The Italians invented steam-powered espresso makers around the turn of the 20th century; now a British company has gone one up on them by developing the first hand-pumped machine.
As with an electric model, you load it up by putting fine grounds into a little tray that slots into the contraption. But rather than flicking a switch and waiting for it to heat up, just boil a kettle, pour the water straight into a small chamber at the top, lift the arms, wait a few seconds, then pump down.
There’s no rumbling, steaming and gurgling and the gadget looks pretty swanky too — reminiscent of Philippe Starck’s lemon squeezer, without the exorbitant mark-up. Unlike other espresso makers, it doesn’t take up half your kitchen space.
All the parts other than the metal body can be cheaply replaced via Presso’s website, and the device is easy to dismantle for a spring clean. And of course, whereas conventional espresso machines guzzle electricity, the Presso needs only enough power to boil a kettle — and a bit of elbow grease. In fact, you’ll make 100 coffees before you add £1 to your electricity bill.
The big question is, can it achieve the so-called God shot, the perfect espresso that is the holy grail of coffee lovers? Presso reckons the manual action exerts a pressure of 5-10 bars, which is in line with the ideal 9 bars that coffee geeks demand. And the machine certainly got close to the crema-topped espresso you’d expect from hardware costing many times the price.
Once you master the technique — and the timing — you will pull a shot that beats nine out of 10 cafe-served coffees. And with the supplied manual milk frother you’ll make a mean cappuccino, too.
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