Staresso Mini Espresso Maker

The Staresso makes a fantastic espresso using ground coffee or capsules

Staresso Mini Espresso Maker

The Staresso is an outstanding portable mini espresso maker. Want to make barista quality espresso in your kitchen without breaking the bank on an espresso machine? The Staresso’s for you. It lets you make a decent espresso in under five minutes. And it saves you up to $178 per year.


The screech rips Mike from his sleep. He squints at the alarm clock.

Like a black demon, the electronic monster sits there shrieking, “Get up, you loser! Hahahaha! Get up! Others are making money, and you’re still snoozing? What a loser! Whaaaaa hahaha!

The clock’s red digits claw into Mike’s head.

It’s 4 am.

He bowls his right arm over and slaps the alarm clock into silence.

Mike rubs his eyes and hangs his arm down the side of the bed. He can’t get up now. It’s too early. Scientific studies have shown that too little sleep is detrimental to your health.

He rolls his body to the edge of the bed and drops a foot to the floor, his big toe testing to see if the floor is still there. He’d heard of people waking up to a floor that’s disappeared. Perhaps it was something he read. A Wikipedia article or a Stephen King novel. Whatever the case, Mike’s not taking any chances.

He groans as he pushes his head away from the pillow. Then he drops it back down again. That counts as a push up. He’ll remember that when he hits the gym later.

One more effort.

He pushes up from the pillow, swings his body around and drops both feet to the floor. He rubs his eyes again. His chin drops to his chest.

With support from his arms and Above, Mike extends his legs and stands up.

A thought peeks into his head from a misty netherworld.

“Hey Mike, you have a new espresso machine. Your day is off to a GREAT start!”

A smile creeps up on his cheeks.

Mike stomps to the kitchen, his foggy mind following.

He stops in the doorway and rests his head on the jamb. He sighs and flutters his eyelids at the majestic new espresso machine standing next to the microwave oven.

Mike saunters to where the machine sits, flips open a cupboard above it and grabs a tiny cup from inside.

His mind is waking to the knowledge of impending caffeination, and it’s starting to like Mike for this.

He places the cup beneath the espresso machine’s spout and flicks the on switch.

Nothing happens…

He flicks the switch off, on, off and on again.

Still nothing.

“Mike, I’m not registering what’s happening here. Your gestures promised caffeine. Don’t lie to me, Mike, or I’ll make your day miserable,” says his brain, frustrated at the lack of action.

Mike pulls the espresso maker’s plug from the wall socket and sticks it back in. He flips the socket switch a few times.

Still nothing.

“Mike, I’m warning you. If I don’t get my caffeine, I’ll ruin your day. I PROMISE you that.”

Mike knows that his brain will plan a system-wide go-slow if he can’t produce caffeine. He starts to panic at the prospect of facing his boss with a brain that’s running on one piston and a prayer.

His mind runs to the shop he bought it from. Don’t they have a 24 hour emergency number for caffeine addicts?

He runs to the room, grabs his mobile phone from the bedside table and opens the Chrome app.

He searches the name of the place where he’d bought the machine, but Google says it only opens in another four hours.

“Unbelievable,” he mumbles, “this is the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced. It’s half past four and they’re STILL not open! I’m writing a letter to the CEO.”

Mike trudges to his cupboard.

He needs his caffeine, so the corner shop will have to do.

It’s minus 15 degrees Celsius outside, which is mild, considering his need.

Mike puts on a vest, a shirt, a jersey, another jersey, one more and a jacket.

He pulls on a pair of Long Johns, followed by a pair of thick wool socks. Then he slips on a pair of cargos and sticks his feet into a pair of Timberland 2.0 Cupsoles.

He slides on a pair of thick mittens, swings a scarf around his neck and squeezes a wool beanie onto his head.

“That’s a good boy,” his brain purrs, “You’re doing the right thing.”

Mike waddles to his front door and slips out into the corridor, where he shuffles to the elevator.

He presses the elevator’s button. A few seconds later the metal doors slide open and he scuffles in.

Once the doors close, he pushes the G button.

The elevator hums to life and comes to a stop at the ground floor, where the doors open and beckon Mike out.

He moves towards the apartment building’s front door and presses the release button on the wall with one hand while holding the door with the other. When the buzzer sounds, he pulls the door towards himself.

A freezing gust smears him across the brow, causing him to gasp.

He steps out into the frigid air, musters his energy and manages a steady jog to the corner store. The glow from within the store seems Utopian from out on the street.

He smiles.

“Hold on, Brain,” Mike whispers, “you’ll get your caffeine.”

He enters the store and greets the man behind the counter, who greets back with a muffled, “Morning.”

Mike doesn’t know this guy. For years the only person manning the counter was Charlie. This is not Charlie.

He heads for the coffee machine, grabs a plastic cup and places it beneath the spout.

