Those of us who enjoy good quality, strong coffee are often short-changed when it comes to being away in the outdoors. At home we enjoy good, strong espresso topped with a lovely crema, but how can you have this same coffee experience when out and about ?
There are now several portable espresso machines on the market, which operate manually, and for the last couple of months I’ve been trying out the Wacaco Minipresso. It’s a solidly-built, well designed piece of kit made of plastic that weighs in at 385 grams.
It has six parts including a small cup, metal filter, water tank and a small measuring scoop that doubles as a tamper. At first glance it may seem complicated but really it’s straightforward to use. It’s best to run boiling water through it first of all to warm things up before then refilling the tank with boiling water. Then, add ground coffee to the filter basket, tamp it down then screw on the lid. The handle pops out from the side with a quarter turn. You simply pump the handle about six times until the coffee begins to flow and after another twenty or so pumps the tank runs empty and you have a great coffee ready to drink.
I’ve been really impressed with the quality of the coffee. It really is as good as you would expect from a high street coffee shop – but you appreciate it all the more when you can enjoy a ‘luxury’ experience in the great outdoors.
The Minipresso makes a 70ml espresso in just a few minutes, pressurising the water to 8 bar, and is easy to clean. Two versions are available (both priced at $59 or £38.50), the version I have that uses ground coffee and one that uses capsules. I ordered mine directly from China, which took around 10-14 days to arrive, although I did see it in Tiso’s in Glasgow last week for £48.
So if you’re in the market for a portable espresso machine, what else is available ? The main competition comes from the Handpresso, almost twice the price at EUR99 (£71) and a little heavier at 480 grams. Its main advantage, however, is that it pressurises the water to 16 bar. Also worth considering is the Aeropress, currently available for £22. This is marginally heavier at 408 grams and a bit bulkier, but makes a longer coffee. I haven’t had the opportunity to compare the quality of the coffee from either of these two so cannot offer any comment.
AT 385 grams I think the Minipresso is just a little on the heavy side for backpacking (unless you really enjoy your coffee) but is just the business for car camping. I usually take an insulated mug with a built-in plunger/filter to get my coffee fix when out in the hills – which makes a full mug of fresh coffee of course – and so will likely keep the Minipresso for use when out in my campervan. It’s a great alternative to my usual choices of a cafetiere or cup from my Bialetta Moka when all I want is a single, strong shot of espresso.
Ease of use 8
Features and design 9
Build quality 8
Value for money 8
Makes a great espresso, well designed, feels ‘substantial’ and robust’, few moving parts, easy to use and clean, an affordable price for coffee lovers.
A little heavy for walking/backpacking but great for car camping.
Perfect for coffee-loving car campers and campervanners who need a coffee to get them moving in the morning !