using nanopresso to make coffee while camping
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The Best Portable Espresso Maker For The Solo Traveler

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Having lived in Australia for a few years, I feel like I have become not just a coffee enthusiast but a total coffee snob. They know how to do coffee in Australia and no matter which coffee shop you go to, they will know how to serve you a quality hot espresso.

In fact, I took my 4×4 all the way up north in Queensland, where there isn’t a single thing for miles and miles. You drive on the sand on the beach and duck into a random petrol station in the middle of the beach. In that petrol station, I had a delicious soy latte that was just as good as those from the coffee shops in the fancier Noosa Heads, where I was living.

Now, I only drink espresso from my espresso machine. Needless to say, I have become obsessively picky about the coffee I drink. And when I’m out camping, I use one of the portable espresso makers I review below.

Read my guide about how to make coffee while camping to see how some of these portable espresso machines work.

Skip to the bottom to see what factors I considered when choosing the best portable espresso makers to include in this list. Otherwise, without further adieu, here are my favorite portable espresso makers on Amazon this year.

7 Best Portable Espresso Makers

If you’re looking for a portable espresso maker for traveling abroad or, like me, an espresso maker that you can take out on the trail or to the campsite, these are my favorite espresso makers on Amazon right now.

1. Best Portable Espresso Maker Overall: Nanopresso

To me, this is the best portable espresso maker, hands down. It is small, easy to set up and clean, very straightforward, and makes a delicious crema that is impressive for this little manual espresso maker. It tastes like an authentic espresso for the absolute least amount of fuss. I take finely ground coffee in a little bag or stainless steel container to use with the Nanopresso.

Photo by: Marquis Matson

I use my Jetboil to get hot water quickly, then add the boiling water to the reservoir and use my thumb to pump the Nanopresso until enough pressure builds to express the espresso.

Jetboil MicroMo Lightweight Precision Camping and Backpacking Stove Cooking System

The Nanopresso comes with a built-in espresso cup, so you have everything you need right in the little package. I like to enjoy my little espresso before cleaning the device because it cools pretty quickly otherwise. To clean it, I just take it apart, rinse it off, and pack it up.

I love the size, durability, and ease of use. I’ve used it while backpacking, it’s that lightweight. I have also pulled over on the side of the road on long road trips to enjoy a hot espresso with a view at random lookouts throughout the western states.

Photo by: Marquis Matson

All of that being said, it sometimes feels like it happens so quickly that I don’t get to enjoy it for very long. I’ve also heard from other travelers that they don’t like the manual espresso maker because they can’t quite figure out what size to set for their freshly ground coffee. And if you know anything about espresso, then you know that the size of your coffee grinds makes a huge difference. I haven’t had this problem, though. I’ve just been using ground coffee designed to be used in an espresso machine.

If you’re looking for something that packs small, is lightweight, and produces a quality espresso, then this is the perfect option.

If you’re not about pumping the device yourself in order to build pressure, then you might get annoyed with this little portable espresso machine.

2. Best Pump Press: STARESSO Portable Coffee Maker

STARESSO Plus Portable Coffee Maker

If I weren’t camping (hell, maybe this summer when I do camp), but I still wanted a quality manual espresso machine that’s an even better option than the Nanopresso, then this would be my choice. It’s a bit heavier and bulkier than the Nanopresso, so that puts it at second on this list. But the hand press on the top of this little espresso machine makes me think that it’d be a much more pleasurable experience. It’s a cool idea for traveling on a plane or car, where you can store it easily.

It doesn’t require any energy, just like the Nanopresso, which means that you can use it anywhere you have access to boiling water. If you have space, then a travel kettle would be a perfect match for this.

I would use pre ground coffee made for espresso machines for the best output, just so you can always be sure that you have the right size coffee grinds for this portable espresso maker.

3. Best Traveling Espresso Maker: Outin Nano Portable Electric Espresso Machine

Outin Nano Portable Electric Espresso Machine

If you’re looking for something a little less manual, then this portable electric espresso machine will probably excite you. It’s the same exact concept as the first two portable espresso makers on this list, but battery operated. The water heats up in just 3-4 minutes, and the espresso is poured with just a click of the button.

You can charge the batteries ahead of time and make a hot espresso within minutes no matter where you are.

The main thing I don’t like about this espresso machine is that it uses coffee pods BUT you can use ground coffee if you’re like me and want to be as zero-waste as possible. Coffee pods might attract others, though! My mom would love this little portable espresso machine because it is extremely convenient. As someone who flies often for work, I imagine she’d love the quick set up and tidy storage.

4. Best Durable Portable Espresso Maker: Aeropress Espresso Maker

Aeropress Go Portable Travel Coffee Press Kit

This has to be the most durable portable coffee maker. Made purely of plastic, you can literally toss this anywhere and have it on hand whenever you’d like a coffee. It also lets you cold brew in just two minutes, which is a fun option.

To me, this is less of an espresso maker and more of manual french press. I have met many travelers who use this portable coffee maker and love it. It was a bit too bulky for me at the time, so I chose not to use the Aeropress.

I envision it being great for coffee enthusiasts who tend to bang things up easily and who prefer a cup of coffee to a hot espresso.

5. Best Hand Espresso Maker: Flair Espresso Maker

Flair Espresso Maker

I have brief experience using the Flair espresso maker while living in Mexico. While it has a high learning curve (it’s best for people with a bit of barista skills already), it produced a great espresso. You create pressure by pulling the lever on this portable device. It creates a nice crema, almost a pro level espresso. You can opt for the version with the pressure gauge if you really want to perfect your brewing process.

