Nespresso coffee & espresso on the go with Wacaco and Barsetto

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.

Romaunt protective carrying case for Nespresso capsules, two sizes (4+packets and 8)

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.

Always rinse your espresso machines after use, whether on the road or at home.

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.

Trip Report: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel at Marina Del Rey, Southern California

We recently had the opportunity to try a second Ritz-Carlton hotel during a visit to the Los Angeles area. The Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey is directly on the waterfront, with available rooms featuring a partial or full marina view.

This would not normally be a likely choice for a work trip, but redeeming Marriott Rewards points made the stay competitive with typical “moderate” hotels in the area.

See also:

Quick Take: Who needs a phone in a hotel bathroom?

Trip Report: Learning Experiences with LAX lounges and Southwest Airlines

A look at the redemption

The Ritz-Carlton is a part of the Marriott family. The Points Guy values Marriott Rewards points at 0.9 cents per point. Nightly rates for a basic room at this property come up in the $400-500/night range, with an option to apply 25,000 points per night to reduce the price by half. The redemption value is pretty close to TPG’s estimate (25,000 points being about $225). While it’s not necessarily the best case for using a redemption, we wanted the experience in between work activities.

We could have spent 50,000 points plus $400-500 a night to get a Club Level room. Having stayed on the Club Level at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, we can say that if you’re going to spend time around the hotel, this can be a very luxurious experience–we’re already looking for an excuse for a mid-week mini-vacation to try the Marina Del Rey Club Level. However, traveling solo for work didn’t justify the expense or the experience.

We were lucky to get a points + cash rate under $200/night, which falls within most corporate travel guidelines. With Marriott Platinum Elite status, we received a 50% Platinum bonus , plus 1,000 bonus points as a welcome gift. There may also be a 2,000 point bonus coming from the current Megabonus program.

Continue reading “Trip Report: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel at Marina Del Rey, Southern California”

Quick Deal: Toddy Cold Brew Coffeemaker for $18 at Amazon

This is more for ground travel, or staying at home reading rsts11travel (or maybe on long hotel stays), but Amazon has the Toddy cold brew coffeemaker on sale today for under $18 (usually $30-35 in our experience over the last few years).

The Toddy design and method have been around since 1964, and we’ve used it for about 20 years ourselves. It has nothing to do with the alcoholic beverage you probably thought of at first, although you can make coffee cocktails with it if you like.

If you don’t trust the coffee on the way, fill up a plastic water bottle with concentrate, and just add water on the road for smooth low-acid coffee. Or drink it concentrated, and drive straight through to Hong Kong. [Editor’s Note: Don’t do that.]

How does it work?

Take a pound of coarse ground coffee (or half a pound of tea leaves), about 9 cups of cold filtered water, and 18-36 hours on the counter and you get concentrated beverage that lasts two weeks in the fridge.

There are smaller recipes if you want to make less concentrate, and (perhaps due to spillage) Toddy recommends the smaller batch with 12oz coffee/7c water.

If you’re on the road, most retail coffee shops that sell beans will grind them for you. Or you can put a couple of bags of beans into the Toddy hopper in your suitcase, and bring your faves with you. You may find a 2 liter soda bottle acquired on site to be a safer option than the glass carafe for travel.

We’ve used these on and off for over a decade at home, and odds are, your favorite coffee shop uses the commercial version for your favorite iced and blended coffee and tea drinks. They used to be sold in the coffee shops inside Borders Books stores, but now the accessories may be a bit harder to find in local stores (check Bed Bath and Beyond, or order from toddycafe or Amazon: Stoppers and Felt Filters).

The felt mesh filters should be replaced after 12 uses or 3 months. Stoppers are more likely to get lost than worn out, but it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of spares either way. They now even have a paper filter to simplify cleanup and extend the life of the felt mesh filters.

Check it out!

