Updated July 14, 2018 by Tina Morna Freitas

The 8 Best Manual Espresso Machines

video play icon
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive

This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in October of 2016. For those who like to make their java with a touch of old school charm, or anyone who needs their coffee even during power outages, 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 out of place in any Italian cafe. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best manual espresso machine on Amazon.

8. Kamira Moka Express

7. Staresso Portable

6. Handpresso Wild Hybrid

5. Rok Presso

4. Bialetti Stovetop

3. Flair Bundle

2. Minipresso GR

1. La Pavoni Europiccola

What Is The Difference Between Automated And Manual Espresso Machines?

All espresso machines contain some sort of portafilter that the coffee sits in during use.

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.

Many people drink espresso to energize them for the day ahead.

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.

Moriondo technically provided the first espresso machine, but it was Luigi Bezzara and Desiderio Pavoni who created the first true espresso machine.

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.

Statistics and Editorial Log

Paid Placements
Rendering Hours

Granular Revision Frequency

Tina Morna Freitas
Last updated on July 14, 2018 by Tina Morna Freitas

Tina Morna Freitas is a writer who lives in Chicago with her family and three cats. She has a B.A. in anthropology with a minor in English, and has built a freelance career over the years in writing and digital marketing. Her passions for cooking, decorating and home improvement contribute to her extensive knowledge of all things kitchen and home goods. In addition, her 20 years as a parent inform her expertise in the endless stream of toys and equipment that inevitably takes over the homes of most parents. She also enjoys gardening, making and sipping margaritas, and aspires to be a crazy cat lady once all the children are grown.

Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For more information on our rankings, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.