We need a portable espresso machine for our camper van. That was one of the first things that came to mind when we decided to build a campervan. Our campervan construction plan was never motivated by a deep desire for primitive camping and a back to basic type of travel, but quite the opposite. We love our comfort and our campervan dream wasn’t going to change that. It makes our trips extremely flexible and gives us the opportunity to spend the night at the most beautiful places in the world, while not having to research and book hotels or holiday homes. As we were not willing to give in on a comfortable life and trip, the inevitable question for a coffee snob like Sebastiaan came up: what about espresso? How can we make the best quality coffee while travelling in a camper van? The answer turned out to be Staresso’s portable espresso maker. In this blog, we’ll tell you everything about the portable espresso makers we use in our campervan and we’ll give you our honest opinion about the machines from Staresso.
Why would anyone need a portable espresso machine: a travelling coffee snob
Sebastiaan always looks for the best coffee spots, loves it when a hotel or Airbnb has a decent espresso machine and usually brings local coffee beans home as a souvenir. Coffee is one of his hobbies and he was pretty determined that living in a campervan was not going to change that. A good cup of espresso is essential to comfortable living in a campervan. So while others may start with the question of how much clothes they can take and how to cook good meals in a camper van, Sebastiaan was that coffee snob who started talking about his espresso first.
Although Sebastiaan managed to cram his beautiful espresso machine and bean grinder into our tiny house at home, that was not an option for the van. Using a ‘normal’ filter on a cup was also a ‘no go’ for him. He didn’t want to start his day with that kind of mediocre coffee for half a year while travelling. Fortunately, finding a portable coffee maker for the best quality espresso was not as difficult as expected and Staresso was even willing to let us try out its products.
Sebastiaan was the happiest person in the world the day a large box from Staresso arrived during our van conversion. We even adjusted our conversion plans after unboxing it, as we now needed a cool storage space for all of Sebastiaan’s new portable coffee makers. And yes, that’s plural. Sebastiaan decided to not just bring one, but three coffee makers on our trip. Thanks to our collaboration with Staresso, he had the wonderful excuse that he had to test them all. And he certainly did!
About Staresso’s products
Staresso is a relatively new company on the coffee market. It was founded in 2014 with the aim of making the best portable espresso machines. Staresso managed to do this so good that their products are extremely popular in the United States and Asian countries. In our home country the Netherlands and the rest of Europe, the company is still a smaller brand, though the Staresso products are also becoming increasingly popular here.
For us, an espresso maker for travelling should be small, sturdy, easy to clean and even easier to operate, and preferably also with a beautiful design. Above all, it should of course be able to make a phenomenally good cup of espresso, using freshly ground beans. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll probably quickly end up drooling over the Staresso product line.
Staresso is of course not the only brand on the market for portable coffee machines – others are the Handpresso or the Wacaco Nanopresso for example – but it is clearly one of the better ones. We were big fans of Staresso straight away because of the sturdy, beautiful and easy to handle machines. Staresso is popular for its high-quality materials and finish of the products. When you think of portable devices, you’ll probably picture fragile and cheap-looking camping gear, but these espresso makers have a very luxurious feel. This even extends to the packaging, making it a joy to unpack a new Staresso product.
It was soon clear that we wanted a Staresso maker in our campervan. Staresso sent us several machines to try and Sebastiaan decided to bring them all with him on our camper trip. We have tested the Staresso Mini, Basic and Pro and the bean grinder – using coffee beans from the Dutch brand Rum Baba and private label coffee cups – for the last few months in our campervan. Let’s share our honest opinion.
Our honest opinion: is this the best portable coffee machine?
Let’s be quick and honest about this: yes! We think Staresso is the best espresso for travelling and use it daily in our campervan to make our morning coffee.
Espresso is actually a simple drink: a machine has to push hot water through your coffee grind. So how do the Staresso products make this simple trick work? In a smooth and easy to operate way: put coffee grind at the bottom of the machine and hot water at the top. Use the hand pump to press that water through the coffee grind and be ready to enjoy your espresso a minute later.
The Staresso Mini, Basic and Pro all work in the same way and provide the same quality of coffee. The difference is in the size and use. The Mini is the smallest and comes with its own design cover to easily bring the coffee maker with you on a trip. The Basic is very similar to the Mini, but does not have this cover and is slightly less compact. You can use both ground beans and coffee capsules for the Mini and Basic. We alternate the two: coffee capsules for the quick and easy coffee mornings, but we prefer to use beans if we have the time to grind them ourselves. We of course use the Staresso bean grinder that we also received in the package for this. The Pro is the largest espresso maker and actually makes two espressos. One for him, one for her. Or in our van: a double espresso, just for him.
The Staresso espresso is of high quality. You can taste the great flavours of the beans. We can’t say the espresso quality is as good as our $1,000 espresso machine at home. But the Staresso espresso quality comes close. Much closer than we ever expected a travel espresso maker could ever do.
We love how to products are quick and easy to operate and clean, as we only have a tiny kitchen in our van. The only downside is how the espresso machines keep dripping coffee after using them, creating a bit of a mess. It is also a bit of a hassle that we have to boil some water first. Or have to bring hot water with us in a thermos when using the Staresso machines on the go. For an even better espresso experience, you should actually preheat the device and cup first by pumping hot water through it before. That’s how it works with our coffee machine at home, but we also get that this doesn’t work well for a portable device.
A coffee snob’s verdict: the Staresso has to stay
The Staresso products are part of our camper van equipment. And of our morning routine while travelling. We bring them everywhere with us. Not just on the van, but also on hikes and to the occasional hotels and Airbnbs we sometimes like to book for a change. Those hotels and Airbnb apartments usually have a coffee machine, but our portable coffee machine just makes far better espressos than those machines do. Of course, a portable Staresso machine won’t be able to beat a full-fledged €1,000 espresso machine, but we’re amazed at how close it comes.
The quality of the espresso and consistency of each cup are top-notch. The products are beautifully designed, so we decided to build an open kitchen cabinet to show them off in our van. We don’t mind at all looking at those beautiful espresso makers. For us, it works well with both the espresso and campervan experience to make a cup of espresso in this somewhat artisanal way each morning. We love starting our travel days grinding beans, pouring hot water in the coffee maker and listening to the sounds of the hand pump and coffee drips merging with a rushing ocean.
The question has even been raised if we can exchange that expensive espresso machine at home for our much smaller Staresso coffee maker. We could make very good use of that space in our tiny house. The fact that Sebastiaan is now in doubt about this says it all.
This blog was written in collaboration with Staresso. We received the products for free to test them during our campervan trip and give our honest opinion in this blog.