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Not many people are aware that you can make good espresso without having to spend the money on a crazy expensive, high quality espresso maker! In fact you can have more fun by making it a manual process and purchase a manual espresso maker that you will find in this article.
So what are the best manual espresso makers? That would be the Rok Presso, Flair Espresso, Robot Espresso Maker, and even the Cafflano Kompresso and more. These high quality, great products can make you some great espresso on a budget, and while being fun to use!
Let’s dig a little bit more into each, to see which one is best for you.
|Best Overall||Flair Espresso Maker||5 / 5|
|Best Inexpensive||Fellow Products Prismo||5 / 5|
|Highest End||Robot Espresso Maker||3.5 / 5|
|Most Unique||Rok Presso Espresso Maker||4 / 5|
|Most Portable||Cafflano Kompresso||4.5 / 5|
1. ROK Presso Manual Espresso Maker
This manual espresso maker is a really cool unit, which works similar others on the market today! You basically fill the unit with hot water, add in espresso coffee grounds and then push down on the handles on either side of the unit to create pressure.
Once enough pressure is achieved, the water moves its way through the portafilter and makes your delicious espresso!
ROK started out in London back in 1997, and after many iterations and time they finally shipped their first units in 2004. Then in 2018 they released the newest version that you see today!
The Rok is a really cool, simplistic manual coffee maker, and you can even buy a grinder to match which is really cool! This manual coffee maker is incredibly easy to use, and just requires coffee, hot water, and just a little bit of strength.
In all the usual places, customers are constantly raving about this espresso maker! This should definitely be on your list of espresso makers to look at before you buy.
This coffee maker comes with a portafilter, coffee spoon/tamper and a clip-on splitter.
- Extremely simple design
- Compact and easy to store, or keep on your counter
- Makes true espresso without all of the complication
- Can’t heat the coffee in unit
2. Flair Manual Espresso Maker
If you liked the espresso maker above, but want another awesome option, then the Flair Espresso make might just be for you.
This extremely simple to use manual espresso maker was a result of an engineer with 30 years of experience wanting to simplify how to make Espresso.
Even better, it was designed in California, USA, making it an American Product. Nothing cooler than that.
The Flair uses one large lever to create the needed pressure to give that great espresso taste!
They offer three different versions, the flair classic (best for the home), the Flair Signature (best for cafes), and the Flair PRO 2 which can make about twice the amount of coffee as the other two.
If you want to read more about this unit, we go quite a bit more in depth in our article here.
This Flair Espresso Maker also comes with plenty of accessories including a carrying case, 2-in-1 Portafilter, extra bases, funnels, dosing cups and more. All of these things should make for a successful espresso making experience.
- Simple, easy to use design
- Only need to use one hand to make coffee
- Looks really cool
- Good pricing, with multiple styles for your different budgets
- Larger design front to back
3. Cafflano Kompresso
Beanscorp is the brand behind the Cafflano Kompresso, and have been wanting to make innovative products since 2013.
The Kompresso is just one of their many products, and sounds like they have a lot more to come.
This next entry in the best manual espresso makers is the Cafflano Kompresso! It may look like an Aeropress from a distance, but it specializes in making an espresso like coffee.
The Kompresso is able to achieve 9 bars of pressure to make some great espresso.
It is extremely easy to use, is inexpensive, and makes great coffee. It is very different than the rest of the coffee makers on this list though, as it uses a plastic construction instead of metal.
However this makes it an extremely portable, and easy to use method of brewing.
This unit comes with everything you need to make great coffee, including a cup to drink out of and a tamping scoop. It would even make an awesome camping coffee maker!
- No filters
- Easy to use
- Extremely light
- Portable design
- Budget friendly option
- Made of plastic
4. Robot Espresso Maker
Now, as you will learn later in this article, I was really trying to keep the price under $200, however this one just had to be added to my list of the best.
This Espresso maker is made by a company called Cafelat, which has its roots going all the way back in 1997.
The Robot looks surprisingly like a robot (not in a bad way though), but with a modern take to it. It is similar to most of the rest on this list, and uses the “robots” arms to push down and create the needed pressure to make some great espresso.
Just like some of the other options on this list, it makes true, real espresso by making it possible to achieve at least 9 bars of pressure by pushing down on this little robot’s arms.
This pressure is necessary to get the right extraction, and to get the crema that everyone wants on their espresso!
The Robot comes with the needed portafilters, pistons, screens, baskets and more to make sure you can make the coffee that you want in the morning.
