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Best Manual Espresso Machine: Top 5 Models of 2023

Iris Ton
  Dec 1, 2023 7:25 AM

To prepare excellent espresso drinks, all you need is well-designed, high-quality equipment, the appropriate coffee grind, and some practice. There are espresso machines to fit any kitchen, and some manufacturers have taken the concept down to its simplest form, creating devices that don't even require boilers and instead rely on manual pressure to generate some fairly good shots. You may enjoy espresso wherever you choose with these manual espresso machines, including in the office, when traveling, and even while sitting around a campfire.

To determine the most straightforward, best-designed, best-extracting, and finest crema-producing lever-driven espresso machines that are actually worth your money, we pulled dozens of shots using 5 top countertop and portable manual espresso makers.


What you need to know about manual espresso machines?

With the most recent generation of manual machines, you must separately heat water in a kettle and pour it into a container above the coffee grounds. After pre-infusing the fine coffee grounds with water (a process known as pre-infusion), you raise a lever or otherwise activate a hand, depress it to produce pressure, and the water is forced through the grounds and into your cup below.

Except for the Flair, which uses a commercial-style portafilter system, all of the semi-automatic espresso machines we examined for this review had their own distinctive designs and shot-loading processes. While the majority of semi-automatic espresso machines use a portafilter holder that attaches via a bayonet mount into the brew head.

These gadgets can brew surprisingly good coffee, serving as more affordable substitutes for electric machines with built-in boilers and electromechanical pumps, a portable option for people who prefer to carry their own shots, or a unique, tactile method of making espresso that is unlike anything else. The results varied based on the coffee we used for testing due to roast levels and other factors including bean origin, and "dialing in" grinds for each device was essential to get a proper extraction.

Some of the types we reviewed are portable, allowing you to prepare espresso wherever you are when traveling, camping, or working from home. You won't be serving a large party because they can typically only make a little espresso at a time and their portafilters can only hold a few grams of extremely finely ground coffee. There is a slight learning curve with these smaller designs because they typically need to be taken apart and put back together for every picture.

You'll need a source of boiling water (we suggest an electric kettle) and, if you're planning to use whole beans, a coffee grinder, preferably a conical burr unit that can grind coffee to the required fineness and is available in both manual and electric models.

What are some famous brands for manual espresso machines?

Look for espresso machines from brands like ROK,  De'Longhi, La Pavoni, etc.

>>See more: Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machine: Top 5 Models of 2023


Detailed Evaluation of the Best manual espresso machines

Some of the types we reviewed are portable, allowing you to prepare espresso wherever you are when traveling, camping, or working from home. You won't be serving a large party because they can typically only make a little espresso at a time and their portafilters can only hold a few grams of extremely finely ground coffee. There is a slight learning curve with these smaller designs because they typically need to be taken apart and put back together for every picture.

You'll need a source of boiling water (we suggest an electric kettle) and, if you're planning to use whole beans, a coffee grinder, preferably a conical burr unit that can grind coffee to the required fineness and is available in both manual and electric models.

#1. STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine: Best for Budget

STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine (link)

Important Specifications

  • Dimensions: 2.75 x 2.75 x 9.64 inches

  • Weight: 0.88 lbs

Product highlights

 This manual device is simple to operate, portable, and light enough to store on the side of your bag. This is the ideal choice if you're seeking for manual equipment to bring camping. The device is available in white, pink, or black.

This espresso machine is incredibly user-friendly in contrast to some of the perplexing ones out there. To avoid any difficulties, the machine contains all of its intricate parts. It is pretty simple to understand. All of the materials are of the finest quality and are BPA-free, making them safe for use in brewing. Even a stainless steel coffee chamber is included.

It goes without saying that you won't use this manual espresso machine at home. That would be a bit excessive. However, if you're an adventurer, an outdoor explorer, or a traveler on the go, this is the surefire way to get high-quality espresso wherever you are. It just works!

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What We Like

  • The best for travel

  • Great colors and stylish 

  • Very good price

  • Simple for Anyone

  • Highest Pressure

Things to Consider

  • Can Be Messy

  • Milk Works Poorly

  • Difficult to Clean Basket

Bottom line

STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine is the best manual espresso machine, especially if you are a frequent adventurer.

>>See more: Best Semi-automatic Espresso Machine: Top 5 Models of 2023

#2.  La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Style Espresso Machine: Best Slurge

La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Style Espresso Machine (link)

Important Specifications

  • Dimensions: 11 x 7 x 12 inches

  • Weight: 14 Pounds

Product highlights

The best lever-style espresso machine under $1,000 is the La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Style Espresso Machine for those who prefer to make their coffee as though they were in Milan in 1961. It offers total control and unquestionably has a beautiful appearance.

This stunning chrome-plated item is built of sturdy cast brass, making it essentially designed to become a kitchen heirloom (not to mention the sophisticated silhouette that will stay stylish on your countertop forever).

Despite how attractive it could be, inexperienced baristas should stay away from utilizing this kind of equipment. It is crucial to know how much to weigh your yield, how quickly to pull the lever (which affects the brewing pressure), and how much to weigh your dose (the three factors affect the brewing pressure).

There are no lights or buttons to let you know when your shot is finished, so you must test and taste your espresso to decide when it is perfect because the group head lacks a pressure gauge. A frother attachment for cappuccinos and lattes as well as a glass window inside the boiler that makes it easier to view your water level are useful features.

