5 best portable espresso machines recommended by WIRED

I’ve reviewed a lot of gadgets over the years, but few, if any, have been as incredibly ingenious as the 9Barista. It’s the only stovetop espresso machine I know of that actually hits 9 bars, the amount of pressure you need for a real espresso.

The designer is an aeronautical engineer and his experience is reflected in the interns. The dual chamber design traps boiling water until the pressure reaches 9 bar. At this point, a relief valve opens and the water rises in a coil, which cools it slightly, before being pushed into the ground espresso and finally into the cup. The results, once you’ve prepared your grind, are delicious. It produces a clean and smooth extraction with a good bit of cream.

The laptop is expandable here – the 9Barista is very well made, but weighs over three pounds. But for a small apartment with limited kitchen counter space, or for those RV trips you’ve been plotting, it’s perfect.

The main downside, aside from the price, is that you will have to wait for it to cool before opening it to prepare a second shot. At least you can grind and brew your coffee while you wait, which saves you time. I found that with a little cool water to speed things up, I could cook up shots with just a few minutes in between. And yes, it’s expensive, but considering the quality of the build and the materials involved, it doesn’t sound outrageous.

Buy the 9Barista for $ 385 at 9Barista.

4. The most unusual

Uniterra Nomad ($ 300)

Uniterra Nomad

Photography: Uniterra Nomad

The Uniterra Nomad is not the most portable device either, although it is smaller and lighter than the Flair. It puts that weight to good use by resembling a small piece of metal art sitting on your desk while producing a great, creamy espresso.

The Nomad, which came from a Kickstarter campaign, is mostly made of solid metal, giving it a sturdy feel that some of our other options lack. It’s also the only one to include a proper, heavy, high-quality tamper to evenly squeeze your coffee.

The company touts its True Crema Valve, a little bit of engineering that helps compensate for a bad grind or a bad stuffing. I tested this using pre-ground coffee from a large chain which will remain unnamed. Extracting poorly ground coffee with the True Crema valve was better than extracting without it.

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