On test: coffee on the move from the Wacaco Minipresso
A new portable, manual espresso maker promises a caffeine fix on the move… even up a mountain, as long as you have a camping stove or a flask of hot water in your rucksack too.
This neat gadget isn’t the first of its kind. Price-wise (and style-wise) it sits midway between the Aerobie AeroPress and the Handpresso.
The AeroPress is a large plastic plunger that makes a great cup of coffee with a bit of manual pressure. It’s not very stylish but the results are so good that many hipster coffee shops have AeroPress coffee on the menu.
The pricier Handpresso oozes style as well as a great, strong espresso. It looks like a small shock pump for a bike’s suspension. You create the necessary pressure by pumping; it even has a pressure gauge.
The Minipresso also relies on you manually creating pressure. You unscrew a button on the side and then repeatedly pump it until 8 bars of pressure forces the hot water through the coffee.
The industrial design is reminiscent of a Thermos flask or even a matryoshka. It all packs away neatly into a package the size of a slim travel mug. It’s solidly built in metal and matt black plastic.
The top pops off and doubles as a cup. Then you unscrew the dome under it to get to the filter basket, where the ground coffee goes. The water reservoir at the bottom unscrews too, and inside you’ll find a small scoop for measuring and tamping the coffee. The design is elegant.
Pretty obviously you load the coffee first: placing the filter basket over a scoop of finely ground coffee and then inverting. The makers suggest you only tamp it down gently. Then with that loaded into the Minipresso you fill the reservoir with steaming hot water and screw it on. This didn’t work perfectly for us at first though: it’s such a tight fit we just pushed it on and it seemed OK, but when we turned the Minipresso over some hot water spilled out. Only then did we realise it screwed on.
Pump a cuppa
Once coffee and water are in place, you simply pump the button on the side. The button conveniently stows away in the body when not in use. To pop it out, you just turn it slightly.
The instructions suggest six pumps is enough to get the water to the coffee and then you keep pumping till you’re done. We found that it took 12 to hit the coffee and then another dozen or so to make the espresso.
And you can feel the difference. Those first dozen pumps are a very easy push of the thumb because you’re only pushing air through the coffee. But the rest are harder work suited to using both thumbs at once or the heel of a hand. And as a result, you need to pump slowly otherwise it can splatter a few drops of coffee in the process. It’s easy to tell when you’re done: you keep pumping but no more coffee comes out.
The cup that comes with the Minipresso is a good size and pleasant to drink from. There’s even a textured rubber grip around the middle to ensure it won’t slip from your hand. But we also tested the machine with a glass cup so we could see, as well as taste, the results.
And the results impressed. A short, strong and flavoursome espresso with a good crema. The temperature was drinkable straight away. In fact, we felt it better drunk a little hotter so it’s worth filling the water reservoir with hot water first to warm it up, then discard the water and fill the reservoir with a second lot of water, this time destined for your coffee.
Cleaning up was very simple. The coffee grounds stay neatly in the filter basket till you tip it out. And the machine packs away neatly ready for its next use.
In all, it’s a more elegant solution than both the AeroPress and the Handpresso, thanks to its neat design and built-in cup. It really is a full espresso-on-the-move machine. All you need add is the coffee and hot water.
Accessories-wise, you can buy a £25 travel case that we didn’t feel was necessary because the Minipresso build quality is so sturdy. The £25 larger tank is of more interest because you can swap it in to make 100ml double espressos. But most interesting of all is the new model about to hit the UK…
Coming soon, there’s a £60 version of the Minipresso which uses Nespresso capsules instead of loose ground coffee. This should prove handy for minimising mess on the move. We will add a review of it here just as soon as we can get our hands on a sample.
Affordable, looks a bit plasticky but makes superb single and double espressos. Syringe-style design: you push a plunger to pressurise. £30 aeropress.co.uk
This makes tiny, strong, delicious espressos using a design reminiscent of a bike pump. €99 handpresso.com
This espresso maker for the home looks stunning and makes a good shot of coffee with its two big levers applying manual pressure. £149 rokkitchentools.com