He presses the espresso button and the machine starts grinding, whirring, blinking and beeping. After 20 seconds a black liquid starts oozing from the machine.

Pure gold.

He scoops up the cup and heads for the cash register. His brain is spinning at the thought of caffeination.

He places the cup onto the counter. The stranger behind the counter taps on the cash register a few times and spurts out, “Two forty five.”

Ripoff! But what can he do? He needs an espresso. The guy behind the counter holds Mike’s day in his hands.

Mike reaches into his pocket for his wallet.

It’s not there.

He feels around in his other pockets. There’s nothing, not even a key. He slaps himself in all the places he might have pockets.

Nothing.

Mike had forgotten his wallet.

As if that’s not enough, his apartment keys are hanging from a key rack next to the front door.

Getting back into his apartment would require waking the superintendent. The last time he did that, he struggled with a mysterious water problem for a week.

Mike places his arms on the counter and drops his head onto his hands. He breaks out into a sweat.

The man behind the counter snorts, removes the cup of coffee from the counter and places it behind him, a safe distance from the weird patron. He folds his arms and sneers, “No money, no black honey.”

Mike shuffles from the store, his shoulders drooped, his brain furious at Mike’s failure. He’s in for a rough day.

If Mike had the Staresso espresso maker, his morning would have been fine. None of this drama would have been necessary. His brain would have received a caffeine jolt and Mike would have had peace.

If only.

Why you’ll love the Staresso

The Staresso is an amazing portable espresso maker. Here’s why…

It makes a great espresso

Before we get into anything else, let me tell you that the Staresso makes a lovely espresso.

The AeroPress is my go-to coffee maker (AeroPress review). But the AeroPress, despite claims, cannot make espresso.

The Staresso excels at making espresso.

Now, I’m not a qualified barista. But you don’t need a qualified barista to tell you when coffee is good. This tool makes good coffee. Besides, I’m appealing to the man in the street.

Affordable

For $60 you’ll enjoy cup after cup of excellent espresso.

That’s cheap, considering the Staresso doesn’t use filters. You buy the machine and pump out espressos for months or years to come.

The Staresso comes with parts that’ll wear out, but they’ll last long.

One of the world’s largest coffee chains—we’ll call them Siriusdollar—sells a single espresso for $1.45.

Your Staresso costs 41.38 Siriusdollar espressos.

That’s a few weeks’ worth of espressos, if you drink one a day.

That’s a great deal. For the cost of 41.38 over-the-counter espressos, you can make your own espresso in the comfort of your home, any time of the day, even if there’s NO electricity.

Mechanical

The Staresso is a mechanical espresso machine.

It needs a teensy bit of prep alongside a slice of manpower to produce a cup of espresso.

Electricity gone to pot? No problem. You need hot water, ground coffee and the Staresso.

Out camping in the middle of nowhere? Again, no problem. Pluck out the Staresso and drown your brain in caffeine.

Small

The Staresso is small enough to qualify as a camp or travel espresso machine.

If your desire for caffeine overrides common sense, you’ll be happy to learn that the Staresso fits inside a large jacket pocket.

No filters

This is one of the best aspects of the Staresso. It doesn’t need paper filters.

I’m not saying that other espresso makers use paper filters. I don’t know. If there are espresso machines using paper filters, the Staresso is not one of them.

Quick

It takes under five minutes to make an Espresso with the Staresso. That’s from bringing cold water to boil, to putting your lips to the cup.

Solid build

They make the Staresso’s plastic parts from a hard PCTG plastic. They make the metal parts from a food grade stainless steel.

When you push down on the Staresso, it feels solid. It doesn’t wobble around.

The cup holder has a rubber layer at the bottom which stabilises the Staresso when you use it.

Dislikes

The Staresso, like most products, comes with drawbacks, albeit negligible.

Small parts

The Staresso contains plenty of small parts, including o-rings.

If you lose one of those parts, the Staresso is useless.

Plastic and glass

I wouldn’t want to drop the Staresso. On one hand you have hard plastic parts, on the other, two glass cups.

The Staresso will give you years of delicious espresso, provided you look after it.

When you pack the Staresso, don’t put it under pressure. If you take it along when you go camping, pack it in the kitchen box on top of other items.

They can’t use a tougher plastic for the Staresso. The system’s working requires a rigid design. A tougher plastic might be flexible, but it would ruin the manual pump action.

Interrupted pressure

Unlike a standard electrical espresso maker, the Staresso doesn’t provide constant pressure.

Baristas will say that you must force water through coffee at a constant pressure of nine bars for 30 seconds.

It’s hard to get the pressure consistent with a hand pump.

This would only bother true coffee snobs. The taste of the Staresso’s espresso more than makes up for the lack of consistent pressure.

Price

You can buy the Staresso online for ~$60.

