Coffee fuels adventure and, whether you’re in the backcountry or simply road tripping, a good cup of coffee is part of the experience. Like a good addict, I’ve always got an eye out for new ways to get my fix. The latest coffee gadget to find its way into the office for testing is the Minipresso portable espresso maker. It’s a portable, hand-operated espresso maker and it pulls a respectable shot.
The unit looks like a small thermos and fits easily into your hand. There are no batteries and no power is required. The Minipresso is completely hand-operated. You need to be able to boil water and, of course, have ground coffee. It’s similar in concept to the Handpresso unit we have also reviewed and is ideally suited to road trips, car camping and occasional backcountry use.
Despite having multiple parts, my first impression of the Minipresso was that of simplicity. The unit is 100% self contained for travel and disassembles into four main pieces plus a coffee scoop and a small cup for set up.
The coffee making process is the simple part. The scoop is sized to fit snuggly over the shot basket for easy transfer of the coffee and even doubles as a tamper. Here’s the process:
- Scoop and fill the shot basket with fine ground coffee
- Boil water by whatever means available
- Fill water reservoir with the hot water
- Pump the unit until espresso stops being produced
The process, boiling water aside, takes only a minute or two. Check out a video of the Minipresso in action. The result is a smooth, flavorful shot complete with crema. Of course, its not going to rival a shot pulled on a true espresso machine but, when compared to the Handpresso unit, it delivers a rival shot.
There is a learning curve to using the Minipresso. The first few shots I made were on the watery side and less inspiring than I expected. With a little experimentation, I have been able to get a consistently good shot. The two most important steps in the process are:
- Preheat the minipresso unit by running a shot of hot water through it without any coffee.
- Modestly tamp the coffee basket to pack the grounds. The instructions explicitly say no tamping, yet the how-to video from the company shows light tamping and the measuring scoop is designed to fit into the basket as a tamper.
Taking these steps adds a little time to the process, but the improved results are worth the extra effort to preheat and experiment with tamping. If you tamp too much, the unit is difficult to pump and, my guess is, will shorten the life of the seals, so there is an art to it.
Is the Minipresso better than the Handpresso? The bottom line is that both units require experimentation to get good results, and i’ve been able to create good shots with both. The mark in favor of the Minipresso is it its $60 price tag. It’s literally half the cost of the Handpresso.
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