Hot Shots – Handpresso Auto E.S.E Portable Espresso Machine reviewed

Top notch espresso in your car, superb design, great build quality

A little slow if you want more than one shot

Handpresso Auto Portable coffee machine with box. ©CarProductsTested2012
We love a good cup of coffee here at CarProductsTested. Dull and sleep-inducing drives can be made good again by a quick stop at a service station for a cappuccino or whatever you fancy. A full day’s surfing at your favourite spot can end even better sat in your camper van with a cup o’ joe watching huge waves break onto the sunset-soaked beach.

However, things aren’t so bright in these situations when you’re paying more than you should for a bland coffee at the services, or the only coffee you have left at that beautiful shore is the 6-hour-old lukewarm stuff in your flask, which tastes faintly of sour milk and plastic.

Thankfully, there is a liberator from overpriced brown muck and plasti-coffee; the Handpresso E.S.E Portable Espresso Machine!

The official description

Taken from; ‘Handpresso Auto is perfectly adapted for drivers, and can be used in any vehicle with a 12V cigarette ligher socket… Enjoy a revitalising espresso in the comfort of your vehicle, wherever you are. Savour delicious, creamy espresso… Conveniently designed to fit in your cup holder, Handpresso Auto is perfect for journeys long or short.’ 

Design and Build Quality

Weight  880g (1.94 lbs)
Dimensions  Length: 210mm, Circ.: 70mm
Power  12v
Warranty  1 year
Colour  Black/Yellow highlights
Bundle  Handpresso Auto, drawbag, material serviette
Uses  E.S.E coffee pods
Website  Handpresso
Price  £139.00–£150.00/Approx.US$200/149€
Buy Shop for the Handpresso Auto ESE now

When we originally tested Handpresso’s other product – the Handpresso Wild – we were impressed at the attention to detail, and high quality abounded. It’s very much the same with the Handpresso Auto. Excellent materials are clearly noticeable and include soft-touch plastics in the twist-off lid and buttons. The power cord is thick and heavy, giving a good, solid current and a sense of long-lasting.

At 880g (1.94 lbs) the Auto is weighted, solid and sturdy. Put it this way, you’re definitely gonna notice if it falls out of your car’s cup holder and onto your foot! The Auto is nicely styled too, and looks slightly like someone has taken the world’s coolest flask and let Q from James Bond loose on it. In fact, this wouldn’t look out of place in the glovebox of Bond’s vehicles.

Handpresso Auto test and review. Image shows 4 photo's of the various parts of the Auto. ©CarProductsTested2012

How to use the Handpresso Auto

After a quick glance through the instructions and an initial testing, we set about making a few espresso’s. The Auto is very easy to use. Firstly, plug it in and the symbol on the plug lights up white meaning the power is on. Next, sit it in a cup holder, making sure it isn’t going to overbalance or fall. Unscrew the top cap and there are seven clear round windows. As you pour in your water, these windows go dark and getting to the last means it’s full. A simple but clever feature. Next, sit your E.S.E coffee pod on the top, screw the cap back on and press the power button.

Test and review of the Handpresso Auto. 6 images showing us making an espresso with the Handpresso Auto. ©CarProductsTested2012

A little motor will start and stay on for around 60 seconds, building the pressure and heating the water. After 3.5 – 4 minutes the Auto will give three beeps, and you’ll see the temp gauge has climbed just over the last bar. It’s ready to use!

Finally, unplug it and flip it over, before pressing the side-situated button with the cup motif on. A perfect stream of dark caramel-coloured coffee comes out of the Handpresso Auto, taking around 15 seconds to to fill a standard espresso cup, finishing with a beautiful crema. Okay, for you purists out there, 15 seconds for a shot will seem too quick perhaps. But we say, wait until you try it before commenting. It’s paradise in a cup I tell ya! The espresso is at a good drinking temperature (see later in article) and there’s no sourness there either. Bellissima!

Another point; if you have one of those in-car mini fridges, take some milk with you and one of those small battery-powered milk frothers and you’ll be able to enjoy a cappuccino or latte!

Handpresso Auto E.S.E Portable Espresso Machine test. Images shows the espresso being finished off. ©CarProductsTested2012

Positives and Negatives

Good stuff about the Handpresso Auto; it produces excellent espresso shots, looks superb, fits great in a glovebox, and is well made. It only take a minute to realise just how often you could use the Handpresso Auto; road trips, camping, holidays, daily long commutes to work, sat in your car while the rain lashes your kid’s football game, and the list goes on.

Less good; The first shot of the day will not be hot enough. Like any espresso maker, the first is usually just to warm the machine. The second espresso you make with the Auto will be easily up to temperature, so fear not! Also, the shots can take around 4 minutes each to do, so if you’re after a double or there are two of you, be prepared for a bit of a wait.

Image shows an espresso made with the Handpresso Auto. ©CarProductsTested2012


The Handpresso Auto is an impressive piece of kit, and if you travel a lot or simply love coffee, this is well worth buying. Retailing at £139 – £150, we think the pricing is right and fair, mostly for the build quality and high standard of espresso shots it produces, but also because it is totally unique – there’s really nothing out there like it.

Design & Build 9.5
Features & Use 8.5
Price 8.5
Overall 9.0 / 10

Words: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

Big thanks to for sending us the Handpresso Auto.

One response to “Hot Shots – Handpresso Auto E.S.E Portable Espresso Machine reviewed”

  1. Catherine Nielsen

    Hello there, I remember this very thorough review of the first version of our espresso machines for the car. I wonder whether you would be interested in testing our new Handpresso Auto Capsule. It uses capsules and is more sophisticated (non splashing nozzle, digital monitoring of the preparation, electronic control of the water filling…). If so, please get back to me. Best, Catherine Nielsen (

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