Compact, affordable, and ultra-premium, the Wacaco Picopresso is an excellent investment. It doesn't offer sensitive brewing and milk frothing, but it will make you an incredible espresso.
Feels really premium
Makes a full-bodied espresso
Can't froth milk
No grinding capabilities
Fiddly to clean
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The Wacaco Picopresso is every travelling coffee lover's dream. It's about the size of a can of soda, costs just over $100, and yet it feels really premium. The best part is that it will make an incredible espresso, time after time.
As a barista, I'm used to the classic espresso machines. Most of the best coffee makers come with milk steamers, grinders, and shiny stainless steel. The fact that the Picopresso doesn't need a plug, or any space on your countertop is rather extraordinary.
What's even more unusual is how good this is at making coffee. Normally, portable versions of my favorite appliances lack the strength or durability of their electric counterparts. Whilst the Picopresso isn't complex or high-tech, it's a rival to some of the best espresso machines in the market.
If all you want is a crema topped espresso, that you can drink in serene city settings as well as mountainous summits, you've just found your perfect partner.
Wacaco Picopresso: Key Info
- Colors: black
- Heat up time: 30 seconds for coffee
- Dimensions: 4 x 3 x 3 inches
- Weight: 0.77 lbs
- Water tank capacity: 2.8 fl oz
- Portafilter size: 2.05 inches
Wacaco Picopresso: First impressions
More often than not, portable versions are the poor relations. However, as soon as I saw the Picopresso's box, I knew this was impressive. Everything about it is premium. The plush padded inside and velvety outside of the box slides, slots, and unwraps to reveal the ultimate portable espresso machine. Within a few seconds of setting my eyes on the Picopresso, I had quickly calculated five friends who I need to buy this for.
Wacaco didn't need to make this beautiful, because it will fit in any drawer, cupboard, or pocket. And yet, they did. The matte black finish and smart zip case looks like a designer handbag. If you gave it a chain, I could mistake it for a Jaquemus Le Chiquito handbag or some portable headphones.
The Picopresso doesn't come in many parts. The main body is as big as a can of soda or a clenched fist, so it's tiny. However, like the box, the main piston body is chunky and sleek. The aluminium funnel, tamper, and portafilter basket are all smart too. In fact the Picopresso palm tamper is one of the nicest that I've seen.
Making coffee in the Wacaco Picopresso
As I mentioned earlier, you can go from unboxing to steaming shot to washing up in under five minutes. The process is straightforward. I was tempted not to use instructions, but if you skip this part, you risk missing some important, unexpected details.
I unscrewed the base of the Picopresso, revealing the basket and base. Placing the funnel on top of my basket I scooped 0.63 oz of pre-ground coffee - this is my favorite blend - into the portafilter basket.
Your coffee will taste better if you invest in a coffee grinder and grind your coffee freshly. Freshly ground coffee contains all the delicious oils that will produce a crema on top of your espresso, the sign of a well-extracted espresso. I would recommend the Fellow Ode Coffee Grinder, which you can buy on Amazon. If you select the finest setting your coffee will taste smooth, sweet, and rich.
Most people would screw the basket in to the base of the Picopresso and instantly start making their coffee. However, if you read the instructions, you'll see that Wacaco wants you to pump water through the piston to warm it. This will ensure that your coffee is properly extracted and not just lukewarm. Don't skip this step, because the warm water will extract more of the coffee essential oils, making for a well-rounded cup.
Once you're warmed the piston, pour 1.8 fl oz of hot water into the barrel. There are no measuring lines inside the piston, so I would use a stainless steel jug like this one from Walmart. Aim to have your water around 195-105 degrees Fahrenheit, so that you perfectly extract all the oils from your grounds. Once your water is in the piston, you can screw the portafilter onto the base of the Picopresso. Be firm, because I didn't screw mine in tightly enough the first time and all I brewed was coffee chaos.
The pump mechanism is intuitive. You twist the button, release the pump and decompress it with your hand. Repeat this motion and, sure enough, a creamy, steamy shot will flow out.
You won't use any electricals, but this pumping creates enough pressure to emulate 18 bars of pressure. When this forces the espresso out (you might have a few empty pumps first) you'll be left with a delicious espresso. My 1.8 fl oz of water and 0.63 oz of coffee made enough for a double shot of espresso. It had a thick crema on top and tasted well-balanced and nutty. I tried a few different coffee grind sizes and bean types and found that the Picopresso tends to draw out earthy rather than sweet notes. The difference is subtle, but worth noting.
If you want an Americano or cappuccino, unfortunately, the Picopresso will not be able to deliver. It more than fulfils the 'espresso' part of an 'espresso maker', but you'll need to provide your own hot water and steamed milk. I would recommend the Smeg Milk Frother, which you can buy from QVC. This steams hot and cold milk. I've used it for vegan milks with excellent results too.
Should you buy the Wacaco Picopresso?
There are a lot of people that the Picopresso is perfect for. If you're often travelling or looking for a low cost way to make espressos, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this. It's a great gift for coffee fans.
This isn't a portable gimmick. Since using the Picopresso, I've taken it on holidays with me, to picnics, and on morning walks. I love it and I trust it to make amazing coffee. If you're a traveller, seeking the perfect espresso in remote areas, this is an unparalleled portable option.
However, you'll need to have your own grinder, milk frother, and coffee scales if you want to experiment with more of a variety of coffee types. By the time you've bought these products to compensate, you might as well have bought the Breville Bambino Plus (one of my other favorite espresso machines).
About this review
Laura is the eCommerce Editor for Homes & Gardens. Before joining Future, she studied English at Oxford University. Alongside her studies, she qualified as a barista and has since tested all of the best coffee makers on the market.
At Livingetc we test all of our products before we recommend them to you. That way, you'll have no surprises when you start to use them in real-life. We use our first-hand experience to build comprehensive buying guides which will direct you to the perfect product for your lifestyle.
As a barista, Laura was eager to test the Wacaco Picopresso. She took it to our test kitchen, where she used the Picopresso. Since then, she has used it in her kitchen, taken it on holiday, and it made a guest appearance at brunch the other day. She's now familiar with the Picopresso in her daily life, so is well-placed to recommend it to you. To learn more about our process across reviews and buying guides, you can take a look at our explanation of how we test.
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Laura is the eCommerce Editor for Homes & Gardens. Before joining Future, she studied English at Oxford University. Alongside her studies, she qualified as a barista and worked with coffee for over three years. Outside of caffeine kicks, Laura writes about design and interiors at Homes & Gardens. She's always looking for stylish ways to integrate appliances into your home, but is also passionate about home fragrance. As a trained Master Perfumer, she has experience working within the luxury perfumes, so she always prioritizes quality and style over quantity and fads.
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