Automatic espresso machines are great, but trust me, nothing can beat traditional and vintage manual espresso machines. They are effortless to use and allow you to fully control your brewing session. Once you start using a manual espresso machine, there is no going back to the complex mechanisms of the automatic machines.
But the question is, how will you identify the best manual espresso machine? There are countless options available in the market, each claiming to be the best. To give you a helping hand, I tried and tested dozens of manual espresso makers based on their usability, functionality, and coffee quality.
After days and nights of testing, I’m sharing my top 7 picks for the best manual espresso machines and a detailed buying guide for your convenience. Now without making you wait any further, let’s dive right in!
La Pavoni Professional Espresso Machine
Flair Espresso Maker - Classic
STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine
Aeropress Original Coffee and Espresso Maker
De'Longhi Dedica Arte Espresso Machine
WACACO Picopresso Portable Espresso Maker
WACACO Minipresso Portable Espresso Maker
La Pavoni is known to be the pioneer of manual espresso machines; the brand launched its first model in 1902. The La Pavoni Professional is a lever espresso machine with a boiler capacity of 38 ounces.
This powerful manual espresso machine can make 16 cups of coffee in one go. It is perfect for large households. Also, the La Pavoni professional is made with pure brass and copper and features a regal and vintage design.
Apart from espresso, this machine can also brew lattes and cappuccinos with the help of a built-in manual milk frother. Moreover, it has two spouts for you to make two cups of espresso simultaneously. The machine disassembles quickly, so you can conveniently wash and clean its parts.
The La Pavoni Professional is a sturdy and durable machine that produces great-quality espresso. It has a large boiler and an internal thermostat too. However, the heating temperature is a bit inconsistent.
Are you someone who always wants their coffee on the go, camping or road trips? If yes, then the Flair manual espresso machine is what you need! It is tiny and manual and requires no electricity. All you have to do is manually press the coffee grounds to brew the perfect cup of espresso.
This manual machine can brew a 40 ml espresso shot in one refill, and the taste and quality are incredible. Moreover, its stainless steel body and plenty of color options make it one of the most desirable manual espresso machines.
The Flair espresso machine also features a detachable brewing head, so cleaning it will be a piece of cake. This machine might seem complicated initially, but it is effortless to use in reality. Just make sure to thoroughly read the user manual before using it.
The Flair Espresso Maker is affordable, portable, and very functional. However, it can only brew one cup of espresso at once, and its cylinder takes a lot of time to cool down after one brewing session.
Next on the list is another portable espresso maker, the Staresso portable espresso machine. With one refill, this tiny beast uses 20 bars of pressure to brew 2 ounces of delicious espresso. Moreover, this manual espresso machine allows you to choose between coffee pods and ground coffee.
That’s not all; this best espresso machine also contains milk frothing and cold brew recipes. The quality and taste of the espresso were remarkable, and it was topped with a thick layer of rich crema. Since this manual espresso machine, you can take it anywhere you want!
The Staresso espresso machine can even fit into the pocket of your bag. This machine will also require some hard work for you, considering it’s manual. But once you get the hang of it, using this machine will be effortless. The best part is it also comes with a 1-year warranty for repairs and replacements.
This Staresso portable espresso machine is efficient and offers great value for money. However, it is made of plastic, and the capacity is less, considering it’s a compact machine.
I can’t get enough of portable manual espresso machines, and this Aeropress original coffee and espresso machine is proof of that. This tiny yet mighty machine can brew three cups of espresso in less than two minutes. It is super convenient to use once you understand its usability. Also, it can become a great travel and camping companion.
Trust me; this best manual espresso machine brewed a flavorful, aromatic, and perfect cup of espresso. Most importantly, this Aeropress coffee maker is very well-priced and offers great value for money. It is versatile, and the cleaning and maintenance are effortless too. I was able to clean the whole unit within 15 seconds.
Aeropress is a versatile, fast, and sturdy coffee maker that brews delicious espresso. However, it does not give a thick layer of crema on top of the coffee.
The De’Longhi Dedica Arte is one of the best lever espresso machines on the market. This versatile lever espresso maker gives you a barista-style coffee with convenient usability. It has a slim design and covers everything a coffee lover needs; single shot, double shot, and a steam wand to enjoy lattes and cappuccinos.
Since this model is from one the top manufacturers of espresso machines, it brewed a delicious and great quality espresso. Moreover, the brewing process is quite straightforward too. I found the cleaning and maintenance, but this minor flaw can be overlooked since it is not a portable espresso maker.
The De’Longhi Dedica Arte espresso maker is an ideal alternative to complex pod machines. However, keep in mind that it does not come with a coffee grinder.
Next on the list is another portable and manual espresso maker by one of the top brands in the market; the Wacaco Picopresso. This brand is well-known for manufacturing travel-friendly coffee makers, and the Picopresso is truly one of their best creations. It is very tiny and can brew one double espresso shot in one minute.
Moreover, it claims to use 18-bar pressure to brew espresso, which is great. It brewed great espresso with rich flavor and a thick crema. The best part is that its external build mostly consists of metal, giving it a classy and high-end look. It also offers great value for money and extreme durability.
The Wacaco Picopresso is a considerate option for people looking for tiny manual espresso machines. However, remember that it can only brew one cup of coffee at once.
The Wacaco Minipresso is an advanced version of the Staresso, offering more versatility and quality. It brews a perfect cup of espresso using coffee grounds and a hand pump. Like other portable coffee makers, it can also brew one single shot of espresso at one time. However, the coffee has an incredible taste and crema.
This manual espresso machine comes with plenty of accessories for a comfortable brewing process; a scoop, a tamper, and a cleaning brush. Also, it is very lightweight and can easily fit in a backpack. Most importantly, the unit is very well-priced.
