If you enjoy traveling, hiking, or camping, chances are you’re interested in a top-notch portable coffee maker to take with you.
In this article, we’ll look in-depth at the Staresso coffee maker, a handy and lightweight espresso maker. We’ll examine the ins and outs of the product, how to use it, and the quality of the espresso it produces. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll know whether it’s the right product for you.
Staresso is also one of our best portable espresso makers, check out the full list for more options. We also tried and reviewed the more powerful Staresso Pro (Mirage) SP-300. We compared the SP200 and SP300, Check out the review for more details.
Staresso Portable Espresso Maker – SP200 Review
- Lightweight and compact
- Easy to clean and use
- Compatible with ground coffee or Nespresso pods
- Produces espresso that’s tasty with a rich crema
- You can brew coffee with either hot or cold water
- Adding coffee to the filter basket is tricky, so it’s easy to make a mess
Design Aesthetic And Build Quality
The Staresso espresso coffee maker is designed with portability as a crucial component, and it’s so impressive that it won a Red Dot award in 2016. Here’s a quote from Red Dot summing up the design’s appeal:
With its very compact and fresh look, Staresso convinces just as much as with great functionality in a small space.Statement by the Jury – www.red-dot.org/project/staresso-33600
The espresso coffee maker essentially comprises two sections – the brewing unit at the top and the serving unit beneath it. The structure of the brewing unit is simple – a coffee filter basket, a lid and plunger, and a water chamber. Meanwhile, the serving unit has a glass cup and cup holder. You can connect the brewing unit and serving unit in one piece for easy transportation.
BPA-free plastic makes up the bulk of the Staresso’s exterior. The pressure pump is made of sturdy stainless steel. The one we tested is the older version with a plastic water chamber, they upgraded to stainless steel for the latest model.
Cheaper plastic cups are common in other portable coffee makers because they improve portability. However, the Staresso has a clear glass measuring cup marked with volume levels. It also sits in a robust plastic cup holder, so it shouldn’t break. We love this touch as it’s always a more pleasant experience drinking coffee from a glass cup rather than one made of plastic.
Finally, the Staresso espresso maker comes with a small, flat-bottomed plastic spoon that you can tamp with.
As a whole, Staresso strikes a nice balance between delivering a quality product and ensuring it’s not too heavy for traveling with. It’s perfectly portable and durable so that you can take it on your travels without concerns about breakage.
Ease Of Use
The machine is extremely user-friendly. The Staresso portable coffee maker is fully manual, and electricity is not required. Instead, there is a plunger design, so you can press down vertically, removing the effort from the brewing process, and preserving your energy.
It’s far more straightforward to pump than rival portable coffee maker the Wacaco Nanopresso. That device requires you to pump with your thumb from the side, which is trickier.
Once brewing is complete, simply rinse this small coffee maker with water, and it’ll be ready to use again. If you are ready to give the machine a deep clean, you can quickly and easily take it apart – and all the sections are washable.
How To Use Staresso To Make A Great Espresso Shot
Pulling a single shot of espresso with the Staresso is easy. Not convinced? Here’s our step-by-step guide showing you how to brew espresso with it:
Coffee grounds: 10g finely ground to the size of table sugar – #12 for Baratza Encore in our guide (or use a Nespresso pod)
Water: Boiling or cold
1. Preheat the glass cup and filter basket
This step is optional. However, for the best results, a warm filter basket and cup lead to better flavor and extraction.
2. Grind coffee beans and tamp with a spoon
We suggest a grind size a little coarser than a standard espresso grind. However, the Staresso uses a pressurized portafilter, meaning attaining the perfect grind size is less crucial. Be careful, though – if the coffee grounds are too fine, it will be difficult to press and could lead to deformation of the filter’s metallic plate.
Also, if you opt for a Nespresso pod, ensure you place it in the correct direction.
3. Put the coffee maker together
Once the coffee is in the filter basket, attach it to the water reservoir and lock the brew unit to the cup holder. Ensure they are secure and safely connected.
4. Fill the water
Remove the lid from the top and pour water into the brew chamber. It works beautifully with either hot or cold water for tasty espresso with a nice crema.
