Wacaco has built an impressive reputation for its range of portable espresso makers, including the Nanopresso and Picopresso, which we’ve previously reviewed.
However, robust espresso isn’t for everyone. Aware of this, the company has a different device for making coffee on the move – the Pipamoka. This vacuum-pressurized all-in-one portable coffee maker makes drip-style coffee in only a few minutes to enjoy on your travels. But is it up to the task? The hands-on review will take a detailed look at the machine to find out.
Wacaco Pipamoka Portable Coffee Maker Review
Things we like:
- Offers everything you need in a compact single device
- Brews good cup of filter-style coffee in 2 minutes
- The innovative twisting mechanism ensures efficient extraction
Consider before buying:
- It’s a bit challenging to twist with small hands
The Pipamoka is a handy, all-in-one coffee-brewing system. So, everything you need to make freshly brewed coffee is in the coffee maker, except the hot water and ground coffee.
This travel coffee maker weighs only 0.94lbs (425g), and it has dimensions of just 2.85in (73mm) x 7.16in (182mm), so it’ll easily fit in a backpack or suitcase. If you like to grind your own coffee for the full-flavored cup of coffee, a compact hand grinder such as 1Zpresso Q2 can perfectly fit in the chamber. Meanwhile, it brews around 8fl.oz (236ml) per batch.
The build quality is also solid, with hard plastic accessories, a stainless steel mug, and a reusable mesh filter. From the outside, the Pipamoka resembles a vacuum-insulated travel mug. To a certain degree, that’s actually what it is. However, there’s more to it than that, as we’ll explain in the next section.
What’s Included In Wacaco Pipamoka?
Although the Pipamoka may look unassuming, there is far more to it than you would think.
The Pipamoka has a patented construction that uses a twisting technique for coffee extraction. The main body is an isothermal stainless steel mug to drink the coffee from. Inside it is a water chamber with an 8 fl. oz capacity and markings inside to indicate your water level.
Once you remove the spill-proof drinking lid, you’ll also find a brush for cleaning the stainless steel micro filter and the rim of the filter basket. The coffee basket is also reusable, so there is no need to worry about replacing paper filters. In addition, there’s a dosing funnel for ensuring transferring the coffee grounds to the filter basket is mess-free.
Every part fits inside the mug, while there is a soft carry bag for holding the machine. Additionally, you can buy a separate protective case for the device for extra protection.
How Does The Pipamoka Work?
The Pipamoka brewing process is simple. Once the grounds and water are added and the machine is assembled, you twist the orange control ring in a clockwise direction while twisting the brew chamber counterclockwise.
The patented twisting mechanism generates vacuum pressure inside the brew chamber while you twist it. The negative pressure generated then creates a suction force that draws hot water through the coffee grounds to extract the coffee flavor.
How To Use The Pipamoka?
The Pipamoka brewing method is very straightforward. You just need to prepare the grounds, water, and assemble the product. Then twist the brew chamber and the mug to brew coffee. Let’s take a closer look at brewing coffee with the Pipamoka.
Step One: Prepare The Pipamoka
Remove all the accessories from the water chamber, and place the dosing funnel on top.
Step Two: Add Your Grounds
Add two scoops of medium-fine grounds to the filter basket, remove the dosing funnel and attach the lid.
Step Three: Fill Water
Put the water chamber into the mug, then pour over fresh hot water (around 203°F or 95°C) into the water chamber to the 1-Cup line.
Step Four: Drop The Coffee Holder
Drop the filter basket into the water and allow it to sink to the bottom. Then, gently tap the bottom of the mug on your countertop to remove any trapped air in the filter basket. Wait 40 seconds to 1 minute before turning the ring for optimal brewing performance.
Step Five: Begin Brewing
Place the lid on the water chamber, then turn the orange ring clockwise and the water mug counterclockwise to begin brewing to extract the coffee. This will make the water chamber rise.
Step Six: Remove The Water Chamber
Once the water chamber has fully risen, carefully remove it, and your coffee will be in the mug, ready to enjoy.
Step Seven: Enjoy Your Coffee
You can now either drink the coffee immediately or place the lid on top of the mug, and your coffee will stay hot for between three and four hours.
Grind size: Use a medium-fine grind to medium-coarse grind for regular drip coffee brewing. If you use a finer grind size, it will be difficult for the water to get through the ground coffee.
