I bring this $65 handheld espresso maker on all my camping trips - it lets you brew a perfect cup anywhere

I bring this $65 handheld espresso maker on all my camping trips - it lets you brew a perfect cup anywhere

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  • The Wacaco Nanopresso uses manual power and hot water to make delicious espresso, whether you're at your desk, on the road, or in a tent three dozen miles from civilization.
  • The Nanopresso works either with loose ground coffee or with pre-filled pods (pod adapters are sold separately).
  • With about ten pumps, the system creates extraction pressure up to 260 PSI, which is more powerful than many electric automated espresso machines.

I love great coffee, and I love heading out into the backcountry. Like most hikers/mountaineers/campers, I had come to accept that those two things just don't go together. With a few exceptions, it's hard to find instant coffee that's better than decent, but when watching gear weight and pack space, there's no way I'm bringing along a French press or pour over coffeemaker. (I also eschew bringing a generator and electric coffeemaker during most trips into the hills, by the way.)

Ah, but you'll notice I said I had accepted that great coffee and the backwoods were mutually exclusive. That was before I started using a Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker from Wacaco. I know what you're thinking (well, I can guess) and it's something along the lines of "Wait a minute, espresso machines are huge! And they require electricity!" Usually, both of those things are true. But this one? It's smaller than a water bottle and requires only a few pumps of a thumb to operate. Yet it generates extraction pressure up to 18 bars, or 260-plus pounds per square inch. Which is, by the way, more pressure than many plug-in espresso makers can muster.


To use the Nanopresso, you'll need a way to boil water. But you wouldn't head out for a camping trip or a summit push without a stove or at least a good fire starting kit anyway. You'll also need some good, finely ground coffee or a pre-filled coffee pod. As long as you have hot water and coffee, then with this 0.74-pound gadget, you're only a few seconds away from a great, fresh cup of espresso.

The procedure is pretty simple: you load in the pod into its adapter (sold separately) or pour in and tamp down some coffee grinds, you fill the reservoir with hot water, then you start pumping the piston located in the center of the coffeemaker in and out. The first seven or eight pumps build up pressure, while the subsequent pumps force the heated water through the coffee, extracting maximum flavor and even creating a rich crema layer atop your espresso.

Read more: The best espresso machines you can buy

From start to finish, the whole process will take less than a minute once you have done it a few times. In fact, the longest part of the coffee-making process will be waiting for the water to boil. And that first sip of perfect espresso enjoyed in the place of a bitter cuppa brewed with dried crystals will be a revelation.


And it's worth noting that just because the Nanopresso is so compact and portable that you can bring it on a multiday hike into the mountains doesn't mean you can't also use it at your desk at work, while you travel, or even in your kitchen at home.

Get a Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker from Amazon for $64.90 (prices vary by color)

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