Making espresso can be a daunting prospect for beginners, and it’s no mystery as to why. After all, even a professional espresso maker often requires expert barista skills and a separate high-quality grinder to pull the best shots. And an automatic espresso machine’s cost is prohibitive to many buyers.
But what if there’s an entry-level, budget-friendly solution? Look no further than Staresso Mirage. This innovative portable espresso machine produces freshly brewed coffee without being a highly-skilled professional. Not only that, but it’s budget-friendly, too.
Previously, we tested the basic Staresso portable espresso machine, the SP-200 (Check our review). However, this hands-on review concentrates on the Pro Mirage model, the SP-300. Using our experience of both espresso makers, we’ll focus on the upgrade but also compare the two models, so you can decide which is the best option for your needs.
Staresso Mirage SP-300 Review
Staresso Pro (Mirage) SP-300 Summary
What We like:
- Portable and futuristic design
- 54 mm pressurized portable filter basket
- Pull double shot espresso within a mintue
- Great espresso with rich crema
- Beginner friendly and affordable
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The Staresso Pro Mirage is portable, making it a solid option for taking with you on your travels. Also, just a few pumps produce rich and creamy double espresso shots in each batch.
It sounds simple enough, but how good is the coffee? We’ll come to that in greater detail later. However, the espresso shots the machine pulls are rich, creamy, and not dissimilar to other entry-level machines.
The initial impression of the Staresso Pro Mirage is that it looks futuristic. Indeed, its shape resembles a miniature rocket launchpad! It is undoubtedly a fun-looking design and hints at an enjoyable device to brew espresso.
The machine has a foldable, detachable bracket that looks great and is practical. It secures the brew unit to make plunging easy when you begin brewing. Afterwards, simply fold the bracket away for easier storage. Meanwhile, the machine offers enough clearance for a standard coffee cup.
The brew unit has a water chamber, plunger, pressurized filter basket, and a coffee spout. The plunger is attached to the lid of the water chamber. It will pop out when you press and twist the metal lid with a Staresso logo on top.
Beneath the lid is the 6.1oz (180ml) capacity water chamber. The interior is stainless steel. Meanwhile, there is a shower screen on the water tank base for more even extraction.
The 54mm pressurized filter basket is located beneath the water chamber. The ground capacity is 18 to 20g, which is enough for double espresso shots. For this reason, there is a double spout at the base of the filter basket. Finally, the machine comes with a stainless steel espresso cup.
Overall, with water, ground coffee, and the Staresso Pro Mirage, you have all you need for convenient and perfect coffee on the move.
How To Brew Espresso With The Staresso Mirage
With the Staresso Pro Mirage, gorgeous espresso is only a few steps away. Not only that, but it brews it in the space of a minute. Let’s go into greater detail.
1. Grind Coffee
Weigh 18g of beans and grind them finely (aim for a size similar to table salt). Alternatively, pre-ground coffee will suffice if you don’t have a grinder. For the best flavor, we recommend fresh dark roast coffee beans.
2. Tamp The Coffee Grounds
Pour your well ground coffee into the filter basket until they reach the max line. Then, using the base of the coffee scoop or the plunger’s lid, tamp the grounds evenly.
3. Assemble The Brew Unit
Place the filter basket into the holder and attach it to the water chamber. Ensure it is secure on the bracket.
4. Fill Water
Pour boiling water into the water chamber. For a single shot, pour to the 60ml line. For a double shot, pour to the 120ml line. Remember to place a cup beneath the spout.
5. Start Pumping
Attach the lid to the water chamber, then unlock the plunger. To do this, press and turn the metal lid on top. Pump until you notice resistance. Allow the water to mix with the grounds for a few seconds, then begin plunging slowly. Aim for two seconds per pump.
6. Enjoy Your Coffee
Stop pumping when there’s either no resistance or when you have enough coffee, and enjoy!
Grind Size – We have the Staresso grinder and, as per the recommendation, set it to number 4. This produces a relatively coarse grind, but it still pulls beautiful espresso with a rich crema. However, in our experience, a slightly coarser grind size than a regular espresso grind makes an even more flavorful espresso with greater complexity.
Brew Ratio – 18g of coffee for 27ml of liquid is perfect. This is a 1:1.5 coffee-to-water ratio.
Water Temperature – We use boiling water because the temperature drops the moment you pour the water into the chamber without preheating. If you like iced coffee, you can also cold brew espresso. It can also have reddish-brown froth on top thanks to the high pump pressure.
Useful Accessories – If you use the Staresso Mirage daily, we recommend buying a dosing ring and a more efficient tamper. The filter basket is 54mm – the same size as the portafilter on most entry-level espresso machines. Therefore, compatible items of these types are readily available. They can improve your routine, and they’ll keep your countertop tidy and free of mess.
It’s common knowledge that an authentic espresso shot requires at least nine bars of pressure. This allows the water to extract the rich coffee flavor rapidly.
So, can a manual espresso machine really pull an authentic espresso shot similar to one pulled by a domestic espresso machine? Incredibly, the answer is an emphatic “yes!”
When you begin pumping the plunger, the pressure builds until it reaches between 15 and 20 bars. That’s when the innovative pressure regulating valve gets to work. First, it releases the pressure, forcing water from the chamber and through the shower screen. Next, the ground coffee is evenly saturated in the filter basket before emerging from the spout.
The high pressure ensures optimal flavor extraction. Meanwhile, you needn’t just settle for standard espresso, either – you can pull a shot using room temperature for iced coffee. This is an excellent machine for cold brewing espresso, too.
