Espresso on-the-go: Wacaco Nanopresso Review
The Wacaco Nanopresso is a portable espresso maker that promises to deliver what a moka pot or Aeropress fail to achieve – real crema. This simple, hand-powered espresso maker is one of my favorite ways to get a caffeine fix on the go. It’s small enough to fit in a backpack, hand bag or even fanny pack and makes great-tasting coffee by manually building up pressure via a spring loaded pump. It’s easy to use, it reaches a maximum pressure of 18 bar, but does require some practice in order to get the best possible results from it. In this guide I will share how to use this powerful device and how to get the most out of it.
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Quick Summary and Conclusion
The Wacaco Nanopresso is a great solution for espresso lovers on the go. Whether you’re on the plane, in a hotel, outdoors or even at home, this sturdy, handheld device takes up little to no space and needs no more than hot water and coffee grounds to work. So much for the positives. There are some limitations, however.
Don’t expect the same quality texture and taste your favourite coffee shop serves. The espresso the Nanopresso produces is decent, smooth and, if used correctly, has crema on top. The maximum 18 bars promised by Wacaco exceed the minimum requirement of 9 bars to achieve that. But it can’t match the mouthfeel and flavour of a professional espresso machine. Also, if the Nanopresso is used on it’s own, you might find that the output of 16 to 20 grams is quite modest and leaves you craving for more. In that case, the Barista Kit extension is a great gadget as it will allow you to produce double shots of espresso that come even closer to the real deal.
Nanopresso Design and Capacity
The Wacaco Nanopresso is a compact device made of polypropylene plastic and designed to resist high temperatures and pressure. It consists of 7 parts, including a little scoop and brush. The water tank holds 80 ml/2.7 oz of water and the filter basket can hold 8 grams/0.3 oz of ground coffee. If you’re brewing with a brew ratio of 1:2, it’ll produce 16 grams of espresso. The Nanopresso is a lightweight with only 336 grams to its name. It took me a few days to realize there was actually a small espresso cup attached to the water tank, which can be pulled off. Efficiency at its finest. It comes with a travel case for you to store all parts in one place.
How to Use the Wacaco Nanopresso
To kickstart your brew, fill the water tank of your device with hot water and pump several times until completely flushed into a cup. This pre-brewing cycle preheats both the Nanopresso and your drinking vessel.
You want to choose a grind size finer than for pour over but slightly coarser than for espresso. I use between 10-15 clicks on the Comandante grinder depending on the coffee. Generally, when it comes to grinding coffee, there is no one size fits all, so you might want to experiment to find what grind size works best. If the Nanopresso has trouble to push water through the grounds try to grind coarser.
Fill the filter basket with freshly ground coffee. This can be a bit finicky, unless you fill up the measuring spoon, put the filter basket on top and then turn it to catch the coffee grounds in the basket. Slightly tamp the coffee grounds using the measuring spoon. I sometimes add an extra gram here and tamp again to get to 9 grams/0.31 oz input. Put the filter basket underneath the portafilter and screw it onto the main body.
Fill the tank once more with water fresh off the boil until reaching the mark and tightly attach it to the body.
Release the piston, hold the Nanopresso over a cup and pump it five to six times for pre-infusion. Wait for 10 seconds before continuing to pump once per second. Use a coffee scale for accuracy and pump until the desired output landed in your cup. For me this is mostly an additional 10 to 11 pumps after preinfusion. You should see a nice crema on top.
Carefully open the water tank to discard the excess water or use it to top up your espresso. Discard the coffee grounds after the device cooled down and thoroughly rinse all parts.
What Kind of Coffee Do You Use With Nanopresso?
Ideally you want to pick up a medium to medium-dark espresso roast, depending on your preference. I found this to work better than the light roasted coffees I tried, as the Nanopresso has a tendency to underextract and turn pleasant acidity into sourness. If light roasted coffee is your jam try experimenting with the grind size and tamping to improve the taste of your espresso. I use a hand coffee grinder that is able to grind coffee fine enough for espresso.
