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Best Portable Espresso Machines

Updated December 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 30 Models Considered
  • 7 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 165 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best portable espresso machines

    Last Updated December 2018

    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.

    All you need to make espresso in a portable espresso machine is near-boiling water and ground coffee.

    Why buy a portable espresso machine?

    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.

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    Most portable espresso machines are made from plastic or at least have some plastic parts. We recommend looking for a BPA-free model.

    Types of portable espresso machines

    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.

    EXPERT TIP

    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.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Features to consider for portable espresso machines

    Size

    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

    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.

    Accessories

    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.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    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.

    Prices for portable espresso machines

    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.

    Tips

    • 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.

    • Consider how often you’ll be using your portable espresso machine. It’s worth splurging on a sturdy, high-end model if you’ll be using your machine daily. If you only want to use your portable espresso maker on occasional vacations or camping trips, a more basic model will suffice.
    Most portable espresso machines produce shots very quickly – often in less than 30 seconds – but some models are slower, so be sure to check if speedy espresso making is important to you.

    FAQ

    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.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jacob
      Jacob
      Editorial Manager
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
    • Linsay
      Linsay
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Rich
      Rich
      Writer

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