[Note: Our new “Deals” category will unilaterally promote deals we find for things we use and recommend. These will usually (but not always) feature affiliate links, which means we’ll get a small commission if you purchase through those links, but your price should be unaffected. These are not paid placement, and are not requested or endorsed by the manufacturer or the marketplace involved.]

Crosspost: Travel tips and links for your summer conference season – 2018 edition

We’ve posted an updated version of the annual summer conference tips and tricks post on rsts11.com today. Feel free to check it out.

After a relatively sedentary winter/spring, I’ve started traveling again, and will be headed to Cisco Live in Orlando next month as well as the Cisco global sales kickoff in August in Las Vegas if all goes well.

I posted some tips and tricks a year ago on rsts11travel, with a focus on Las Vegas. A lot of the advice there is still relevant. In this post I’ll focus on hotel promotions you should look into, as well as some new product recommendations (with affiliate links, so you can help with my gadget addiction and hosting fees).

Read more on rsts11.com…

Quick take: An unexpected benefit to a Starbucks account

First of all, if you have an online account for Starbucks, or Peets, or anything else that’s tied to money you don’t want to throw away, make sure you’re not using a compromised or easy to change password. Go change it now. Really. 

And while you’re at it, you might check out haveibeenpwned.com, a site run by Microsoft’s Troy Hunt in his spare time to track where your email address may have been found in a data breach. Some you might be able to guess (Target, Equifax, etc) but others might be a surprise. 

Okay? Let’s get the story started then.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-10-14,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YStarbucks has had their prepaid cards for over a decade, and they have a pretty usable mobile app that lets you link your cards, your rewards account, and top-up methods together in one place. It’s very convenient for me, living within walking distance of two Starbucks stores and liking to get out of the home office now and then.

A benefit they added in the last couple of years that’s very convenient (and got me over one of my main concerns over the cards themselves) is the option to tip from the app after your purchase posts. If you don’t carry cash but still want to give a little thank-you to your barista squad, it’s convenient, and it’s not connected to you face to face (so they don’t know if you tipped 50 cents or 50 dollars). The option manifests in a pop-up that tells you that “tipping is available until <two hours from now>.”

2018-02-11 11.00.15 oops starbucks
Enter a caption

This feature had an unexpected benefit for me this past weekend. I woke up around 10am on Sunday and checked my phone, finding that “tipping is available until 11:42am” message on my notifications. Quite convenient indeed.

The problem is, I had been asleep for several hours before that. And on top of that, the purchase that I was being allowed to tip for was on East Colfax Avenue in Denver, Colorado. Quite the long sleepwalk from Silicon Valley in California, right?

Well, I found that there were actually two unauthorized charges from Denver… one I hadn’t noticed a couple of days earlier, and one that morning. I logged in to my Starbucks account on the web, reset my password via my password manager, and contacted Starbucks through their web contact form. They told me I’d have to call in to discuss the matter, and I did.

The agent I spoke to got my gold rewards card cancelled/reissued, the unauthorized charges refunded, and the credit transferred to the new card. I have to wait a few days to actually use it, as it will come to me in the mail, but I was able to get an e-card to get me by until then (and still earn my rewards).

Ideally you won’t have a compromised password on your account, but in the event that either your card or your account is compromised, the Starbucks mobile app may give you a not-too-late warning.

You might not be as worried about $25 on your Starbucks account, but if you have auto-reload turned on, it can add up pretty quickly if someone else is brewing with your card.

The best part of waking up is coffee in your room!

Welcome to rsts11travel. Are you caffeinated? Have you ever wished you could bring your espresso machine on the road? You found the right place. We’re going to look at two great ways I’ve traveled with coffee gear–Aeropress and Clever Coffee Dripper, ready to brew in the morning for under $50.

2017-01-10-11-41-12-aeropress-compress tonx-03-grounds-dripper
Aeropress coffeemaker ($30) by Aerobie Clever Coffee Dripper ($25)
Uses finely ground coffee
Custom filters (350pk)
Uses coarse ground coffee
Melitta #4 filters

Continue reading “The best part of waking up is coffee in your room!”