Manual Espresso Machine: 5 of the Best Picks for Your Creative Experience

Freedom? If you’re not getting enough of it in life, you sure got it in manual espresso machines.

Manual espresso machines allow you to experiment with different brewing methods that affect coffee’s taste.

We’ve rounded up the best manual espresso machines you can get your hands on to put your creative barista skills to the test. Check them out!

IMAGE PRODUCT
  • 6 – 10 Bar Lever Pressure
  • 30 -45 seconds Shot Extraction Time
  • 45 ml Shot Volume
VIEW LATEST PRICE →
  • Stainless Steel with Chrome Plating
  • Piston Operated
  • Weighs 14 lbs
VIEW LATEST PRICE →
  • 15-20 Bar Pressure
  • 100% Human-Powered
  • Compatible with Nespresso pods
VIEW LATEST PRICE →
  • Compatible with Nespresso Capsules
  • Piston-operated
  • Lightweight and Travel-friendly
VIEW LATEST PRICE →
  • High-Quality Insulation
  • Improved Brew Pressure
  • Shower Screen Overhaul
VIEW LATEST PRICE →

Best Manual Espresso Machines

Flair Espresso Maker, Classic (Manual Press) – Best Overall

The Flair Espresso Maker has plenty of reasons why it is our number one pick. From aesthetic to functionality, the Flair manual espresso machine carries a sense of artistry.

Specs:

  • 6 – 10 Bar Lever Pressure
  • 30 -45 seconds Shot Extraction Time
  • 45 ml Shot Volume
  • 60 ml Water Tank Capacity
  • Weighs 5 lbs

Performance

Do you want to have handcrafted professional quality coffee in the comforts of your home? The Flair espresso maker makes it easy for you to do so!

Simply add 60 ml of piping hot water of around 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 18 grams of ground coffee beans to get around 40-45 ml of espresso with a lovely crema. It will only take 30-45 seconds to get a single shot.

However, a burr grinder is needed alongside this machine to achieve great-tasting coffee.

The Flair espresso maker is built with a custom pressure gauge. This way, you can keep tabs and control the pressure to brew shots. The machine is capable of brewing between 6 to 10 bars of pressure.

Design

The Flair lever espresso maker has a distinctly classic look with black, white, and red colors. Your kitchen counter or coffee shop will look as posh as ever.

It comes with a custom case making sure its base, post, and brewing head do not break while in transit. 

Flair’s lightweight design weighing only 5 lbs, makes it easy to travel with. You can show off your barista skills at the office, while camping, or at a friend’s place with ease.

The Flair espresso press is made of durable stainless steel and aluminum built to last for years. If that’s not enough, the brand promises a 5-year warranty too.

Flair’s upgraded and patented design is the only one of its kind. Users get to remove the machine’s brewing head and separate its parts. The Flair espresso maker’s aim for cleanliness is a reason why coffee aficionados prefer this device over others.

Is the Flair Espresso Maker for You?

If crafting your brew is something you consider time well spent, you will surely enjoy this 100% human-powered espresso press. 

Every shot of espresso produced is a work of art!

Pros:
  • Foldable design for portability
  • Classic design
  • Durable and reliable build
  • Customizable espresso flavor
  • Eco-friendly, 100% human-powered
  • Low price point
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Easy to use
Cons:
  • Lots of parts may require readjustments over time
  • Head and portafilter require manual heating
  • Requires much strength to get desired bar pressure
Check Price

La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola Lever Espresso Machine – Best Value

Maybe you want to change up your coffee and instead opt for a specialty drink? The La Pavoni Europiccola comes with attachments for your creative barista skills to shine.

Specs:

  • Stainless Steel with Chrome Plating
  • Piston Operated
  • Weighs 14 lbs
  • Made in Italy
  • Come with attachments and accessories
Read:  The Best Bean to Cup Coffee Machines: A Comprehensive Review

Performance

When you get a La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola for your home, expect to have an automatic milk frother, measuring spoon, a tamper, and 2 steel filter baskets along.

It has a 20-ounce water capacity enough to brew 8 cups of espresso. 

You can whip yourself a latte and other textured drinks with the help of a steam wand for thick and creamy milk foams.

We like this machine because of its stainless steel heating components, an internal thermostat, a safety valve, and a removable drip tray. 

The Europiccola is piston-powered by the user and has no spring. You will have complete control over your brew. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you won’t get it the first time around.

Good thing the brand provides an instruction video to help you get acquainted with your device.

Design

La Pavoni Europiccola is very reminiscent of the early 20th century-old Italy. It has a retro vibe to it and is shiny with a thick base and curved edges. Its design is basic yet eye-catching.

Its sleek and classic construction is made with durable triple-plated chrome and nickel-plated & solid brass heating elements. It’s bound to stay on your countertops for years.

With the majority of stainless steel parts, the Europiccola is easy to clean and maintain.

Is the La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola for You?

If you belong to a family who loves lattes and cappuccinos as much as espressos, the La Pavoni Europiccola is a worthwhile investment.