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What we like

  • Glass section to see the water level 

  • Integrated milk frother

  • Beautiful aesthetic

  • Not recommended for those new to espresso

Things to consider

  • Lack of a pressure gauge at the group head

  • Expensive

Bottom line

Overall, if you have some money to spare and want barista-quality coffee, La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Style Espresso Machine is the best manual espresso machine for you.

#3. Wacaco Picopresso Espresso Maker: Best Portable

Wacaco Picopresso Espresso Maker (link)

Important Specifications

  •  Dimensions: 3.07 x 4.17 x 2.8 inches

  • Weight: 0.77 lbs

Product highlights

The Picopresso is Wacaco's newest product, but it has already been proved as the best manual espresso machine. You can take the portable espresso maker everywhere because it only weighs 350 grams.

The Picopresso uses a hand pump that can exert up to 18 bars of pressure to generate a high-quality double shot of espresso (not coffee) (comparable to expensive machines). Similar to an automated espresso machine, the results are a rich, full-bodied double shot of espresso that is ready for hot water, milk, or just straight.

It only takes a few seconds to put 20 grams of freshly ground coffee (espresso grind) to the 52mm stainless steel basket. Use the distribution tool to make the grind as even as possible before you tamp. Then, use the steel tamper that may be found at the water chamber lid's base to tamp down.

The cleaning brush, steel tamper, scoop cup, distribution tool, and rubber caps are just a few of the accessories that all fit inside the Picopresso rather nicely. Cleaning up is simple because the puck releases quickly and every component can be washed under the faucet.

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What We Like

  • High-quality espresso shots 

  • Durable carry case provided

  • Tank-like in design

Things to Consider

  • Finding the proper grind requires a few trials

  • It takes some practice to get the hang of it

Bottom line

With Wacaco Picopresso Espresso Maker, you can make coffee anywhere as long as you have a good burr grinder and your preferred coffee beans. Every camping trip needs this best manual espresso machine. In the morning, treat all of your camping buddies to a superior espresso!

>>See more: Best Espresso Machines under 1000: Top 5 Models of 2023 Full Review

#4. Rok Manual Espresso Maker Silver: Best Durability

Rok Manual Espresso Maker Silver (link)

Important Specifications

  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 5.13 x 8.75 inches

  • Weight: 7.12 lbs

Product highlights

The ROK Presso Manual Espresso Maker is more understated than the other products on our list of the best manual espresso machines. It is a straightforward device that was obviously made with functionality in mind.

The Presso has a 10-year warranty and is built of sturdy metal. Simply push down to create pressure to utilize it; it doesn't need electricity. Additionally, it includes four rubber legs in its base that are designed to keep it firmly in place while in use.

The espresso that is produced falls short of what you could make with a more expensive equipment. It still isn't a poor espresso maker, though. You can still make great espresso shots on the Presso as long as you use the proper beans and follow the instructions exactly.

The ROK Presso is fairly lightweight at less than 4 pounds. Additionally, a storage container is included. For travelers who enjoy espresso, it is a good choice.

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What We Like

  • Compact & portable 

  • Smart design with sturdy metal finish 

  • Hands-on manual brewing

  • Great coffee

  • Easy to use

Things to Consider

  • Milk frother doesn’t taste good

  • Some plastic components

Bottom line

The Rok is the best manual espresso machine for your home kitchen or office if you enjoy espresso and want a straightforward machine that reliably makes decent shots without demanding flawless technique.

#5. Flair Espresso Maker: Best for Design

Flair Espresso Maker (link)

Important Specifications

  • Weight: 4.9 pounds

  •  Dimensions: 12 x 6 x 10 inches

Product highlights

Flair Espresso Maker is the best manual espresso machine available for a reasonable price for anyone who wants to produce an espresso shot of professional quality without much bother.

It is made of high-quality materials like stainless steel and aluminum, is easy to clean, and has a specifically made travel case, so you can carry it anywhere.

The Flair's basic design and craftsmanship make it the perfect choice for anyone who wants to make their own espresso shots wherever they go. Furthermore, it is covered by a 3-year warranty, proving its durability.

It may be used as a manual espresso machine everywhere there is hot water and a coffee grinder. If you want to make sure you consistently apply the correct amount of pressure, Flair offers an optional pressure gauge.

It may be used as a manual espresso machine everywhere there is hot water and a coffee grinder. If you want to make sure you always apply the proper amount of pressure, Flair offers a pressure gauge kit as an optional extra. Because espresso is portable, you can enjoy a wonderful cup of it wherever you are—at home, at work, or on vacation.

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What we like

  • Convenient and clean

  • Produces professional-grade espresso shots

  • Aluminum and reliable stainless steel

  • Three-year warranty included

Things to consider

  • Require time to master

Bottom line

For the affordability, mobility, and simplicity of operation, Flair Espresso Maker is the best manual espresso machine that produces superb espresso with temperature and pressure control. This combination can't be beaten. It is challenging to find this much control unless you spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on an espresso machine that would remain immobile on your counter.

>>See more: Best Coffee Makers with Grinder: Top 5 Models of 2023

>>See more: Best Coffee Makers under $200: Top 5 Models of 2023


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Conclusion

The review of the best manual espresso machines above hopefully helps you narrow down potential choices and make a final decision that will satisfy your needs.

The products below will most likely meet your requirements:

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