Tired Of Automation in Coffee? These 5 Best Manual Espresso Makers Are the Solution

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By far, the best manual espresso maker is the Flair Espresso. Both entry-level coffee enthusiasts and professionals alike will enjoy the unit’s design, capabilities, and quality. 

If you can’t quite splurge for a Flair (even though the NEO is at a great price), I recommend getting yourself a Fellow Prismo combined with an Aeropress. While it may not make true espresso, it does a fantastic job of giving “almost-espresso” coffee and gives you an excellent, all-around coffee maker as well.

That said, here is more on those and other recommendations if you need a different one than the one recommended above.

1. Flair The NEO Flex

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  • Simple, easy to use design
  • Only need to use one hand to make coffee
  • Looks really cool
  • Larger design front to back
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05/19/2024 04:04 am GMT

The Flair Espresso has long been one of my favorite espresso makers on the market, and the NEO Flex is definitely the one to get if you are just getting started on your manual espresso journey. This extremely simple-to-use manual espresso maker was created by an engineer with 30 years of experience who wanted to simplify how to make espresso.

Even better, it was designed in California, USA, making it an American-Deisgned Product. Nothing more remarkable than that.

The Flair uses one large lever to create the needed pressure to give that excellent espresso taste!

If you want to upgrade your experience a bit, they offer three other 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.

This Flair Espresso Maker also comes with many 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.  

2. Fellow Prismo

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  • 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 close
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05/19/2024 03:05 pm GMT

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, and thankfully, after requesting one, they were kind enough to send me on out free of charge to check out.

Now, this Prismo product does have to be used in conjunction with an Aeropress (which I also have extensive experience with, thanks to the brand sending me one out years ago) that most people already have or can get relatively inexpensively.

The Prismo is attached to the bottom of the Aeropress and won’t allow coffee to come out until a certain pressure level is achieved; then, an espresso-like coffee comes out.

From what it sounds like, it isn’t authentic espresso like the rest of the products on this list, so this is just for those who can’t afford to own a dedicated espresso machine or don’t have the space. This little unit is also the only way I would recommend putting espresso find-ground coffee in your Aeropress.

3. ROK Manual Espresso Maker

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  • 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
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05/19/2024 03:16 pm GMT

This manual espresso maker is an incredible unit that works very similarly to other options on this list! You fill the unit with hot water, add espresso coffee grounds, and then push down the handles on either side of the unit to create pressure.

Once enough pressure is achieved, the water moves through the Portafilter, making your delicious espresso!

The company started in London in 1997, and after many iterations, they finally shipped their first units in 2004. Then, in 2018, they released the newest version you see today!

The Rok is an excellent, simplistic manual coffee maker, and you can even buy a grinder to match, which is excellent! This manual coffee maker is straightforward to use and only requires coffee grounds, hot water, and a little strength to brew your espresso shot.

Customers are constantly raving about this espresso maker in all the usual places!

4. Cafflano Kompresso

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  • No filters
  • Easy to use
  • Extremely light
  • Portable design
  • Budget friendly option
  • Made of plastic
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05/18/2024 03:21 pm GMT

Beanscorp is the brand behind the Cafflano Kompresso and has wanted to make innovative products since 2013. The Kompresso is just one of their many products, and it sounds like they have a lot more to come.

It may look like an Aeropress from a distance (which we talked a bit about above), but it specializes in making espresso-like coffee.

The Kompresso can achieve 9 bars of pressure to make some great espresso. It is effortless to use, is inexpensive, and makes great coffee. It differs greatly from the coffee makers on this list, though, as it uses a plastic construction instead of metal, which could be a big downside for many.

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 excellent camping coffee maker!

5. Primula Classic Moka Pot

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  • 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
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05/18/2024 03:38 pm GMT

Much like the Prismo above, this doesn’t give you authentic espresso; however, you already have one in your home (maybe not the brand that I recommend above) or can get it for around $10 at a local discount store.

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 backward, but it works!

There is no specific brand I would or wouldn’t recommend on this one, as they all essentially do the same thing and achieve the same result, however Primula above is a fantastic brand, and you can’t go wrong with them.

Why is there a price difference then? Ultimately, the more expensive ones will have a better, sturdier internal coffee basket rather than a cheaper one.

Why a manual espresso maker?

Still on the fence about getting a manual espresso machine, rather than an automatice? Well, you are in the right place. This is relatively simple.

  1. While you can buy an automatic espresso maker for a low price, they aren’t an extremely high-quality espresso maker. A manual espresso maker tends to be high-quality and will last a lifetime without the price tag. Meanwhile, a comparable automatic machine will likely need replaced regularly due to wear and tear.
  2. Another great reason is that it lets you control the espresso you are making entirely. It gives you a sense of pride and enjoyment that you aren’t going to get from an automatic version.
  3. 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

A couple of things are crucial when buying a manual espresso maker for your home: these are them!

1. Reasonable Price

Most people can’t afford a $900 espresso maker for their home, so I had to ensure that most people (if they do enjoy espresso) could afford the units I chose. Most of these manual espresso makers are under $200, which should make it an easy(ish) purchase for those who enjoy this craft.

2. Ease of use

Next is ease of use; if you are going to own one of these, it should be easy enough to use daily. 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.

3. Simple design

This is more of a personal preference, but all the options on this list are straightforward. It looks incredible and is something I would want on my counter daily.

4. Something you would use regularly

You will regret your purchase if you don’t regularly use your espresso maker. This isn’t something I want and not something you want! That is why I consider that when finding the best for this list.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are manual espresso machines better?

Manual espresso machines are sometimes better than their automatic counterparts. However, they are better because you enjoy the process more. When pressing your espresso, you 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 automatic espresso machines, makes a big difference, too.

Why are espresso machines so expensive?

Building up large amounts of pressure, maintaining heat control, and still making a great cup of espresso every time takes a lot of high-quality materials and workmanship. These two things together leave a relatively expensive machine, whether automatic or manual.

How do you make espresso without a machine?

Making espresso without a machine is impossible, as you need to build up a large amount of pressure in a specific way to make it happen. If you want to spend less than hundreds of dollars, your best bet is to invest in a manual espresso maker that you can get for under $200 or even $50.

Now, if you found this article helpful, I highly recommend you take a quick look at other articles we have on this site about coffee! I’m a big fan of coffee, and everything in the industry, so follow this link here to learn more.

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