There has never been a better time to be a coffee lover that loves to travel. With so many portable espresso makers on the market, you can have your favorite beverage anywhere. Just as long as you can get some hot water – or take your own hot water with you.
But, which is the best portable espresso machine?
Or, more accurately, which is the best portable espresso machine for you?
Each of these travel coffee makers has its pros and cons. And they can do quite vastly different things. So it all depends on your personal preferences and what you’re looking for. And, I guess also what your definition of “portable” is.
We’ve outlined, in no particular order, our favorite portable espresso makers with the benefits and drawbacks for each. All, bar one, require an external heat source.
Armed with this guide you will be able to choose the best one for you and bring that rich espresso goodness with you wherever you go.
This article may contain affiliate/ compensated links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. For more information please see our disclaimer here.
Top Picks for the Best Portable Espresso Machine
1. Wacaco Nanopresso – Overall Best Portable Espresso Machine
- Creates delicious coffee
- Can make cold espresso
- 18 bar pressure – huge for a portable device
- Weighs just 0.74lb
- Espresso cup is built-in
- Easy to use and clean
- Carry bag included (hard case available separately)
- Can use ground coffee or Nespresso pods (with an adapter, not included)
- You need to pay attention when using
- Water needs to be boiled separately
- Allan wrench needed for deep cleaning
- Difficult to clean whilst on the road
- Time consuming to produce more than one shot of espresso
- Need to manually pump to build pressure
We spend long periods living out of a backpack and absolutely love the Wacaco Nanopresso:
It looks great, it’s small, it’s light, it’s easy to use and it makes great espresso. Pretty much the whole package for your on-the-go coffee needs!
Plus, this handheld espresso maker works on a modular system. That means you can buy little extra bits to have your coffee just how you like it. For example, the NS-Adapter allows you to use Nespresso coffee pods or the Barista Kit gives you the ability to make double shots.
For us, the Wacaco Nanopresso ticks as many boxes as a portable espresso maker can tick. It also comes in a variety of colors, which is just bacon bits on the top.
Being able to create 18 bar of pressure with the hand pump means you get a superb espresso. Plus, the ability to use both pods or grounds is a massive bonus.
It won’t compare to seriously high-end home espresso machines in terms of quality, and you have to heat the water separately. But for the price, size, and ease of use, it’s a very impressive portable espresso maker.
This pocket-sized machine should be seriously considered by anyone who loves espresso.
2. Flair Signature Manual – Best Portable Option for Espresso Enthusiasts
- Uses optimal pressure to pull a shot
- Easy-to-read pressure gauge to help you monitor the optimal pressure
- Gives you complete control over the brewing process
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Comes with a durable travel case
- Not the smallest portable espresso machine
- Not ideal for entertaining multiple people
- Needs lots of accessories to get the best espresso
- Not quick to use
- Steep learning curve
- Need strength to pull the lever down
Flair manual espresso machines are beloved by those who adore their espresso. They are the perfect machines if you want to fiddle with every detail of the espresso-making process to brew exactly how you want it.
So, it’s the ideal travel espresso machine for you if you have the time and desire to perfect your espresso making at home or on the go.
The Flair Signature model is deceptively simple with its lever design.
But, in being so simple, it gives the user almost complete control of the process. The pressure gauge allows you to keep an eye on, and perfect, the amount of pressure you are using to extract the best from your coffee grounds.
Plus, it looks really cool.
Whilst it’s not the most portable espresso maker on the list by any stretch, it’s still a great option for moving around. The Flair Signature packs flat into a hard carry case, making it easy to take to work or on vacation. So you never have to compromise on your coffee quality again.
But, realistically, you’re not taking it camping or hiking as it’s much bulkier than the other portable espresso makers you will find on this best portable espresso machine list.
If you’re happy to get the extras like a grinder and water thermometer. And, if you only want to drink espressos, then this is a great manual espresso machine.
3. Handpresso Wild Hybrid
- Simple to use – low-tech and reliable
- Easy to clean
- Not too expensive
- Well made to withstand the occasional knock or bang
- Produces surprisingly high-quality espresso for a compact machine
- Can use E.S.E. pods or ground coffee
- Up to 16 bar of pressure
- Water needs to be boiled separately which can be inconvenient
- Can’t pull commercial quality espresso shots
- Espresso shot is smaller than average
- Can’t vary the strength of the espresso and it can end up fairly weak
Do you want the flexibility of using both E.S.E. pods or ground coffee in a super compact and easy-to-use mini portable espresso maker?