The Staresso portable espresso maker has a pressurized filter basket like many entry-level espresso machines. This means that even if you haven’t perfected your grind size or you don’t have a grinder that can grind finely enough for espresso, it’s forgiving enough to produce excellent espresso topped with a rich crema.
Under the filter basket is a single tiny hole. This offers the required resistance when using coarse grinds. Air bubbles combine with the natural oils of the beans, resulting in the rich crema each time. Therefore, regardless of this, you’ll still get the smoothest and richest espresso even using pre-ground beans.
The espresso pulled by Staresso Pro Mirage looks beautiful with layering and authentic crema. Meanwhile, if you use darker roasts, the flavor of the shots pulled by this inexpensive, portable espresso maker is equal to that produced by an entry-level espresso machine using a pressurized filter basket. Considering the price and how it operates, this is amazing.
Value For Money
The Staresso Pro Mirage is incredibly inexpensive for the quality it delivers. Even the most affordable entry-level machines are more expensive. However, the espressos they produce are comparable.
So, there’s no need to spend several hundred dollars on an espresso machine and a good grinder. You don’t even need expertly-crafted brewing techniques and know-how. With this Staresso Pro Mirage, you can make excellent coffee cheaply and in under a minute. Needless to say, then, it’s a fantastic option if you want high-quality espresso on a budget. Nevertheless, the Pro Mirage is still more expensive than the Staresso Basic SP-200.
Other Great Recipes
Aside from espresso, the Staresso Pro Mirage is also perfect for creating authentic barista quality beverages. It’s so versatile and portable, you can even see some street cafes using Staresso Mirage to prepare drinks for the customer.
How To Make Dirty Coffee With The Staresso Mirage
Dirty coffee is a cold beverage popular in Asia with a beautiful mouthfeel that looks gorgeous.
To make a dirty coffee using the machine, pour some cold milk into your cup. We used 200ml of oat milk for this recipe. Next, place the cup into the freezer for around 15 minutes. While the milk is chilling, prepare the Staresso Mirage using the steps outlined earlier.
Remove the cold milk from the freezer and position it beneath the Mirage’s coffee spout. Then pump the plunger to pull your shot into the cup.
The coffee will begin permeating into the milk, creating a beautiful-looking beverage. Don’t wait to drink it. Instead, savor the combination of hot espresso and chilled milk.
As you can see, there’s no need to visit a specialty coffee shop for such an interesting and delicious beverage – you can easily make it yourself using the Staresso Pro Mirage.
How To Make Hot Or Iced Americano With The Staresso Mirage
To make iced Americano, you need to prepare a cup of cold water with ice cubes. Next, place the cup beneath the spout. If you’re pulling a shot with cold water, we recommend using a slightly finer grind size than standard espresso.
Pump until the first coffee drop emerges from the spout, then give time for the water to steep the grounds before pulling the shot. Finally, we recommend pulling a double shot into a 6oz mug. Your iced Americano will be ready within a minute.
With a decent shot of espresso, you can also make Caffé latte, Cappuccino or other milk-based drinks. All you need is a milk frother to create proper milk foam for the drinks.
Staresso SP-200 vs SP-300 (Staresso Basic vs Pro)
The two models operate in similar ways to one another. However, don’t be deceived – these two machines have some distinct differences. Let’s look closer with a side-by-side comparison.
As we mentioned earlier, the SP-300 has a unique bracket that resembles a rocket launchpad. However, the SP-200 simply has a cup holder with a brew unit on top.
However, the SP-300’s bracket isn’t just aesthetically superior – it’s also more practical because you can use your cup for specialty recipes like the iced Americano and dirty coffee we looked at earlier. Meanwhile, the SP-300’s bracket folds away, too, leaving the overall height shorter than the more basic model.
The SP-200 has a capacity of just 10g of coffee, equating to a single shot. However, the SP-300 has an 18-22g capacity. The large filter basket doses and dual outlet brews double shots at a time.
We love the 54mm filter basket of the SP-300 – in fact, it’s our favorite element of the machine. Why? Because dosing, distributing, and tamping the grounds is mercifully hassle-free. Sadly, that’s not the case with the SP-200, whose filter basket’s diameter is small enough to make filling it tricky and potentially messy.
Another advantage of the SP-300’s larger filter basket is it’s no trouble finding compatible accessories like a tamper, distributor, or dosing ring, each of which makes for a far more convenient brewing experience.
There’s no denying that whichever model you choose, you’re going to get some beautiful espresso shots compared to rivals in the portable espresso maker category. However, thanks to its more even extraction, that larger filter basket on the SP-300 produces a more flavorful shot than the SP-200.
Overall, while the Pro SP-300 is more expensive than the more basic model, its advantages in convenience and coffee quality make the extra cost worth it. Therefore, we think it’s well worth paying a little extra for the upgraded model.
Sometimes when a new model of a coffee machine is released, there’s not enough difference between the two to recommend an upgrade. However, that’s not the case with the Staresso Pro Mirage SP-300.
While its predecessor produces beautiful espresso shots, it has its flaws. However, the newer model amply addresses these.
As well as having a larger brew capacity, it’s more convenient and less susceptible to mess when you add your grounds.
Not only that, but the machine looks the part with a futuristic design that will be a talking point of any kitchen. That design is practical, too, with scope for experimenting with specialty drinks like dirty coffee and iced Americano.
It’s also portable, easy to use, and produces gorgeous espresso in under a minute.
The Staresso SP-300 is incredibly inexpensive for the quality it produces, meaning that even if you’re on a budget, exquisite espresso is just a few pumps away.