Barista Kit for Nanopresso
If the espresso output of your Nanopresso leaves you craving for more, then the Barista Kit is your answer. It comes with all the accessories needed for a double espresso, including a 140 ml/4.73 oz water tank with a cup attached to it, two filter baskets with max 16 gram capacity, one filter basket with max 8 gram capacity, a tamper and a double espresso adapter ring.
To brew a double espresso, simply remove the portafilter from the Nanopresso, screw the adapter ring on and fill the filter basket for double espresso with ground coffee. Although Nanopresso suggests it will fit 16 grams, I found it will comfortably hold 13 grams of coffee, unless you tamp in layers. This carries the risk of water struggling to get through the puck, leading to over-extraction, so I don’t recommend it. Screw the portafilter on and start pumping. Thanks to the increased water capacity and the extra filter baskets you can pop several baskets in and out in a row to increase your output.
Can You Use Pods With Nanopresso?
The NS Capsules adapter for Nanopresso allows you to use NS capsules for a quick and convenient caffeine fix. All you need is a compatible capsule and hot water to prepare your shot of espresso without very little room for error. This setup is ideal for when you’re on the road, in a hurry or simply don’t have space to carry a grinder and coffee beans.
To use it, simply unscrew the top filter head with the filter basket and set aside. Pop the pod basket into the Nanopresso and add a compatible capsule, foil facing up, then screw the head piece on tightly. Fill the tank with water fresh off the boil until the little ridge line. Time to start pumping. That’s it!
Is the Wacaco Nanopresso Worth it?
On it’s own the Nanopresso by Wacaco is a neat little gadget that will deliver on the promise to top your espresso with real crema, provided that it was correctly used. But the limited capacity makes it difficult to justify going through the trouble of setting up and cleaning the device afterwards. What’s really making it worth it for me, is using the Nanopresso with either the Barista Kit for volume or the NS Capsules Adapter for convenience.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to clean the Nanopresso?
When it comes to cleaning the Nanopresso, taking care of this is a simple task. Start by emptying the water tank and removing the portafilter to discard the used coffee puck. In case you find any leftover coffee grounds you can rely on the provided brush to help you out.
Now lets say you’re, in a hurry or don’t have access to dish soap. No need to worry! A quick rinse under water should suffice in removing most of the coffee residues and preventing any buildup that might affect your espresso experience. Once done make sure to dry all components until there’s no moisture or water droplets left inside the Nanopresso. You wouldn’t want mold or rust creeping in unnoticed.
Wacaco Picopresso or Nanopresso, which one is better?
The Picopresso is a newer model that has more features and capabilities than the Nanopresso, such as a larger basket, a pressure gauge, a detachable handle and a 9-bar pressure regulator. However, it is also more expensive, and more demanding. The Picopresso may appeal to espresso purists who want more control and precision, while the Nanopresso may be more forgiving and convenient for casual users.
How can I make a double shot with the Nanopresso?
The Nanopresso can make a double shot by using the Barista Kit accessory, which includes a larger water tank, a larger filter basket and an adapter ring. The Barista Kit allows the Nanopresso to hold up to 16 grams of coffee grounds and 140 ml/4.73 oz of water, which can produce two shots of espresso or one lungo.
How to make crema with the Nanopresso?
The Nanopresso can produce crema by using fresh and finely ground coffee beans, preheating the device with hot water, tamping the coffee grounds firmly and evenly, pumping quickly and steadily until the first drops appear, then slowing down the pumping speed until the desired volume is reached. The crema may vary in thickness and color depending on the beans, roast level, grind size and extraction time.
How long does it take to make an espresso with the Nanopresso?
The Nanopresso can make an espresso in about 2 minutes, excluding the time for boiling water, grinding beans and preheating the device. The actual brewing time may depend on how fast and how many times the user pumps the device. Generally, it takes about 15 to 20 pumps to produce a single shot of espresso with 8 grams of coffee grounds and 80 ml/2.7 oz of water.
How much pressure does the Nanopresso generate?
The Nanopresso can generate up to 18 bars of pressure by using a patented hydraulic system that amplifies the force applied by the user. The pressure can be adjusted by changing the pumping speed and the grind size. The higher the pressure, the more extraction and crema can be achieved. However, too much pressure can also cause over-extraction and bitterness. The optimal pressure for espresso is usually around 9 bars.