Wacaco's Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker - Is It Honestly Worth it?

An Unbiased Review of one of the Most Popular Portable Espresso Makers

Wacaco’s Nanopresso is a popular, hand-powered, portable espresso machine for around $80. The model reviewed comes with the portable espresso maker and a Nespresso adaptor.

At 6.4 inches tall it’s a small enough machine to take with you on the go. It makes espresso with the help of the proprietary built-in pump. Depending on how much or what kind of coffee you’re using, there is a separate attachment to screw on.

Java Groove's Choice

Is Wacaco's Nanopresso Good?

The Wacaco Nanopresso is good for those who are not espresso connoisseurs.

If you want a portable shot of strong rich coffee and have access to boiling water then you should consider this.

How the Wacaco Nanopresso Works

nanopresso portable espresso makerThere is a water chamber that screws off the bottom. It holds 50-60ml of water. Enough for 1 shot of espresso. You must have hot water on hand yourself. The Hong Kong manufacturer claims the water chamber is microwave proof.

The top part is what holds the coffee. It screws off as well.

In the middle you can slightly twist the knob and the pump pops out. This is where you can pump pressure into the machine.

In my experience, it delivers enough pressure to make a cup of espresso. However, 18 bars of pressure is unnecessary seeing that you only need 9. 

 

Some users online have complained about blowing the seal due to too much pressure. Wacaco says that you can remove the pressurizer spring, however this will void the warranty if any damage occurs. This little guy is not suited to handle over 14 bars of pressure.

Some users online have complained of blowing the seal due to too much pressure. Wacaco says that you can remove the pressurizer portafilter (a sort of spring), however this will void the warranty if it blows the seal. Which is a common complaint in the bad reviews left online. This little guy is not suited to handle over 14 bars of pressure without the pressurizer.

Removing the pressurized portafilter is for those espresso connoisseurs that like to tweak their grinds, you can remove it in order to dial in the grind.

Furthermore, don’t expect to get the same creama as you normally would from an espresso machine.

nespresso accessory sold separately
Buyer Beware
: The Nanopresso only comes with the regular coffee chamber for coffee grounds. Be on the lookout for the Nanopresso to come with the Nespresso accessory, called NS 
adaptor at no extra cost (like here).

It’s very light. Weighing at .75 lbs there isn’t much thermal material. It’s built well, but made of plastic. Despite looking like a thermos, it loses heat quickly.

Which is why it’s better to use dark roast coffees. The coffee temp is lower than normal. To compensate for that consider a darker roast.

double shot nanopresso wacaco

You’re not getting much coffee with this machine. To go through all the steps and only to receive a lackluster shot is disappointing. You can buy an extra accessory (Amazon link) to get a double shot.

You’re not getting much coffee with this machine. To go through all the steps and only to receive a lackluster shot is disappointing.

Making Espresso with your Own Grounds

The portable espresso machine comes with a coffee grounds scooper. I say it’s more suitable as a tamper.

Where it gets tricky is if you want to use your own coffee grounds. Normally, you would use finely ground coffee for an espresso machine. However, if you add finely ground coffee to the Wacaco Espresso maker then coffee drips off the side and it doesn’t come out well.

There is a spring device inside the top cap. This is to add more pressure to the coarser coffee grounds, much like a pressurized portafilter does. You can remove it when you use finer coffee grounds. In my experience it didn’t make a difference. Either way it made a mess or dripped out from somewhere. (Read warning above)

It’s better using coarser grounds, which makes it weaker. It takes a little bit of practice to dial in the espresso with the Wacaco.

nanopresso espresso shot

When I first started I grounded the coffee with a pour-over coarseness. It made the creama pale, wispy, and very little. The end result with regular coffee grounds was simply not good either. This was after 2 tries but it got a little better after each time.

Pictured here: Espresso shot with Sunbeam EM0480 grinder set on 11. Tamped very hard. Unpressurised portafilter. It started coming out in a solid stream at the 7th pump

Making Espresso with a Nespresso Capsule

With the capsules it’s much easier. Drop a capsule in the chamber. Squeeze the chamber to pierce the aluminum top cover of the capsule. Screw on the chamber.

With the water in the bottom chamber and everything is ready to go, you can begin to pump in pressure.

The first thing you’ll notice, in comparison with ground coffee, is that it is more difficult to press down. You can do it with one hand, but 2 makes life easier.

When the coffee starts to come out you’ll see the coffee is creamier than with coffee grounds. The coffee is something more comparable to actual espresso.

The espresso is 25 grams of water and 5.5 grams of coffee. As a reminder, most espresso to water ratios are 4 to 1 max, but most call for a 2 to 1 ratio.

The Wacaco is 5 to 1. Which is why you’re getting a weaker cup of espresso. It’s extracting well enough in the Nespresso capsule, so it tastes like a strong cup of mini-coffee.

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Is the Nanopresso Easy to Clean Up?

If you decide to use loose coffee grounds then cleaning is a bit more tedious. Whereas with the capsules you remove, throw out, and rinse. Either way you choose, you have to take it apart to rinse off. Then leave it out to dry before putting it back together.

The Wacaco Nanopresso is not dishwater safe.

If you’re out camping or have to make espresso for several people, it’s a down right pain. I couldn’t imagine having to pump the espresso out, rinse everything out, and repeat.

Pros

  • Made of plastic but feels well built
  • Light & compact
  • No electricity needed
  • Delivers the recommended amount of pressure

Cons

  • Not quite espresso, but a strong rich coffee
  • Learning curve
  • Must have extra accessories for extra shot and/or Nespresso capsules
  • Lots of parts
  • Must have access to hot water

Conclusion

Parts of Wacaco NanopressoWith all the parts it may seem a little overwhelming. There are a lot of parts that screw together. If you choose to buy more accessories it adds up.

On paper the Wacao Nespresso portable espresso maker is great. It’s compact, feels well built, and delivers 261 psi to make espresso.

I can imagine using it if I needed to travel to a country that didn’t have good espresso, or if I’m stuck at work without access to a proper espresso. The Wacaco delivers what it promises.

To know if the Wacaco Nespresso is worth the purchase ask yourself:

  • Is this for someone that deeply understands coffee?
  • Are they particular about the taste and feel of espresso?

If you answered Yes to any of these questions then this, nor any non-electric portable espresso maker, will satisfy.

I wouldn’t try to gift this to a coffee snob if they have access to a machine. And please don’t make them use this as a daily driver.

Whose it Good For

  • Office dweller
  • Traveller without access to decent espresso
  • Outdoorsy type that doesn't mind the work for 1.5 oz of reward

Not Good For

  • Coffee snobs
  • Those trying to replace their espresso machine
  • Don't like to fuss with gadgets

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