Espresso filled in a cup

5 Best Manual Espresso Machines (Portable + Aesthetic)

Henry Muller

People who want a hands-on and personalized espresso brewing experience generally consider the manual version. If you are one of them, you are in the right place.

These machines also allow you to brew espresso shots while camping or traveling.

In this article, I will provide you with a list of the best manual espresso machines.

Let’s start.

Factors to consider when buying a manual espresso makers

1) Weight and size

Apart from hands-on experience, manual espresso machines are generally bought for their portability. And when it comes to portability, size, and weight are the most useful factors that you need to consider.

If the weight and size of the machine is large, it can’t show good portability.

2) Pressure that can be exerted on

If the machine can’t exert enough pressure on water passing through the espresso grounds, it can’t ensure optimal flavor extraction. So, in my opinion, it is better to look for the pressure that it can exert.

3) Durability

If you want your espresso machine to work best for you for a longer period, you need to buy a machine built with durable materials. If it is made up of some plastic materials, it won’t work for you in the long run.

4) Easy to use

It is one of the important factors. If the machine you are going to use is a simple design and has fewer setup requirements, you can easily use it without facing much hassle in brewing.

5) Compatibility with coffee grounds or pods

Check whether the manual espresso maker is compatible with your preferred type of coffee grounds. Some models are designed specifically for espresso pods, while others allow the use of fresh coffee grounds.

If brewing espresso during camping is your only goal, I would recommend you get a machine that is compatible with pods.

6) Easy to clean

It would be meaningless if you have to spend lots of time and effort in cleaning the machine. So before considering any of it, look for how easy to clean the maker is.

Removable parts, dishwasher safety, etc are some of the features that you need to check to ensure that it is easy to clean.

7) Includes accessories or not

Look for machines that come with essential items such as portafilters, tampers, and additional baskets. These accessories are very useful in brewing a better shot.

8) Adjustability

Some manual espresso makers offer adjustability in terms of pressure, temperature, and extraction time. Assess whether the device allows you to customize these factors to achieve your preferred espresso taste.

7 Best Manual Espresso Machines

1) Simpresso Portable Espresso Maker

Simpresso Portable Espresso Maker

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It can operate at a maximum pressure of 19 bars. This portable espresso machine ensures that you get crema on the espresso layer.

Since it is compact and lightweight, you can easily bring this along with you anywhere.

With a generous 120 ml water capacity, this portable espresso machine is always ready to satisfy your caffeine cravings. It also comes with a detachable transparent cup, smart capsules (a reusable 4-piece set), a Nespresso pod adapter kit, a waterproof travel bag, a convenient scoop, and an instruction book.

It is compatible not only with Nespresso pods but also with homemade ground coffee, it provides you with the flexibility to craft your espresso just the way you like it.

It comes with a patented lever action pumping system that empowers you to create a velvety espresso effortlessly, all without the need for electricity.

It can also be fully disassembled, ensuring painless and thorough cleaning.

2) Flair The NEO Flex

Flair The NEO Flex

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The Flair NEO Flex espresso machine empowers you with a complete manual espresso maker, ensuring the production of professional-quality shots of espresso from the comfort of your home or wherever your coffee journey takes you.

Simply add 60 ml of boiled water and a dose of up to 18 grams to yield a 40 ml shot adorned with a beautiful crema, providing a sensory journey with every sip.

This coffee maker is constructed from a lightweight poly frame that marries strength with durability.

Thanks to Flair’s existing lever-based espresso technology, the NEO Flex ensures a consistently delicious espresso in your cup every time you decide to indulge.

This machine comes with two distinct portafilters, offering a choice between convenience and control. Begin with the red Flow Control portafilter for a hassle-free experience that doesn’t demand a high-quality burr grinder.

This portafilter automatically generates the pressure needed for a stellar espresso extraction. When ready to elevate your control, switch to the Bottomless 2-in-1 Portafilter, allowing you to dial in your espresso precisely.

This maker is capable of generating a precise 6-9 BAR of pressure. It also offers complete control over your extraction, this lever system empowers you to brew at different pressure profiles, ensuring that your espresso reflects your unique taste preferences.

Along with all these benefits, it is easy to clean too. So, you don’t need to spend lots of time in cleaning the machine.

3) Rok Manual Espresso Maker

Rok Manual Espresso Maker

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This hand-press espresso machine is made from cast Aluminum, Steel, and Glass-composite. This blend of materials not only ensures durability and longevity but also contributes to the machine's aesthetic appeal.

This machine also comes with a set of accessories that cater to both novices and seasoned baristas.

The package includes a Standard Portafilter, SmartShot Basket, Naked Portafilter, Manual Milk Frother, Dosing Funnel, Coffee spoon/tamper, and a Clip-on double adapter.

The pressure chamber of this espresso maker is made from glass composite which makes the espresso pulling easier than any other manual versions.

4) MHW-3BOMBER Manual lever Espresso Maker

MHW-3BOMBER Manual lever Espresso Maker

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This machine includes a 58mm Bottomless Portafilter. These components are thoughtfully curated to provide you with the tools needed to create the perfect shot of espresso.

Since it is compact and low-weight, it can be brought to anywhere you are traveling. So it allows you to enjoy your favorite customized espresso shots anywhere you like.

One of the best things I like about this machine is the variable extraction pressure. It allows you to change the pressure so you can also experiment with different pressures for different kinds of beans and decide what works best for you.

One of the differentiating features of this equipment is manual pre-steeping, a process where hot water is added in a slow, low-pressure stream to infiltrate the ground coffee layers.

This method releases carbon dioxide in advance, minimizing the channeling effect and maximizing flavor extraction. Additionally, preheating the brewing group head with hot water before extraction contributes to a richer and more nuanced coffee taste.