5. Start pumping
Press the top of the lid and turn it. This will release the plunger, then you can pump. After less than 60 seconds, you’ll have an espresso shot. To start with, pumping is easy. However, as pressure builds, it will require more effort.
6. Enjoy your coffee
When you have enough liquid (you can check via the volume level), stop pumping. We used 10g of coffee in our testing, so we pumped until we had 10oz (30ml) of espresso. Remove the cup from the holder and enjoy the espresso.
The quality of the espresso is surprisingly excellent. It makes a good-looking espresso with a beautiful flavor and has a rich crema on top.
The Staresso espresso maker has a pressurized filter basket with a valve, meaning the pressure builds as you plunge. Once it attains the 15-20 bar pressure, the valve releases the coffee and extracts the oil and flavor from the puck.
Because it uses pressure that high, you can use the Staresso to make either espresso with hot water or cold brew coffee with iced water.
The espresso is full-bodied, while much of the temperature is retained in the brewing process. Meanwhile, the rate of extraction is around 20% and consistent.
Because the Staresso is a portable espresso maker, it is not fair to consider it alongside a home espresso machine. However, the espresso it produces is great for such a small machine.
We brewed the Peet’s Coffee Major Dickason’s, which is dark roasted with rich crema and flavor when using an espresso machine. The result from Staresso is surprisingly good. It’s so tasty without being under-extracted.
A little bonus: froth milk using the plunger
If you’re a fan of milk-based espresso drinks, you can turn the plunger into a milk frother to froth the milk. Place the plunger into the warm milk and pump in the air. This will produce milk foam worthy of a cappuccino. True, you won’t get the kind of microfoam you’d expect of an espresso machine’s steam wand, but it’s not a bad substitute.
If you’re looking out for a compact coffee machine to take with you on your travels, its portability should be one of the primary considerations. The Staresso passes the test, measuring a reasonably compact 8.2 x 3.1 x 3.1 inches, meaning it will fit in a backpack, leaving room for other items. It is also incredibly lightweight at just 1lb, making it one of the lightest coffee makers on the market. Meanwhile, the water chamber has a 100ml (3.3 fl. oz) capacity.
However, the portable machine primarily brews espresso, and the filter basket can hold just 11g of ground coffee, so you can only make one short espresso shot each time. You can’t make a big mug of drip coffee.
Overall, the product is well-built, compact, and lightweight, meaning you can take it with you on the move without issues.
The Staresso portable espresso maker is generally very well-designed. However, we think one element could be improved. The filter basket’s diameter is fairly small, although you can scoop the coffee grounds with the spoon, and then flip it down to the basket. When the coffee is dosed in, you need to be careful, or you’ll make a mess. To resolve this, we’d like a dosing funnel so coffee grounds could enter the filter basket without the risk of spilling.
This machine is even smaller than the Staresso and lighter, too, making it a serious rival for the best portable espresso maker. However, one drawback is you can only use the capsule with a separate adapter. This espresso maker does come in more colors and stylish designs, though, and it is justifiably one of the more well-liked portable coffee makers. Read our Wacaco Nanopresso review here.
This manual espresso maker offers better-quality espresso thanks to its premium portafilter and lever. However, it is neither as compact nor as lightweight as the Staresso or Wacaco Nanopresso. A case specifically for the machine partly solves this issue for packing it away while traveling, so it is still an excellent option for espresso fans looking for a great-quality cup of coffee on the move. Check out our full review of Flair Neo here.
Our Verdict – One Of The Best Portable Coffee Makers
The Staresso espresso coffee maker is a fantastic option for coffee enthusiasts keen on making a great espresso on their travels. Whether you’re undertaking an outdoor pursuit or in transit to your destination, you’ll just need a bottle of water, some coffee grounds (or a capsule), and the Staresso can pull a rich and satisfying espresso shot without any accessories or a power source.
It is slightly bulkier than the rival Wacaco Nanopresso, and the espresso it produces won’t be quite as beautiful as the Flair Neo. However, there is so much else to love about the Staresso, from its sturdy build to its ease of use, that these are only minor issues.
The espresso coffee maker is also cheap enough that domestic brewers who don’t want to commit big money to pricey espresso machines can invest in the Starpresso before deciding whether to up their espresso-brewing game.