If you are the type to turn down a camping trip with friends because you do not want to part with modern comforts for a few days, you might have one less excuse at your disposal. While a backcountry portage might not include memory foam mattresses or Jacuzzi baths, they can now involve espresso that is every bit as delicious as the brew at your favourite cafe.
Portable espresso machines are ultra lightweight, convenient and travel-friendly options for coffee fanatics with busy lives. From frequent business trippers who want to avoid hotel coffee to nature lovers who want to stay caffeinated on hiking trips, a portable espresso machine ensures you can get the fix you need, wherever you may be.
Even if you are not exactly a frequent traveller, these tiny portable machines are great for break rooms, home offices and even long car rides. If you can tolerate the fact that many portable espresso machines are only able to brew one cup at a time, you could even replace your clunkier machine with something that can be tucked away to save counter space.
Whether you are looking for a machine for your office, your suitcase, or just your kitchen, making the right call is important. The last thing you want is to find yourself on an isolated vacation with a machine that does not work.
To help you make the best choice for your needs, we have reviewed some of the most popular portable espresso machines, both automatic and manual. Take a look at our experiences, as well as a quick guide to help you decide between the many portable machines available to you:
- Ultra lightweight (0.97 lb)
- Holds up to 80 ml water and 0.53 ounces of ground coffee
- Partially made from stainless steel
- Compatible with Nespresso pods
- How little space it takes up
- The option to use both pods and ground coffee
- Low-stress cleaning experience
- It had a slightly larger capacity
Naspresso lovers rejoice-- there are compact, travel-friendly options for all coffee drinkers, including those who prefer the convenience and consistently great taste of pods. This tiny, easy-to-assemble machine can work with either ground coffee or Nespresso pods, letting you make every cup just the way you like it.
On top of being easy to travel with and put together, this small but mighty Staresso machine is a breeze to clean and, despite its size, does not have too many small parts that are tricky to keep track of.
Plus, it’s available in pink. Need we say more?
- Compatible with Nespresso capsules
- Manual function only
- Super lightweight (13 ounces)
- Certain non-Nespresso pods are compatible with the machine
- Easy to use
- Generous amounts of crema
- It were not pods-only
It could produce more than a single espresso shot at a time
Despite being a manual-use only machine, this Minipresso is not hard to use at all-- in fact, just a few pumps should be all you need to pressurize. Still, we do sort of wish this machine had the option to produce shots from ground coffee, rather than just pods (we like to keep our options open!).
Naspresso fans will definitely appreciate the compatibility, and if you are loyal to a competing brand, do not write the machine off yet. Some competing pods are compatible with the machine, although you are unlikely to get the same quality of results.
Overall, this is an affordable, portable option for pod-loving coffee drinkers on the go.
- Electric and automatic brewing options
- Espresso volume of 45 ml or 1.5 ounces per cup
- Car charger equipped
- Naspresso and L’Or capsules only
- The ability to charge it in the car-- truly the perfect road trip espresso maker
- Automatic pumping
- It had wider compatibility
- The battery life were longer
A great option for Nespresso fans who want an electric machine. Unlike many items on this list, all you have to do is press a button and wait for your coffee. It’s a pretty sweet system, and with a car charger option, you can literally brew your morning espresso fix during your morning commute.
Unfortunately, this machine is only compatible with Nespresso and L’Or, and does not have the option to brew from ground coffee. Additionally, the battery life on this machine is frustratingly short, making it less than ideal for off-the-grid camping or cottage trips.
That being said, if you need this machine for locations where a charging port is nearby (your car, office or hotels), this machine is an ideal option for convenience and great-tasting coffee.
- 2-in-1 extraction allows you to use both ground coffee and espresso capsules
- 20 bar stable pressure
- Cup and scoop included
- BPA-free plastic and silicon glass
- Anti-scalding insulation
- Capacity of 8-9 grams
- The accessories that came included
- The versatile pods and drinks compatible with the machine
- The transparent glass cup design
- It worked better as a frother
While many other portable espresso machines have a similar black, utilitarian design, this machine stands out in terms of appearance. The transparent bottom (which doubles as a cup) gives a sleek, modern look, and the taste lives up to expectations.
Overall, we enjoyed the fact that this machine comes with its own cute scoop and cup, added goodies which are usually sold separately with most brands. We also love the fact that we can choose between pods or ground coffee (do not worry, the clean-up process is straightforward and easy regardless of your preference).