5) STARESSO Plus Portable Espresso Maker

STARESSO Plus Portable Espresso Maker

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This brewer comes with a segmented hydraulic extraction, generating an impressive 15-20 bar pressure. This innovation allows users to effortlessly achieve gold extraction, producing a brew that is not only rich in flavor but also visually clear and enticingly aromatic.

Large Pressure and Stable Extraction: Effortless Coffee Artistry

It is designed for minimal effort and maximum results. The stability of the operation is ensured by a silicone pad at the bottom of the cup, allowing you to confidently create your espresso masterpiece.

Since the high-quality materials are used to craft this maker, it is more durable. The portable espresso machine features silicone material with the same safety level as baby bottles, while all metal parts are meticulously crafted from food-grade 304 stainless steel.

The pump's surface adopts aerospace-grade nano-ceramic coating, boosting pump durability threefold. With these materials, STARESSO ensures a robust and enduring coffee-making companion.

Its body separation design offers versatility, allowing users to use it with or without the stand. Easily switch between two storage states, fold and deform as needed, and enjoy reduced space occupation.

Each component of the coffee machine can be effortlessly separated for deep cleaning, ensuring a hassle-free and hygienic espresso-making experience.

What is a manual espresso maker?

A manual espresso machine is also known as a lever espresso machine. It is a type of espresso brewer that requires manual effort to generate the pressure needed to brew espresso.

Unlike automatic or semi-automatic espresso machines, which use pumps to create the necessary pressure, manual espresso machines rely on the user's physical force.

How to use a manual espresso machine?

Step 1: Preheat the Machine

Before initiating the brewing process, it's necessary to ensure that your machine is adequately preheated. This step helps maintain a consistent temperature throughout the brewing, contributing to the quality of your espresso.

Step 2: Prepare the Coffee

Start by grinding your coffee beans to a fine consistency suitable for espresso. Use fresh and high-quality coffee beans to enhance the flavor profile. Once ground, insert the portafilter into the grinder and add the appropriate amount of coffee grounds.

Step 3: Portafilter and Tamping

Following the preparation of coffee grounds, insert the portafilter into the machine's group head. Ensure a secure fit to prevent any leaks during the brewing process. Use a tamper to apply consistent pressure, compressing the coffee grounds to create a flat and level surface within the portafilter.

Step 3: Loading the Portafilter

Once the coffee grounds are appropriately tamped, attach the portafilter securely to the group head on the espresso machine. This step is crucial for establishing a proper seal and initiating the brewing process.

Step 4: Pre-Infusion (Optional)

Some manual espresso machines feature a pre-infusion stage, where you slightly lift the lever to wet the coffee grounds before applying full pressure. While optional, this step can enhance the overall extraction of flavors from the coffee.

Step 5: Pulling the Shot

Begin the brewing process by lifting the lever. This action pre-compresses the spring or piston, storing energy for the actual shot. Release the lever slowly to allow pressurized water to flow through the tamped coffee grounds. Aim for a steady and controlled descent of the lever to ensure an even extraction.

Step 6: Monitoring Extraction

Keep a close eye on the espresso flow into the cup. A standard double shot of espresso generally takes around 25-30 seconds to brew. Adjustments to grind size, tamping pressure, or coffee grounds may be necessary if the extraction is too fast or too slow.

Step 7: Adjustments

If you find that the extraction is not meeting your preferences—either too fast (under-extracted) or too slow (over-extracted)—be prepared to make adjustments. Experiment with variables such as grind size, tamping pressure, or the quantity of coffee grounds to achieve the desired results.

Step 8: Cleanup

Once the brewing is complete, remove the portafilter, and discard the used coffee grounds. Rinse the portafilter and group head to eliminate any residual coffee oils, maintaining the cleanliness of your equipment.

Step 9: Practice and Refine

Using a manual espresso machine requires practice to master the technique. Experiment with different variables to find the optimal settings that suit your taste preferences. Continuous practice will enhance your ability to consistently produce high-quality espresso shots.

Benefits of using a manual espresso machine

1) No Electricity Required

Well, whenever I think about the advantages of these machines, first thing that come to mind is its no electric operation. Since manual machines don't rely on electricity or pumps, they can be operated without the need for a power source.

This makes them suitable for use in locations where electricity may not be readily available or for those who prefer a more eco-friendly option.

2) Control Over the Brewing Process

One of the primary benefits is the level of control it provides to the user. With a manual machine, you have control over the entire brewing process, including the pre-infusion, pressure, and extraction time. This allows you to tailor each shot of espresso to your specific preferences.

3) Customization of Espresso Shots

Hand-press espresso machines allow you to experiment with different variables such as grind size, tamping pressure, and water temperature, giving you the ability to customize each shot of espresso to achieve the flavor profile you desire.

4) Portability

Some hand-pull espresso machines are designed to be compact and portable, making them suitable for travel or outdoor use. This can be appealing to individuals who want to enjoy high-quality espresso wherever they go.

5) Less Maintenance

These machines often have fewer components and are, therefore, easier to clean and maintain. This can be advantageous for individuals who prefer a low-maintenance coffee-making device.

The Final Words

Here, I have got you covered with the top manual espresso brewing machines.

Handpress espresso makers are very good at providing you with a handy espresso brewing experience. At the same time, they are also portable so you can carry them with you wherever you want.

I also appreciate their look to fit and enhance the appearance of the kitchen. I hope that this article will help you choose the right manual version of the espresso maker.


Henry Muller

Team TAB
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I am a barista by profession hailing from NC. My journey began in my late teens when I started working as a barista in a local coffee shop. My passion for coffee quickly became evident as I immersed myself in the art of espresso extraction, latte art ...