix. This is where owning the best portable espresso maker comes in handy.
These portable devices are incredibly easy to operate, and many of them are small enough to fit right in your overnight bag or backpack. Espresso is made using pressurized water, so you want a model that generates at least 9 bars of pressure, either manually or automatically, to get a proper Italian espresso flavor with decent crema. Many models can use either ground coffee or pods, which makes them both convenient and versatile.
A portable espresso maker would also be great to take to the office, but if you’re looking for a more traditional machine, consider an office coffee maker. Regardless, if you’re ready to select a portable espresso maker, keep reading.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll love this option for the portability it offers. Its tiny stature makes it easy to take with you. It uses a total immersion brewing system so that you know every cup will be as full-bodied and flavorful as possible.
If you’re looking for a smooth, delicious cup of espresso on the go, this is a great option to make that happen. It won’t brew with bitterness like competing models, so that every beverage will be totally smooth. This is an 8-ounce option that is perfect for traveling. Unfortunately, the compact filter holder doesn’t really have enough storage to hold enough filters for extended trips. This is something to consider before you decide on this model.
However, you can also use it at home if you don’t have a lot of counter space. This model is perfect for tucking away to have quick storage when it’s not in use. It can make 1-3 cups per press and features a mug and a lid. The mug and lid double as a traveling case. That means you can have your cup of espresso, clean up, and quickly pack things away to continue traveling without a hassle.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The error-free design of this option means that very little can go wrong. This is because it uses pre-measured pods to brew instead of regular grounds. It’s a highly convenient option that makes less mess.
If you love your pod-based brewing system at home, this is an excellent option for you. It operates using tiny capsules with the right amount of coffee grounds measured out and tamped down correctly. This removes a lot of the set-up and makes it a more straightforward clean-up process. There is a downside to this, however. Because of this, you won’t be able to use regular coffee grounds with it unless you get a specialized refillable capsule.
Since it has such an easy set-up and clean-up, this is a great option for those working with limited time. It’s a highly efficient option for traveling. It supports manual operation, so all you do is pop in a capsule, add hot water, and then pump the piston a few times. This adds pressure to the housing, so you know flavor extraction is done correctly. Every usage results in a full-bodied, flavorful cup of espresso that you can use to make lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, or just for sipping.
Award: BEST FOR DUAL-BREWING SYSTEM
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll love that you can brew with either hot water or cold water in this model. This is because it can heat water using an internal system. You can quickly charge it right in your car, as well.
If you’re looking for an easy process, this espresso machine will readily provide that. It has a straightforward process from set-up to clean-up. The dual-brewing system means you can use either hot or cold water. This is highly convenient when you’re traveling. Some consumers report that the lid can be rather hard to close once you insert a pod. This minor design flaw might be a dealbreaker for some people.
All you do is press the button and hold it down for two seconds for cold water. This will initiate the heating process for the water. When using hot, you hold down the button for five seconds. It’ll take anywhere from eight to twelve minutes to brew, so it’s a relatively quick method. You’ll enjoy the 15-bar pressure it uses so that you can have genuinely Barista-style coffee beverages. It keeps each cup smooth and deeply rich.
Award: BEST FOR ONE PERSON
WHY WE LIKE IT: This highly compact model is great for one or two people on the go. It uses 8-bar pressure to ensure that every cup is full-bodied and flavorful, and there are no batteries required to operate it.
This compact model is great for those going on hikes, camping out, or just flying out for business trips. It has a simple operation that doesn’t require batteries. Simply set it up and use the hand-operated pump to begin pulling your shot. However, this is not a system fit for groups of people. It can only make up to 80 milliliters of coffee at a time, so it’s suitable for one or two people at most.
You’ll be able to get perfectly brewed espresso with even flavor notes and a rich body no matter where you go. It can easily fit into a suitcase, backpack, or even a purse. The housing material is BPA-free, so there aren’t any toxic materials used in its production. You can expect 8-bar pressure from this system, which allows for an intensely flavorful espresso pull. It can also be easily cleaned just by handwashing.
