a journal of cycling, adventure, and photography

To Be Determined Journal

To Be Determined is a journal of cycling, adventure and photography, curated by a NYC-based cycling team known as TBD Racing or Team TBD. From criteriums to cyclocross to bikepacking and gravel it is all part of the TBD Journal.

Wacaco Nanopresso Review: Finally a Decent Portable Espresso Option

It is a perennial bike racing challenge: in a world of cheap AirBNB coffee machines and shitty hotel coffee how do you secure that vitally important pre-race caffeination? For more traditional coffee needs there are good travel options like the Aeropress (which we love) but on the espresso side we haven’t encountered a high quality option. That is until we recently stumbled upon the Wacaco Nanopresso. Completely portable with no battery (it’s hand powered) and a maximum of 18 bars pressure the Nanopresso pumps out a surprisingly good cup of espresso just about anywhere.

Wacaco Nanopresso Review: The Good

  • A perfectly good espresso: as we touch on below in quality, the Nanopresso might not compare precisely with the $4 espresso shot at your local high end coffee shop, but it still pours a perfectly good espresso. There is an actual crema and our initial flavor profiles have been entirely acceptable.

  • Portability to the max: the Nanopresso certainly fits the bill when it comes to mobility. It’s light and packs away neatly with all components in the Nano-Mini Case (sold separately or as a package). And because it is entirely hand powered there is nothing to plug in or batteries to charge.

  • We also understand that in a pinch the Nanopresso can be run with cold water for an iced espresso experience. We haven’t tried it yet thanks to the travel kettle linked below, but we’re keeping this backup option on our radar.

Wacaco Nanopresso Review: The BAD

  • Some heat required: while the portability is second to none, the Nanopresso still requires hot water (at least for a hot espresso - as mentioned above room temperature/cold drinks are an option). At the races we’re simply relying on a standard camp stove but for AirBNB’s and hotels we picked up a travel electric kettle for $20.

  • Small batch only: the Nanopresso espresso may be delicious it is definitely small batch in quantity and with the pumping it takes a bit of time to prepare a shot. Thus it is not necessarily ideal for the communal experience at most cyclocross races and team AirBNB’s. For those instances it’s probably best to rely on old fashioned pour-over coffee.

  • Get ready to pump: the hand-pump is a great solution to improve portability vs. say some sort of battery powered unit, but it does require a small amount of physical labor to generate the required PSI. On the bright side any cyclist who has used a hand pump will be familiar with the process.

Wacaco Nanopresso Review: Conclusions

  • Quality: as we mentioned in our opener, the Nanopresso may not generate quite the same rich crema that the $20,000 espresso machine at your local high end coffee shop churns out. But the Nanopresso still produces a perfectly tasty shot on the road, and in doing so does everything we’re asking of it.

  • Cost: at $80 for the Nanopresso in the “Orange Tattoo” colorway with the travel case plus another $20 for the travel electric kettle the total cost was not insignificant. And a more traditional Aeropress remains a cheaper coffee option. But given the aforementioned quality and the absolute portability the Nanopresso has immediately earned a permanent spot in our CX Essentials Packing List.

To learn more: Wacaco website