Then the Handpresso Wild Hybrid could be the machine for you.
This incredibly portable device is very simple to use: about as difficult as using a bicycle pump.
With the flexibility to use either ground coffee or E.S.E. pods, this portable espresso maker is ideal for those who have limited space in their backpack or purse but still want to have a good espresso on the go.
The Handpresso Wild Hybrid makes a good espresso, reliably, with minimal fuss. In terms of pure coffee quality for the price, we prefer the Wacaco Nanopresso. But it’s slightly more complex to use and more difficult to clean, especially as it needs 6 monthly deep cleans.
If ease of use and cleaning are your main priorities when looking for a good espresso on the go, then the Handpresso Wild Hybrid will serve you very well.
4. Cafflano Kompresso
- Lightweight – less than 0.5 lbs
- Durable – perfect for life on the road
- No filters to replace
- Can make hot or cold brew espresso
- Quality of espresso is comparable to much more expensive espresso makers
- Inexpensive considering the alternatives
- Small – can only use a maximum of 2.7 oz water at a time
- Takes practice to perfect
- Need to preheat the Kompresso for a perfect brew
- Time-consuming – up to 8 minutes to pull each shot
- Doesn’t have that high-end feel you would get from other espresso makers
This portable espresso maker is the brainchild of Korean coffee lover, Hansang Yoon. He was sick of paying too much for his morning caffeine fix. But also didn’t want to splash out for a big, complex espresso machine.
So, instead, he designed one of the best espresso machines under $100 – the Cafflano Kompresso.
Since its initial Kickstarter campaign in 2013, Cafflano has taken the coffee world by storm.
Now, the Kompresso is the most recent addition to their portable espresso makers. And this machine offers a similar level of control as other manual espresso machines but in a very compact and easy-to-use form.
If you’re a coffee nerd who wants to play around with grounds, water temperature, and various coffee beans then this is a fantastic budget option for you.
With the Cafflano Kompresso, you can meddle with elements to your heart’s content. Plus, you can pull really high-quality espresso shots with a nice crema.
However, if you’re just looking for a quick espresso before work or the best portable coffee maker for camping, then it’s not ideal. It can take 8 minutes to brew your espresso and many many things can go wrong if you’re half asleep or hungover.
All in, it’s a great product for a new market of coffee lovers.
5. Staresso Portable Espresso Maker
- The build quality is excellent
- Simple to use and clean
- Good value for money
- Can froth milk for cappuccino or latte
- Includes a glass to drink from
- Consistent extraction
- The included tamper is way too small
- Frothing milk doesn’t work brilliantly
- The pump can get difficult to use over time
When it comes to the best portable espresso makers, Staresso is kind of a big deal. But, what they offer is more than just portability:
The Staresso stands out from the crowd as, not only can you take your espresso on the road, but this is also a portable latte maker. It has the added bonus of being able to froth milk, all in an easy-to-use device.
This makes the Staresso portable latte maker a rare find, with its dual-purpose role. So, if you’re someone who enjoys a cortado or similar espresso and milk drink, then this could be the answer for your on-the-go coffee needs.
The fact that it’s incredibly simple to use and clean is a big plus point too.
However, unless you’re specifically looking for the milk frothing feature, then you can get better quality espresso from the other portable espresso makers listed here. Although the directly comparable portable devices, like the Wacaco Nanopresso and Cafflano Kompresso, are also slightly more expensive.
6. Bialetti Moka Express
- Very good coffee
- Built to last, great for travel
- No electricity needed
- Easy to clean
- Budget-friendly option
- Available in fun colors and different sizes
- Two-year warranty
- If used incorrectly, can leave aluminum residue
- Not dishwasher safe
- High maintenance – you can’t turn it on then walk away
- Long brew time
- Takes practice to master the brewing technique
So we know, a Moka Pot doesn’t “technically” make espresso.
However, for millions of people, the “espresso-like” Italian coffee produced by the Bialetti Moka Express is exactly what they want. So we’ve included it as one of the best portable espresso machines.
It’s also simple to use and easy to transport, as long as you have a stove of some sort. Perfect as a portable espresso maker for camping in an RV or for taking to the office. Plus it’s cheap and sturdy – the Bialetti espresso maker really does have a lot going for it.