Pros:
  • Durable construction to last years
  • Classic Italian design
  • Makes well-crafted drinks
  • Easy to find replacement parts
  • A small yet sturdy lever espresso machine
Cons:
  • Requires electricity
  • Needs to be shut off to avoid overheating
  • Harder to learn than other options
  • Fewer built-in components for tech advancements
Check Price

STARESSO Portable Manual Espresso Machine – Best Budget Pick

Are you a coffee lover always on the go? Have the best brews wherever you want them with the super convenient STARESSO Portable Manual Espresso Machine.

Specs:

  • 15-20 Bar Pressure
  • 100% Human-Powered
  • Compatible with Nespresso pods
  • Lightweight and Travel-friendly
  • BPA-Free

Performance

The STARESSO is your go-to portable manual coffee machine. Although it is super lightweight, it still packs a punch with up to 20 bar pressure capabilities.

You can brew espresso with its newly patented pumping system with ease and no electricity.

The STARESSO espresso maker is unlike the lever machines where coffee is made an art form. A common denominator between the two is they do not require electricity to function.

This manual espresso machine is made for the practical coffee drinker. It is constructed with convenience and time constraints in mind. 

Whether you prefer coffee grounds or Nespresso pods, this coffee maker can brew either for you.

Design

The STARESSO portable espresso machine garnered the Reddot Design Award back in 2016. Weighing just under a pound and looking very sleek, no doubt they deserve this award.

You have the option to get it in black, white, or pink, whichever suits your personality.

It’s quite amazing to think about how this compact machine can hold up to 80 ml of water and 0.53 oz of ground coffee. It surely delivers more than what you’d expect.

The construction of the STARESSO is made of high-standard BPA-free material. Its pump and coffee chamber, however, are of stainless steel for added durability. 

You can easily assemble and disassemble the parts too, making them easy to wash and keep.

Is the STARESSO Portable Manual Espresso Machine For You?

You can take the STARESSO espresso machine outdoors, while traveling, at home, or at work. 

You can make a ton of coffee drinks with this machine, even froth milk to get creamy and delicious drinks.

If that’s something you’re looking for, the STARESSO is a good option.

Pros:
  • Weighs 0.97 lbs
  • Easy to store and travel with
  • Compatible with Nespresso pods
  • Color options
  • Easy to use and clean
  • No need for electricity
Read:  Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine Authentic Review
Cons:
  • Not advised for everyday use
Check Price

Wacaco Minipresso NS, Portable Manual Espresso Machine

Here is another portable espresso machine on our list. The Wacaco Minipresso NS also does not use a lever. Nonetheless, it is still 100% human-powered.

Specs:

Performance

The Wacaco Minipresso NS is a hit among coffee drinkers who like a quick, mess-free caffeine fix.

The operation is performed manually, requiring no electricity. 

You simply have to pour some hot water into the tank, then unlock its piston. The piston releases a few pumps of pressure to extract the capsule’s espresso. It is capable of releasing at most 8 bars of pressure.

Take note; you can only use this machine with compatible capsules. Ground coffee beans cannot be brewed with the Wacaco Minipresso.

Design

This manual espresso machine is super portable, lightweight, and compact. It measures 7.9 x 3 x 3 inches and weighs just .78 lbs!

It has a 70 ml water tank capacity.

With Nespresso pods ready to go, you can take the Wacaco Minipresso NS anywhere. You can even fit it in your everyday bag.

Accessories like the Minispresso tank for 100 ml worth of espresso can be bought separately. A Minispresso case is also available to protect the machine from scratches and damages.

Is the Wacaco Minipresso NS for You?

The Wacaco Minipresso NS is ideal for travelers. You can easily fit it even as a carry-on. 

If your job entails you to be on the road most days, this makes a great companion. Now all you need is some Nespresso pods and boiled water.

Pros:
  • Travel-friendly
  • Ideal for camping
  • 100% Human-powered
  • Compatible with Nespresso pods
  • Available accessories
Cons:
  • Cannot brew coffee grounds
  • Not for everyday use
  • Not as durable
Check Price

ROK EspressoGC Manual Espresso Maker 

Last on our list is the new and improved ROK EspressoGC. The ROK brand has been a leader in the espresso industry.

For 20 years now, ROK has been manufacturing convenient and effective coffee makers for the best coffee experience.

Specs:

  • High-Quality Insulation
  • Improved Brew Pressure
  • Shower Screen Overhaul
  • Stainless Steel Portafilter

Performance

Instead of a single lever, the ROK EspressoGC has two arms that require pushing down to perfectly extract coffee grounds for a crema-rich shot of espresso.

The ROK EspressoGC has an upgraded pressure chamber and piston gasket for better pressure release. 

Precision holes and a shower screen are also in place for the cleanest possible coffee extractions. 

Your purchase will include a single spout stainless steel portafilter, a detachable plastic double spout attachment, and a measuring cup as a barista starter kit.

