If you’re currently on the search for a manual espresso machine then it’s likely that you already have an appreciation for the authenticity of an old-fashioned coffee-making experience, rather than the automatic espresso machines that can be activated with the press of a button. Back in the day, a “manual espresso machine” referred exclusively to lever machines, which would use a lever to force heated water through coffee grounds for extraction. As time went on, though, a new type of espresso machine has come to light–one that is easier to take with you and has increased ease of use in comparison to the original models.
Top 10 Best Manual Espresso Machine Options
1. Elektra – Microcasa a leva Espresso
One could say that this machine is a callback to the old Italian glory days; it’s sporting a brass eagle on top and is made with polished chrome. It has traditional inspirations from the first espresso machines while also having modern functionality to ensure that it’s safe and easy to use. Its spring-piston is easier to use than other machines of the same kind because it allows for the same amount of pressure with every release. As a result, you can easily get consistent pulls without needing to fuss with the machine for too long.
Additionally, there is a glass section of the water reservoir that allows you to look through and see how much water you’re working with. Its pressure-relieving valve helps a lot to control the pressure inside the machine, preventing dangerous hot water splashes.
Sample Customer Review… The ultimate manual spring lever home machine. Beautifully built-in chrome finish, using the same concept as the first Italian espresso machines.
Brews outstanding professional-level espresso short shots (Italian style ultra full-bodied ristrettos), but it is possible to brew longer shots with a double pull of the lever.
It is definitely not a machine for the inexperienced barista (as it is a fully manual machine, you need to master all barista skills as grinding, tampering, temperature control, coffee selection, timing, etc), neither for someone looking to pull shot after shot in a party or for a huge group of friends.
I would say it is much more a concept “intimate” espresso machine, for the serious espresso lover. It gets extremely hot, so it is dangerous for children and careless/distracted adults. It also demands a high-end grinder in order to achieve the full potential of the machine.
So why should someone buy such an expensive and complex manual machine?Read more reviews at Amazon.com
1- Outstanding coffee brewing, rivaling the best professional machines since you know how to do it!
2- Outstanding vaporizer, providing excellent microfoam for your latte art
3- It is beautiful. A fine piece of art handcrafted in Veneto-Italy to decorate your kitchen/gourmet living room
4- For the same reason, a 70s Ferrari Dino sells much more expensive than a brand new Ferrari!
2. AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker
Are you a coffee aficionado who also enjoys traveling? If so, AeroPress is the choice for you. When traveling long-distance it’s discouraging to have to settle for watery and bitter coffee. With this device, you’d be able to treat yourself with coffee that isn’t awful even when you’re far away from your own home. Unlike other models, this device uses an immersion brewing process that extracts the full flavor of the coffee without the acidic and bitter taste that most of us aren’t too keen on.
It also sports 4 markings on the exterior to show the water levels, allowing you to brew 1-3 cups in a single sitting. In addition to its useful features, this machine is compact and lightweight, letting you carry it pretty much anywhere. Additionally, it comes with a tote bag that lets you pack it with the rest of your camping materials easily.
Sample Customer Review… So, I read and watched quite a number of reviews before buying this coffee maker and subconsciously decided that it was all grossly exaggerated. I stand corrected. This contraption just replaced all methods of acquiring a cup of coffee I have used to date; including my usual coffee store. It made the best coffee I have ever tasted (sounds like a lot of the other reviews right?) For the first time ever, I didn’t experience any burning in my chest after a cup of coffee. There was no need for sugar; I just added frothy milk. I used both right side up and upside down methods (with no spills) and I think you’ll need more than 1 filter for the right side up method cause all the water just runs through in a matter of seconds leaving very little plunging to do. All I need to assess now is how durable it is.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
3. Flair Classic Manual Espresso Maker
The Flair Classic is a unique type of machine that will allow you to pull professional-level espresso shots every time while simultaneously being compact enough to fit inside of your suitcase. It’s made of three main components: the lever, the base, and the post. Each of these parts is made from stainless steel and aluminum which increases the longevity of this device by many years.