Cost of espresso

Let’s calculate the cost of an espresso made with the Staresso.

We’ll work on 365 espressos, one per day for a year.

We’ll cost water and electricity at $0.40 per cup.

You buy Death Wish coffee. It costs $1.25 per ounce ($0.04 per gram).

The Staresso makes a single espresso, since the coffee basket takes ten grams of ground coffee.

You don’t add sugar or milk.

Cost of a Staresso espresso:

Water & Electricity (per cup): $0.40.
10 grams of Death Wish coffee: $0.40.
Staresso device (per cup, if it lasts only a year): $0.16.
Total: $0.96.

It costs $0.96 for a Staresso espresso. Remember, it’s Death Wish coffee. It’s an expensive brand.

365 cups of Siriusdollar espressos put you back $529.25.

365 cups of Staresso Death Wish espressos put you back $350.40.

Using the Staresso saves you $178.85 per year.

Availability

The Staresso ships to various countries.

If the online store you buy from doesn’t ship the Staresso to your location, check out Aramex Global Shopper.

Warranty

I emailed Staresso from the email address I found on their site.

At first, the email address, info@staresso.com, didn’t work. A second message to that same address—from another email address—went through, and Amy from Staresso responded with…

We have 12 months warranty.  In some case we will offer FOC parts to send you from China, but some case you need to pay for the freight, we can offer you part.

What’s in the box

The Staresso package contains:

  • Pump.
  • Water chamber.
  • Coffee basket.
  • Bottom cap.
  • Base.
  • Serving cups (2 of).
    • They look like large tot glasses.
  • Serving cup holder.
  • Coffee scoop.
  • Cleaning tool.
  • Spare o-ring.
  • User manual.

How to make an espresso

An espresso requires six to ten grams of fine coffee grounds, tamped into a portafilter basket through which you force 30ml to 45ml of water with a temperature of 90 degrees Celsius (194 Fahrenheit) at nine bars of pressure for 30 seconds.

The Staresso takes up to 80ml of water. It has two marks on the inside of the water chamber, one for a single shot espresso, one for a double shot. Can it make a double shot? I share that info further down below.

Follow these 15 steps to a delicious single espresso:

  1. Place the Staresso cup into the cup holder.
  2. Screw the base onto the cup holder.
  3. Fill the scoop with coffee.
  4. Pour the coffee from the scoop into the coffee basket.
  5. Tamp the coffee with the coffee scoop.
    • There should be ten grams of coffee inside the basket.
  6. Drop the coffee basket into the bottom cap.
  7. Screw the water chamber onto the bottom cap.
  8. Place the water chamber and bottom cap onto the cup holder.
  9. Heat water to 90 degrees Celsius in a kettle.
    • If you don’t have a variable temperature kettle, boil as usual.
  10. Fill the water chamber with 50 ml (up to the “One” mark).
  11. Screw the pump onto the water chamber.
  12. Pump the Staresso until all water is transferred from the water chamber into the cup.
  13. Remove the top section from the cup holder.
  14. Unscrew the Base from the cup holder.
  15. Remove the cup and enjoy your espresso.

Double espresso

A double espresso requires 15 grams of fine coffee grounds, tamped into a portafilter basket through which you force 60ml to 90ml of water with a temperature of 90 degrees Celsius (194 Fahrenheit) at nine bars of pressure for 30 seconds.

The Staresso’s water chamber allows for enough water to make a double espresso, however…

The coffee basket takes only ten grams of coffee.

The Staresso can’t make a double espresso.

Grind level

The Staresso uses an espresso grind.

We buy a house blend from Infood Coffee Society in Jeffreys Bay. I always ask for an AeroPress grind.

When I asked the baristas at Coffee Society to grind some of the coffee for an espresso machine, they said there’s no difference between an espresso grind and an AeroPress grind.

So if you own an AeroPress, you’re sorted for coffee grounds.

How long it takes

It takes me four minutes and 55 seconds to conjure an espresso with the Staresso.

That’s from boiling a cold kettle to taking the first sip.

I boiled 1.5l of water for the experiment. It’s a full kettle of water.

It’s quicker to make an espresso with the Staresso than it is to make a coffee with the AeroPress.

Milk espresso (Milkpresso?)

I tried to make a milkpresso with the Staresso. I did a similar thing with the AeroPress; a coffee made with heated milk only.

For this test, I heated full cream milk to 70 degrees Celsius (158 Fahrenheit) in a stainless steel jug and used it in the Staresso, instead of water.

It didn’t work well. It tasted horrible. If you water it down it’ll taste better, but then you might as well make a normal espresso and add milk afterwards.

The Staresso struggled to get the milk through. The pressure was too much. This happened with the AeroPress too, when I made milk coffee with it.

Stick to using the Staresso for standard espressos.

Nespresso

You can use Nespresso style capsules in the Staresso.

One of our favourite coffee roasteries, Mastertons Coffee, makes a Nespresso-style coffee capsule. We bought some of them to test in the Staresso.

Follow these steps to make Nespresso style coffee with the Staresso.

  1. Place the Staresso cup into the cup holder.
  2. Screw the base onto the cup holder.
  3. Place a capsule into the coffee basket.
  4. Drop the coffee basket into the bottom cap.
  5. Stab three holes into the bottom of the capsule.
    1. Use the back of the Staresso cleaning brush or a pocket knife.
  6. Screw the water chamber onto the bottom cap.
  7. Place the water chamber and bottom cap onto the cup holder.
  8. Heat water to 90 degrees Celsius in a kettle.
    • If you don’t have a variable temperature kettle, boil as usual.
  9. Fill the water chamber with 50 ml (up to the “One” mark).
  10. Screw the pump onto the water chamber.
  11. Pump the Staresso until all water is transferred from the water chamber into the cup.
  12. Remove the top section from the cup holder.
  13. Unscrew the Base from the cup holder.
  14. Remove the cup and enjoy your espresso.

So what’s it taste like?

Not bad, but I prefer using coffee grounds.

Cold brew

Can the Staresso make a cold brew?

No, it can’t. Not a decent one, in any case.

A cold brew needs time. It doesn’t happen in minutes. Part of the magic of a cold brew is the time involved in making it.

For this test, I used the Staresso as advised, but instead of using boiled water, I used water with a temperature of 23 degrees Celsius.

It tasted weak. It’s far from a proper cold brew.

How to clean

Follow these steps to clean your Staresso. Work over a kitchen sink; the Staresso is messy.

  1. Unscrew the pump from the water chamber.
  2. Unscrew the bottom cap from the water chamber.
  3. Remove the coffee basket from the bottom cap.
  4. Chuck the used coffee into the bin.
    • Make sure you don’t throw away the o-ring or loose plastic part inside coffee basket.
  5. Rinse everything under hot or cold running water.
  6. Use the tiny Staresso brush to loosen coffee that’s stuck inside any of the parts.

Is it dishwasher safe?

I wouldn’t wash the Staresso in a dishwasher. There are too many small parts that might come loose.

Tech specs

Technical specs for the Staresso espresso maker.
 MetricImperial
Staresso assembled
Working pressure15 to 20 bar
Material (metal parts)Food grade 304 stainless steel
Material (plastic parts)PCTG (Bisphenol A free)
Material (cups)High boron silicon tempered glass
Weight451g15.9 oz
Height (without cup holder)~175mm~6.88 inches
Height (without cup holder, pump button down)~137.5mm~5.41 inches
Height (with cup holder, pump button up)~240mm~9.45 inches
Max diameter71.5mm2.81 inches
Pump
Weight70g2.47 oz
Height (pump button up)127.3mm5.01 inches
Height (pump button down)91mm3.58 inches
Max diameter60mm2.36 inches
Water chamber
Weight112g3.95 oz
Height101mm3.97 inches
Max diameter58.4mm2.29 inches
Coffee basket
Weight21g0.74 oz
Height31mm1.22 inches
Max diameter41.3mm1.63 inches
Bottom cap
Weight27g0.95 oz
Height44.4mm1.75 inches
Max diameter48.5mm1.9 inches
Base
Weight31g1.09 oz
Height44.5mm1.75 inches
Max diameter70.45mm2.77 inches
Serving cup
Weight136g4.79 oz
Height71mm2.79 inches
Max diameter63.3mm2.49 inches
Cup holder
Weight55g1.94 oz
Height69.2mm2.72 inches
Max diameter71.5mm2.81 inches
Coffee scoop
Weight4g0.14 oz
Height27.2mm1.07 inches
Max width54.7mm2.15 inches

Sources

Final thoughts

If you’re looking for a premium portable espresso maker at a great price, you need the Staresso.

It makes a delicious espresso. The fact that a friend wanted to buy my Staresso after having tasted an espresso made with it (despite him owning a grand electric espresso machine), testifies that this is the real deal.

It’s cheap. Consider for a moment what an electric espresso maker puts you back. And once you have one, I wish you the best in sorting out technical issues.

It’s small. The Staresso is small enough to take along when you travel or go camping. Start your morning with a caffeine kick to the head, no matter where you are.

It’s mechanical. No electricity needed. If you have hot water, coffee grounds and the Staresso, you have an espresso.

It’s solid. The Staresso’s low price tag might have you believe it’s a low quality product. That’s not the case. The Staresso’s parts are made from high quality materials. It’s sturdy while you use it, and the rubber base makes it stand firm on a countertop.

It’s quick. In under five minutes you have a delicious espresso.

The Staresso is a winner. I recommend it.

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