Travelling light doesn’t mean you have to give up your espresso addiction. Yes coffee shops can be found in many places, but what if you are spending time away from civilization, like camping in remote places for several days? Are you then reduced to drinking instant coffee? We have tried to make coffee with a small Italian stove top coffee maker. Two problems have forced us to give up on that. The main one is that a small coffee maker doesn’t fit properly on a propane camping stove and a lot of heat and propane get wasted around the coffee maker. The second one is the instability of the coffee maker on the stove. We tried instant coffee and boiled water … not really an option as the taste is just awful. I’d rather not drink anything than drink coffee substitutes.
But new products always come to the market and we recently took advantage of being back in Canada to research and buy a small Thermos-sized, hand-pump-type espresso maker. Several brands manufacture similar models. The Wacaco Minipresso GR is fairly small and compact, affordable, and seems to produce a decent espresso. We bought one and tried it when we got back home. The compact unit is mostly made of a hard plastic
but it feels heavy in hand and not at all flimsy. The manufacturer claims that the hand-pump produces 8 psi of pressure. It comes with a carrying bag and a detailed instruction sheet. More information can be found on the manufacturer’s website. After a failed
attempt caused by having tamped the coffee ground too tight, we pulled our first two espressos. We used Lavazza “Crema e Gusto Classico” ground coffee because that was what was available in the house. On the second attempt I didn’t tamp the coffee much. This time the coffee came out slowly with a good
crema, filling about 3/4 of a demi-tasse espresso cup. The shot felt more watered down than what you’d get from a commercial espresso machine but very decent, and with a more intense flavour than the stove-top maker. As that was the first attempt I am sure that there is room for improvement, but it looks like the Minipresso GR might be worth the investment. It doesn’t take much space in the rest of the kitchen gear we carry in the truck and with a bit of practice can produce a satisfying cup of espresso. Some additional tips to use the product can be found here.
I made another attempt with the Minipresso GR, and it went as follows:
Using the same Lavazza ground coffee I filled the basket directly without using the measuring cup. I filled it until a small peak of coffee powder formed in the centre of the filter. I then tamped it lightly with the spoon. The manufacturer states that the first six pump actions just build up the pressure, then the shot starts coming out. But this time the espresso didn’t start dripping until the eighth shot. I pumped slowly, waiting a second after pushing the piston in, and again waiting a second before pushing it again. I put a little less water than recommended, slightly below the maximum line of the reservoir. The result was surprisingly good! I got a half cup of very flavourful espresso, with decent texture, crema down to the bottom of the cup, and a pleasant lasting aftertaste. I must say that I am very impressed. This espresso comes very close to what you’d get with a pump machine costing ten to twenty times the price of the Minipresso GR. I would say that it is roughly 90% of the result for 10% of the price. Below is a photo of the espresso shot, in a pre-heated cup.
As I get experience with this espresso maker I will report my findings. Stay tuned 🙂