As we’ve discussed before, espresso machines can be powered through several mechanisms and there are several types available. There are automatic pump espresso machines, handheld devices like the Handpresso and the Aeropress, stovetop espresso makers, and then there’s the steam models that require a little skill on your part to use.
In past articles We’ve already compared the Aeropress to the Handpresso and in this article we’ll compare the manual Handpresso to the cheaper steam espresso machines. Both of these devices make espresso differently and both aim to bring espresso to your cup for a lot less money than popular push button pump machines.
Let us begin by reviewing how steam espresso machines work.
Do Steam Espresso Machines Make Good Espresso?
A steam-driven unit forces steam through the coffee beans using pressure. These were the first kind of espresso machines that were available for sale. The earliest types of machines were made out of a boiler that was attached to four groups of piping. This allowed a barista to make up to four different types of coffee at a time. This is a design that is still available; these machines entail little cost to consumers since it has no moving parts.
Modern steam espresso machines work in much the same way. The boiler is inside the unit and it still forces super hot steam through the espresso grind. These kinds of machines take some getting used to using and can require a bit of skill to produce really great espresso but they are affordable.
The 4-cup steam espresso maker by Mr. Coffee is one of the best selling steam espresso machines sold today. It gets consistently good reviews from past customers and it’s not to terribly difficult to use. You can’t beat the price either – it’s WAY WAY WAY cheaper than mid range automatic espresso machines.
Does the Handpresso Make Good Espresso?
The thing that I love about the Handpresso is that it is actually a portable version of a pump espresso machine. The only significant difference is that instead of relaying on electricity to pump water through your espresso grind you are instead using manual labor to fuel the pump. Basically the well reviewed Handpresso Wild Hybrid will:
- let you make true espresso anywhere you want,
- save you a ton of money over more expensive electric pump espresso machines,
- let you make espresso even with no electricity,
- and will take up a fraction of storage of space in your kitchen compared to any other espresso maker.
Needless to say we like this model a lot. Click here to see pricing on Amazon.
Handpresso is a brand that produces a few similar devices designed to produce pump-driven commercial espresso machine quality espresso anywhere without electricity and for less money. The main difficulty with making espresso was how hard it was to brew at home with just as little effort as regular coffee. This company has deleivered a great product that makes great espresso assuming you use the right inputs (i.e. hot water, good grind size, good coffee).
Which One is the Best Espresso Maker
When it comes to the coffee each of these two devices are capable of brewing great quality espresso, we are on the same level with both although we do favor the Handpresso due to versatility.
Steam-driven machines are classic, they are the first espresso makers that were available so they have the added nostalgia factor. Nowadays, these machines are available in smaller sizes and more convenient prices, meaning it is easier than it ever was to purchase one to have at home. We do however tend to push our customers towards pump models because they are more consistent and easier to use.
Our favorite pump espresso maker is the Barista Express. Give it a look if you are ok spending a bit more on a really awesome product that will not disappoint.
The Handpresso is ideal for the person that is constantly on the go and moving with a steam-driven espresso maker could be a bit tricky. For the office or for trips, the Handpresso is operated by hand and only needs hot water and a coffee pod to be added, so it is perfect to achieve a good, greatly brewed cup of espresso wherever you are.
Of course another viable option for the same type of person would be a moka pot – another extremely versatile coffee and espresso maker for the stovetop. See this article to weight the pros and cons of getting a moka pot vs a cheap espresso machine.
If you are actively looking into purchasing an espresso maker, the steam machine is definitely a great choice. It is not hard to operate and is very user friendly. The Handpresso is, in my opinion, a plus. By this, I mean the Handpresso is perfect if you have another main way of brewing or preparing coffee, but since it needs to be pumped manually and only brews one cup at the time, its use is mainly personal. Both combined are the perfect espresso making pair: combining old elements and new, classical features and modern ones, the mixture is great and delicious.