We had a Valentine’s Day date at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco a couple years ago. In addition to the club level treatment, excellent housekeeping, wonderful bed, and courteous staff throughout the property, we were particularly impressed with the Nespresso coffeemaker in the room.
Seems like a small detail, but it’s a consistent luxury experience that was like a touch of home away from home. And we usually can’t fit a Nespresso brewer in our carryon suitcases and still have room for anything else.
Well, today we’ll look at two options that we’ve tried this year for brewing Nespresso Originaline capsules on the go.
In this post (it’s a lungo!):
- Getting into hot water
- Carrying your capsules
- Wacaco Minipresso NS
- Barsetto Tripresso ES
- Barsetto brew experience review
- Expanding the Brew-off to include the Minipresso
- Bring it home for us?
Getting into hot water
Note that neither of these options heats water, and while both include a cup, you may still want a regular cup (or two, for a travel companion).
You can use an in-room hotel coffeemaker (or hot water at a conference or event), or you can bring along something like the Bodum Bistro 17oz (0.5l) kettle we use on trips. As for cups, any travel-friendly (i.e. relatively unbreakable) mug should work; you’ll brew into the included cup and then make your Americano or double shot by pouring the espresso into the cup of your choice.
One other caveat is that neither of these devices is licensed by, sold by, or authorized by Nespresso. In reality this doesn’t matter too much, but if you buy one and expect Nespresso to support it, you’ll be rightly disappointed.
I have used them with official Nespresso capsules as well as the recent Peets Coffee line of compatible capsules. Other third parties should work as well.
Carrying your capsules
As far as stocking and stashing your actual coffee, you have two options unless you want to buy the capsules upon arrival. Many major cities have a Nespresso boutique; the one in San Francisco was walking distance from our hotel, and for Silicon Valley visitors, there’s a convenient boutique in Macy’s Men’s Store at Valley Fair in Santa Clara/San Jose. Many other stores including Peets Coffee shops and many grocery-carrying stores (including Target) will sell compatible capsules as well. However, you might be too far from a convenient location.
One option is to buy the boxes or sleeves from your usual home source and toss them in your suitcase. If you have a subscription through Nespresso’s website, you can just grab a sleeve or five from your shelf at home. However, they may get damaged depending on handling (and your suitcase’s structure). Your suitcase will smell nice but it won’t help with making your morning cup.
The other option (which I’ve chosen) is to get a specially-designed hard case to carry an assortment of capsules. For $20 at Amazon you can get a carrier for 8 capsules along with a carrier for 4 capsules plus sugar or tea bags. The foam inserts are removable, so you might be able to cram another 3 capsules in the larger one, or put more sugar or even mini-moo creamer in one.
But on with the brewers themselves.
Wacaco Minipresso NS
This device has been on Amazon for a while, and we found a deal through MassGenie to get a few bucks off. The Minipresso NS is currently about $41 at Amazon, and Wacaco sells travel cases for it for about $20.
The Minipresso is designed exclusively for Nespresso capsules, and uses a hand press on the front (that round disk pops out when you’re ready to brew). There’s a 70ml (2.35oz) water reservoir on one end, and the espresso cup on the other. A cleaning brush and travel pouch are included.
Barsetto Tripresso ES
The Barsetto Tripresso has been listed on Amazon for a while, but they did a crowdfunded “ES” revision of it earlier this year which allegedly improved the design. They’ve upgraded the base and pumping system, and while they say it now supports Nespresso capsules, a number of people report that (as advertised) the previous version does too. The previous version isavailable for $50-60 depending on color, and the manufacturer also sells a travel case for it for about $13.
Barsetto pumps from the top (like an Aeropress or MyJo device). This brewer includes both a Nespresso capsule adapter and a ground coffee “capsule,” so you can use fine ground coffee as well as the Nespresso capsules. The cup has a lid on the bottom, in case you’re drinking outside and don’t want leaves in your coffee. It also leaves room for sugar or milk. The brewer itself is designed to handle a regular espresso or a lungo (up to 80ml/2.7oz) with water reservoir marks for two cup sizes.
Note: The version reviewed in this post is allegedly different from the one available on Amazon. I’ve reached out to the manufacturer to see if the ES model is available for sale to the general public yet.
Barsetto brew experience review
Since I was in the backers group for the latest version of the Barsetto brewer, I wrote up a review for them based on my experience. I’ll put it here as originally posted.