Brew Ratio: The Pipamoka manual recommends using two scoops of coffee (around 18g) and water to the 1 Cup line. This equates to a 1:15 coffee-to-water ratio. However, some people may find this a little weak. If that applies to you, consider reducing the water volume to 3/4 to get a strong coffee. Another option is to try a slightly finer grind size and use the lid to really pack the coffee into the filter basket.
Brewing Technique: If you twist too quickly, there will be water in the chamber after it has fully risen. This will affect the ratio and quality of your coffee. Aim for around half a turn per second. We suggest experimenting until you get the best results.
Unlike the Nanopresso and Picopresso, which brew espresso-style coffee, the Pipamoka produces a drip-style coffee. The quality is excellent if you use fresh coffee. It brews a balanced cup of coffee that’s clean and virtually residue-free.
You can also make a milk-based drink with some steamed milk. Keep in mind, though, that as it’s not an espresso-style coffee, it will differ from milk-based espresso-style drinks you can make with the Nanopresso or Picopresso. Meanwhile, it can even brew cold brew.
The Pipamoka works like other infusion methods, but the brewing process is quicker, so you can expect an excellent cup of coffee in around two minutes.
Value For Money
The Wacaco Pipamoka is relatively inexpensive compared to other portable coffee makers. Not only that, but it acts as a coffee mug and keeps your coffee hot for several hours, so it’s a great all-rounder for the price. Also, the stainless steel mesh filter ensures that you never pay for replacement filter papers, saving you money over time.
As a portable coffee maker for enjoying freshly brewed drip-style coffee on the move, the price is hard to beat compared to a separate dripper, paper filters, and a mug. Considering its build quality, convenience, and the quality it produces, the machine is well worth the money.
Comparison With Other Portable Coffee Brewers
Wacaco Pipamoka vs AeroPress
The AeroPress is a popular portable coffee brewer among people who frequently travel, as it’s lightweight, compact, and versatile. The brewer has a brew chamber, a filter cap, and a plunger.
Together, they ensure a speedy brewing process, offering a smaller cup of espresso-style coffee in around a minute. Because of the low pressure and finer coffee ground size you typically use in an AeroPress, there’s even a thin layer of crema similar to espresso.
However, you will need paper filters unless you buy a separate mesh filter from a third-party company. Also, unless you have the AeroPress Go, you’ll need a separate cup.
In contrast, the Pipamoka brews a larger cup resembling French press or standard drip coffee. You can enjoy more coffee each batch. Everything you need is in the Pipamoka, and you can enjoy hours of hot coffee.
Wacaco Pipamoka vs Picopresso
The Picopresso is the latest portable coffee maker from Wacaco, and it has a higher build quality than the Pipamoka. Its primary aim is to pull an authentic espresso shot on the move. It has a 52mm filter basket, while the brewing process generates up to 18 bars of pressure, offering a concentrated espresso with rich crema that compares favorably to high-end espresso machines.
One of the issues is the learning curve needed for great espresso, as you’ll need the perfect grind size. Because of this, you’ll require a decent espresso grinder. Of course, if you don’t like espresso, the Picopresso won’t be for you, so, the Pipamoka, which is for drip coffee or French press, may be more appropriate.
Wacaco Pipamoka vs Cuppamoka
Wacaco has also thought of pour-over coffee enthusiasts with the Cuppamoka. The Cuppamoka looks similar to the Pipamoka and has an insulated thermal mug for holding the drink. However, there is a built-in cone-shaped dripper rather than a twistable water chamber.
Brewing coffee with the Cuppamoka mimics the process of the Hario V60 dripper. You’ll need a kettle and a paper filter to make your coffee, and the coffee drips directly into the mug. The Cuppamoka is an excellent option for anyone who requires a one-piece machine for making excellent pour-over beverages on the go.
The Wacaco Pipamoka is a brilliant pressure brewer for making beautiful drip-style coffee on the move. It’s easy to carry, well-built, and simple to use, making it a fantastic companion whether you’re staying in a hotel, in an office, or camping.
One of its biggest advantages is that all the parts stay in one place – inside the mug -so you won’t need to spend time rummaging through your suitcase or backpack to find the parts you need. Meanwhile, the stainless steel mesh filter means you’ll never need anything else for it. Just ensure you have a coffee supply and a hot water source, and you’re good to go!
The machine’s twisting mechanism and short brewing time make it fun and quick to use, meaning you can have a gorgeous drip-style coffee on the move within minutes – and virtually hassle-free. When you also consider the relatively inexpensive price, this is another excellent addition to Wacaco’s impressive line-up of portable coffee brewers.