- One year no questions asked warranty
- Compatible with pods
- Patented pumping system
- 1.35 pounds
- Very thick foam
- The year-long warranty and exceptional customer support
- It had a ground coffee option
- It was a little more lightweight
Finding a 1.35 pound machine heavy might sound a little bit silly, but compared to many competing portable espresso machines, this one is a bit hefty! That being said, it is still quite portable and should not be a problem unless you are headed on a trip where you need to pack very light.
We were also impressed with the foam situation (many portable machines are on the lackluster side when it comes to this arena). If you do run into any issues, however, the best part of this machine is that it includes a no questions asked one year warranty. The machine worked perfectly for us, but if you are a better-safe-than-sorry shopper, this is the product for you.
- Heat resistant guard
- Compatible with grounds and capsules
- Hand-powered and can be used with hot or cold water
- 100% satisfaction guaranteed
- The bold, eye-catching blue design
- The versatility (capsules or grounds)
- It had an automatic option
This machine certainly deserves the term “best in show” with its extremely attention-grabbing blue design. It is without a doubt one of the more aesthetically pleasing products on this list, but on top of that, it is compatible with both grounds and capsules, making it one of the more versatile machines out there as well.
Whether you cannot get enough of iced coffee or prefer a traditional hot brew, this machine has a lot to offer-- provided of course, that you are okay with a manual device over an automatic electronic one.
What To Consider When Buying A Portable Espresso Machine
Each one of the portable machines we tried produced a solid cup of espresso, and provided the convenient portability needed fit into an overnight bag or carry-on suitcase. However, these machines are not one and the same.
From differences in design to different price ranges, the perfect machine for one coffee fan might miss the mark for another. Here are some factors we recommend taking into consideration before investing in a portable espresso machine:
First and foremost, price is a top priority when it comes to buying any appliances, especially something that might serve as a secondary machine.
The good news is, many portable espresso machines are fairly affordable, and you can easily get a top-notch machine for under a hundred dollars. If anything, you should be wary of machines that seem to be much more expensive than competitors.
Another thing to consider is the price of the coffee compatible with the machine. Pods are super convenient and offer specific flavors you cannot always get from loose grounds, but can sometimes be hefty in terms of price.
If you absolutely love coffee grounds or Nespresso pods, by all means, go for a machine that will do one or the other. However, if you like shaking things up, it might be wise to look for a machine that is compatible with both.
Versatility also goes beyond pods and loose grounds-- some machines are compatible for both cold and hot drinks. If you have ever shown up late for work so that you could grab an iced coffee from your local Starbucks, you might be able to save time and money in the future with a portable machine that produces cafe-quality cold drinks.
Automatic vs. Manual
Given the fact that most portable machines only have the capacity to brew one drink at a time, the effort that goes into working a manual machine is minimal. That being said, there is still something nice about a fully automatic machine.
Automatic machines mean you can get started on your workday or make breakfast during a cottage getaway without any stress, but it also means replacing batteries or charging frequently-- so consider whether a few pumps are worth a battery-free, wireless experience!
Looks are not everything, but they certainly matter. If this machine is going to sit in your office or on your kitchen counter, you still want a sleek and attractive design. Many portable machines are a tasteful, utilitarian black, while some machines truly get creative with eye-popping colors and modern, ergonomic designs.
Portability and Weight
By all means, every product on our review list is much lighter and smaller than any traditional coffee maker. That being said, many busybodies are looking for a machine that they can pack into a carry-on for their next out-of-town conference or want to pack lightly for their next backcountry hike.
If you are dealing with weight restrictions, the good news is that most of these machines weigh under one pound, meaning they will not be weighing you down during your travels.
Even high-quality machines are subject to breaking down. Unfortunately, given the fact most people use these machines to travel, they are at even higher risk for damages.
Some of the products on this list include warranties, including “no questions asked” warranties that can help ensure your machine remains functional through even the most challenging circumstances.
Quality of Taste
Needless to say, the most important aspect of your daily coffee fix is whether or not your espresso tastes good!
For many, this might come down to trial and error. You might need to give your machine a few shots, using different pods or grounds with different levels of water, before you find the perfect cup of coffee.
As espresso lovers, we had no qualms with any of the brews we got from these machines, although this is subject to personal opinion.
Our best suggestion is to think about what espresso you love the most. Is there a particular brand you cannot get enough of? Are loose coffee grounds your thing? Finding a machine that is compatible with your favorite coffee products is going to be key to producing the best espresso shot with a portable machine.
Ultimately, portable espresso machines are great for everyone, regardless of lifestyle. If you are looking for a secondary machine to take with you on trips or want to save counter space with a smaller model, a portable machine is the easiest, most convenient way to go.