Can you make really good coffee with just the help of your biceps? Kalle Bergman decides to find out, and tests the Handpresso Machine.
Text By Kalle Bergman
During the last couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to test the “Handpresso“. This gadget, or perhaps more correctly – this useful gadget – is a danish designed product that has been on the market for a few years now and is available more or less globally. The idea behind it is that everyone should be able to make a decent cup of espresso anywhere and without a traditional espresso maker or access to electricity. Now, how on earth can that be done? Well, remember the name? Hand-presso. Yep, you’ll be doing most of the work yourself if you want your espresso served the way it is on Via Della Spiga in Milano, even if you’re trapped somewhere deep in the Redwood Forest.
The Handpresso basically looks like an oversized handle-bar from a regular espresso maker combined with a bicycle pump (which is essentially exactly what it is). And that’s the whole thing. This product is so small anyone can bring it basically anywhere, making it ideal for camping or boating – or anywhere else where it just doesn’t make sense to bring your giant Jura espresso maker along. There is absolutely no arguing that the weight and space aspect really works in favor of the Handpresso.
The process of making coffee feels a bit strange at first, but it isn’t that difficult. Boil some water, pump the Handpresso (just like a bicycle pump) up to 16 bars, pour hot water into the container, place a coffee pod on top and fasten the lid. Turn the Handpresso around, and push the button – VOILÀ! There will be coffe. After a few practice runs, it becomes almost second nature.
Cleaning it isn’t exactly difficult either, even if I managed to spill a few drops of remaining coffee on myself. Just push back the button, open the lid and remove the coffe pod. Rinse under water and dry off, and that’s it.
The quality of the coffee is excellent. It really is. This was the most important part to me, as this gadget would have remained just that – a mere gadget – if the coffee wasn’t up to par. But the coffee is good, and that makes the Handpresso a useful tool. The system is based on the e.s.e. pods system, and there are tens (hundreds, thousands, BILLIONS?) of choices of coffee out there that fits perfectly with the Handpresso system. Now, the Handpresso itself also seem to have the coffee making skills to provide the user/operator with an excellent cup of espresso every time. I tasted three different varieties of e.s.e. pods, and they all made for a really good end product.
So, where does this product fit in? To me, it is primarily an outdoors product. As it cannot make me a decent cup of lungo, and since the process of pumping it up to 16 bars before it’s ready makes it less than perfect for larger audiences than two, it’s not versatile enough to make me throw my “real” espresso maker in the bin just yet. I could perhaps use it as a fun gadget for dinner parties – place the Handpresso, a kettle of water and some hot milk in the middle of the table, and then let my guests “pump their own coffee”. And the single, compact living guy (gal) could definitely use the Handpresso instead of a regular espresso maker to save room on the counter in the kitchen.
But the real use for it is boating and outdoors. No doubt. And there, it really is excellent. What you will get from the Handpresso – besides the fact that it is cheaper than buying a “normal” machine – is a new take on coffee to go. With this, you don’t just take the coffee to go. You take the whole process of making really good coffee with you wherever you go. And that’s not a small feat. It might not be life-altering to me – but then again, I am not a boat owner or an outdoors fanatic. If I was, I’d be ecstatic with the Handpresso. Now, I’m just amused and slightly impressed.
The Handpresso is available from the Handpresso website from around 99 EUR / 149 USD – not a bargain, but a pretty decent price.
Kalle Bergman is a food writer and media entrepreneur who is the founder of Honest Cooking and PAIR Magazine. As a food writer, his writing has been regularly featured in publications like Gourmet, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post and Serious Eats. He is obsessed with simple food, more often than not from his native Scandinavia.
My first thought was it would be great for travel — but is boiling water accessible in a hotel room? Love the idea of passing it around as a dinner party diversion, but it’s not cheap…and you need the guns (biceps)!
Nice review! I’ curious to know what brand of coffee you used in this test?
I used three different pod-varieties from Covim. Gold Arabica, Granbar (sweeter taste) and Orocrema (sharp and strong). My personal favorite was the Orocrema for a plain Espresso and Granbar for Latte.
All the best
This would be the ultimate travel companion for any coffee lover…
Just very recently heard about the Handpresso, which sounds like the ideal solution for my trwcels when no electricity is available. Could you make a lungo? Can you use without pids?
I have both the Handpresso and the Mypressi Twist but have come to prefer the Handpresso because of the more compact size. I also have the Travel case that has 4 unbreakable espresso cups, 2 napkins, and a thermos with a seccion to keep packaged ESE pods. It is really a good thing to have at work. We have Starbucks coffee in our breakrooms and the little Half and Half cups, but having access to a quick espresso at any time has great value!!
I wanted to ask: where can I buy ESE pods? I have only found the illy brand ESE pods at Williams Sonoma and no where else have I seen any!
Well I just got my hand espresso for Christmas
I will be using on my kayak camping trips from now on lol
The evening of Christmas well I made over 30 expresos and wow what a dream to make for the friends and family
Well now waiting for camping to try it out even more
I’ve owned the domepod version, that’s one that takes ground coffee as opposed to pods, for a couple of year. It’s fantastic… takes a bit of effort, you really do need to grind your own coffee to use the one I’ve got and also benefit from owning a suitably sized tamper to compress the coffee down to ensure the water passes through slowly enough.
I can get excellent, very full flavoured coffee with plenty of crema every time now, a really stylish device that isn’t just a gimmick and generates fascinating conversations every time someone sees me use it at work.
I have not tried the e.s.e. version and believe the latest model takes both e.s.e. pods and ground coffee which really is the best of both worlds.
Cheers for the review.