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 on their own – 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. 

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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 or 2.7 oz of water and the filter basket can hold 8 grams or 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 or 0.74 lbs 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Fill the filter basket with freshly ground coffee and slightly tamp the coffee grounds using the measuring spoon. Put the portafilter on top and screw it onto the main body.
  4. Fill the tank once more with water fresh off the boil until reaching the mark and tightly attach it to the body.
  5. Release the piston, hold the Nanopresso over a cup and pump it three 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. You should see a nice crema on top.
  6. 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.
wacaco nanopresso

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 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!

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Nanopresso

After you’ve pulled those divine espresso shots and relished every drop of their rich and complex flavors, it’s time to give your Nanopresso some well-deserved TLC. Luckily, cleaning the Nanopresso is as easy as a Sunday morning stroll in the park, even if you’re not a cleaning guru. All you need to do is empty the water reservoir, unscrew the portafilter, and toss away the spent coffee puck. And if there are any stubborn coffee grounds clinging to the filter, the included brush can help you sweep them away.

But what if you’re running late for your next adventure or find yourself stranded without access to hot water and dish soap? Fear not, you can just give your Nanopresso a quick rinse under warm water. This will wash away most of the coffee residue and prevent any unwanted buildup that could put a damper on your next espresso journey. Remember to dry the parts thoroughly and avoid leaving any moisture or water droplets inside the Nanopresso, though. We don’t want any mold or rust lurking in the shadows! By keeping your Nanopresso clean and happy, you’ll ensure that every shot you pull is a smooth and delightful journey to the land of caffeine bliss.

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. 

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