You’re able to easily disassemble the parts to clean them or pack them into a backpack or suitcase for long trips. It comes with its own travel case so there’s no need to have the pieces just lying strewn about. Since it comes in multiple colors, you can rest assured that you’ll find the one that suits your aesthetic the best. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to pre-heat the reservoir and boil your own water separately to make a cuppa. It’s also small and can’t create multiple shots of espresso at once.
Sample Customer Review… I’d give this a twenty if I could. I’ve wanted a new espresso maker for quite a while, but I was hesitant because what I can afford is usually pretty underwhelming. This is better than compromise. It makes shots better than most coffee houses I’ve been to. It is simple, easy to clean, takes almost no space, uses no electricity, and is simply beyond awesome. It’s like going from a crappy little espresso maker to a very high-end machine. I could not be happier with this. As mentioned in other reviews, there is a slight learning curve. You will also need a good burr grinder, that gives an even grind. (Again, I couldn’t afford a good one, so I use a manual grinder. They’re great because the grinders are good quality and much cheaper without the cord). So, if the reason you are looking at this is budget, you really are wasting your time looking further. You won’t find anything this great anywhere near this price. If budget isn’t a consideration, this is still top of the line.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
4. Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker
This Nanopresso is your best option if you’re looking for a hand-pumped espresso machine that is sturdy and reliable. It was constructed to fit into your hand for easy gripping, so your daily coffee routine is going to be even more convenient than usual. The device features a pumping system that is 15% easier to use than the STARESSO model. When doing the pump, you should go steady to get the highest quality crema layered on top of your coffee. The machine is completely silent, so you won’t be at risk of waking anyone up when getting your caffeine fix. Also if you go on trips regularly then this compact machine will be the perfect companion to go with you.
Sample Customer Review… This is a great, easy-to-use & portable machine for the traveler who doesn’t want to compromise on their coffee. It is an improvement over the first Gen machine (which I also have used for many years with good results) as the 18 bar pressure and easier to pump make a noticeable difference in the quality of the espresso and the effort needed to produce it. Sturdy construction, and highly portable. It can get a bit messy when dissembling after use for cleaning — be sure to not lose the small bits down the drain — and the pressure chamber requires a few “dry” pumps to expel residual water in the tank & some time to dry out before packing and traveling anew. But all-in-all a great gizmo that produces consistently high-quality espressos on the go for years on end!Read more reviews at Amazon.com
5. Wacaco Minipresso GR Portable Espresso Machine
The Minipresso GR has many unique benefits: it’s portable, easy to use, and has a sleek-looking ergonomic design. If you want to find an inexpensive espresso maker to satisfy your craving for daily coffee, this device is your best option in terms of price. It has one setting in which it will yield up to 50 ml of espresso, which is your standard serving size for an espresso shot. If you want to make a 100 ml drink then you’ll need to purchase a separate water reservoir.
Operating this little device is as easy as it gets. It has a semi-automatic piston that reaches up to 8 bars of pressure to give you bold, rich espresso while you’re out and about. It’s designed so that it looks good in your home, but also when making road trips or backpacking.
Sample Customer Review… Absolutely amazing little gadget. I’ve been using French press or Moka pots for coffee for many years. I’ve even got a Bialetti Moka Crema pot in the hopes of creating the perfect espresso with crema on top in the comfort of my own home. This little hand pump is the perfect replacement for stove top pots and cafetières. It takes up no space on your precious countertop and is dead easy to operate without reading instructions. If you can boil water, you can do this! The whole thing unpacks at the top to reveal a drinking cup, a nozzle, a coffee filter, the main pump, and a water receptacle. All you have to do is take it apart, fill the coffee filter up, reassemble the top part, fill the water tank with boiling water and screw it to the rest of the pump. After 10 pumps you’ll start to see perfect creamy coffee come out. Another 20 pumps or so will empty the tank. You don’t need to count, when you start feeling less resistance in the pump, you’ve reached the end of that shot. I’d say it puts out about 2 shots worth of espresso. I drink my coffee Italian style with a dash of milk and it’s perfect every time. No guesswork involved at all, just a perfect crema on top of a smooth draw. An added bonus is that I can take this camping or traveling since it’s so portable. 10/10!Read more reviews at Amazon.com
6. Staresso Portable Espresso Machine
This STARESSO model is one of the most versatile and user-friendly espresso machines you’ll find on the market. It doesn’t matter where you are, whether it’s at home, on a road trip, backpacking, or in the office, this little espresso maker will quickly deliver to you a good espresso shot to brighten your day. It has a small and ergonomic design that makes it easy to assemble and disassemble.
The 80-ml capacity water tank is ideal for producing a single shot. Plus, it’s able to prepare the full-bodied espresso shot with the layer of crema using either ground coffee or a Nespresso pod. If you’re a fan of milk-based coffee, you can actually froth milk with this device. Simply pour the milk into the chamber and pump the milk to extract foam. With this espresso machine, a hot cup is at your disposal whenever you want it.
Sample Customer Review… I was planning to buy a Nespresso machine for close to $299 when I came across the Staresso on Amazon. I liked the idea that Staresso is small and won’t take up space on my counter. It fits perfectly in the center of the canisters and French press of my coffee station. I also like that I can use Nespresso pods but also have the option to use Loose Espresso. So far I have been using Nespresso pods and the espresso comes out great. There is always a thick layer of crema on top! I also use a Nespresso machine at work and I can tell you the Staresso makes just as good of a cup of coffee. It is also very fast to set up and clean up. I was expecting it to possibly be a hassle- but it is really very quick. I am so glad I did not waste my money or my counter space on the Nespresso machine- Very happy with Staresso!Read more reviews at Amazon.com
7. DeLonghi EC155M Manual Espresso & Cappuccino Machine
This DeLonghi EC155M Manual Espresso & Cappuccino Machine is great for making exceptional espresso and cappuccinos. What’s special about this machine is that it is self-priming. That means that it’s ready to use whenever you want! There are two thermostats to control the temperature of water and steam. There’s also a removable drip tray and anti-drip system to help with cleanup.
Some customers have expressed difficulty in cleaning the frother. It’s important to note that this machine is on the smaller side, so it’s ideal for those who want a small cup of coffee since larger cups would be difficult to fit under the drip head.
Sample Customer Review… I’ve had this machine for a few months now. It is so user-friendly and EASY if you read the instruction manual. I was a barista for 5 years and always used automatic machines. This manual makes way better quality espresso in my opinion. Definitely buy somethIng to tamp the espresso down. I also bought a smaller pitcher to stream milk because this steam wand sits low. I use any shot glasses I have around the house and I’ve never had trouble with them fitting. I researched a lot of espresso machines before I settled on this one and I’m happy with my final decision. Definitely the best quality for a midrange espresso machine.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
8. KAMIRA Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker
This KAMIRA Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker, which is handcrafted in Italy, creates espresso right on your stove! It works with any stovetop, even induction stoves. This speedy machine gives you a shot of espresso in just 90 seconds. Along with the espresso maker, you receive both single and double filters, so you can customize how you would like your espresso. This Kamira is made out of stainless steel and also comes with a five-year warranty, which is much longer than most competitors.
It’s important to note that this model is extremely affordable, so the espresso will not be as high-quality as more expensive machines. It is a great choice for those on a budget who want a quick and easy espresso.
