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Does the Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker Really Make Good Espresso?!

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If you’ve been hanging around Terradrift for any amount of time, you’re probably aware that we are obsessed with coffee. But we may have just found the most portable espresso maker on the market that *actually* makes espresso that rivals the stuff from the corner coffee shop: the Wacaco Nanopresso.

Which is awesome, because I like my coffee super dark and super strong. Espresso is my jam. It is the focus of all my caffeine-based obsession.

But while we’ve reviewed pour-over filters, compared various coffee-making implements for camping, even tested various instant coffees, nothing perfectly replicates the shot you can get from a local cafe. Don’t get us wrong–we love our super portable Areopress Go and our beloved GSI MiniEspresso for how strong and dark they make our morning (or afternoon) cuppa–but what’s missing is pressure. Pressure and crema.

Because, well, it’s hard to build up enough pressure to get actual, real espresso from a compact device. The GSI MiniEspresso does an excellent job, but it requires a stove. And I love the Aeropress for how easy and quick it is, but you don’t get that delicious crema. The Wacaco Nanopresso, however? Well, let’s break it down.

The Wacaco Nanopresso portable espresso maker.

The Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker: The Deets

First, the parts and pieces:

There’s a cup that’s attached to the bottom of the device that clips over the twist-off water tank.

Then there’s the portafilter on top, which unscrews to reveal the coffee filter basket. On the front, the piston pops out for pressing and back in for storage.

All the parts and pieces of the Wacaco Nanopresso portable espresso maker.
All the parts and pieces of the Wacaco Nanopresso portable espresso maker.

Here’s how to use it:

Pull the little cup off the bottom–that’s for the liquid gold about to be emitted from the top of the device–then twist off the water tank and fill to the line. Preferably with hot water, but we’ve used cold with pretty decent results. Then resemble carefully.

Next, twist off the portafilter, remove the coffee filter basket, and use the included scoop to turn finely ground coffee into it. Tamp the coffee down using the bottom of the scoop, brush off the edges of the filter, then put the basket back in its place and screw the portafilter back on.

Finally, turn the piston on the front counter-clockwise until it pops out, flip the whole contraption upside down, and start pumping at a rate of about one pump per second. Don’t rush it.

It’ll take about 8 pumps to build up pressure, but then the espresso will start flowing! After about 30 seconds, you’ve got yourself a solid shot of espresso complete with crema! Huzzah!

The Wacaco Nanopresso portable espresso maker extracting a shot of espresso.
Extracting a shot of espresso with the Nanopresso.

The Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker: The Review

So how did we like the Wacaco Nanopresso and the espresso it makes? We’ll tell you.

Frankly, when comparing it to our GSI Miniespresso and Areopress Go, The Nanopresso is kinda the best of both worlds: It makes quality espresso quickly and easily without a stove. You do need hot water–but you can get that at any ol’ gas station if you don’t have a stove to boil your own–but by using a sort of pump system–which doesn’t require batteries or a power source, by the way–you do get creamy, potent espresso in under a minute.

And it actually tastes like espresso! A lot like any shot you’d get from your local coffee shop, in fact. It makes for a fuller-bodied flavor than pour-over, it’s super smooth, not acidic at all, and very strong, rich and creamy. Just how I like my coffee.

Now, It doesn’t take much coffee–only about 8 grams–which means it only makes one small shot, so if you plan to chug a mug, this might not be the coffee-making implement for you. But if you want one shot of real espresso anywhere without the need for a stove or power supply, this is as close as you’re gonna get. And it’s pretty dang close.

And you can trust us because Josh and I both used to be baristi, so…

Basically, the Wacaco Nanopresso is easy to use, pretty easy to clean out afterward–though it does require a slightly deeper cleaning every month or so–and makes dang good espresso, all in one very portable little package.

You can even get it in a variety of colors with a protective carrying case if you so desire.

It isn’t ultralight or anything at three quarters of a pound, but for road trips, travel, and car camping, your office at work, the kitchen counter in your tiny house–Just us?–Yeah. This’ll do nicely.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Works with hot or cold water
  • Quick and easy to use
  • Uses pressure to make true espresso
  • No paper filters required

Cons

  • Not as easy to clean as, say, an Aeropress Go
  • Hot water is still preferred for the best cup
  • Makes a small amount of coffee
The Wacaco Nanopresso portable espresso maker with a cup of well-made espresso.
The Wacaco Nanopresso portable espresso maker with a cup of well-made espresso.

The Bottom Line

Are you dubious? Or maybe you’re already fully on board and making room in your van or kitchen? Check out the Wacaco Nanopresso for yourself here. We think you’re gonna love it. If you like good, strong, velvety coffee, that is… So drink up and wander on.

Want more coffee content? Check out these collapsible pour-over filters, the 5 best ways to brew coffee outdoors, and a video of taste-testing instant coffee.

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