If you're looking to bring your espresso habit with you anywhere you go, the Wacaco MiniPresso GR is the best way to do it. It brews a surprisingly good shot, on par with the Nespresso machines we tested, and is the most rugged of the two portable models we tested. Plus, the required cleanup is relatively painless, and you can often save the more thorough cleaning for when you get home. If you're looking for a portable cappuccino maker the STARESSO SP-200 adds milk frothing functionality, but it's a bit heavier and relatively fragile due to some glass components, so we would limit its usefulness to car camping and general traveling.
Wacaco MiniPresso GR Review
Pros: Good taste, very portable
Cons: Takes some good aim to avoid a mess, no milk frothing capability
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Wacaco MiniPresso GR wasn't our favorite overall portable espresso maker, that honor goes to the STARESSO SP-200. However, it would be our first recommendation for those that want to take their espresso routine on their next backpacking trip.
Even when compared to traditional countertop espresso machines, the Wacaco MiniPresso GR earned a decent score in our testing thanks to it good taste quality. Below you can read about how the Wacaco performed in all of our different tests below.
The Wacaco pulled a shot that certainly surprised all of our taste testers, with a nice creamy texture, strong flavor, and a good amount of crema. It can't match the taste of the top models we tested, but its shots were comparable to those we pulled from the Nespresso machines. They were also significantly thicker and creamier than the shots we tasted from the STARESSO SP-200, the other portable model we tested. The STARESSO SP-200 can also froth milk to make a cappuccino, something the Wacaco can't do, though its espresso is clearly superior.
Ease of Use
The Wacaco earned an average score of 5 out of 10 in this metric. Most notably, that is slightly ahead of the other portable machine we tested, the STARESSO. Both of these machines require you to use a hand pump to create pressure, making both of them a bit more of a hassle than most countertop machines. The one real difference between the two is that the STARESSO snaps together in one continuous piece, with the espresso cup attached to the actual machine. This means you can pump without having to aim, you just need t make sure you keep the machine upright. The cup for the Wacaco is separate, so you have to hold the machine and aim whilst you pump. This isn't particularly difficult, but the STARESSO's design does feel a bit more convenient. We have had some durability concerns with the STARESSO as its plunger seems to be getting stickier the more we use it. The Wacaco's functionality has stood up to repeated use much better.
You can see a video from Wacaco about how to make espresso with their machine below.
Ease of Cleaning
The Wacaco earned a fairly good score of 7 out of 10 in our ease of cleaning testing. If you have access to a sink or water source day-to-day cleaning is very easy. Just tap out the spent grinds and give a thorough rinse to all of the components. After you've used the Wacaco for a few days you'll need to do some more scrubbing with soap, but for shorter trips, you can usually keep the cleaning simple til you get home. If you're backpacking and not near a water source, you can rinse the Wacaco pretty well without sacrificing too much water from your bottle. Additionally, if you're only camping out for a night, you can skip the rinsing. Just shake out the spent grinds and excess water, and clean it when you get home. Overall the cleanup required of the Wacaco and the competing STARESSO is almost identical.
The Wacaco doesn't offer any way to froth milk, which is its major disadvantage when compared to the STARESSO. If you really want to get a backcountry cappuccino, you could get a camping french press and get a forearm workout using it to froth milk.
Which is More Portable? STARESSO vs. Wacaco
Here we give the advantage to the Wacaco. The STARESSO is great for general travel and car camping, but has some fragile glass components and is a bit heavier at 15.9 ounces. The Wacaco's slimmer 12.7 ounces and all plastic construction make it more suitable to be thrown in a pack as a backpacking luxury item.
The Wacaco lists for $60, which is the same as the STARESSO. If you want to enjoy some espresso in remote, scenic areas, we feel like that is a fairly good price.
If you're looking to enjoy espresso somewhere far from civilization, the Wacaco MiniPresso GR is your best bet. It lacks any way to froth milk, but it's light and durable enough to accompany you almost anywhere. For car camping and other less remote activities, the STARESSO provides a bit more versatility.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata