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Espresso unplugged: Uniterra Nomad

Simon Balissat
Zurich, on 14.04.2019
All the Uniterra Nomad coffee machine needs to brew espresso is a little elbow grease. And hot water. An ingenious idea, if it weren’t for the cleaning.

It looks like something from our Playmobil range – the Uniterra Nomad. It could even pass as some newfangled hole punch for the office. But it’s neither. The Nomad is an espresso machine for on-the-go use. All you need is hot water, ground coffee beans and raw muscle power.

French presses
Nomad (0.35l)
Uniterra Nomad (0.35l)

A fully-fledged espresso maker for on-the-go use.

Seesaw brewing

The principle is self-explanatory: pour your coffee powder into the little sieve tucked away in the drawer and pour hot water into the tank. Move the grey lever back and forth using a seesaw motion to build up pressure. As I didn’t read the manual beforehand, this was the stage when things got messy for the first time. The coffee cup was not where it should have been. The black gold spills all over the table. A great design but it’s not self-explanatory. My second attempt is more successful and the coffee hits the mark i.e. my cup. Having said that, the dosage is still a bit random. It takes a few cups of practice. The longer I seesaw, the more coffee the Nomad produces. It takes a few seconds until the first drops trickle out. When you stop seesawing, the machine keeps running for a few seconds and the cup overflows. I would have preferred a system that releases the built up pressure in one go.

The design’s pretty but is it any good?
The design’s pretty but is it any good?

The most important question: how does the coffee taste? In my opinion: outstanding! Provided that the water is nice and hot and the beans have the right coarseness, this manual coffee maker is on par with large, electricity-powered machines. It produces a decent crema, a strong espresso that’s not too sour and not too bitter. I’m pleasantly surprised.

After pleasure comes frustration

There are dark clouds on the horizon when it comes to cleaning. The coffee granules need to be scraped out of the sieve with a spoon. I tried using my fingers. Check out the result below. The drawer is prone to coffee stains and it’s hard to get into the nooks and crannies with a cloth. Extra water is needed. Something that isn’t readily available if you’re camping out in the wild or on a road trip. For this reason, I’d recommend the Nomad for holiday homes rather than camping sites. But installed in your holiday home is where this baby really comes into its own. Kind of like a sophisticated and expensive replacement for your Bialetti moka pot. There will be no superior espresso when you’re on the road.

There’s no way of extracting the coffee grounds without some kind of tool
There’s no way of extracting the coffee grounds without some kind of tool

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Simon Balissat
Simon Balissat
Senior Editor, Zurich
When I flew the family nest over 15 years ago, I suddenly had to cook for myself. But it wasn’t long until this necessity became a virtue. Today, rattling those pots and pans is a fundamental part of my life. I’m a true foodie and devour everything from junk food to star-awarded cuisine. Literally. I eat way too fast.

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