Powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. Comes with a USB charging cable. Disassembles easily for cleaning. Lightweight. Comes with a measuring scoop, cup, filter basket, and manual. Brews an espresso in under two minutes. Most found this to be a very durable option.
Some reports of this espresso maker leaking or breaking fairly quickly.
Manual operation; no batteries or electricity needed. Easy to use and clean. Well-built and sturdy. Comes with a filter basket brush, cotton travel bag, ebook, and user manual. Compact size.
Some buyers say this isn't the most durable option, with the pump breaking or leaking fairly quickly.
Simple to use. Easy to clean. Manually operated, requiring no batteries or electricity. BPA-free. Small, compact size. Solid construction. A nice look at a decent price. Comes with a carry bag and two pink adiabatic rings.
Some reports of the pump not being super durable (loses pressure eventually and stops working).
Under 7" tall and lightweight. Ships with a built-in espresso cup and scoop. Hand-operated. Consistently works well and makes a superior espresso. Sturdy design.
Tamping down the grounds in the filter basket can cause a seal to blow out in the pump. This option is a little difficult to clean well, as it doesn't break down completely. Some find this maker difficult to use.
Hand-operated and easy to use. Comes with an additional filter basket and carrying bag. BPA-free. Cleans up with a simple rinse and dry. Rugged construction. Makes a good quality espresso. Decent price.
Some buyers report problems with the pump failing fairly quickly, while others felt the espresso produced was too weak.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If coffee is part of your morning ritual, you know how disappointing it is when you can’t get that cappuccino or shot of espresso before you get going for the day. Whether you’re traveling or you simply don’t have time to battle the morning rush at your local coffee shop, you can make your own coffee drinks quickly and easily with a portable espresso machine.
Now for the hard part – deciding on the portable espresso machine that’s right for you. There’s a wide range to choose from, and it’s impossible to tell at first glance which machine makes professional-grade espresso and which makes instant coffee seem like a desirable alternative.
At BestReviews, we help you choose the best products for your home with our top picks and comprehensive shopping guides. Read on to learn what you need to know to sort the good from the bad and find the best portable espresso machine for your coffee needs.
First off, you might be wondering why you should buy a portable espresso machine over a full-size model or a standard portable coffee maker. Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons.
If you travel a lot, it’s easy to pop your portable espresso machine in your luggage and have access to quality coffee wherever you are. Portable espresso machines don’t need to be plugged into an outlet, so they’re great for camping trips or even for use during power outages. If the coffee at your place of employment isn’t up to scratch, you can bring your portable espresso maker with you to work to enjoy better beverages.
Full-size espresso machines can cost thousands of dollars, whereas portable models are much more affordable. You’ll also save money making your own coffee drinks with a portable espresso machine instead of buying daily drinks from a coffee shop.
Portable espresso machines are extremely versatile. You can drink your espresso straight, add hot water for an Americano, or get more creative and use the espresso shots to make specialty drinks like cappuccinos and lattes.
Most portable espresso machines are made from plastic or at least have some plastic parts. We recommend looking for a BPA-free model.
Manual portable espresso machines
Manual portable espresso machines make espresso via a pump. They don’t require batteries, but they do require some elbow grease, as you must manually pump the machine to produce coffee. The majority of portable espresso machines are manual, but there are some exceptions.
Battery-powered portable espresso machines
Battery-powered portable espresso machines generally use rechargeable batteries, which may be built-in or removable. They’re better for anyone who might struggle with the pump action of a manual machine due to arthritis or other conditions, but you will need to recharge the machine regularly.
You can make sure you don’t lose any of the parts of your portable espresso machine by storing it in a carrying case when not in use.
Check the dimensions of any portable espresso machine you’re considering. If you plan to take your espresso maker on trips, you’ll want it to take up as little luggage space as possible so you won’t have trouble fitting in your other essentials. Even if you’ll mostly use your portable espresso machine at home, drawer and cupboard space is often at a premium in kitchens, so many people avoid buying larger gadgets simply because they don’t have room for them. While most portable espresso machines are fairly compact, some are larger than others.
Weight is another important factor to consider. You want your portable espresso machine to be portable, of course, so it shouldn’t be too heavy to carry with you to work or sling in your backpack to take hiking or camping. Many portable espresso machines weigh under 10 ounces, which probably won’t push your luggage over the weight limit should you want to take yours on a vacation or business trip. However, there are heavier portable espresso machines on the market, which can be a pain to carry around, so check the weight before purchasing.
Ease of cleaning
The last thing you want is to have to do five minutes of scrubbing just to enjoy a single shot of espresso. If your chosen portable espresso machine isn’t easy to clean, we recommend looking at other options. A portable espresso machine should be easy to rinse for a quick clean, but you should also be able to take it apart for occasional thorough cleaning, too. If it has inaccessible nooks and crannies, dirt and bacteria could build up with no way to give the machine a good clean. Some models are dishwasher-safe, which makes cleaning much easier. We suggest washing portable espresso machines on the dishwasher’s top shelf to avoid warping, however.
Portable espresso machines often come with handy accessories. At the very least, your chosen model should come with some sort of tamper for pressing down the ground coffee and perhaps a scoop for measuring the coffee. Some models feature built-in mugs, which are useful for camping trips or making coffee in hotel rooms. We also find carrying cases a useful addition, as they’re great for taking your espresso maker on the go. They also help you keep all the parts of the machine together when it’s not in use.
Some portable espresso machines can only make a single shot of espresso at a time, whereas other models are capable of making double or triple shots.
It can be tough to know how much you should pay for a portable espresso machine, especially if this is your first time buying.
At the lower end of the price range, you can find portable espresso machines for as little as $20 to $30, but models this cheap don’t give amazing results. We recommend spending at least $45 to $60 for a basic unit.
Those with a little more to spend can find a good mid-range portable espresso machine with a decent pressure level for around $60 to $100.
If you want a high-end portable espresso machine that produces top-notch coffee and has lots of extra features, you’ll need to look in the $100 to $150 price range.
Check if your chosen portable espresso machine requires preheating. Some models recommend you run hot water through the machine before making your espresso to get it to the optimum temperature.
Think about what coffee you’ll use. If you’re on the go, using pre-ground coffee is much easier, but if you won’t settle for anything less than freshly ground beans, look for a small manual coffee grinder to go with your portable espresso machine. A handful of models accept coffee pods, but they generally don’t give you the most flavorful results.
Look at the amount of pressure your chosen portable espresso machine produces. You need at least nine bars of pressure to make espresso, but some portable espresso machines even exceed this.
Q. How do I use a portable espresso machine?
A. Every portable espresso machine works slightly differently, so for full directions, see the instruction manual. However, most machines work via the same basic formula. You put ground coffee in one end and hot water in the other. You then either pump a handle or press a button, and your espresso will start trickling out.
Q. Do portable espresso machines make true espresso?
A. As long as your chosen portable espresso machine reaches at least nine bars of pressure, then it will produce a true espresso, complete with a layer of rich crema. That said, pressure isn’t the only factor in making a good espresso. While you are technically getting an espresso and the results are very good from a quality portable machine, you can’t expect the espresso to have the same body and depth of flavor as espresso from a full-size countertop espresso machine.
Q. What kinds of drinks can I make with my portable espresso machine?
A. If you’re not interested in drinking shots of pure espresso, you’re probably wondering what kinds of drinks you can make with the espresso from a portable espresso machine. You can make any coffee drink that uses shots of espresso. If you prefer an Americano, simply add hot water (plus cream and sugar, if desired). You can also make specialty coffee drinks, such as lattes, mochas, and cappuccinos, although you will need steamed or frothed milk.
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