Design

The ROK EspressoCG’s pressure chamber is made of BPA-free materials for optimal insulation. You get to keep your coffee warm for a longer period.

It also showcases a sturdy finish with rubber legs for added slip resistance.

Its polished metal makes it easy to clean and maintain. It weighs about 3.5 lbs and is relatively lightweight and easy to take on trips.

Is the ROK EspressoGC for You?

The ROK EspressoGC brings functionality and aesthetics with utmost simplicity and elegance. You’ll learn to make professional-grade coffee with this one in no time.

Pros:
  • Easy to use with simple setup requirements
  • Energy-saving
  • Sturdy and slip-resistant
  • Produces clean and great-tasting espresso
  • Classy look
  • Easy to maintain the metal finish
Cons:
  • Small water tank just enough for two cups
  • Takes a while to learn to perfect the brewing process
Check Price

Best Manual Espresso Machine Buying Guide

If you want the ultimate specialty coffee experience, a manual coffee machine is an answer.

Manual coffee machines allow you to try your hand at becoming a barista. Who knows? You might have the knack for it!

It’s crucial to note that apart from quality coffee grounds and barista skills, the best espresso machines are also vital to a quality brew.

espresso served on clear glass cup, is espresso stronger than coffee, manual espresso machine

Here are factors to consider when buying espresso machines:

Water Tank Capacity

The water tank carries the water used to brew the espresso. Its capacity determines how many cups of coffee you can get out of one fill.

If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, you might want to consider a lever espresso machine that can accommodate a larger water reservoir. The machine should at least brew two shots or more without the need for a refill.

Read:  The 5 Best Super Automatic Espresso Machine Under $1000

Most lever espresso machines can hold up to 20 or 38 ounces of water.

Material

The purpose of the material being used to manufacture a lever espresso machine is to avoid corrosion and bacteria build-up. 

Secondly, these manual espresso machines should be built to last a long time, especially given that they don’t have electrical components.

The strongest and easiest to clean would be stainless steel and aluminum. Other manual coffee machines are made of hard plastic and other metals.

Machine Type

There are 2 types of manual espresso machines.

The spring piston machine has the lever in an upright position when not in use. Pumping it up and down will release the spring’s pressure, forcing the water on to the portafilter and coffee grounds.

The direct lever machine requires direct pressure on the lever, which pushes the water to extract the espresso.

The spring piston delivers a more consistent pump of pressure. It’s relatively easier to use and control.

The direct lever is easier on the wallet but much harder to master. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll likely be drinking the best espresso shots of your life!

Temperature Regulation 

Automatic espresso machines that are powered by electricity produce hot water through their built-in kettles and water tanks. You can simply determine your desired temperature through the controls.

For best hot cappuccinos, you want to reach a brewing temperature between 195F and 205F. 

Manual machines make it difficult for one to achieve an ideal temperature. That’s when you have to use your barista brain juice and get creative!

Bar Pressure 

Bar pressure is equivalent to the amount of natural pressure at sea level. A pressure gauge can help you check the amount of bar pressure exerted on your coffee grounds.

Most machines go from 9 to 15 bars. Manual espresso machines generate around 7 to 9 bar pressures, and that’s good enough. 

FAQs

What Is a Manual Espresso Machine?

Manual espresso machines are economical and energy-saving alternatives to electric espresso makers.

If you’re always on the go, an electric or automatic coffee maker may be a better option. You save a lot of time and effort by getting a good cup with just a press of a button.

If you want complete control and creative freedom over your coffee, a manual espresso machine is your best bet!

How Does a Manual Espresso Machine Work?

The success of the entire brewing process lies in your hands. Feeling the pressure? It’s totally fine to screw up on a manual espresso machine during your first few tries.

The first thing that should be ready is piping hot water. The next step is to remove the portafilter and fill the filter basket with your choice of coffee beans. You will then reinstall the portafilter on afterward.

Now it’s time for the exciting part. Lift and lower down the lever and build enough pressure to force down the hot water onto the ground coffee through the filter. Voila, you made fine espresso all on your own!

Why Consider a Manual Espresso Machine?

Ultimately, a coffee aficionado or aspiring barista gets a manual espresso machine to play around with different coffee tastes and brewing methods.

Coffee welcomes a lot of opportunity for creativity and experimentation.

There is beauty and artistry in pulling a manual lever to extract an espresso shot physically, with the excitement of whether or not it comes out perfectly or a spoof.

Other than that, manual lever espresso machines are much cheaper and last longer than your automatic coffee machines with sensitive electrical components. Manual espresso machines make a good investment.

Conclusion

We reviewed some outstanding products. We’re quite certain any of these can turn you into a pro barista in no time. If we have to pick the best manual espresso machine, we go for the Flair Espresso Maker, Classic Manual Press.

It’s worth every buck, gives room for creativity, and works well enough to brew great-tasting shots of espresso for many, many years without too much fuss.

We hope our reviews on the best manual espresso machines and our buying guide was worth your time.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

You may also enjoy these articles: