Portable Espresso Take Three: MyPressi Twist Review

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(Photo: Espresso machine meets Battlestar Galactica)

I was a big fan of the Sci-Fi series Battlestar Galactica.  Battlestar, as it was known to series insiders, was serious science fiction that was elegantly produced with big ideas, a great script, and blissful (almost film noir) type visuals.  The central plot of Battlestar centered on man made machines called Cylons that evolved into sentient and free will-laden beings that ultimately destroy all of humanity (this is why we shouldn’t train primates) except, of course, for a few interstellar space ships and it’s human inhabitants (I forget how much of humanity was left, but I think it was under 500 and it didn’t include Joan Rivers). 
 
The very first iterations of the Cylon machines were robot-looking with lots of shiny stainless steel, curved surfaces, and proportions that weren’t exactly right (kind of like an Audi TT).  The Cylons evolved and eventually came to look like humans, but it’s the first iteration of the Cylons that I immediately thought of when I layed eyes on the MyPressi Twist portable espresso machine by Espressi, Inc.  No, I didn’t think the MyPressi espresso machine was going to obliterate New Jersey and most of my Italian friends and family, but the large circular head and sleek curved handle somewhat mirrored the Cylons or better yet the StarTrek Generations version of the space ship Enterprise.
 
I can assure you after using the MyPressi Twist for a few weeks that the machine has only one major existential goal, namely, to produce world class espresso at home.  And produce quality espresso the Twist surely does!



(photo: packaging is nice, but Handpresso had nicer packaging materials ala Apple)

Here are the produict details: The MyPressi Twist is comprised of aluminum (I’m making an assumption) and plastic components and weighs about 38 ounces (or a little over 1 kilogram).   The unit measures in at less than 11 inches in length and is capable of producing 135 psi or 35 bars of pressure (this is important).  The unit comes with a ton of accessories including a carrying case, tamper, drip catcher coaster, o-ring replacement kit, and baskets for both fine espresso and more coarse espresso used in a stovetop espresso unit like the Bialetti.  The pressure is derived from N20 gas cartridges which are recyclable.  One gas cartridge will produce 8 single or 4 double shots of espresso.   The Twist handles freshly ground espresso or ESE pods and a typical extraction lasts about 25 seconds.  The unit requires hot, boiling, water.  The unit retails for $169.00 (you can find it for $149.00 at OpenSky and help support Scordo.com!) and comes with 5 N2O cartridges; you can purchase additional cartridges for $15.84 (24 pack). 
 


(photo: all the parts!)


(photo: chamber that holds water)

I used my Twist in a home environment with fresh boiling water produced via a Krups water kettle.  I used both illy fine grind coffee and Lavazze Crema e Gusto Ground coffee, 8.8counce brick.  I didn’t use freshly ground coffee with the Twist because I don’t think most users purchasing the unit will be grinding their own beans via a burr grinder (unlike say a coffee enthusiast purchasing the Rancilio Silvia).  Twist espresso was sampled by 6 individuals (including yours truly, my Italian born father/mother/aunt/uncle, and US born cousin (all are avid espresso drinkers and have experience drinking coffee in Italy and the US <at cafes, via semi and full automatic machines at home, and standard Bialetti stovetop espresso>).  Here are my wholly unscientific observations:
 
1. The Twist produces semi-automatic type espresso at home, meaning the coffee is similar to espresso brewed in units costing between 4X-8X more than the $169.00 Twist.  And even with pre-ground coffee, the Twist produced a lovely crema head that hung to the side of the espresso cup.  The espresso itself had complex notes of chocolate and almond.  The espresso had a nice consistency and was very “clean” tasting but maybe a little “bright” as other reviewers pointed out.  Twist espresso is no where near a ristretto type of espresso, even when pulling a single shot.  The Twist easily produces a better cup of coffee than most mediocre semi and fully automatic home machines and in terms of coffee quality beats both the Handpresso Wild Domepod and Wild ESE.

2. The Twist is a cumbersome and a bulky son-of-a-gun to use.  The unit is comprised of a group head, handle, water container, water container top, basket, and diverter lid (which funnels the coffee into a one or two cups).  It took me multiple times to learn how to assemble the unit and moreover align both the group head and diverter lid to the handle set (even with clear indicator marks visible).  Moreover, filling the water container and thereafter the basket with coffee can get messy so it’s best to do this over a large kitchen towel.  Unscrewing all the components after use was also messy and I had to use a dish towel to unscrew the group head from the handle because some of the part stuck.  Dumping the coffee grounds from the small basket required the use of a spoon to dig out the grinds.   In terms of ease of use I’d opt for the Handpresso Domepod.

(photo: espresso tamped and ready to go)
 

3. It’s no secret the Twist produces great espresso because of the use of N20 cartridges, the cartridges produce the necessary pressure but there are two huge drawbacks
to this system: 1. cartridges are expensive and yet another required accessory and 2. a single cartridge only lasts 3-4 (double) shots.  A single shot was not enough coffee for an individual, in my view (and my guests agreed).  A single shot is appropriate when drinking authentic ristretto or corto because of the richness of the end product, but in all other espresso drinking cases a long or double is the appropriate amount of coffee for a single person (or an almost full standard espresso cup).


4
. The temperature of the espresso was not adequate.  I used boiling water (seconds after coming to a boil) and also preheated my espresso cups with boiling water for several minutes and all my guests had the same reaction: the coffee is excellent but the coffee temperature is not correct or appropriate (this equivalent to making a wonderful tomato sauce and buying imported dry pasta from Italy only to bite into your first forkful of linguine and realize you undercooked the pasta and it’s incredibly crunchy, it just ruins the whole experience).

 

5. The Twist uses a considerable amount of coffee.  The standard basket uses 21 grams of ground espresso or almost 4.5 teaspoons of coffee for a double shot.  The unit is designed for single coffee drinker so don’t plan on using the Twist for a dinner party.    

6. From an industrial design perspective, and like the Chemex drip coffee maker, the Twist is a nice piece of consumer gadgetry and design and all Sci-Fi analogies aside it looks nice and will easily impress your techie and art scene friends, if that’s your goal in life. 
 

Overall, the MyPressi Twist surprised me immensely as I didn’t expect the unit to pull the quality shots it did and when compared to some semi-automatic home machines it’s a steal in terms of price and size (there’s no bulky machine sitting on your counter top, just slide it into your kitchen drawer).  

However, only single cup espresso drinkers should purchase the Twist because it’s really designed for single use and moreover requires additional components to work (namely, the purchase of N20 cartridges on a consistent basis which makes my frugal alter ego cringe).  

If you’re willing to sacrifice how your espresso tastes and want ease of use without the additional expensive of buying cartridges (including easy clean up) then opt for a Handpresso Wild Domepod for $88.95 (non ESE pod version).  If you’re the occasional, single dose, espresso drinker and value quality over an easier use experience go and get yourself a MyPressi Twist!

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Comments

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5 Comments

  1. Vincent, looks like a cool gadget and a cool gift… the temp thing sort of kills it for me and seems like it’s a lot of work. BTW: I used to love Battlestar!

  2. Hi Joe,
    I’ve heard lots of folks complain about espresso temperatue both from portable machines and the high end machines. The MyPressi isn’t terrible but it could definitely be a bit hotter (not bad for a machine that isn’t producing it’s own hot water). There are quite a few parts to the MyPressi, but after a few tests you can make a single cup of espresso (not including boiling water) in just a few minutes.
    Battlestar was great, best thing since Generations!
    Vince

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