Wacaco Picopresso portable espresso machine review
Wacaco's latest portable espresso machine features a double-shot filter basket and integrated, purpose-built coffee tools. Read on for our verdict
- Compact and portable, double-shot capacity, integrated grinds disperser and tamper.
- Small, easy to lose parts that could be choking hazards, hot components need to cool before cleaning and dry separately
Wacaco Picopresso portable espresso maker summary
Wacaco calls this their most pro-orientated manual espresso machine and it's easy to see why. The double-shot filter basket opens the user up to more coffee-house classics than the Wacaco Minipresso GR, or even making two single-shot drinks at once. The portafilter is 'naked', meaning the espresso isn't channelled into a splitter before hitting your cup. It's also the industry-standard size of 52cm across with an 18g capacity. Using the Italian Espresso National Institute metrics, this will in theory produce two 25ml cups of espresso.
- Available from Wacaco (£109.90)
The manual pump goes way beyond the nine-bar pressure required to pull these shots. It's Wacaco's most versatile coffee maker and the compiling of its 14 component parts demands focus, time and attention. This is the perfect coffee gift for anyone who finds that the hands-on process of brewing coffee adds to the enjoyment of the final product.
Read our full guide to the best espresso machines.
What's in the box?
A double-shot filter basket, tamper, measurement scoop, cleaning brush, distribution pin and funnel are contained within the Picopresso's main body. A zip-up case is also included for protecting it on the go.
A tool is provided for you to mimic every step of the commercial coffee-making process on a smaller, portable scale – with the exception of milk frothing. The small instruction booklet is diagram heavy so an easy one to whizz through. Broken down, the Picopresso has 14 parts. You're guided on how they fit together and given step-by-step instructions for brewing, including tips on how to get the best from your brew (such as weighing the beans), plus a QR code that leads to a grind-size guide for ultra-fine beans.
Each component has a quality feel, from the screw thread of the portafilter to the flat weight of the tamper. The body is pleasingly grippy. Plus the design is undeniably smart. Nifty quirks such as the grounds scoop which has a swivel-out handle add to the Picopresso's purpose-built affair. There's a funnel which sits on top of the grinds basket to help minimise mess, a pin for dispersing grounds and a tamper provided for compressing them. Picopresso’s manual piston twists to unlock. The company claims that it produces a max 18 bars, a massive jump in pressure. Once familiar with the process, it's quick and easy to assemble.
How easy is it to use the Wacaco Picopresso?
The instructions on the box guide you in stopping pumping when the output ratio gets to 1:2 (18g of grind to 36g of espresso). It's actually quite hard to fit 18g of grounds into the basket so the funnel helps guide this in. With a handle, you can tap a portafilter to even out the grinds but the pin comes into play here for dispersing them.
Then the funnel stops you from over-tamping the grounds too hard. Pre-heating the machine is crucial, so don't skip the step of pumping through a tankful of water. We found that 24 pumps produced a full double-shot.
Let's go back to the basics. Espresso is created by forcing hot water through ground coffee powder. The result is a richly dark shot swirled with a fine caramel-coloured foam called crema. The flavour will be bold, full and the aroma intense.
It took a bit of playing with the grind level but we were able to draw a 60ml double shot of espresso without crema, equating to roughly 40g – more than you need. It requires a coffee ground more ultra-fine than the espresso-grind we could buy. We opted for a longer pre-infusion phase of 15-seconds considering the whole extraction proved to be quick. The machine then becomes a bit of a drippy hot mess, so it's handy to have a sink close by.
One strength of the Picopresso is that because it fits a double shot you can actually make two coffees at once, letting everything cool down after. Every bit except the exterior gets very hot. You can't tap out the grinds safely so even these need to cool.
Once removed, the cleaning brush is hard-bristled so perfect for poking out any fine coffee grinds from clogging up the filter basket.
The fit of every component is snug, so really needs to be left out unassembled and dried to avoid mould from building inside the chamber. For this reason, we'd recommend storing it the same way.
What didn't we like about the Wacaco Picopresso?
Pre-heating is essential. The 14 parts make it slightly fiddly and not the most practical option for espresso in a hurry. Some are small enough to be swallowed so it's not a friendly option for busy spaces with children. It demands focus, time and attention.
If you're after a minimum effort, maximum output coffee maker, this Picopresso is an impractical option. The pre-heating, the disassembly, the cleaning – it all adds up.
However, what the Picopresso can do is let you make professional-standard double espresso anywhere. Its robust build, smart design and small body is very appealing. It's the ultimate portable coffee maker for one or two people.
Wacaco Picopresso espresso machine specifications
Dimensions: 106mm x 78.5mm x 71mm
Water capacity : 80ml
Grounds capacity: 18g
Recommended output: 36g espresso
Bar pressure: Max 18 PSI
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