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Best Manual Espresso Machines (Review) In 2020

A manual espresso machine often dubbed lever espresso maker when used right can produce the best espresso you’ll ever sip on. Operating this espresso machine requires a certain level of focus and precision, but the results can be extremely rewarding. 

Buying the manual espresso machine can also be a daunting task, given the many options available. But after checking out several options, we’ve narrowed down on 8 best manual espresso machines that will allow you to indulge in the highest quality coffee right in the comfort of your home. 

Flair Espresso MakerMaking coffee in a manual espresso maker is an art that you should enjoy, because you are fully involved in the process, and you only need to watch a video or read instructions once to understand how it works. Key Features
  • You can fold this espresso coffee maker and carry it in your bag
  • The taste of espresso is completely customizable
  • Cool and durable construction
View Latest Price →See Customer Reviews
STARESSOThe portable STARESSO espresso maker is a small and affordable espresso machine, which you can take with you anywhere to make your favorite drink. Key Features
  • Weighs just 0.97 pounds
  • Fits perfectly even in a handbag
  • You can use both ground coffee and Nespresso pods
View Latest Price →See Customer Reviews
La Pavoni PC-16Want to get an Italian espresso machine? This is a very stylish device with a classic chrome design that immediately attracts attention. Key Features
  • The real way to make classic espresso
  • Ability to make double espresso
  • The volume of the boiler is enough for 16 cups of espresso
View Latest Price →See Customer Reviews

The Best Manual Espresso Machine

Therefore, it’s hard to choose only the best manual espresso machine from the market. To help make your choice easier, we have organized the espresso machines by value for money. Here are the MyFriendsCoffee’s top 6 best manual espresso machines in 2020:

1. Flair Espresso Maker

The Flair Espresso machine slots in at the #1 position on this list of best manual espresso machine for home or office for several reasons, starting with its ability to make café quality shots perhaps even much better right in the comfort of your home. It is easy to use, and best of all allows you to brew espresso topped with thick crema without the need for any pods or electricity. 

This manual machine from Flair tips the scales at just 7 lbs, and measures 12″L x 6″W x 10″H when fully assembled, making it highly portable to take with you wherever you go. But that’s not all, the Flair espresso maker comes with its own carrying case to prevent it from damage when you’re out and about. 

In terms of design and durability, the Flair espresso machine wins the gold with its cast aluminum and stainless-steel construction, and its sturdy base, post and lever. Adding to this, it can be ordered in a choice of three exciting colors – black, white and black/red, so it is easy to buy on that matches your overall décor. 

The Flair espresso maker comes with a custom pressure gauge, which allows you to keep tabs and manage the pressure needed to brew the shots. It has the ability to brew between 6 BAR to 10 BAR espresso shots, and can brew shots in roughly 30 to 45 seconds. One of the noteworthy features of the Flair espresso maker is its detachable brewing head, which makes it easy to clean the machine removing the head, taking off the parts, and then rinsing them under clean water. 

This espresso machine from Flair is fitted with a bottomless 2-in-in portafilter, which offers several benefits including the ability to troubleshot your espresso shots, yield 50 percent or more of crema and much more. The Flair espresso machine produces roughly 45 ml shots, and is backed by an impressive 5-year warranty against any manufacturer defects. 

2. STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine

Coming in at the #2 position on this list of best manual espresso machines is a model from STARESSO – a portable espresso machine that comes with almost all the bells and whistles to make a perfect cup each time. Winner of the Reddot Design award in 2016, the STARESSO espresso machine features a compact and lightweight footprint, and weighs just under 1 lbs, making it easy to take with you on the go. 

But even with its portable design, this manual machine can hold up to 80 ml water and 0.53 ounces of ground coffee, so will most likely never run out of a cup when you need one. It is compatible with most Nespresso pods and other leading coffee brands, and is extremely easy to use. 

The STARESSO espresso machine boasts an improved patented pump system, which provides between 15 – 20 BAR pressure, and does not use any electricity. It is constructed from BPA-free material, making it safe to use, and features a coffee chamber and pressure pump made from high quality stainless steel. 

The STARESSO is appointed with a see through window, so you can get a clear view of each brewing cup. Further, it is easy to clean by simply taking the parts apart, and then washing them under clean water. The STARESSO is backed by a 2-year warranty against any manufacture defects, and around the clock customer service support. 

3. La Pavoni PC-16 Lever Espresso Machine

The La Pavoni PC-16 manual espresso machine is in a league of its own with its award worthy eye catching design, and unmatched performance when brewing the best cups of coffee. This professional style machine can be ordered in a wide range of styles and finishes, and is equipped with a sturdy chrome base. 

Adding to this, the La Pavoni PC-16 is made from robust quality stainless steel, and features elegant wooden handles. The inside of the base is coated with a light polish to prevent moisture, and its large boiler is designed to reduce lime scale deposits, resulting in less maintenance. 

