The 6 Best Manual Espresso Machines

Updated October 09, 2017 by Tina Morna Freitas

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. For those who like to make their java with a touch of old school charm, we present these manual espresso machines. We've included some nifty portable models that you can take camping or hiking through to a deluxe countertop beauty that would not look amiss in any Italian cafe. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best manual espresso machine on Amazon.

6. Staresso Portable

The Staresso Portable has a compact design that includes its own glass for brewing and enjoying great espresso everywhere you go. This machine can also be used to make a cup of cold brew coffee in minutes instead of waiting for hours with traditional cold brews.
  • uses up to 15 bars of pressure
  • can also froth milk
  • not easy to clean
Model pending
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Bialetti Stovetop

If you need to make rich, velvety espresso for a crowd, the Bialetti Stovetop is available in multiple sizes from one to twelve cups. You'll find this classic design in most Italian homes, although some say the stovetop method doesn't produce a true espresso.
  • easy to clean and disassemble
  • choose from five vibrant colors
  • high quality polished aluminum
Brand Bialetti
Model 06905
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Handpresso Wild Hybrid

For a quick, easy cup of espresso on the road all you need is the Handpresso Wild Hybrid, a bit of hot water and your favorite ground coffee beans. It also comes with an adapter for usage with ESE pods. The handy indicator allows for precision pressure control.
  • easy to maintain
  • ideal for hiking and camping
  • does not make a good crema
Brand Handpresso
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. ROK Presso

The attractive, polished metal ROK Presso features an interesting two-arm frame that makes it easy to control the brewing pressure. The stainless steel frother allows you to make lattes and cappuccinos without using any electricity.
  • reusable storage tin included
  • 10-year warranty on metal parts
  • frother does not heat the milk
Brand Rok
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Minipresso GR

With the Minipresso GR, you can make high quality espresso anywhere. The simple, intuitive design of this compact unit delivers a single shot with a nice crema that is comparable to the machine-brewed espresso at your local coffee shop.
  • fits nicely in a backpack
  • consistently delicious results
  • perfect for college students
Brand Wacaco Company
Model MPGR100
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. La Pavoni Europiccola

The most discerning espresso aficionado will appreciate the complete flavor control the La Pavoni Europiccola offers. With sturdy, all-steel construction and retro 1950s styling, this is a top quality conversation piece you can proudly display on your countertop.
  • traditional steam wand
  • instructional video included
  • imported from italy
Brand La Pavoni
Model EPC-8
Weight 14 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

What Is The Difference Between Automated And Manual Espresso Machines?

Though automated and manual espresso machines are very similar, there is one distinct difference that can easily tilt a user towards choosing one over the other. Simply put, automated machines do all the work for you. On the other hand, they may cause more work in the long run. Manual espresso machines tend to last much longer than automated espresso machines. A manual espresso machine contains fewer components than a standard electrical machine. A greater number of components usually means more to clean and more possible reasons for a machine to stop working. The pumps in standard espresso machines may break after continuous use. The buildup of hard water minerals in the machine often causes clogged pumps and tubes. Altered tubes also change the extraction pressure as they become more constricted. This process will degrade the quality of the brew and put undue stress on the pump, as well — contributing to further breakages.

Manual espresso machines typically only contain the basic components needed to make espresso. The water reservoir stores either cool or heated water before it comes into contact with the coffee grounds. Some manual espresso machines have a heating element within the reservoir. Other machines rely on an outside heat source to boil water, such as a stove or campfire. All espresso machines contain some sort of portafilter that the coffee sits in during use. Portafilters have very small holes on one side that allow the espresso to flow during the extraction, while holding the thicker grounds back.

Some manual espresso machines contain a pressure gauge, while others require you to gauge the perfect pressure by feel. The learning curve of most manual espresso machines lies here. Some manual machines create the ideal nine bars of pressure quite easily. At nine bars, it'll take you between 25-30 seconds to pull one shot of espresso. It takes more time to pull a shot using less pressure, and less time to pull a shot using more pressure. Some people find that they prefer using varying levels of pressure and time to create their desired brew. It is all about finding what your taste buds love. Espresso is a personal art, and manual espresso machines help people find their own personal expression in that art.

Benefits Of Espresso

Many people drink espresso to energize them for the day ahead. While espresso has started earning a bad reputation in the health community, that is actually undeserved. Espresso is much healthier than it is given credit for. One serving of espresso is very low in calories, and is loaded with beneficial nutrients like vitamin B2, vitamin B3, and magnesium. Espresso is also a good source of potassium, iron, and healthy fats. Of course, it is most known for its liberal caffeine content.

The caffeine in espresso can help to improve attention. This is fairly obvious, as alertness is often cited as a reason people drink espresso. This uptick in attention can actually lead to improvements in long term memory. A study posted to the journal Nature found that drinking espresso after studying improved a person’s ability to remember the information they studied for longer periods of time. This means a manual espresso machine may be the perfect gift for college-bound students. Espresso may also have a connection to lower levels of certain cancers. Researchers recently found that people who drink a lot of coffee have a reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Espresso is also good for the liver, it boosts physical performance, and may even prevent cavities. It also supports weight loss by boosting the metabolism and improving digestion.

It is very likely that the things we add to our espresso cause the health risks associated with coffee consumption. Milk, cream, sugar, and flavored syrups may all contribute to various health risks. For example, sugar sweetened beverages contribute to higher rates of obesity and other disorders, like metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.

Drinking too much espresso may still pose some risks, though. Extremely high levels of caffeine can cause symptoms of agitation, jitters, heart palpitations, and anxiety. The body of someone who regularly drinks too much caffeine will often go through withdrawals when they stop drinking it. That said, enjoying one or two cups of espresso from a manual espresso machine may be a great step towards keeping a person energized in the short term while boosting their health in the long term.

History Of The Manual Espresso Machine

While we know now that regularly drinking espresso seems to reduce the risk of mortality, this isn't why people started drinking it. Legend has it that the shepherd Kaldi discovered coffee after his goats became energized from eating the beans, and he simply wanted their energy. Coffee cultivation started and thrived on the Arabian Peninsula, and it was not long until people were looking for new ways to prepare the beans for consumption. Public coffee houses began to spring up, and the craze quickly swept Europe early in the 17th century.

The first espresso machine would arrive over 200 years later, thanks to a man named Angelo Moriondo. His machine harnessed steam to extract coffee from the beans, but it was essentially just a large-batch coffee maker. Moriondo technically provided the first espresso machine, but it was Luigi Bezzara and Desiderio Pavoni who created the first true espresso machine. Bezzera’s coffee making machine included nearly everything a modern espresso maker has. Pavoni helped him improve the idea, and together they created the first single-serve manual espresso machines the world had ever known. The problem with these machines was pressure. No one could brew espresso past two atmospheres of pressure without giving the beans a completely scorched taste.

Manual espresso machines as we know them today did not arrive until after World War II. Gaggia’s lever machine used steam pressure from the boiler to force water into a cylinder that would pressurize it even further. Pulling the spring-piston lever released the water into the puck at up to 10 bars of pressure. This was the realization of true espresso. It is also where we get the term pulling a shot of espresso.

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Last updated on October 09, 2017 by Tina Morna Freitas

Tina Morna Freitas is a writer who lives in Chicago with her family and two cats. She enjoys making and sipping margaritas and aspires to be a crazy cat lady once all the children are grown.

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