Are you thinking about brewing your own espresso at home, but you don’t have the budget or the counter top space for a full espresso machine? The good news is that a manual espresso maker is a very compact option that is often much more affordable compared to an automatic espresso maker. And, the best part is that they do not require electricity to operate, so you can easily use them anywhere, making them an ideal choice for anybody who wants to make sure that they have access to making their favorite coffee when traveling, on a camping trip, or when staying with friends.
Manual Vs Automatic Espresso Machines
With full-size automatic espresso machines becoming more and more popular, you may be glad to hear that the main difference between an automatic and a manual espresso maker is simply how the pressure is generated. When using a manual espresso machine, the barista is responsible for generating the correct brewing pressure by pulling a lever. On the other hand, a boiler generates the pressure for an automatic espresso machine. You simply press a button and the machine will begin generating the pressure.
There are various manual espresso machine options available in a range of designs and sizes. Many full-sized machines will still require electricity in order to heat the water, although they do tend to consume less power compared to a similar automatic version. Commercial manual machines will also include a plumb into the waterline, so you do not have to fill them up for each brew.
You can also find portable manual espresso machines, with a smaller reservoir and no heating element, containing just the pump. The user will grind and dose the coffee before pouring pre-heated water into the reservoir. Pressure is generated by pushing a button or lever which will force the water through the grinds and into your cup.
Pros of Manual Espresso Machines
While a manual espresso machine might take a little bit more hard work to use compared to an automatic option, there are many advantages of this kind of machine to consider.
They’re Compact and Portable
Although you can get some full-size manual espresso machines, many are portable and compact, weighing less than one pound and taking up only a small amount of space. This makes them ideal for traveling with, camping, or simply brewing espresso in a small kitchen, dorm room or RV.
Use Them Anywhere
Since a manual espresso machine without a heating element will not require electricity to operate, you can use them anywhere you like. All you will need is the ability to heat the water whether you do this on a stove, in a kettle, a microwave, or even over a campfire.
They are More Affordable
A fully automatic espresso machine can be very expensive for your home, costing at least a few hundred dollars for a good one. On the other hand, manual and portable espresso machines are much cheaper to come by, with many models costing less than a hundred dollars.
They are Low Maintenance
Compared to an automatic espresso maker which will have a lot of moving parts and components that require regular maintenance such as sticking to a descaling routine and backflushing the lines, manual machines tend to be easier to take care of. They have fewer components and can often be taken apart easily to clean.
You Have More Control
A manual espresso maker puts the barista firmly in control. Not only do you grind the pressure, but you are also responsible for heating and dosing the water, grinding the coffee beans, and tamping the shot. If you prefer to have full control over making your brew or want to experiment more, a manual espresso maker will make this possible.
So, what are some of the best manual espresso machine options to consider? Check out some of the best manual coffee machine reviews.
Wacaco Minpresso GR
The Wacaco Minpresso GR is a portable machine that allows you to enjoy your favorite espresso drink wherever you are. It comes with a pod design that integrates the included cup as a cover which can easily be used for transporting the machine. It is completely self-contained and very lightweight, making it the perfect option for traveling, camping, and many other uses. And, it’s made from durable materials so there’s no need for you to worry about it breaking when packed in your bag.
It boasts an innovative design that uses a semi-automatic piston which produces up to eight bars of pressure when brewing your coffee. While it’s not quite up to the same standard as a professional automatic machine, you can still expect it to produce a decent amount of crema and espresso that tastes full-bodied and even with a silky texture.
AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker
If you’ve been researching manual espresso machines then you might have come across information about the AeroPress vs Minipresso. The fact is that both are excellent machines, so the one you choose will be based on your personal preferences. One of the main things that makes the AeroPress stand out is that you can also use it to brew drip coffee along with espresso. It comes with everything that you need including a filters starter pack and is designed to brew the coffee directly into your favorite mug. It’s versatile and easy to maintain, and when it comes to brewing espresso, you can rely on it to produce shots that have just the right amount of flavor and strength. On the downside, however, the AeroPress won’t produce as much crema as you will get with the Minipresso.
Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker
The AeroPresso vs Nanopresso is another hard choice to make. If you only want to brew espresso, the Nanopresso is a decent choice; it is basically an upgraded version of the popular Minipresso, with a more efficient pump system included that allows it to generate the same eighteen bars of pressure that you would expect from a commercial automatic espresso machine. If you want coffee with a high-quality flavor extraction and a good amount of crema wherever you are, this may be a better option for you.
However, unlike the AeroPress which is an ideal option for beginners, the Nanopresso does require some brewing knowledge, since you will need to heat the water, grind the coffee beans, and tamp the grounds to make your perfect brew.
Moocoo Manual Espresso Maker
This manual espresso maker is an ideal choice for anybody who wants to make sure that they can get their perfect morning cup of coffee while camping. It combines a sturdy build with a lightweight design, making it easy to carry around with you while being super-resistant to damage and cracks. It can easily be used anywhere that you have a flat surface to set it down on and some hot water for your coffee. It will take up less space in your backpack than a regular Thermos, at less than one foot tall, and you’ll barely even notice that it is there since it weighs just over a pound.
When it comes to espresso quality, this is also a great option, reaching an impressive twenty bars of pressure, resulting in extraction that is full-flavored and even with a creamy and thick crema on top. And, if you’re in a rush or grinding fresh coffee isn’t an option, you can also use this machine to easily brew your coffee from Nespresso capsules.
Staresso Portable Espresso Machine
When it comes to choosing the right brand, Wacaco vs Staresso will probably come up, since these are two of the most popular brands out there for manual espresso makers. While the Wacaco options are ideal for traveling with or other portable uses, the Staresso Portable Espresso Machine comes with a stunning design that makes it the perfect choice for home kitchens. Along with this, it comes with a glass serving cup that can be prone to breaking when moving around, so it’s not recommended for traveling or camping. It’s also a little bigger than the Wacaco options, meaning that it may not be as easy to take traveling with you, although it is still very portable. It offers up to twenty bars of pressure, resulting in espresso shots that are flavorful and rich.
Fortune Candy Portable Coffee Maker
If you want a budget-friendly option, the Fortune Candy Portable Coffee Maker is one of the most affordable manual espresso machines on the market today. It has a compact tube design that is comparable with the more expensive models, and is just as easy to use. One useful feature of this machine is that, along with using fresh coffee grinds, you can also use it to brew coffee from Nespresso pods, making it the perfect choice for traveling with hassle-free. However, on the downside, it is not as durable as some other options, and is more prone to damage from trips and falls.
If you want to make perfect espresso at home, you do not have to invest in a costly automatic espresso machine, since the cheaper and more portable manual espresso maker options can produce coffee that is just as good.