Award: BEST FOR HEIGHTENED LONGEVITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: This is a great option for those afraid of accidentally breaking their espresso machine. It comes with an external protection system that uses durable EVA material on the outside with soft fabric lining on the inside.
Those who want their espresso machine to last a long time have found their perfect match. This mini model is great for traveling because it’s so compact. It’s also incredibly durable and comes with a protective case. This keeps it safe from scratches while you’re on the go. You’ll want to exercise caution when opening this after it’s done brewing, however. There have been reports that it might spill coffee on you.
The protective S-case is made out of a highly durable EVA plastic material. The interior is lined with soft fabric to help with shock absorption if it falls or you drop it. Since it’s designed for traveling, clean-up is super easy and should only take a few seconds. For deeper cleaning, you’re only looking at a few minutes. This model will produce even shots of espresso with rich flavor notes. It also provides a thick, even layer of crema.
Award: BEST FOR CREATING MILK FOAM
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll love the fact that this option can make milk foam. This takes every beverage up several notches. It also has a noiseless design so that you won’t be disturbing anybody in the early hours.
This is a great option if you need a small espresso machine that doesn’t take up any counter space. It’s less friendly for those going camping but is a perfect match for traveling. Several extra features are included, such as the ability to produce a rich, thick creamy layer. Unfortunately, this design does come with many parts that you must clean. This can take a while and might be a dealbreaker for some people.
The crema provides an authentic topping to your favorite drinks, such as cappuccinos. It’s a tiny model that weighs only 1.1 pounds. This will keep your baggage fees low when going on planes for business trips or vacations. It can hold up to 11 grams of finely ground coffee, which produces around 100 milliliters of espresso. This is more than enough for you to get your day started on the right foot.
A portable espresso maker is exactly what it sounds like — a compact espresso machine used to make a cup of espresso. The name refers to both the brewing method and the beverage itself. Most espresso makers are fairly large machines, but a portable espresso maker is much smaller. Once the coffee grounds are inserted, it creates the pressure needed for espresso through a manual pressure pump, achieved by repeatedly pressing a button. It can also be served as a cold brew or used for iced coffee. To get the finely-ground texture required for espresso, you might need a pour-over coffee grinder.
The biggest difference between a portable espresso maker and an espresso pod coffee maker is how it is powered. The pod coffee machine requires electricity to operate and is quite large, while the portable espresso machine does not need power (although you may find a few models that use batteries) and is small enough in size to fit in an overnight bag or hang from your backpack. Instead, it requires either a camp stove or an open fire.
The brewing process is also different. Making an espresso in a portable maker usually involves only a few steps. You put in the beans, run some hot water into the canister, and create pressure with the pump. The hot water is then forced through the ground beans to produce the espresso beverage. As you might expect, this process can be done anywhere.
Both types of espresso makers are fast and efficient. But they differ significantly in terms of taste. Fresh ground beans forced under pressure will always be much better than what you find in a pod. There is also still a heavy debate whether something like Nespresso can be considered authentic espresso. In most capsules, the amount of coffee is less than what is deemed authentic, while others have double the recommended amount. As you might guess, this greatly affects the flavor. With a portable espresso maker, however, you control the amount of coffee used.
There are various ways to make espresso on the run, and it mostly depends on the maker you have. Manufacturers use slightly different methods for each portable machine, but the main principle remains the same. You’ll also find hand-cranked makers or battery-operated ones.
Generally, the finely ground coffee is inserted into a special receptacle and attached to the maker. Hot water is then poured into the little machine, after which the pressure is created. Once that has been achieved, the water is forced through the coffee to produce the espresso.
Hand-operated espresso machines work by repeatedly pressing down on a button to create pressure, much like how a bicycle pump works. Battery-operated espresso machines take care of the hand-pumping by automatically increasing the pressure. Some models can also heat cold water for you to the required temperature, which is around 190°F.
If you find that your morning espresso habit is hitting your wallet a little too hard, a portable espresso maker is a great solution. And although they tend to last for a long time, changes in technology changes might make replacing your current model an attractive option. Better pumps will require less actioning to achieve the correct pressure, and the internal components might have been upgraded for better quality.