It features a great steaming mechanism for cappuccinos, and has the ability to generate approximately 16-2-ounce cups of espresso with the integrated 38-ounce boiler. Made in Italy, the La Pavoni PC-16 allows you to make either one or two cups at a time by simply raising the lever, which consequently raises the piston inside, letting the water pressure reach the coffee in the filter holder, lowering the lever, and then forcing the water via the coffee and into your cup. 

The La Pavoni PC-16 espresso machine can be plugged into a 120V electric outlet for use, and is fitted with a steam jet, which can be switched with the automatic cappuccino maker to make hot drinks and cappuccinos. It also comes with a manometer, which allows you to check the boiler pressure, and an automatic attachment to guarantee a perfect cappuccino. 

4. Handpresso HPWILDHYBRID

Launched in 2008 and designed in France, the Handpresso HPWILDHYBRID espresso machine features a portable design, and works similarly to a bicycle pump, which you use to build a maximum 16-BAR pressure for a rich and creamy espresso wherever you may be. 

It boasts a light and sturdy design, and can brew both short and strong 50 ml espresso. Adding to this, it is compatible with ground coffee or E.S.E. pods, and requires hot water, preferably 90 degrees centigrade that can be poured into it from a kettle or thermo flask. Adding to this, the Handpresso HPWILDHYBRID comes with two portafilters, one to use with ground coffee and other with coffee pods, so you’ve got everything you need to get started right out of the box. 

The Handpresso HPWILDHYBRID espresso machine runs without the use of electricity, and is fitted with a manometer, which indicates when the 16-BAR pressure is reached. It can be had in a great assortment of colors including silver, white and black, measures 8.5 x 4 x 3 inches, weighs 11 lbs, and is backed by a 2-year warranty against any manufacturer defects. 

The Handpresso HPWILDHYBRID espresso machine comes with a 1.5 Oz water reservoir, and takes roughly thirty strokes to build up the pressure needed after you’ve added the water. If you’re looking for the best manual espresso machine, one that offers no fuss brewing, the Handpresso HPWILDHYBRID espresso machine is definitely worth a second look. 

5. Wacaco Minipresso

The Wacaco Minipresso NS espresso machine is yet another hit in the best manual espresso machine segment, and for several reasons. For starters, it showcases a highly portable design, where it measures 7.9 x 3 x 3 inches and weighs just .78 lbs. Further, it is compatible with Nespresso coffee capsules, and offers a 70 ml water capacity and 8-BAR pressure.

The Wacaco Minipresso NS is an ideal choice for those who travel often, and is easy to use, where you start by pumping the piston to release small quantities of water into the coffee adapter, and then sit back and watch the rich and bold espresso extraction.

This manual espresso machine from Wacaco does not use any electricity or N2O cartridges to operate, and can also be paired with a wide range of optional accessories. It is a great choice for the budget conscious or those getting their feet wet with manual espresso brewing, and comes with everything you need to brew a perfect cup of espresso as soon as it arrives. 

6. Cafflano Kompresso

The Cafflano Kompresso grabs the #8 slot on this list of best cappuccino makers, owing most to the fact that hydraulic water compression technology rather than traditional pneumatic air compression. It is backed by a unique compression CAFKOBR01 design, which is engineered to maximize the force efficiency of the unit.

Tipping the scales at just .44 lbs and measuring 17 cms x 10 cms, the Cafflano Kompresso manual cappuccino machine offers a consistent 9 BARS of pressure, and is a joy to use and clean. It is billed as the world’s lightest portable espresso maker, and features an 80 ml max capacity water and 15 grams basket filter capacity. 

Buying Guide

Manual Espresso Machine

If you mind putting in an effort manual espresso machines are a great way to brew the perfect cappuccino. However, the quality of your brew also depends on the quality of the machine. Hence, it is important that you consider the factors mentioned below.

What to Look For

Water tank – the water tank as you might have guessed holds the water to brew the cappuccino. The capacity of the water tank dictates the amount of brew you will be able to extract at one time. So, if you one of the many that need more than one or two cups per day, then it is wise to buy a lever espresso machine that comes with a high capacity water reservoir. 

Material – Manual espresso machines can be made from plastic or metal, mostly stainless steel. Regardless of which material espresso machine, you choose, make sure that it built tough, and can withstand the elements. 

Type of machine – manual espresso machines use a pump type action to generate the brew, which can be done with by moving a plastic piston on a lever up and down to generate the pressure. Most portable espresso machines come with a pump rather than a level, which makes sense because it is easier to you when on the road. 

Temperature Regulation – to brew a hot cappuccino, you will need hot water, which electric powered machines generate when connected to an outlet or you will have to pour hot water from a kettle or flask into the reservoir. 

