We taste test the Wacaco Nanopresso at home, work and on the road – is it the ultimate coffee maker for adventurers?
If you know me, you’ll know I’m heavily addicted to coffee. I can’t stand the instant stuff and my poor old manual machine and grinder cop an absolute hiding every single day, and usually half a dozen times a day at that. Yeah, I drink that much coffee.
But what about when I’m on the road, or out the back of beyond? Well, I used to brew up a thermos full of coffee via a stove-top maker but, if I’m honest that stuff tastes only marginally better than drinking the contents of a well-used ash tray tipped into a cup of warm water. Some days I’ll go without. Poor me.
Not anymore. Granted, a hand-held espresso maker that looks like an oversized novelty pill that you hand pump to extract the coffee might not be the first thing we think of when it comes to an espresso maker. You should never judge a weird-looking hand-pumped espresso maker by the fact its hand-pumped.
The Nanopresso lists for $103.90 so it isn’t cheap by stove-top coffee maker standards but it is by machine standards. Especially so, when you consider it’s portable and doesn’t require batteries, well, the price is just about right. And if you shop around hard enough, you might pick one up for a lot less. I’ve seen them on Amazon for around $79.90.
The Nanopresso is the second-generation of Wacaco’s Minipresso and it’s easier, smaller and better at making coffee. The thing measures just 15.6cm long (a little bit longer when it’s in its hard storage case) and weighs just 336g, which is nothing. The water tank holds 80ml which is more than enough for one generous espresso but not enough for two. There are larger tanks available as cost-optional extras. See the end of the yarn for some of the extra bits and bobs you can get. In terms of the espresso shot, you’ll get 8g of coffee into the head.
If you’ve looked at the pictures and think the thing looks a bit plastic-fantastic well you’d be right and wrong. Yep, it’s made from plastic but it’s good quality plastic that looks like it’ll last an age. I’ve had mine for a couple of months now and it gets chucked about and it’s holding up well. Then there’s the quality of the screws, filters and seals on the inside of the Nanopresso. In the case of the screws, well, they’re metal, and so is the filter while the seals are solid and won’t perish within five minutes of use. The coffee scoop doubles as a tamper for the grinds and when you’ve finished and cleaned the Nanopresso, all the bits and bobs store in the water tank so you won’t lose anything when you’re travelling.
Before I bought the Nanopresso I’d read reviews about how getting the grind right could be a bit fiddly and some complained that when you’re on the road you’ll also need to carry a thermos of hot water. The latter is true because the Nanopresso doesn’t heat up the water (no batteries, remember). But I’ve got a small 500ml Thermos which does the trick.
What about the grind? Well, I reckon you might struggle, at first, if you’re using maker-ground coffee that you buy from the supermarket. But maybe not. To be honest, I’m not sure what grind you’ll find in most pre-packaged and ground coffee pouches but the instructions with the Nanopresso suggest a grind level of Nine, which is higher number (coarser grind) than I run through my manual machine (usually a six). I’ve got a grinder at home, so I whizzed a small container full of coffee beans at Nine and ran that through the Nanopresso. And you know what, the quality of espresso was better than I’ve ever had in a café and just about better than I can get from my machine at home. Look at the picture below and you’ll see there’s a nice golden crema on the espresso.
The Nanopresso runs 18bar of pressure which is the same as most manual machines and it only takes a handful of pumps before espresso starts to flow. And it’s so easy to use that even my eight-year-old daughter can make me a coffee with it.
One of the downsides to the Nanopresso is the fact you’ve got to clean the thing and wait for it to dry before using it again. And you need to have boiling water (remember the Thermos, I mentioned before) and you’ll need a flat spot to sit things while you’re adding coffee and water. But, if you like to drink good coffee, it’s not anymore of a faff than making a coffee using a manual machine.
If you’re wanting to make two espressos in quick succession you can do what I’ve done and that’s pack a small microfibre towel in my kit and I use that to dry the thing after use. And the good thing is you don’t have to strip the Nanopresso and give it a proper clean after every use – usually after the 10th or so use is it recommended to remove and clean the seals.
In terms of accessories, there are a couple of special-edition Nanopressos which are either different colours or have some sort of scene printed onto them but they’re more expensive than the plain black one that I got; $127.90 Vs 103.90. If you’re wanting extra coffee capacity then the Barista kit could be worth a look, it doubles the capacity of the water tank and coffee grind and it lists for $47.90. You can get a pod adaptor for $31.90 and a couple of other bits and pieces not directly related to the making of coffee, like caps and towels. All in all, a top-notch bit of kit, for making a spectacular coffee on the road. Click HERE for more.
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