- Has two color choices, aluminum or retro green
- Not extremely heavy at just under 7 pounds
- Very simple to use
- Uses high quality materials
- Difficult to fit larger items like a scale under the brew point
5. Fellow Products Prism And An Aeropress
Fellow Products is quickly becoming one of my favorite coffee accessory brands out there, and they offer a great alternative to an espresso maker in the Prismo.
Now this Prismo product does have to be used in conjunction with an Aeropress that most people probably already have, or can get rather inexpensively.
Basically the Prismo is an attachment that attaches to the bottom of the Aeropress that won’t allow coffee to come out until a certain pressure level is achieved, then an espresso like coffee comes out once that happens.
I will say, that from what it sounds like, it isn’t true espresso like the rest of the products on this list, so this is just for those that can’t afford to own a dedicated espresso machine, or maybe don’t have the space.
Edit: I have now owned one of these Prismo units for about a year now, and I use this and my Aeropress as my daily coffee maker. Coming from someone that has something like 10 different manual coffee makers, this thing is highly worth it.
- Extremely small profile
- Easy to use with an already existing Aeropress
- Makes close to espresso coffee
- Low cost for coffee like this
- Not true espresso, but closer at least
6. The Moka Pot
Much like the Prismo above, this isn’t going to give you real espresso, however you probably already have one of these sitting somewhere in your home, or you can get it for around $10 at a local discount store.
It does take a lot of practice to get good coffee from this method, but you can learn how to do it correctly by reading through this article I wrote here!
That said, simply it boils water in the bottom, and the pressure of the heat pushes that hot water upwards through the coffee grounds and into the container at the top. It feels backwards, but it works!
There really isn’t any specific brand that I would or wouldn’t recommend on this one, as they all essentially do the same thing and achieve the same result.
In the end, the more expensive ones will probably have a nicer internal coffee basket, rather than a cheaper one.
- Very unique coffee brewing process
- Extremely inexpensive (you probably already have one)
- Is it’s own device and you don’t need anything else
- Coffee can taste a bit metallic
- Can be temperamental
Why a manual espresso maker?
So you may be wondering why you would want a manual espresso maker instead of an automatic version. This is actually rather simple in my opinion.
- While you can buy an automatic espresso maker for an inexpensive price, they aren’t going to be an extremely high quality espresso maker at that. A manual espresso maker tends to be high quality, and will last a lifetime without the price tag that a comparable automatic machine just can’t compare with in the quality department.
- Another great reason is because it allows you to be in complete control of the espresso you are making. It gives you a sense of pride, and enjoyment that you aren’t going to get from an automatic version.
- The final main reason, is because they are much more compact, and can easily be put away. Automatic Espresso Makers tend to be bulky, and have a lot of parts to them.
Why I think these manual espresso makers are the best
There are a couple things that I think are really important when you are buying a manual espresso maker for your home, and these are them!
Most people can’t afford a $900 espresso maker for their home, so I had to make sure that most people (if they really do enjoy espresso) will be able to afford the units I chose.
Most all of these manual espresso makers are under $200 which should make it an easy(ish) purchase for those that enjoy this craft.
Ease of use
Next is ease of use, if you are going to own one of these, it should be easy enough to be able to use on a daily basis.
The options I chose as the best all just require hot water, and the coffee maker. It also doesn’t have any unnecessary parts, or anything.
This is more a personal preference, but I really like that all of the options on this list are extremely simple. It looks awesome, and is something that I would want on my counter on a daily basis.
Something you would use regularly
If you don’t use your espresso maker regularly, then you will probably regret your purchase. This isn’t something I want, and not something you want!
So that is why I try to keep that in mind when finding the best of the best for this list.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are manual espresso machines better?
Manual espresso machines aren’t necessarily better than their automatic counterparts, however they are better in the fact that you get to enjoy the process more. When you are pressing your own espresso, you just feel like you are doing something, and tend to enjoy it more. This, and the fact that manual espresso makers are a bit cheaper than the automatic espresso machines makes a big difference too.
Why are espresso machines so expensive?
Being able to build up large amounts of pressure, maintain heat control, and still make a great cup of espresso every time takes a lot of high quality materials, and a lot of high quality workmanship. These two things put together leave a machine, where it be automatic or manual, that is rather expensive.
How do you make espresso without a machine?
Making espresso without a machine is not really possible, as you need to build up a large amount of pressure, in a specific way to make it happen. Your best bet, if you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars, is to invest in a manual espresso maker that you can get for under $200 or even $50.
So there you have it, these are the top four manual espresso makers on the market today, as well as a couple alternatives to a normal espresso machine!
These should give you a great option to be able to use in your home, for the right price, and for the best tasting espresso coffee.
There are so many different ways you can make a great cup of coffee out there, and espresso is just one of them. If you liked this article, you may also like to read some more articles about it here on my site.