The longevity of your portable espresso maker is mainly dependent on several factors, like the manufacturer, frequency of use, the care that is taken, and the complexity of the machine. With that said, a portable brewer should last around four or five years.
It’s also good to keep in mind that some parts or components will need to be replaced as time goes by. It is, unfortunately, inevitable with any technological device that has moving parts or pieces under constant pressure. Still, it shouldn’t cause you any alarm and generally isn’t an indication of inferior quality.
Hand-operated portable makers do tend to last slightly longer, though. That’s because they rely on the pressure created manually through a pump. Electronic machines have circuitry and wires, which are more susceptible to damage, disconnection, or failure.
It might seem like an uncomplicated purchase, but there are several factors that you need to keep in mind before buying the perfect espresso maker. They are available in a huge variety, and most have different features to others.
If you have arthritis or trouble with your fingers’ strength, a manual pump machine won’t suit your needs. A battery-powered espresso maker will then be best, but also keep in mind that you will need to work with hot water and measure out the ground coffee.
Like most gadgets, they are available in different styles and price points. While the most expensive models aren’t always the best, well-known brands have a reputation for quality and longevity.
A portable espresso maker can include extra features that others don’t have. When they are specifically designed for hiking or camping, they often come with a coffee mug as well. And since the ground coffee needs to be tamped before pressure is added, it should include a tamping tool. Other extra features can include heating the water to the right temperature, automatic tampering, or a carry/storage container when it isn’t being used.
Finely ground coffee beans are the only kind that you should use with any espresso maker. If your favorite blend or bean isn’t available in that grind, you might want to buy a coffee bean grinder as well. There are several portable versions available, but that will add an extra step if you just want a quick shot of caffeine.
For an espresso maker to produce a brew that is the right consistency and with the crema on top, it must be pressurized to at least 9 to 10 bars. If it is any lower than that, but it won’t be a true espresso. Make sure that you get a portable espresso maker that can reach the pressure required.
Espresso makers come in different sizes and with varying features. Consider how much space you have for storage when it is not being used or when packing for a trip. You don’t want to be in a situation where the espresso maker takes up more space than other essential goods do.
A portable espresso maker uses highly pressurized water and finely ground coffee to create only one drink: espresso, and it is usually only one shot at a time. On the other hand, a portable coffee maker is used to create what is commonly known as an Americano. It uses a different grind for the coffee beans, producing filtered coffee when the process is complete. There is no pressure involved, and the ground coffee beans are strained through a paper filter.
That would not be advisable, as filter coffee has a coarser ground and is brewed over a longer time at lower temperatures. Espresso makes use of a fine ground and, through the pressure, allows the near-boiling water to spread through the coffee grounds evenly. Filter coffee also has a different consistency, which is much more runnier than espresso.
Surprisingly, there are currently no TSA restrictions on bringing portable coffee makers onto an airplane as carry-on luggage. If it is an electrical device, though, all cords must be wrapped. But for portable versions, there are no restrictions that would prevent you from bringing it. Similarly, there shouldn’t be any problem with you brewing a quick espresso while thousands of feet in the air. But it is always best to check with a flight attendant first.
Since the portable espresso maker uses a different brewing process than other coffee makers, it doesn’t need filters. The ground coffee beans go into their own compartment, and once the cup of coffee has been made, the used beans are discarded. Filters in other coffee machines are to prevent any residue from seeping into the mug.
No, not all portable espresso makers do that. Some specific models can heat the water inside the maker, and you would need to check if the maker you want can do that. If it doesn’t, you must add hot water at a certain point during the brewing process. That is always a good thing to keep in mind, as you’ll be very disappointed on a hiking trip if you need to boil the water first.
Espresso makers can either use coffee grounds from your favorite brand or coffee pods specially designed for portable espresso makers. Devices like the CONQUECO Portable Espresso Maker and the HiBREW Portable 3-in-1 Espresso Maker can use coffee pods or ground coffee. It also heats the water.