Wacaco Nanopresso review: Get portable espresso anywhere you can boil water
Quick verdict: The Wacaco Nanopresso is an incredible feat of design that will deliver delicious espresso coffee in the most remote of locations, though you will have to work for it.
- Espresso everywhere
- Easy to use
- A lot of effort for a fairly small shot of coffee
- Cleaning isn't fun
- Price may not suit everyone
When I was a kid, my dad used to carry this bulky, aluminium coffee percolator on camping trips. Every morning he would stick it in the fire and it would bubble away, creating an overly bitter cup of coffee that I could never truly appreciate.
I never understood why he bothered - it was large and heavy and an extra weight he always committed to carrying - even when we were trying to pack light.
But now that I'm the one taking my kids on camping trips, I think I understand. Having a nice, hot cup of coffee is the first thing on my mind after crawling out of the tent at dawn, bleary-eyed and not overly well-rested.
Fortunately for me, the heavy percolator has been retired. In its place, I take the incredibly well-designed portable espresso machine, the Wacaco Nanopresso.
The Nanopresso is one of those devices that blows you away with its incredibly simple, elegant design. It delivers espresso coffee no matter where you are. You have to do a fair amount of work to get that shot though, but from my experience, the effort is entirely worth it.
Design: Impressive engineering
- Impressively compact build
- Every part has a purpose
- Lightweight plastic makes it perfectly portable for camping
- Only makes one small shot at a time
- Detachable drinking cup is hard to remove
There is a compact elegance to the Nanopresso. Every single part of the product serves a purpose, working together to fulfil its goal of letting you make flavourful espresso coffee no matter where you are.
When it's all packed away, the Nanopresso measures in at 7.11 x 6.2 x 15.6 cm and weighs in at 530 grams. It comes in a soft lined carry case, which makes it easy to store between camping trips, while equally convenient to throw in your glove box for a day out. It's made from a durable but lightweight plastic and available in several colours,
The Nanopresso is easy to use once you get the hang of it, but it requires some thought to understand how all the pieces work together right out of the box.
The front of the machine is the pump, which locks into place with a 45-degree clockwise twist, and needs to be open to push boiling water through the coffee. The top of the device doubles as the extraction point. Unscrewing this component reveals the small coffee basket and filter.
Unscrewing the bottom reveals the 80mL water tank, which doubles as a storage compartment for the coffee scoop and tamper and a tiny cleaning brush. That scoop is the perfect size to measure coffee for the basket. Then you can tamp it down with the bottom to ensure your brew is just right.
The bottom of the water tank also detaches as a drinking cup. It's a little tough to remove though, and I've found that it's easier to just use a mug to brew the coffee into.
It takes a bit of effort to get all the pieces into place in order to make a cup of coffee. To be honest, the result also seems a little on the small side, and always leaves me ready for a second cup.
Wacaco offers a barista kit accessory pack that doubles the water tank and coffee basket size to allow for double shots, and if you're a serious coffee drinker, you almost definitely want to factor that into your buying decision.
But for me, the ability to have a delicious shot of espresso while in the middle of the bush is enough.
There is also an adapter accessory that will allow the Nanopresso to support Nespresso capsules. I haven't tested this, but I assume it would make the process a bit more convenient, though create additional waste to manage on a camping trip.
Performance: Does it make good coffee?
- Takes a bit of time
- High-quality extraction
- Cleaning is easy enough
There is something of a ritual to brewing a nice, fresh espresso with the Nanopresso.
The first step is to measure your coffee, using the included scoop. Because of the product's intelligent design, the coffee basket wraps perfectly around the scoop, allowing you to fill it with minimal mess.
Next, invert the basket, remove the scoop and turn it around. Then tamp down to firmly pack the coffee grounds and screw the top of the device back in.
It is impossible to attach parts to the main unit incorrectly. The top only attaches to one side, making it easy to figure out how you are going.
The next step is to fill the water tank with freshly boiled water. This is actually one of the most important elements to making a nice shot of espresso - the Nanopresso needs freshly boiled water.
I primarily use the machine while camping and it's typically pretty cold first thing in the morning, so the coffee usually cools way too quickly. You can negate this somewhat by running some boiling water through the system before you add your coffee - giving it a run of boiling water to take the cool out of the system. Of course, that adds time to the brewing process. If you're in a rush for your first shot of caffeine, you can skip this step.
Once you've added your boiling water, screw the water tank into the main unit, invert it and begin pumping. It takes a few squeezes to really get the water moving - Wacaco says that the Nanopresso pumps the water through at 18 bars, which is higher than many home espresso machines.
Using the pump isn't difficult, though it's probably a two-handed affair for most people. It takes about 15 pumps for all the water to be pumped through, although you'll likely keep pumping a few more times just to make sure you use up all the water.
The end result is as good as any home-brewed espresso I've ever made. Obviously, the quality of your coffee beans is paramount and ensuring you properly pre-heat the Nanopresso is also important. Overall, the result looks and tastes great.
However, as I mentioned before, the shot is small. If you're anything like me, you're probably going to back it up with a second cup straight away.
Once you've satisfied your morning caffeine craving, the task of cleaning the Nanopresso is also straightforward. You can simply rinse and brush (with the included brush) most of the internal components, and a gentle hand wash for the cup and external elements.
Periodically you will need to give the Nanopresso a more thorough clean, removing gaskets from inside and even unscrewing the metal mesh. Like most espresso machines, this ongoing maintenance will help your product last longer.
Should you buy the Wacaco Nanopresso?
- Buy it if: You crave a tasty espresso every day no matter where you are.
- Don't buy it if: You're happy enough with instant coffee.
The Nanopresso from Wacaco is an incredible product, delivering tasty espresso coffee literally anywhere you can boil water. It's easy to use, lightweight and compact and reasonably affordable for what it promises, and there's a certain joy to the ritual and effort involved in pumping your own shot of espresso.
For some people, the price will be a bit much. If you're happy enough to carry around a percolator, or drink instant coffee, then it's probably not right for you.
But for anyone craving high-quality coffee wherever they are, the Nanopresso does not disappoint. It's currently our choice for the best portable espresso machine you can buy in Australia today.