Staresso Manual Espresso Machine: Connoisseur Quality
“A tiny star with strong power.” That’s the phrase Chinese coffee maker Staresso uses to greet visitors on its website. There’s something beautiful about the concise image, and it seems to fit the company’s manual espresso machine perfectly. The portable implement is about the size of a Nunchuk, and it seems to harness similar potency. During testing, it churned out impressively rich, creamy espresso.
Strong power indeed. We pumped shot after shot through the Staresso espresso maker to power our writing sessions and bring you the details.
Manual Espresso Machine Components
Staresso’s sleek, satin black profile invokes utility and minimalism. But the portable espresso maker really grabs your attention when you pick it up and discover its obvious density. It’s clearly a machine, not just a gadget. Its interior components are built with SUS-304 stainless steel, which is Japanese food-grade steel. Interestingly, the water tank is made with a polyester variant often used in baby bottles, known for heat resistance and toughness.
The solid construction is a pleasant surprise, especially considering the little unit’s minuscule $65 MSRP.
The pump unit separates from the two-part casing that holds the (included) glass. The pump exterior has a grippy rubber texture, which I found comfortable and helpful during testing. The pump handle has a short throw of about an inch and a half and can be twisted into a locked position when not in use.
The two-part casing screws together to hold the glass tightly in place. The unit’s base is fitted with a grippy, hard plastic for stability.
Espresso Making Process
To start brewing espresso with the Staresso unit, simply grind coffee and boil water. Then, take the filter apart. The pump head unscrews, exposing the water tank. The brew head unscrews, exposing the brew basket. Pack your coffee into the basket with the included spoon. I let the boiling water cool for three or four minutes before I pulled a shot with it to avoid scalding the coffee grounds (I didn’t figure that out myself — it was a pro tip).
Once you’ve got everything loaded, reassemble the unit and start pumping. The first time I used the Staresso, I got skeptical at this moment, despite the obvious quality of the machine’s components. Ok, you little Nunchuk, I thought, can you actually make coffee?
Can it Actually Make Coffee?
It turned out that yes, the Staresso manual espresso machine could and did make excellent, rich espresso. It pumped regularly and pretty easily, especially because I could put my weight into it with its stable base and sturdy construction. Sure enough, the little machine filled the glass about 3/4 full of rich brown espresso topped with a dense cloud of tiny khaki-colored bubbles.
Even with moderately crappy coffee (canned, whole bean Ethiopian blend from Trader Joe’s), the Staresso’s espresso tasted balanced, relatively deep, and flavorful — it was distinctly possible to taste slightly tart berry flavors. The texture was especially pleasing: the coffee felt velvety, the head weightless but bright.
Review Conclusions & How to Buy the Staresso Manual Espresso Machine
I am convinced the Staresso manual espresso machine would be a formidable tool in the hands of a coffee aficionado. But the machine is simple and effective enough that anyone who likes espresso can use it to brew at home — or on the go. Thanks to Staresso’s tight, self-contained build, loading the machine at home and taking it with you to pump later is reasonable.
My only complaints are that it has a lot of parts and it’s not easy to clean. The machine comprises ten total parts, including the glass, spoon, and cleaning stick (which our — ahem — in-house expert had already lost by the time he sent me the test unit). Because the parts are small, they’re hard to clean, and you need the cleaning stick to take apart the brew basket. No worries, you can improvise with a paperclip or a small-gauge nail.
But those gripes are tiny compared to the strong power of the Staresso portable espresso machine. The little device makes quality coffee through a simple process at a massively lower price than most capable competitors.