The Wacaco Minipresso

Freshly brewed espresso no matter where you are, courtesy a little elbow grease

The context

This is a pot calling all kettles blackened by charcoal on hiking trails. 

The unfortunately named Wacaco Minipresso is a portable espresso maker. The name sounds like a cross between Waco, Texas, where federal agents laid siege on a wacko group called Branch Davidians; and the plaintive call of (some) Dravidians in Tamil movies when they address their elder sister as “yakkau". 

Neither has anything to do with what this Hong Kong-based company is peddling. The Minipresso is a coffee-maker that is handy enough to be carried by hand on hikes. It requires arm-strength without electricity; brute force without a power source; and it pulls strong coffee through persistent pushing.

The fantasy

Man pulls a clever trick. Woman swoons with admiration.

You set off at dawn on a hike with a woman that you are trying to impress, armed with nothing with a thermos of coffee. But wait, this chick ain’t no hick. Pouring out a pint-sized cup of joe will not cut it for this Amazonian lady with latte-coloured skin. 

What are you going to do? Brewing hot espesso at 6,000 feet might raise the bar and make you a bonafide bar-ista. She drinks your fresh-brewed coffee, falls to her knees and proposes.

The reality

Comes close to the fantasy actually. I tried the Minipresso at a brunch and had all the cute guys eating out of my hand—and not because I was doling out the papdi chaat. 

After pouring them a piping hot shot of coffee, I felt like a hotshot. And after pushing and pumping the knob to give the espresso some frothy oomph, I felt like a skinny lady, or should I say, skinny latte.

The product

The minipresso is short and sturdy. At a pinch, you can throw it at fleeing thieves like Rajnikanth does with his plastic bottles, or Vishnu does with his discus. The whole thing is self-contained. You need coffee and hot water. That’s it. 

The founder of the company has stated that he invented this product because he was not satisfied with the quality of ready-made coffee that he had to carry on hikes. If you are not interested in the great outdoors, with or without coffee, this will serve as a handy party trick nonetheless.

I spread my wares on the ground like a parrot astrologer. The Wacaco has three important parts. The bottom cup is for hot water that you can pour out of a thermos. There is a container to tamp down coffee powder—get an expensive-looking brand for maximum impact. You screw the top over the coffee, turn the whole thing upside down and start pushing on an extended knob. 

The machine and sputters and wheezes like a phlegmy old geezer, or a hot water geyser. After about a dozen pushes, the machine expresses hot espresso with a satisfying crema on top. Hand the coffee over to your admiring audience and repeat the process. No power source; no electricity; just a lot of love and fresh air to help the hot air push out your coffee.

The details

The Wacaco Minipresso ships worldwide—at no additional charge—from Hong Kong. It retails for $59.99 and can be ordered online here.

The verdict

Every person who drank the espresso wanted to buy the product.

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