2010 Life in the coffee age - MyPressi Twist reviewed

Reviewing the MyPressi twist hand-held espresso maker has been the single most challenging project ever!

Because listen up - who expects anyone to be able to produce a passable shot of espresso with something you hold in your hand?

I mean, how can it?

Photo at right: With the right grind and prep, the MyPressi Twist cranks out rich shots of espresso - suitable for straight shots and Americano.

And yet... It does.
But a great experience does not come without a bit of a mind shift and some practice...

Because this is NOT your grand-pa's espresso machine... nor your dad's espresso machine... nor your cousins espresso machine.

It is because this thing is completely new and utterly space-age. 21st Century.

The Mypressi Twist espresso maker is a completely new approach to brewing the intense coffee beverage that is espresso - and it was with much delight that the good folks at MyPressi sent me a unit to beat on, play with and generally abuse in only the ways that I am well known for.

Photo right: Loading the NiO cartridges is a breeze - and they last for about 4 to 5 brew sessions.

In the Box -  The MyPressi Twist comes in a very attractive and well packed box with everything you need for immediate brewing... other than some great coffee that is.

And the first thing we did was rustle through the box, pulling out the manual and checking out all the parts and things that we need to know prior to first spark up.
Because the MyPressi Twist is an entirely new coffee concept, it is very important to read the manual and maybe do a little digging online to uncover articles (like this one) as well as forum discussions to avoid some of the obvious pitfalls and flubs that often happen with any espresso system when you dive in unprepared...

Which is what I did... diving in completely unprepared... because that is what almost everyone does - and we wanted to save you the trouble! That is what we are here for... taking one for the team.

Photo right: The MyPressi Twist uses some user accessible rubber gaskets and they are all important - particularly the one in the photo - it is very small - smaller than a green pea and it has to be seated properly and present for the MyPressi Twist to work properly.

The works - Dig this. The MyPressi twist is powered, by all things, Nitrous oxide cartridges... you know, those teeny little mini-scuba tanks that power whipped cream dispensers. It is a great idea because these little cartridges actually provide more than enough bar pressure (brew pressure for espresso = 9 Bar) to brew a shot of espresso. The cartridges are cheap enough - about 6 bucks for a box of 10 and you can get about 4 - 5 brews out of each one - and the steel cylinders are fully recyclable.

And because of this absurdly unique design an element of portable use springs to mind - no electricity needed - only hot water - and that means... camping and travel. Because with any supply of boiling water handy, you've got espresso.

Picture at right - The brew group of the MyPressi Twist has heft and heat retention - 2 things critical to a stable brew medium.

Personally, when I travel regionally, I bring along a French press and a Baratza grinder of one type or another - heading out on the open road with an espresso maker has never been an option - largely because of the weight and the extras that one needs to tote along.

That has changed with this product - at 38 ounces or just over 1kg, the MyPressi Twist has enough heft in the hand to reassure users (of thermal retention - more on that later) but feels like an ice-cream scoop on steroids!

Science fact moment: Every espresso maker needs a pressure source (pump, lever hydraulics, steam, gas etc), a water supply and storage component for the brew water and a brew group to create a meeting point for the water, the ground coffee and a pressurized environment.

super duper crema with the MyPressi twist? God shots? No problem!The MyPressi Twist has enough "heavy metal" in the brew group head (which incorporates the water storage component) to successfully complete the brew interval - which depends on a fairly stable brew head temperature and enough thermal retention to hold in enough energy to get through a 20-25s brew cycle without too much heat loss of the brew water. Very important.

Photo at right - I had no trouble getting the mystical God shot with the MyPressi twist - the trick is: Timing, coordination and learning the MyPressi groove. Think if it like a regular pump driven espresso machine with all its quirks and you are half way there.

In use:
The secret to any espresso system and successful brewing - is the right amount of heat maintained over the period of the brew cycle - in the example of espresso coffee via more traditional methods is ensuring that the brew water stays at or around 99 degrees celcius or 200+ (F). Which introduces some challenges with the MyPressi Twist. The MyPressi Twist has no internal heating source - only good heat retentiom by design.
So, for me, my thinking was - get as much thermal energy into the brew head prior to the brew period - in my case by immersion (of the brew head and handle assembly) in water just off the boil.

Which raises a series of logistical problems. For example: How can the MyPressi Twist be the ultimate camp side espresso maker if you need to dunk it in a vat of boiling water prior to brewing the espresso.
What I discovered by repetitive cycles of brewing and sampling - it did not make that much difference between "soaking" the brew head and handle in very hot water and simply filling the brew group with boiling water and dumping a couple of times.

Brewing rich MyPressi shots into Bodum Pavina glassesResults:
Getting a good shot of crema rich espresso is no more or less complicated that preparing and brewing a traditional espresso with a pump or lever driven machine. Reality is, it is more like a pump machine than a lever because all you do once you have the right grind - you just pull the trigger...

Photo at right: We brew fine double shots into my Bodum Pavina double insulated shot glasses from WholeLatteLove.com and Bodum-USA.com

And for me, the initial attempts were pretty solid -- apart from grinding a tad to fine - and the results of that were the same with any pump machine: drip, drip, drip and about 10s in to get a stream.
Once I got the grind right, the stream off of the MyPressi Twist is exactly like any other great espresso machine - there is no shortage of fire power in these cartridges so do not think for a second that there isn't.
The one thing you will notice right off the get go is that the shot temperatures are going to be slightly lower than what you are accustomed to. And that is ok because the flavor is all there - much to my surprise. Bottom line is: If you fill the brew head reservoir with water right off the boil, get the cap on and press the trigger within about 5 to 10s... your brew temperature is going to be near ideal. So the taste should be right. The trick is to get that water in fast. And to get it into a pre-heated brew head. And to get the water in and the cap on quickly. Every second you delay means a slightly lower brew temperature. Wait long enough and it's going to be a sub-optimal brew experience. But that is not going to happen once you get the hang of it.

Verdict: When you have put in the time, you can brew some very impressive shots with the MyPressi Twist. Not an espresso drinker? You can mix up some mighty fine Americano's with the MyPressi Twist - Hungry for something sweet? Brew some MyPressi espresso onto a scoop of icecream or make a doppio con panna by adding whip cream to 1 or 2 shots of espresso. Lots of possibilities.
Overall I found the MyPressi Twist challenging with a learning curve similar to any pump driven espresso machine. At a price point around $179, this is a whole lot of great coffee making at a reasonable price and it is totally portable. All you need is a supply of boiling water and ground coffee and you are good to go.

Here at Coffeecrew.com we give the MyPressi Twist a great big thumbs up.

Ratings - User level: Intermediate to advanced | Ease of use: Very good | Clean-up: Very good | Build quality: Very good |

Check out our wonderful photo gallery of the MyPressi Twist espresso maker! Link here.
Colin Newell lives and works in Victoria B.C. Canada and has been writing about coffee and popular culture since 1996!