WARNINGS: Remember that there are sharp blades inside the capsule container/brewer base (pictured above) to pierce the capsule. Don’t put your fingers in there. Also note that the metal brewer shaft that pushes the water through will get very hot (as you’d expect metal in contact with boiling water to do). Let it cool before cleaning.
I ran a tank of 212F water through the system to make sure it was clean and clear. Then I put a Nespresso Kazaar capsule into the brewer base, with 212F water midway between the first and second lines.
The instructions say to pump every 2-5 seconds. I went with 3 seconds, and the first drops came out after five pumps. Very nice and early crema. Kept pumping until I ran out of water. You’ll see the result in one of the photos, with AA batteries for scale.
I brewed a cup of Kazaar in my Kitchenaid Nespresso machine, fourth setting (pictured in the glass cappuccino mug above) which ended up being a bit more espresso than I got from the Tripresso). The strength was very similar and very strong as you would expect from a strength 12 Robusta coffee. The capsules were pierced and abraded in pretty much the same way between machines. The result was tasty espresso from both machines.
You will want to experiment with the amount of water and the strength of your coffee capsules. If I were doing this again with Kazaar, I’d almost certainly fill the water tank up, but with a lighter or flavored coffee (this past winter’s praline, or Cioccatino, or last winter’s orange or snowball), halfway between the level marks would be just about perfect.
One thing I discovered is that the “Cup lid” seemed to be missing, but it turned out it was on the bottom of the cup. The instructions were unclear to me (“The cup lid is placed at the back of the cup”). Note that it is not a spillproof lid; it’s more to keep bugs and leaves and stuff out of the cup, rather than to protect your espresso from spills.
Expanding the Brew-off to include the Minipresso
As the Wacaco purchase was more of a retail one rather than a social one, I did not document it quite as thoroughly, but I conducted a side-by-side comparison with the Kitchenaid Originaline and the same capsule in the Minipresso. However, I wasn’t sure that would be enough, so I got both devices out recently and did a brew-off between all three devices.
Above you’ll see comparison photos for the two devices. I don’t expect anyone will travel with the heavy metal Kitchenaid device.
For this test, I brewed a size “2” water (1.35oz espresso, about 40ml) from the Kitchenaid Nespresso brewer into a glass measure, right before testing each device, to get (presumably) the same volume and temperature of water to brew in all three devices. The capsule used was a Peets Espresso #9 “Scura,” purchased from Peets (although you can also find them on Amazon for about the same price).
With the Barsetto, I got crema at 5 pumps and it settled out and finished brewing after 20ish pumps.
With the Minipresso, the crema was thicker and lasted longer, but the first drops came through at about 10 pumps. The taste was very similar, and very strong.
Then I brewed the same capsule with the same water setting on the kitchenaid, and ended up with twice as much espresso. That was a bit of a surprise, and explains the strength of the other two.
My guess is that, while the hand-operated machines claim “up to” espresso pressure (15 bar for Barsetto, 8 bar for Minipresso NS), it’s not as consistent and depends on the amount of water and speed of pressing. The Kitchenaid, having a bit more machinery behind it, pushed the water through at higher pressure and less was absorbed by the grounds in the capsule.
Based on this, for travel use I would definitely use more water, but as with the original comparison test, I found the beverage to be predictable and consistent from both machines.
A word of warning for either machine: Be sure to rinse, cool, and dry all the parts before putting them away. Below is a photo of a full batch of 200F water run through the machine after brewing one capsule. I got the same sort of result from the Kitchenaid, but it’s not packed in a suitcase for several hours after use, so I’m not quite as worried.
Bring it home for us?
Both the Barsetto and the Minipresso NS espresso brewers will produce a drinkable, enjoyable espresso or lungo, and provide the basis for a respectable short Americano, when you’re on the road and don’t feel like venturing out of your hotel or conference for a real coffee shop. Neither is likely to replace an electric Nespresso brewer at home, but you could use it at home of course.
Your choice will likely be based on price (they’re close, and will vary over time, but the Minipresso is usually a few bucks cheaper), size (the Minipresso is a bit smaller, with a smaller built-in cup), and preference for pumping style (the Barsetto pumps vertically like an Aeropress, while the Minipresso pumps horizontally).
I’m inclined toward the Barsetto, partly because the cup has room for cream (or alcohol), and partly because I prefer the vertical pump style. Of course I don’t necessarily have to choose, and you could easily purchase and travel with both for about the cost of a dozen drinks at a hotel or airport coffee shop.
If you’ve used one of these devices, or found a convenient way to travel with an electric Nespresso machine, chime in on the comments below.