The UniTerra Nomad stands out amongst the stiff portable espresso maker competition for its unique design. But does the coffee quality stand up too? We will explore all in this UniTerra Nomad buying guide.
The UniTerra launched following a successful Kickstarter campaign. The idea came out of the frustration of burnt Moka pot coffee whilst living in Paris. So, the need for a minimalist device with a small footprint – but good quality coffee was born.
Here we go through all the details in our UniTerra Nomad buying guide for you to work out if this is the minimalist coffee machine for you. We have scoured the internet for all the expert reviews on this device to collate with our own. This means we have the most comprehensive review you can find. Whilst not all home coffee experts give numerical scores, we have averaged these out. Therefore, you can get a consensus opinion on how good this espresso maker is, and know for sure if it is the right fit for you.
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Due to stock issues, it’s often not possible to get your hands on the UniTerra Nomad depending on where you are in the world. For the best results, check their website directly to see if they ship to your location:
At a Glance: Uniterra Nomad Buying Guide
The UniTerra Nomad espresso machine is a very cool looking manual espresso machine that wouldn’t look out of place in a kid’s room.
This 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 such as the Wacaco Nanopresso and Handpresso Wild Hybrid.
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.
- Easy to use and clean
- Stands up to heavy use
- Makes good espresso
- Has a good “margin for error”
- Performance suffers when outside in cold weather
- Isn’t the most portable machine
- Only 9 bar of brewing pressure
- Can only fit short cups underneath the coffee spout
- Condensation can build up inside pressure gauge
1. True Crema Valve
This patented stainless steel valve sits underneath the coffee basket and automatically adjusts to variations in pressure. Doing so ensures you get a great espresso shot every time, with a perfect crema. It takes all the guesswork out as you don’t need to set anything.
2. Two Espressos at Once
The Nomad has a capacity for 10oz of water. This means you can easily pull 2 espressos without having to swap anything out – no more fighting over who gets the first coffee in the morning. (Or, if you’re like me, a double shot to wake you up!)
3. Pressure Gauge
The pressure gauge makes it easy to see that you’ve got the right pressure for your espresso while using the see-saw lever. It’s easy to read so you can adjust your pressure levels if needed.
You simply remove the tray and add your ground coffee, tamping it down with the adonized aluminum tamper provided. Slide the tray back into the machine and add your water. (The water can be hot or cold, depending on whether you are looking for hot or cold brew espresso).
Now, you just need to use your fingers to see-saw the lever backward and forwards. As you do, keep an eye on the pressure gauge. The needle needs to stay in the green area whilst you are pulling your espresso shot.
This is as easy as it gets with these types of machines.
To make things even easier, the Nomad’s patented “true crema valve” sits just under the coffee basket. The valve auto-adjusts to ensure any variation in the grind, tamping, and pressure is minimized. So, if you make a slight mistake it shouldn’t affect the quality of the coffee produced.
Whilst you still have a lot of control, the Nomad portable has taken away a lot of the natural variation that can occur when making espresso with a manual espresso machine. This is handy when you’re trying to make espresso on a camping trip or traveling.
You’ll still need some accessories to get the best out of your machine. Such as a portable coffee grinder and a thermometer for ensuring your water is at the correct temperature. But even pre-ground coffee can get a good-looking crema with the UniTerra Nomad, it just won’t taste quite as good.
So, if you’re planning on using this machine out and about – as a portable espresso maker suggests you should – you’ll either need to carry pre-ground coffee or buy a portable grinder, for example, a burr grinder.
Now the “true crema valve” will ensure that even old coffee grounds create a good crema. But good crema does not equal good espresso. So you’re still going to want to freshly grind your beans wherever possible.
This coffee machine is very robust, nothing about it feels like you’re ever going to break any component of it.
It is, however, quite big for a “portable” espresso maker. It comes in at almost a perfect 6-inch cube so it could be thrown in a backpack or big purse. But weighing 2.6lbs you’d definitely notice if you had to carry it around with you for any length of time.
The easily removable coffee tray which contains the basket for the grounds and true crema valve is easy to slot in and out. And the see-saw pump can be comfortably operated with two fingers to keep the pressure in the right zone for espresso.
This UniTerra Nomad buying guide found just a couple of small issues with the design:
The water tank is low down and the opening is quite narrow. This can make it a bit tricky not to spill water whilst filling it up.
The machine isn’t very tall meaning that you can only fit short cups underneath for your espresso. Now, this isn’t a huge problem if you’ll only be drinking espresso and don’t intend to add anything to your drink. But even some fairly small-sized cups may struggle to fit underneath.
If you use freshly ground, espresso roast beans, you’ll get a good espresso. It will have a good body and depth and all the notes you expect.
This machine does, however, run into the issues that similar machines with lower pressure do:
If you want to use light or medium roast beans, then the 9 bar pressure simply isn’t enough to get nuance and depth of flavor from those beans.
Now, if you don’t use those types of coffee beans, this isn’t an issue at all. But it’s worth keeping in mind.
The other thing to remember is that while the true crema valve will ensure that you’ll almost always have a nice crema on top of your espresso, this doesn’t mean that your espresso will always be right. If you use old grounds or pre-ground coffee, you will notice the dip in quality of flavor – as you would with any espresso machine. So if you’re reading this UniTerra Nomad buying guide to ensure you get the best tasting cup of coffee, remember that if you put bad quality coffee in, you will get a bad quality espresso out. Being an aesthetically pleasing machine won’t change that.
Portable espresso machines rarely come with any fancy extras. But the Nomad can pull two espresso shots in one go which is a big plus and not common among these machines so that’s worth noting.
The brew head is neatly held in a tray that comes out of the machine. So, you can quickly remove the full brew head, dispose of the coffee grounds, and rinse everything down.
Quick and easy to do – you just need running water.
The true crema valve means there is one more part that needs to be cleaned. But this merely adds a few seconds to the process and is no extra hassle at all.
However, it is quite expensive for a portable machine. And you can get much smaller devices that will give you equally good espresso for much less money plus the flexibility to use pods if you so desire.
For picks of the best portable espresso makers, our money is on the Wacaco Nanopresso or Handpresso Wild Hybrid.
If you aren’t looking for portability but do want to focus on perfecting your espresso, then the Flair Signature is probably a better choice. This is a manual lever espresso machine that won’t break the bank.
Essentially the UniTerra Nomad finds itself in a bit of a middle ground. For us, it’s not really the best at anything.
Don’t forget to Buy Your UniTerra Nomad Today
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