This is obviously not ideal for backpacking, minimalist travel, or people with absolutely no experience with espresso machines. This manual espresso machine requires a good understanding of the kinds of coffee grinds, pressure, and water temperatures that influence the taste of the espresso. To make a true espresso, you need to precisely find the balance between those three things. If you’re new to espresso machines, then this may be a bit too advanced for you.

But if you’re looking for the best portable espresso maker in terms of the final pour, then this is it. It is heavy and takes up space compared to other espresso makers, but is worth it if that doesn’t bother you.

6. Best Manual Espresso Press: Cafflano Kompresso

Cafflano Kompresso

This is like a cross between the Aeropress and the Wacaco Nanopresso. It’s a bit bulkier than the Nanopresso, but still smaller than the Aeropress. If you haven’t noticed, size is the most important consideration for me when choosing anything to travel with.

I like the design, where you can use your body weight to press down and create a good pressure brew within a few seconds. The filter basket is easy to clean, making it as easy as the Nanopresso.

While it definitely makes a good espresso, the espresso maker itself seems poorly made. It may be an affordable portable espresso maker to begin with, you will likely outgrow it.

7. Best Camping Espresso Maker: Stovetop Percolator

GSI Outdoors Percolator Coffee Pot

If you’re car camping and looking for something reliable and straightforward, then a stovetop percolator, AKA moka pot, is perfect for you. You can pack your finely ground coffee in a little bag and tuck it inside of the moka pot, making it fairly easy to store.

You prepare the coffee by putting hot water in the water tank, and then placing the assembled moka pot over a fire or stove. Once the water bubbles, the steam pressure pushes through the ground coffee and bubbles into the top reservoir. It’s an extremely durable coffee maker and makes a consistently good cup of coffee.

coffee while camping
Photo by: Marquis Matson

That being said, it’s not my favorite flavor or preparation style of coffee. I called this “rocket fuel” in Australia when I used this method while car camping throughout Queensland. I liked that the coffee maker is durable and I could just toss it in with all my other stuff. I just had to pack it and place it, then wait for the coffee to come out. I loved it. But the flavor was just so harsh, that there is no way I can say it even compares to the flavor that comes from everything else on this list… if that matters to you.

I liked this anyway because I would mix it with my milk and have a strong cup of coffee every morning. I have fond memories of drinking this coffee while petting kangaroos one Christmas at Carnarvon Gorge.

marquis petting kangaroo
Photo by: Marquis Matson

Things To Consider When Choosing A Travel Espresso Maker

I’ve been a coffee obsessed nomad for the last ten years. Here is what I consider these days when looking for a portable espresso maker:

  • Portability and Size: Think about how much space it will take up, how much it weighs, and how involved the assembly is. If you’re on the go out in a forest, then the Flair isn’t a good option for you.
  • Ease of Use: I swear that you will appreciate a straightforward operation. The fewer steps, the less tweaking that you need to do, the better (imho). I love a good espresso, don’t get me wrong. But that’s why my fancy espresso machine at home is for. While I’m traveling, I want something quick and easy.
  • Power Source: Consider the power requirements of your espresso maker. I include manual or battery-operated models on this least because that’s the whole point… being able to make a great espresso no matter where you are.
  • Durability: Traveling around means that things get banged up. Think about what your suitcase looks like!! Something that can be tossed in with the rest of your gear without being compromised is a top priority for me.
  • Water Capacity: Evaluate the water reservoir’s capacity to ensure it aligns with your coffee consumption needs, whether you’re serving just yourself or a group of fellow travelers. The Wacaco Minipresso, for example, is a single shot situation.
  • Pressure System: The essence of a rich and full-bodied espresso lies in the pressure system. Aim for a machine capable of delivering at least 9 bars of pressure, which is what most coffee shops go for.
  • Cleaning and Maintenance: This is also an extremely important factor for me. While I would for sure love the most delicious espresso possible, it’s more important to me that it’s not a pain in my ass. Cleaning and maintenance is what influences how much of a pain in the ass it is. The less maintenance and cleaning, the better suited it is to my lifestyle.

Tips For Preparing Espresso While On The Go

  1. Practice with an Affordable Bean: Before you hit the road, spend some time getting familiar with your grinder using a less expensive coffee bean. Finding the perfect grind size for espresso can be a bit of trial and error, and you don’t want to waste your premium beans on practice runs. Once you’ve nailed the settings at home, you’ll be ready to brew perfect espresso anywhere.
  2. If Grinding Your Own Beans: A manual grinder like the JavaPresse or 1Zpresso will get you the precision and portability you need for these espresso makers. The stainless steel construction in both means they’re durable. They both offer adjustable grind selectors, making it easier to find the perfect grind size for your espresso maker.
  3. Opt for Aluminum Portable Airtight Storage: Keeping your coffee fresh while on the move is crucial. Aluminum containers are not only lightweight but also offer excellent protection from air, moisture, and light, all of which can degrade your coffee. An airtight seal is a must to preserve the beans’ flavor and aroma until you’re ready to grind and brew.
  4. Clean Your Equipment Regularly: Even on the go, make sure to clean your espresso maker and grinder after each use. This prevents oil buildup and ensures that old grounds don’t affect your next brew’s taste.
  5. Boil Water Efficiently: If you’re using a manual espresso maker that doesn’t heat water, carry a small, travel-friendly kettle. Boiling water to the right temperature (just off the boil, around 200°F) can make a significant difference in your espresso’s extraction process.

Closing Thoughts

Ditch your local coffee shop for a few mornings and make your own espresso out in the wild with one of these espresso makers. Give one a try and let me know in the comments which espresso machine you went with and what your experience was!

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