Being all one unit, this is a portable espresso maker that heats the water whilst making your coffee. You don’t need to add the hot water as you do with the others.
Designed by Bialetti in 1933, the classic design not only looks great but is made to last too.
The only real downside is that it will only make one style of coffee. It falls in that halfway house between true espresso and drip filter.
So, if that isn’t what you like to drink on a daily basis then this isn’t the coffee maker for you. If it is, then it’s very hard to argue against the top-quality Moka Coffee Pot.
7. UniTerra Nomad
- Easy to use and clean
- Stands up to heavy use
- Makes good espresso
- Has a good “margin for error”
- Not the most portable machine
- Only 9 bar of pressure
- Can only fit short cups underneath the coffee spout
- Condensation can build up inside the pressure gauge and suffers in cold conditions
- You will either love or hate the design
This coffee maker will divide opinions on looks alone:
The UniTerra Nomad kinda looks like a big bit of Lego. But if you like its aesthetics, then it’s a super cool espresso maker to have in your backpack or on your countertop.
It’s also very simple to use and has a patented “true crema valve”. This means that even if you get your measurements slightly wrong, you’ll still get a great-looking espresso.
Using the Nomad is easier than some manual espresso makers and has a good margin for error. So, if you love the look, it could be perfect for you.
This manual espresso machine is capable of pulling quality espresso with minimum fuss and effort.
However, it’s quite expensive for the portable espresso maker market. And, while it does pull good espresso, it’s not exactly streets ahead of the cheaper competition.
That said, if you’re looking for a specialist espresso maker for your kitchen counter or office this is a good option without breaking the bank. Plus, it’s one that you don’t have to hide in your cupboard as it will make a striking display item.
8. Wacaco Minipresso
- Small and lightweight
- Smart, durable design
- Easy to use
- Makes high-quality coffee quickly
- Able to pour a quality coffee shot anywhere – as long as you can boil water
- Relatively cheap price tag
- The cap doesn’t stay on
- Can leak if not thoroughly dried
- Water tank and cup are a little small
- Cup not insulated
- Have to choose either a pod or ground coffee version: won’t work with both
- Only 8 bar pressure
An earlier generation of the Wacaco Nanopresso, the Wacaco Minipresso really only has 1 advantage over the newer model:
If you’re someone who wants to only use Nespresso pods to make your espresso, then the Minipresso NS just sneaks into the lead.
The Minipresso NS is made solely for Nespresso pods. And it’s considerably cheaper than the Nanopresso, especially once you’ve bought the Nespresso capsule add-on for the Nanopresso.
This mini portable espresso machine only generates 8 bar of pressure. But for Nespresso coffee, you probably won’t notice this difference very much. Although you definitely will if you go for the Minipresso GR model which takes ground coffee.
Either way, the Wacaco Minipresso is a quality backpack espresso maker for those looking to make a good espresso no matter where you are. You just need access to hot water.
The device is small, light, and insanely easy to use, making espresso available to anyone, anywhere.
It’s very affordable. But our recommendation would be to pay a little extra for the Wacaco Nanopresso – an updated version that is improved in almost every way.
However, if you are only after a single espresso on the go, the Minipresso will do the job admirably. You can choose between the NS and GR models. Both are great, depending on your coffee preference, for a hike, at work, or on vacation – and at an affordable price.
9. De’Longhi EMK6
- Quick – takes less than 5 minutes to brew 6 cups
- Same great taste as the stovetop Bialetti Moka pot
- Considerably safer than the stovetop version
- Automatic shut-off when coffee is ready
- The transparent plastic upper chamber looks cheap
- Makes 6 espresso sized, small cups so not ideal for big groups
- Doesn’t make “proper” espresso
A slightly different take on a portable espresso maker is the DeLonghi EMK6:
This is one for those who take their RV camping with them or need something to plug into a hotel room or Airbnb as they travel.
Unlike the others on this list, it doesn’t require an external heat source. But it does need to be plugged into a power source.
The DeLonghi EMK6 is another Moka Pot, but this time it’s an easy-to-use electric Moka pot. So, it makes “Italian espresso” as it doesn’t generate enough pressure to create “true” espresso. But it does take almost all the hassle out of making Italian espresso.
While it doesn’t make “true” espresso, for those who are a fan of the style of coffee produced by Moka Pots, the Delonghi EMK6 is safe, easy to use, and clean.
