We’ve checked out many different coffee makers over the years, but the best manual-pressure one we’ve used so far is the Nanopresso kit. With available accessories it can produce a single or double-shot ground-coffee or a single-shot Nespresso capsule coffee.
We’re quite happy to leave most town ‘necessities’ behind us when we go bush, but a decent coffee isn’t one of them. We’d rather have no coffee than rubbish coffee.
Our preference – as is that of most people – is for espresso coffee. You know: the coffee you get from one of these flash cafe machines. We know there are alternatives, such as Greek or Turkish coffee that’s produced in a stove-top saucepan; ‘plunger’ coffee; or coffee that comes from an Italian-style percolator, but they’re just not our taste.
We were unhappy with these coffee makers, but there was no alternative until the manual-pressure and electric-pressure espresso units became available a few years ago. Since then we’ve checked out quite a few.
The electric ones are ideal if you want coffee on the run, because they can heat the water as well as provide pressure for the espresso action. The manual ones need water heated from a cooktop or camp fire, but you can always put the morning’s hot water in a quality thermos, so you have hot water on hand at morning tea and lunchtime.
Many of the manual- and electric-pressure espresso units are suitable for capsule or pod coffee. If, like us, you prefer to bring your own ground coffee on a bush trip, make sure the unit you buy can accept it.
The best of the manuals we’ve tested so far is the Nanopresso kit. We bought the basic unit from Snowys about a year ago and then added the Barista Kit. If we’d known then what we know now, we’d have bought the whole shebang for around $130.
How it works
When you unpack the Nanopresso and the Barista Kit parts it all seems complicated, but a little practice is all that’s needed to sort out their use. For example, if you’re making a single-shot capsule coffee, you don’t need the supplied ground-coffee container and filter: you use the dedicated capsule one.
Similarly, if you’re making a double-shot ground-coffee, you don’t need any of the single shot kit, including the single-shot water container. The double-shot kit has a water container that’s twice the size.
So, once you’ve decided on the type and size of coffee you want, you select the appropriate bits and screw then together, and source some very hot water.
The water is poured into the appropriate container and the loaded Nanopresso is turned upside down and scared on top of the full water container. Then, the assembly is inverted over a coffee mug and it’s … exercise time.
Our only gripe with the Nanopresso system is the somewhat ‘non-ergonomic’ design of the pressure pump. The plunger protrudes from the cylindrical side of the housing and works by being pushed in and released; pushed in and released until there’s no resistance. That means all the water has been forced through the coffee grains and into the cup.
The problem is that the head of the plunger isn’t designed specifically for finger contact, but is a slightly dished disc. It’s not obvious how the plunger should be operated and it doesn’t readily accommodate two sets of fingers, or two thumb bases.
It takes around a minute to ‘plunge’ a double-shot of ground coffee, so a more ergonomic plunger head would be an asset.
That carping apart, the Nanopresso produces excellent coffee.
The components are very well made and our 12-month evaluation has shown that they’re durable and continue to function as new.