HOWTO make a home-made pocket-sized espresso machine with tiny alcohol stove


27 Responses to “HOWTO make a home-made pocket-sized espresso machine with tiny alcohol stove”

  1. sockdoll says:

    I am glad to see that the author of that Instructable and many of the commenters emphasized the need to use lead-free, cadmium-free, food-safe solder.

  2. Ryan Matheuszik says:

    If you don’t use hard solder, you’re going to spring a leak with continued use. I’m glad to see he notes that using lead-free solder is imperative…

    Also, I wonder about the safety of creating a pressure vessel out of copper water pipe.

    • Guest says:

      I’m not so concerned. The amount of pressure is pretty small, and the gauge of the pipe seems sufficient for the surface area of the pressurized portion. Plus, you can always wrap it in piano wire, (a low tech technique used to strengthen cannon). 

  3. joeposts says:

    Is it safe to use this heavy lead solder I found in the back shed to seal the pipes?

    • voiceinthedistance says:

      Is it safe to use this heavy lead solder I found in the back shed to seal the pipes?

      I’d say, as long as it weighs more than five pounds for a pint can, you can rest assured that you found “the good stuff” in your shed, and you are good to go.  Pansy solder just doesn’t hold up like the vintage kind does.

  4. doug rogers says:

    Comforting to know that when the apocalypse comes, we’ll at least be able to make a good cup of coffee… AND REBOOT CIVILIZATION!

  5. WaylonWillie says:

    Ok, just don’t pack this in your carry-on!

  6. nixiebunny says:

    This is quite an ingenious design, and obviously a lot of effort went into its creation. It would be great to see it get mass-produced. 

  7. MrEricSir says:

    Interesting idea, but this looks like a good way to burn yourself.

  8. redsrevenge says:

    I don’t want to pop anyones balloon here but the device cannot make real espresso. It might make something thicker than drip coffee but espresso is a particular beverage made under particular constraints.

    To make it you need 6-9 bar of pressure, a specific water temp (194-205 F) and a few other things his device does not have.

    Making good espresso is very much harder than making decent drip coffee.

    I would hate to have people think they can actually make an espresso machine for $30 and or that what comes out of his machine is espresso.

    He’s done a nice little project but it is on the same order as someone who makes a paper mache pedal car and then says now he can commute on the freeway.

    To make semi-decent espresso buy a second hand Pavoni lever machine, they are bought by folks who want a cheap machine and then they find out that even with the right tool it is still very hard. So they are around all the time for $150-$400.

    Once you get things tuned (and you learn how/what to do and when/how) you can make decent espresso with that machine.

    If you don’t want to bother with the expense/hassle factor then making drip coffee with a Melitta type filter does a decent job.

    The rough scale for quality is
    crap machine/technique = 1-2
    decent machine/some knowledge = 3-4
    average espresso café = 3-4
    good machine/technique = 6-7 (1 mm of difference in puck height = different espresso)
    excellent everything (machine, technique, beans, tamp etc.) = 7-9
    excellent everything and a bit of luck = 10

    (making espresso in my kitchen every morning since 1983, drip from 1975)


    (BTW, if the goal is just to make something you never made before, then the gizmo is a good candidate for that)

    • westbywest says:

      Indeed.  I gather this gadget would produce coffee more akin to the brew you get from a Moka pot.

  9. I would have added two additional criteria: 
    1/ no lead solder shall contact the coffee
    2/ no copper shall contact the coffee

    I would call this device a serious fail, unless he’s making it for an enemy.

    • Scott Broadbent says:

      Metallic copper (with a valence of “0″) is not a problem.  Only organic molecules or salts containing copper would be a problem.  We are not all suffering from copper toxicity from the copper pipes in our houses, for example.  This is true for most metals. You can even drink elemental mercury without getting any toxic effect at all, but one drop of dimethylmercury on your skin and you’ll suffer an agonizing slow death over the next 10 days, or so.

      • Most of us are not boiling acid in our cold water lines. 

      • mikkel reven says:

        Scott, you are partly right. We are not suffering from copper toxicity from copper pipes for drinking water, but generally, drinking water is not acid and it is not heated. I’d say this contraption (though I think it is a nifty machine), at least has the aura of suspicion abt it. Nevertheless I appreciate you trying to think further than the average “copper -> dangerous”  commenter

    • dragonfrog says:

      Well, don’t go drinking coffee in Turkey then…

  10. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Did he include the step about not letting any of your tweaker neighbors see it lest they steal it for the copper?

  11. Spriggan_Prime says:

    “…because I could!”

  12. teapot says:

    As others have mentioned, it’s good the maker points out not to use lead solder. Shame he didn’t include “Lead free solder” on his parts list, though. It’s also worth mentioning that you can’t use anything made of brass because it’s machined with lead.

    Call me mad, but I’d rather drink a cup’o instant than potentially get lead poisoning from a home-brew drip coffee machine.

  13. senorglory says:

    this will come in handy when i end up in prison.

  14. Vin Reilly says:

    “You’re under arrest for possession of drug paraphernalia.”
    “Officer,  it’s not paraphernalia — it’s an espresso maker!”
    Cops laugh uproariously at this bit of news.
    “Yeah, tell it to the judge.” 

  15. greggman says:

    Every time I see all the contortions required to make espresso I can’t help but think of milking the cat in Dune

  16. Rob says:

    I totally want to make one of these espresso contraptions. But isn’t it “teensy weensy”??

  17. cservant says:

    Novel use of alcohol stove.  I’ve built a pepsi can alcohol stove for camping uses.  But this is indeed a great idea.

    At time of this posting, it’s interesting to note someone adding: 

    “The Boy Scouts of America now prohibits “equipment that is handcrafted, homemade, modified, or installed beyond the manufacturer’s stated design limitations or use. Examples include alcohol-burning ‘can’ stoves, smudge pots, improperly installed heaters, and propane burners with their regulators removed.”

    in the wiki.  It was the scouts that I’ve learned FROM to build one of these things.  Sad.

  18. gordonjcp says:

    Even if you *did* use leaded solder, you’d have to eat a couple of rolls of it to get any significant level of lead poisoning.

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