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The Handpresso Wild Machine Review and Tips

Updated on February 26, 2014

As the worlds first hand-held espresso maker, this awesome machine has caused quite a split opinion in the coffee world. Some regard it as the "next best thing" some as worse than (whisper) Nescafe, and some like me, regard it as part gadget, part coffee machine and wholly splendid, with minus points for being French.

Basically, it is a hand pumped espresso maker, requiring only coffee, boiling water and your own fair hands. It needs no electricity, takes about 2 minutes to deliver a reasonable espresso and is about the size of a wooden spoon. It is definitely on the cheaper side of espresso makers and can be taken just about anywhere.

There is a bit of a learning curve but with one or two tries and the right grind of coffee, a quick, easy super tasting espresso can be yours, anywhere you have boiling water!

Rich Creamy Espresso! Viva la Crema!
Rich Creamy Espresso! Viva la Crema!

The Flavours

It comes in two flavours, "pod" (Handpresso Wild) or "ground coffee" (Handpresso Domepod) depending on what you want to put in it. With the pod version, you buy individual pods of coffee that fit into the machine. They are essentially an individually wrapped teabag idea but full of coffee. You pop it in, make the coffee and pull it out. They're available readily online, but I've only ever seen them in larger UK supermarkets. They vary wildly in price from a few pence per pod to over £1 each, depending on where you buy them from and how many you buy in one go.

The grounds are contained within the bag and you can throw it out without fuss or mess. Also if you're short on time, the pod is the way to go. Filling and tamping the holder with coffee is the main consumer of time on the Domepod version.

The downside is of course, that you have to get the pods. If you run out of pods, you're out of coffee. You can't put your favourite bean blend, you're limited to what the pod makers sell, whenever that was ground! A small price to pay for less fuss and easy disposal of the grounds? You decide.

The holder
The holder
The used coffee cake
The used coffee cake

Domepod Version

The alternative is the free ground coffee. This version comes with a little cup with a fine gauze filter, you pack it with coffee, plop it in the machine and away you go.The benefits of this are clear.

The coffee comes from anywhere and so long as it is espresso ground (very fine) coffee is fairly easy to come by. It also means that if you're particular to a particular blend, you can have it. Maybe the coffee flavour makes all the difference?

The down side is the mess and the experience factor. The mess is obvious. With fine ground, uncontained coffee, it gets everywhere if you're not careful. While the used grounds are fairly easy to dispose of as the pressure and temperature creates a nice coffee "cake" loading it up in the first place is a bit of a pain.

Hey 'Presso!
Hey 'Presso!

The Coffee Experience

The other issue with the free ground coffee version is that it has a few cups learning curve before you get it right. The issue lies in getting the right compacting of the coffee grounds in the holder. Too tight and you'll wait for it to drip through, darker than sin and cold by the time it's finished. Too loose and all you'll get is a whoosh of dirty water and possibly scalding from the splash.

What you need is a tamping implement. You can buy a dedicated tamper and this is the best way of doing it, however, it is a little expensive. Something round with a flat end and just the right size is what you want. I'm using an empty Bowmore whisky miniature bottle and it's perfect!

After that, fill the coffee holder, tamp it down, top it up and tamp it down again. After a few tries, you'll get the tamping amount right and the espresso will flow. I find about the mass of a full 2 litre bottle applied briefly results in the right tamping.

Tips for Getting It Right

  • Using a very finely ground coffee (preferably espresso ground and roasted) fill the holder and tamp firmly down. Top up the holder if necessary and tamp again.
  • Pump up the pressure to the green bar before you put water or coffee in.
  • Make sure the water is really boiling and fill up the reservoir. Let that amount of water heat the reservoir and don't put the coffee in yet.
  • Tip the water out and refill with fresh boiling water up to the correct level.
  • As quickly as possible, put the prepared coffee holder in, lock on the lid, turn it over and press the button over your cup. Hey Presto - Espresso!
  • Enjoy.

All credit to Fairfax Coffee for the vid below


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