However, it’s incredibly easy to use and it’s a lot safer than a regular Moka Pot. Plus, it has a “keep warm” function which is a nice touch. It’s also relatively inexpensive so it has a lot going for it.
Whilst it is an electric stovetop espresso maker, it is still small enough to be thrown in a bag or stored in the cupboard of an RV. So, it’s the perfect portable coffee maker for life on the road without having to compromise on coffee quality.
Despite being electric, it’s not much more expensive than a regular Moka Pot. Although some users don’t like that De’Longhi has removed the stainless steel top chamber in favor of plastic. But, we enjoy watching in anticipation as our coffee bubbles away.
10. AeroPress – Best Portable Espresso Machine on a Budget
- Quick and easy to set up, use, and clean
- Great flavor
- Versatile – can brew multiple varieties of coffee including cold brew
- High-quality component parts
- Cheap, affordable price
- Tough and resilient
- Fast brewing time
- Best for single use – multiple cups need multiple brews
- Requires paper filters so need to keep a stock on hand
- Very limited functionality – everything but the brewing has to be done separately
- Low water pressure so limited crema
- It doesn’t make espresso, just strong black coffee
- Steep learning curve to create a consistently good cup of coffee
Once again, we know the AeroPress doesn’t make “true” espresso. But you can’t have a list of the best portable coffee makers without including the Aeropress, it is one of the biggest names in the game after all.
The AeroPress has taken the coffee world by storm since its invention in 2005. Now, there are international competitions and thousands of YouTube videos and articles on the best ways to make AeroPress coffee.
You can buy an attachment that will allow you to create true espresso from this portable coffee maker. And, if you like the freedom and versatility it brings, it’s an awesome budget option.
The Aerobie AeroPress is a cheap, portable coffee maker that makes exceptionally good coffee – with a little bit of practice.
However, even with the extra attachment, it won’t be able to produce a top-notch espresso. The pressure exerted will, instead, create a good black coffee. But, unless you are specifically looking for a true espresso machine, this isn’t much of a negative.
You may need to buy a manual grinder if you want truly exceptional coffee. But then, with the price of the Aeropress being so low, this will hardly break the bank.
Not all cups of coffee are created equal: All espressos are coffees. But not all coffees are espresso.
So it’s important to know what type of coffee you are after when you are looking for your coffee maker.
What does that mean? Basically, espresso is a specific type of coffee:
It is a highly concentrated shot of caffeine. To make, hot water is forced through the freshly ground coffee at high pressure (a minimum of 9 bar).
So, espresso makers specifically need to exert pressure. Coffee makers do not.
The end result is a stronger, more intense flavored beverage. Espresso lovers turn to their favorite drink as a quick way to get their caffeine hit as well as the well-rounded, full-bodied flavor profile.
In addition to being armed with one of the best portable espresso makers on this list, there are a couple of other things to consider:
Firstly, experiment with coffee beans.
There is an abundance of options out there, you are spoiled for choice. Looking for the highest quality beans will give you the highest quality espresso.
Secondly, it is best to invest in a grinder. If you use pre-ground coffee it goes ‘off’ incredibly quickly. Grinding at the time of use means you get the most out of your beans. It does mean you have another thing to carry but it’s worth it for that great flavor.
A portable espresso machine can only make espresso.
If you would prefer a longer coffee, you can add additional hot water to your espresso shot. This will give you an Americano.
If you prefer milk-based coffee drinks like cappuccino or latte, you can opt for the Staresso. Or, pick up a portable milk frother. This will allow you to add your milk to your espresso shot.
So, there are always options to suit your tastes. Even if you spend your life on the road.
So, what is the best portable espresso machine to take on your travels?
For us, it has to be the Wacaco Nanopresso.
When you spend your life on the road, it’s hard to beat. The high level of pressure in the hand-pumped backpack espresso maker gives you the flexibility to have great espresso no matter where your life takes you.
But any of the espresso makers on this list will set you up with a great cup of coffee. You certainly won’t be disappointed.
You Might Also Like
Jura ENA 8 Review:
Is This Stripped-Back Machine Good Value?
Read this Jura ENA 8 review to see whether the stripped-back version of the awesome E8 offers good value for money or whether it falls short
Jura E4 Review:
Is It An Espresso Lover’s Dream Machine?
Jura’s E4 has shunned a milk frother in favor of espresso quality. But is it worth the sacrifice? We break it all down in this Jura E4 review