Wacaco Minipresso is undoubtedly one of the best manual espresso machines. It is functional and versatile. However, I found it a little hard to pump,
How Do You Use A Manual Espresso Machine?
Using manual lever espresso machines is not rocket science. Instead, they give you complete control over the brewing sessions and more versatility than the automatic machines. After lever machines, you can also get pump manual espresso makers; using them is quite easy too, If you are unsure about how to use them, we will help you out.
Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on using a pump and lever espresso machine!
- First of all, you will need to heat the water. Some manual espresso machines can do this process automatically. If yours doesn’t, you can heat water in a kettle.
- The next step is to ready your coffee grounds. You can take any flavor or brand you like; just make sure the beans are fresh and high-quality. Also, you will need to fine-grind your coffee beans to make espresso. For a single shot, you can use 7 grams of coffee beans. If you want a double shot, you can take 15 grams.
- If you are using a lever machine, you must fill the coffee grounds in the brew head, tamp them, and pull the lever down. As you press the lever, you will see the coffee extracting into the cup.
- Some people use pump machines instead of lever ones. They are compact, lightweight, and portable. If you have a pump machine, just put the coffee grounds in it, tamp them, and add hot water. Then, pump the machine 20 to 30 times to extract coffee.
- Once you are done extracting the coffee, you can enjoy the espresso. You can even use the milk frother or other do other things like adding sugar at this point.
Manual Vs. Automatic Espresso Machines: Which One Is Better?
You get two options when it comes to buying espresso machines; manual and automatic.
As the name implies, manual espresso makers will require the user to control the brewing process instead of using automated features. Though you will have to make a little bit of effort, the coffee quality of a manual espresso machine is unmatchable.
For automatic espresso machines, you get three sub-categories; automatic, semi-automatic, and super-automatic. All these three types combined will require minimal effort from you, and they are equipped with plenty of features for your comfort and convenience. However, you won’t have control over the brewing process with automatic options.
If you ask us, both types (manual and automatic) are better in their own ways. Automatic espresso machines give convenience, while manual ones give great coffee quality. You can choose any type according to your needs and preferences.
Things To Consider Before Buying A Manual Espresso Maker
Now that you have gone through our top picks for the best manual espresso machines and how to use them, it’s time to get into some technical details. Manual machines come in different sizes, types, and features. Even a very high-quality model may not be the best option for you, considering your needs and requirements.
Therefore, it is important to consider a lot of factors before finally making the purchase. To give you a helping hand, here is a list of some essential considerations you need to keep in mind while purchasing:
1. Type of Machine
As briefly mentioned above, manual espresso machines come in two types; pump and lever espresso machines. Pump machines are compact, portable, and lightweight. These machines are usually for travel purposes and can brew one cup of espresso at one time.
If you are looking for a manual espresso maker for home use, we would recommend opting for lever espresso machines. They are large and can brew multiple cups of espresso at one time.
2. Coffee Extraction Method
Manual espresso machines use two different types of extraction methods when it comes to brewing espresso; direct lever and spring piston.
The direct lever espresso machine gives you complete control over the extraction process, but it is a bit difficult to master the art.
While on the other hand, spring piston machines use high and consistent pressure without you doing anything. However, spring piston machines are more expensive than direct lever ones.
Again, manual espresso machines come in a variety of materials; stainless steel, metal, and plastic. Now which material to opt for totally depends on your personal preferences. If you want more durability, then consider the metal, steel, and brass ones. However, they can be expensive. If you are opting for plastic ones because of their durability, make sure that they are BPA-free.
4. Water Tank
The water tank is a very important factor to consider when looking for the best manual espresso machine. If you don’t like constant refills and consume too much coffee in a day, go for manual espresso machines with a large water tank.
However, if you live alone or want a manual espresso machine for travel purposes, you can go with portable and compact options with a small water tank capacity.
5. Temperature Regulation
Manual espresso machines give you complete control over temperature regulation. If you want a great quality espresso, the brewing temperature of your manual espresso machine should be between 195 F to 205 F. So, make sure that the options you are planning to buy can reach this temperature.
6. Cleaning and Maintenance
Unlike automatic espresso machines, manual espresso makers don’t come with built-in cleaning and descaling cycles. You will have to do everything with your hands. Therefore, always pick options that are easy to disassemble and clean. Also, try to ensure that the parts are dishwasher safe to save yourself from some hassle.
Purchasing a manual espresso machine is a huge investment, so spend your money wisely. You will want something that serves you for years instead of breaking down in a few months. Therefore, do your research and opt for well-known brands with high-quality coffee makers.
All the products on this list are high-quality and sturdy, so their durability and longevity are guaranteed.
How long do manual espresso machines last?
Manual espresso machines offer more durability than automatic espresso machines. If maintained correctly, manual espresso makers can last up to 20 years.
What are the three types of espresso makers?
The three types of espresso makers are; manual, semi-automatic, and fully automatic.
What are the differences between an espresso and a coffee maker?
There is a minor and technical difference between an espresso and a coffee maker. Espresso makers use high pressure to brew the coffee. While on the other hand, coffee makers use gravity to take water out of the filters.
What do you call espresso shots with milk?
You can get two types of drinks by mixing espresso shots with milk; lattes and cappuccinos. However, the quantities of espresso and milk vary between the two drinks.
What is the strongest espresso drink?
Ristretto is the most concentrated and strong espresso drink in the world.
Is it healthy to drink espresso daily?
Drinking espresso in a balanced amount daily can give plenty of health benefits. It can increase physical performance, mental clarity, and focus. Moreover, it helps in preventing Dementia and Alzheimer’s.