The portable espresso machine I always pack for quality coffee on the go
There is something cathartic about making my morning coffee. The smell of fresh beans. the establishment of my cup, my spoon and my pouring machine. The purring of my manual coffee grinder – which, yes, I count as a workout – and the almost meditative routine of boiling, pouring, grinding and stirring that leads to that bitter first sip of the day.
It’s a ritual that I often miss when I’m on the road. At home, these 10 minutes seem just as essential to the success of my day ahead as a morning shower or stretching. But until now, skipping my coffee-making ritual on a trip has never ruined my morning enough to warrant carrying a full coffee kit in my carry-on.
This changed when I tried the Nanopresso portable espresso machine. This coffee machine is only slightly larger than a can of Coke and weighs about the same weight, making it compact and light enough to throw in a small suitcase or gym bag. It consists of three parts, which all screw together in what looks like an oversized Tic Tac: a water tank, the pumping mechanism, and the extraction point. The water tank is covered with a screw-on lid which doubles as a cup. Inside you can store the teaspoon (which doubles as a tamper) and a small brush for cleaning after use. And even though it’s made entirely of plastic, it’s very sturdy and easy to clean. The only thing missing is space to store the (pre-ground) coffee beans, so you’ll need to add a small container to your packing list or opt for a coffee pod adapter.
I would have been lost without the step by step instructions in the attached booklet, but once I got the hang of it it was easy to use. While testing it at home due to travel restrictions, I first ground my coffee beans very finely and filled the spoon (I looked at the amount, although the manual suggests eight grams) . I then placed the spoon just above the filter basket, spilled the ground coffee in it, and tampered with it lightly. I screwed the extraction point onto the pump and filled the water tank with boiling water. Once everything was in place I unlocked the plunger and started pumping.
Using both hands, it took about 10 pushups to build up enough pressure. Then another 15 to draw the espresso. I needed a bit of strength – using my manual coffee grinder in comparison felt like a warm up – but it was well worth the time and effort. For such a simple machine, I was amazed by the quality of the coffee: not too bitter, with a nice frothy cream on top.
Out of curiosity, I took it to one of my favorite cafes in Bangkok (where I live) to ask the cafe geeks behind the bar to give it a ride. How does it compare to espressos from a $ 9,000 countertop machine? “Coffee [from the Nanopresso] is not as viscous, “said Steven Lim, head barista at Luka Cafe.” It brings out a little more acidity and a little less depth, but the taste is clean – it reminds me a bit of the Aeropress. Compared to a real machine, it’s quite impressive. “
I would have liked to have had this portable espresso machine when I spent three weeks at an Airbnb in Udaipur a few years ago. Or on that long weekend of camping in a national park just north of Bangkok, where my only dose of caffeine was a sachet of instant saccharin coffee. It’s a lifeline for outdoor adventures, but I’ll probably take it even on trips to town and beach walks – this coffee kit is portable enough to pack just to continue my morning ritual well. -love.