Sample Customer Review… I love this machine. It takes some practice to figure out just how high and how long to run the heat source so the pressure valve doesn’t whistle, but once you have that down pat it makes a delicious cup of espresso. I drive a semi and I use a single burner plate bought from Walmart hooked into my inverter twice a day. I use the double filter holder for a large espresso. This way I get a healthy dose of caffeine without too much water which can cause a truck driver several pit stops. Practice, patience, enjoy. It’s simple and inexpensive and I’ve had mine for a year without problems. I highly recommend it.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
9. La Pavoni EPC-8 Lever Style Espresso Machine
The La Pavoni EPC-8 is one of the absolute best available options for a manual espresso machine right now. It has a state-of-the-art design and is constructed with stainless steel, meaning it will around for many years even with frequent use. It has a water reservoir of 20 ounces with which you can get 8 cups of espresso.
Each espresso shot is about 2 ounces. The machine is simplistically designed and compact so that you can fit it in a cabinet when it’s not being used. It has a comprehensive set that includes a screen, tamper, measuring ladle, and a steam wand to make milk foam for drinks like cappuccinos, macchiatos, and lattes. Although it may take some time for you to learn how to use this machine, you won’t regret the time investment. Your efforts will be rewarded with professional-grade espresso shots made at home to treat yourself or any guests you’re having over.
Sample Customer Review… I bought one of these a couple of months ago and although it is a bit expensive it is one of the best purchases I’ve made in a long time. It looks great. It is so well made, it feels like it will last forever as it is so simple, no electronics to break down no plastic bits to break off. You get a huge amount of control over the way the coffee tastes, it’s all in the speed of lowering the handle and the tightness of grinds. It takes a few attempts to get it right but once you’ve worked it out you’ll never look back.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
10. La Pavoni PSW-16 Stradavari Espresso Machine
This La Pavoni machine might be on the more expensive side, but the espresso it produces is extremely high quality. It can make up to 16 2 oz cups of espresso which is more than some competitors. With features like a 38 oz boiler capacity, dual frothing cappuccino systems, and solid brass boilers with triple chrome plating, this machine is both beautiful and highly functional.
If you have experience with manual machines, you will be well on your way to creating smooth espresso with delicious crema. This machine is not suited for beginners since it is a bit complicated to use. For those who want to take their espresso to the next level, consider giving this model a try!
Sample Customer Review… Great purchase! As advertised, took some experimentation to make passable espresso and cappuccinos. On-line YouTube videos (varied selection readily available) huge help in showing what the process looked like, what steps to take, and what the variables were. Learning curve fairly steep; passable product within six tries. Still learning, but truly enjoying great drinks in the process!
It’s important to get the full package for ease of preparation and process control. This includes a burr grinder, a 53mm tamper (I bought the wrong size initially and the plastic one La Pavoni sends is junk) frothing pitcher, and a thermometer. Haven’t used the La Pavoni frothing attachment. Looks like an unnecessary device that would need a lot of clean-up.
Overall, the product is very easy to use and maintain. I really like being able to vary the flavor of my drinks by conscious choice. As the process has evolved, my wife has changed from a skeptic to a huge fan!Read more reviews at Amazon.com
Finding the Best Manual Espresso Machine for You
Generally, manual machines require one to pump either a lever or hand pump to generate pressure in the water and force it through tightly packed coffee grounds for extraction. In this way, the user is in full control of the quality of their shot, being in charge of the pressure and timing of it. Since these devices are centered around one’s own personal technique, there’s a bit of a learning curve. If you want to achieve the level of professionally made espressos, you’ll need to put in a certain amount of practice. If you’re willing to put in the time, then the manual machine is the best way to upgrade your caffeine consumption experience.
Hopefully, these products will put you well on your way to buying the manual espresso machine for you!
- Best De’Longhi Espresso Machine
- Best Espresso Machines For Your Kitchen
- Best Gaggia Espresso Machine
- Best Jura Espresso Machine
- Best Nespresso Machine
- 6 Best Espresso Tampers
- Best Super Automatic Espresso Machine
- Best Manual Espresso Machine
- Best Coffee Grinder For French Press
- Best Coffee Grinders
- Best Hand Coffee Grinder
- Best Commercial Coffee Grinder
Written by Evyn Carter and Sara Cayem