Coffee on the Go: HandPresso Wild ESE



I wasn’t always a coffee drinker, in fact, I made my way through my senior thesis at the University on granola bars and orange juice alone (I must have been crazy not to consume caffeine).  However, once I graduated and began the 9-5 routine I needed a pick me up to get me going in the morning and sustain me through my post lunch slumber  – coffee was the silver bullet.

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I grew up with stovetop espresso brewing at all hours of the day, but didn’t take a liking to the rich, velvety, nectar until my early twenties.  Espresso in it’s best form has a thick crema head, buttery mouth feel, and consistent, almost chocolate-like, coffee taste.  Unfortunately, the only way to properly experience a cup of espresso is via a good neighborhood café (Starbucks doesn’t cut it) or at home with top of the line equipment.

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Recently, I had the good fortune to sample the handheld Handpresso Wild portable espresso machine, specifically the ESE pod version (the Handpresso Wild DomePod is also available which works with any ground espresso).  The Handpresso Wild works without electricity and is comprised of a hand held pump device that creates 16 bar of pressure to drive hot water (provided by the user) through an ESE espresso pod.  I’ve used the Handpresso in several environments over the last two weeks including at home and in the office.  I’ve also prepared several cups of coffee for both espresso experts and first time espresso drinkers.  I’ve only used illy branded ESE pods and have used both boiling water produced by a kettle and standard hot water from a water cooler (which has a lower water temperature).  UPDATE: I’ve also tried Lavazza’s Gran Creme ESE Pods and they are a huge improvement over the illy ESE pods; moreover, the Lavazza pods are also less expensive (about $45 for 150 at Amazon).  Here are my initial impressions:

– The Handpresso Wild isn’t designed to produce espresso equivalent to
what you would find in a $5,000 Italian made machine.  The Handpresso’s main competitor is the $20 stovetop espresso pot (Bialetti being the standard brand).

–    The Handpresso Wild is fairly easy to use.  The unit has a hand pump which requires about 10-15 pumps to reach the right pressure (there’s a little gauge on the unit that signals the user when the right pressure is achieved).  The last 2 pumps are kind of hard to get through and it’s difficult to lock the pump handle after achieving the right pressure.

–    The Handpresso unit I’ve been using only uses ESE pods (pre-ground espresso that has been pre-packaged).  The advantage to this set up is that there’s no messy process to fill the unit with ground espresso, but the huge disadvantage is that one cannot use freshly ground beans to maximize flavor.  Plus, ESE pods are expensive.  UPDATE: HandPresso now makes a version of the product that uses ground coffee: Handpresso Wild DomePod !

–    The Handpresso Wild has a see through water chamber that holds hot water.  The chamber is fairly large and filling up the unit is very easy.   The ESE pod is placed directly above the water chamber and the filter device easily attaches to the chamber unit.  Once the unit is loaded with fresh hot water, espresso, and the filter head the user simply turns the device over and presses the pressure release button (and your espresso flows directly into your cup)  The build quality of the unit is top notch and has a nice hefty feel.

–    It took some time to produce a decent espresso.  At first, I was using too much boiling water and the unit produced a very watery cup of coffee (there is no water line indicator in the water chamber and I had to guess as to how much water to use).  The unit also leaks a bit of water from the filter device during the extraction process (this could be a byproduct of the illy ESE pods I was using given that there is a bit of extra filter paper on the pods which prevented the head from screwing on tightly).  UPDATE: no more leaking with Lavazza Grand Crema pods (I haven’t tried any other ESE pods, but I’m assuming they all have minor differences in shape and thus will behave differently with the Handpresso)!

–    The coffee itself was much better than stovetop espresso (both in mouth feel, taste, and consistency).  The Handpresso Wild produces more crema than your standard stovetop espresso unit and the flavor is outstanding for a portable device.
–    I noticed a big difference in taste when freshly boiled water was used versus just hot water.  The closer the water is to boiling temperate the better the taste of the espresso (I wouldn’t recommend using a thermal to store hot water, you really need boiling water to produce a good cup of coffee).
–    Cleaning the unit is very easy (and much easier than a stovetop espresso pot).  

Overall, I’m a fan of the Handpresso Wild and so is my Italian born mother (she was amazed by the device and wants to buy a few for her sisters back in Calabria)!  I like the fact that the unit is fairly compact, easy to clean and operate, and produces a very good espresso.  You can find the unit for $85.00 at Amazon (you do pay for the convenience of espresso on the go) and will also need to purchase ESE pods (though Handpresso has just introduced a unit that works with freshly ground espresso!). 

The Handpresso is perfect for the office worker who wants to make an investment in making his or her own coffee (just be sure to shut your office door so no one sees you getting the unit up to pressure with the hand pump!).  


  1. I am a heavy coffee drinker so these are great news for me. My own, easy to carry, espresso machin! Sounds great!

    • I was a huge fan until mine exploded with hot coffee hitting the ceiling, I have hard of at least two others, but the company simply replaced it and deny this.

  2. I am a heavy coffee drinker so these are great news for me. My own, easy to carry, espresso machin! Sounds great!

  3. I am a heavy coffee drinker so these are great news for me. My own, easy to carry, espresso machin! Sounds great!

  4. Hi Theodore, thanks for the comment. Try experimenting with pod brands (I didn’t like the taste of illy coffee) and make sure to use very hot (boiling) water with the handpresso.

  5. I am a dynamic person and don’t have so much time to make coffee or something, just going to the Starbucks and take my coffee doze :)) if I have something like this I think that most of my problems will get away :))

  6. I am from Puerto Rico and got my Handpresso through Coffee World Puerto Rico: I received my Handpresso about a week ago. The first expression is that this Handpresso is just nicely built, as well as the case. Making espresso is very easy, and it takes a minute or so to make a cup. I was impressed with the coffee. Believe me for a portable machine, coffee was great. Now my Handpresso substituted my Krups machine. I use Island Joe’s ESE pods,Lavazza Grand Crema AND PORTO RICO ESE PODS FROM PUERTO RICO. A good hint is: to make sure the espresso has an ok temperature, I heat up my cup as well as the water container adding the boiling water and then adding the water to make the coffee. I always fill a bit more water (a few drops more) so the ESE pods gets soaked before extraction. And it really takes about 30-38 pumps, no big deal. With this I get a great espresso and crema too. I recommend buying ESE pods buy bulks of 100 or 150, it gets cheaper. The unit works best with the standard 7g E.S.E pod.

  7. Hi Francisco,
    I think you are correct that the Lavazza pods will make a difference in the Handpresso. In addition, I’m going to try your tip of slightly damping the pods with a bit of water before use.
    The Handpresso is very well built and does produce a nice crema. The unit requires some heavy pumping to get the right pressure and I can’t seem to avoid the water leak at the end of every extraction (I actually have to move the unit so I don’t get water in my espresso cup).

  8. Portable Espresso Take Two: HandPresso Wild Domepod Review

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  9. My preference is the Aerobie Aeropress
    Portable – doesn’t need pods, quick, makes excellent coffee. I pretty much use it exclusively to make coffee anymore.

  10. Hi Jbo,
    Never heard of the product, but I’m going to check it out! Thanks for the tip!

  11. As a Coffee addict I love drinking coffee everyday and night. I use only my Burr Coffee Grinders to grind coffee. I believe every coffee lover deserves that. 🙂

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  14. Very helpful review!!

  15. Type your comment here.

     By the way do you know that yor name (Scordo) in Greek means garlic!

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