It’s immediately clear who this product is aimed at: people who like to travel and love intense espresso. If you’re willing to put in a little physical effort, the compact, nicely designed Handpresso will reward you with a good shot of espresso.
This machine is really cool, and gives you a feeling of full control over your shot of espresso. The only thing you aren’t doing is manually pressing the water through the grinds. At about a pound, the Handpresso Wild Hybrid is compact enough to throw in a suitcase, and it’s surprisingly easy to use. You will have to heat up water and grind your favorite espresso bean, but that’s about it. Build pressure with a few pumps, hit a button, and *poof* you have a rich, aromatic shot of espresso.
The downsides? This isn’t the cheapest portable espresso maker on the market. Getting up to the full 16 bars of pressure takes quite a few pumps, so the process is also fairly lengthy and somewhat tiring, especially if you’re brewing for a crowd. And if you prefer more concentrated ristretto shots, you’ll have to buy a separate portafilter.
If you prefer a more conventional approach to espresso, you may not love this machine, especially if you already own a home espresso machine or know a skilled barista. The Handpresso isn’t going to replace your favorite espresso machine, but it’s a great travel or camping option.
A Little Background
Founded in 2006, Handpresso became the first company to produce and release a portable espresso machine. Handpresso also offers a model that plugs into your car and a Nespresso-compatible version. The company delivers to 120 countries all around the world and sells accessories and coffee pods through its website.
Handpresso – A Quick Look
|Size:||22 by 10 by 7 cm|
|Bars of pressure:||16|
|Water reservoir:||50 ml (1.7 fl oz)|
We Put It to the Test
Here’s the fun part. Let’s make some espresso.
The Handpresso shows up in a nice, padded box. The package includes ground coffee and pod adapters, plus an instruction booklet and a spare rubber seal. We were impressed with the device’s expensive-feeling construction and classy black design. The instructions were detailed but straightforward, and we got started in no time.
The first steps are intuitive if you know anything about coffee: heat up some water and grind up some coffee.
After that, it’s time to build up pressure in our Handpresso. You do this by unlocking the bottom of the machine with a quick turn and then pumping it until the needle is in the green area. You are warned not to go into the red area, so lock the pump as soon as you hit the green zone.
Unfortunately, pumping to build pressure can be tiring. If you’re pulling multiple shots, this is especially true. After that, you pour in hot water, tamp finely-ground espresso beans into the ground coffee adapter, and put the pieces together. If you prefer, you can also use ESE (Easy Serving Espresso) pods using the included adapter.
You put the cap on (making sure to lock it), aim at your cup, and push the start button. Viola! Espresso starts coming out. It even sounds a little like a coffee shop espresso machine, and you’ll see some steam. We did find the process a little messy — small droplets of espresso went flying in every direction.
Of course, the most important part of espresso is whether it smells and tastes good. We were pleasantly surprised on this front. The Handpresso did not produce strong crema, but there was a little. The Handpresso did produce a shot with wonderful body and acidity, deep color, flavor, and an enticing aroma.
Because the Handpresso’s capacity is small, you won’t be able to pull a lungo shot or multiple shots back-to-back. You can experiment with different coffee beans, grind sizes, and tamping levels, but you can’t change the length of the shot.
After perusing the web and seeing what others have said, it seems like we aren’t the only ones surprised by the capabilities of this product, so…
We find the Handpresso Wild Hybrid to be an impressive product that’s reasonably easy to use, very compact, and produces delicious espresso. It could be more ergonomic and easier to pump, but the overall design is streamlined and expensive-feeling. Plus, because it’s manually-powered, the carbon footprint is zero.
The verdict? This is one of those genuinely good products. With a two-year warranty and the ability to use ground coffee or ESE pods, this easy-to-clean machine has earned a spot in our crowded coffee cupboards.