Pressure – commonly referred to as BAR pressure, this is basically a measure of atmospheric pressure. One BAR pressure is equivalent to the amount of natural pressure at sea level. So, nine BARS is nine times the pressure at sea level. 

Common myth is that the higher number of BARS, the better the espresso, but this is not always the case. Even though there are some machines that can generate a higher amount of pressure, some users can get a great restaurant quality espresso even with the nine BARS. 

And if you’re just starting out, it is best to start off with a lower BAR machine to see how thinks work out and to get some practice. In most cases, a manual espresso machine that generates between seven to nine BAR pressure. 

What is a manual espresso machine?

Manual espresso machines used an old style concept to extract coffee from the beans. They are able to brew exquisite espresso, but they do require a certain level of skill, and do take a little bit of work to master. 

How does a manual espresso machine work?

These espresso machines allow you to take control, and be part of the entire brewing process. They work by using the hot water in the onsite reservoir, which can be heated with the integrated heating element of poured from a flask to make the desired amount of brew. 

Once you have the hot water ready, you need to remove the portafilter from the manual espresso machine, load the filter basket with the coffee or beans, and then reinstall the filter. Now you have to raise and lower the handle in an effort to build pressure, while forcing the water through the ground coffee. 

Manual Espresso Machine Pros and Cons

One of the biggest benefits of a manual espresso machine is the high quality brew it yields. And it only gets better once you use the right beans and perfect the process. This is one of the biggest reasons why you don’t see automatic coffee machines in high end coffee bars. Another big benefit of a using a manual coffee machine is the fun involved in the process of brewing, rather than simply pressing a few buttons to brew a cup of cappuccino.

Manual coffee machines generally feature a much sleeker yet classic design, making more visually appealing. Hence, they not only make you a great cup of cappuccino, but also make you look good while brewing it. 

On the downside and as mentioned earlier, these espresso machines require a bit off effort to brew a cup or two. Further, they may take a bit longer to setup, and getting the hot water ready, so they may not be an ideal choice for people with busy mornings. However, if you want to ensure you leave home with a mouthwatering and indulgent cup of cappuccino, and are a willing to put in the hard work for to brew, then manual coffee machines are hard to beat. 

Manual vs Automatic

Manual coffee makers feature a more traditional design, in that they do not come with any fancy automated features. They use the same method to create the water pressure, and then force it through the coffee packed portafilter. They also allow you to take control of the amount of water you want in each shot, which is how you ultimately perfect your cup of cappuccino. 

Automatic coffee makers are great too, but they come with preprogrammed buttons to make the coffee. Some best automatic espresso machines can take care of the entire cappuccino making process right from burr grinding the beans to brewing and frothing the milk. So, if you must have that wake up shot of cappuccino in the AM, but don’t want or have no time to brew it manually, they an automatic espresso machine is worth checking out. 


Is it worth buying a home espresso machine?

Buying a home espresso machine whether manual or automatic offers a plethora of benefits. First and biggest perk of owning a home espresso machine is the costs savings especially compared to buying cappuccino at a brick and mortar barista. And the cost savings are even higher if you are one of the many who craves more than one cup of coffee per day. 

On that note, investing in a home espresso machine offers a world of convenience, given that you can indulge in a perfect cup of cappuccino right in the comfort of your home and at time of day. Buying the best cappuccino maker also improves your overall coffee drinking experience, because you can try making different types of coffee and try different grounds. 

What is the best grind for espresso?

There is no one size fits all design when it comes to coffee grinds, hence what may be best for you, may not feel the same for others. Grinding coffee for espresso is actually one of the most challenging things to get right, where it should be fine enough to increase the pressure required to force the water through the filter and create rich crema. 

If you are not sure about which coffee beans to use, look for reputable manufacturers to gauge the quality of their grinds. You should also know that there are different ways to grind coffee beans, where the size and fineness plays a crucial role in the process of making each brew. 

What is the right pressure for espresso?

Pressure is what makes an espresso perfect, hence you have to get it right! This barometric pressure dubbed atmospheric pressure is the weight of air at sea level. There is no best pressure because everyone’s tastes are different, but the ideal pressure is 9 BAR. But the trick is not having 9 BARS of pressure, but the way you control those nine BARS. 

Before anything else, you first need to ensure that your coffee is finely ground, and then tamped into a portafilter to create a puck. Even though the times for pulling a shot of espresso vary, it generally takes between 25 to 30 seconds if you are using a nine BAR espresso machine. 

Apart from the BAR pressure, there are also many more factors that play a key role in brewing a perfect cup of espresso including the roast date of the coffee, the tamp, bean density, coffee dose, room temperature, hardness of water, size of portafilter basket and of course the quality of your equipment. 


Understanding the Three Varieties of Espresso Makers – Beverage Factory
Art of making espresso lies in following the rules – Reuters

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