As a home coffee brewer, it may be tough experiencing espresso without spending a lot of money on good equipment. Have you longed for a shot of tasty quality espresso at home with no way of getting it? The Flair Espresso Maker may be the solution to your problem.
The Flair Espresso Maker is a hand-powered espresso maker, that can create up to 10 bars of pressure, enough to brew a high-quality machine-made espresso shot. And the best part is it is portable and you can pull a shot of espresso anywhere.
If you really want to duplicate a shot of espresso that you get from a high-quality espresso maker, the Flair will get you there.Lem Butler – 2016 U.S. Barista Champion
The Flair Espresso Maker is hands down the best choice for homemade espresso. As a long-time espresso fan, it was love at first sight. A special thanks to Andrew and the awesome team behind Flair Espresso for hooking me up with the Flair Signature Pro 2.
First impressions are important. When you first hold the Flair, the quality and attention to detail that went into making it is very evident. Everything feels solid and there are small details that give the Flair an executive feel. Small logos are embossed on the machine and are nice details.
A good lever pressed espresso machine can be pricy and can set you back up to $1,000. For example, a La Pavoni Profession lever espresso maker will cost $1,549 online.
The Flair Espresso Maker costs a fraction of what other lever espresso machines cost while brewing just as high-quality espresso.
About the Flair Espresso Maker
One feature that you have to consider about the Flair is how hands-on this machine is. Making your espresso manually is fundamentally different than automatic brewing and it makes the process much more tedious, but enjoyable. It can be a daily ritual that you can enjoy or an obstacle to your caffeine fix. This depends on what kind of person you are.
The inception of the Flair launched on Kickstarter in 2016 by a company called Intact Idea. With a small goal of $45,000, they started with a small goal. However, Flair exceeded expectations and raised $57,722 with 371 backers turning it into a successful Kickstarter story. The creators used 30 years of experience in the bio-medical industry to develop a method to create a device for extracting the perfect espresso.
What you get
Currently, there are a few models you can purchase. Each with a different finish and configuration. The models that are available to purchase at this time are:
- Flair Classic Solo
- Flair Classic Plus
- Classic with Pressure Kit
- Flair Signature Black
- Flair Signature Chrome
- Signature Black with Pressure Kit
- Signature Chrome with Pressure Kit
- Flair Signature PRO 2
The Flair Classic solo is the basic model and it comes in black and red with the basic lever assembly, brewing cylinder, piston, portafilter, screen, drip tray, carrying case, and dosing cup. The plus version comes with a stainless steel tamper. And last, the pressure kit comes with a custom pressure gauge that shows the optimal pressure to brew espresso.
The difference between the classic and the signature is the finish between the two as well as some upgrades. The portafilter is upgraded with the bottomless 2 in 1 portafilter. The additional brewing heads allow you to make espresso after espresso without doing any cleaning in between. Some extra details are the hand-polished finish for the chrome version and a copper-plated portafilter base.
All of this is packed into a very aesthetic carrying travel case. It is specifically designed to carry the Flair around for your travels. The case itself is very stylish and functional.
The base is made of polished aluminum with four rubber feet to prevent sliding
Flair Piston Arm Assembly
This is the lever part of the flair that pushes down to build presser to brew the espresso
Flair Brewing Cylinder
This is the large stainless steel cylinder that holds all the pressure while brewing
Flair Filter Portafilter
This is where you put the coffee grounds and is inserted into the brewing cylinder when brewing
This goes on top of the ground coffee in the portafilter and prevents the water from disturbing the coffee
Stainless Steel Spout
The spout helps with brewing and cleaning and attaches to the bottom of the portafilter
This fits onto the bottom of the cylinder and allows you to pour boiling water to preheat the flair
Stainless Steel Tamper
The stainless steel tamper is an upgraded tamper that is very heavy
The drip tray fits into the base of the flair and catches any linger drops of espresso
This is the piece that creates pressure when pushed down on the water and fits inside the brewing cylinder
Dosing Cup & Tamper
The dosing cup can be used as a tamper and to measure your beans before brewing
This funnel helps pour your coffee grounds into the portafilter
All together the Flair Signature Espresso maker with the basic accessories weighs 3.5 lbs which makes it light enough to pack for travel. When assembled the base is 12.5″ by 7″ and 10.5″ tall. It is small enough to fit on any kitchen counter or coffee table.
How to assemble
The Flair espresso maker comes unassembled and you have to put it together. It is a very simple process that just requires assembling a few pieces.
Just slot the lever assembly into the base and that’s about it. Then, all you have to do is screw in the included screw into the bottom of the base with the hex key.
Fit the drip tray into the base for catching any espresso droplets.
Lastly, press the portafilter into the brewing cylinder and place it onto the lever assembly loop and you’re done!
There are constant updates to the machine and new features coming out. That is one of the greatest perks of getting this espresso maker. You feel like there is a passionate team behind the flair there to help you. On Facebook, there is a group full of willing and eager members to help you. They have come a long way since the Kickstarter phase and it can be seen in the progress of the design. The constant reengineering puts the customer first and improves on all the imperfections the machine has.
How to brew espresso with the Flair
The Flair Espresso Maker is extremely easy to use. Since this machine is not electronic there are a lot more things you have to worry about. It does not boil your water for you, and as a result, you will have to preheat all the separate parts to ensure a shot of espresso.
One tip we got from Flair was to put the cylinder on top of the steam hole that comes out of your electronic water boiler to preheat everything.
Another way you can heat up the cylinder is to put it in a bowl or cup and pour boiling water into it.
The next step is to put 16g – 24g of finely ground coffee for espresso. Tamp this down lightly and then place the dispersion screen on top. Then, put the preheated cylinder onto the portafilter with all your grounds and put them together on the piston assembly. You may have to test different grind sizes to correctly dial in your espresso. If it takes longer than 45 seconds to pull a shot of espresso you may need to grind coarser and if it is faster than 30 seconds you may need to grind finer.
If you have your grind and dose right, all you have to do is firmly pull down the lever until the pressure gauge is in the “espresso zone” and hold it there for 30 – 45 seconds. You can try pre-infusing the grounds by lightly pulling down the lever to saturate the coffee first.
If you have done everything right you should be left with a shot of espresso in 30 – 45 seconds depending on the temperature, grind, tamp, and volume.
The maximum output of the flair is around 50 ml of espresso.
What makes the Flair special
The Flair makes real espresso. However, it has a learning curve requiring you to learn everything needed to make a great shot of espresso. There is no automation at all and that is what makes it so fun to use.
You have to learn how fine to grind your coffee which is the hardest part. Some other skills you pick up are how much pressure to tamp your coffee, how to preheat your equipment, and how much pressure to get the best shot.
The look and feel of the machine are incredible and everyone who sees it falls in love.
The best part is this is all easily portable. It comes in a travel case so whenever you need to go it’s as easy as unscrewing 1 bolt to set up and pack up.
Problems with the Flair Espresso Maker
We have only praised Flair so far, but there are some flaws that we need to talk about.
One area that bothered us was not a flaw of the flair espresso maker, but a problem with manual machines in general. It is a lot of work preheating everything and keeping it all clean when trying to brew for a crowd of people. With only one set of brewing head and cylinder, you will have to prehead each piece after use and cleaning. You cannot pull two consecutive shots like you can with a regular machine. However, other machines suffer from heating problems as well.
It is very time-consuming to make a shot of espresso with the Flair. If you are trying to get a quick cup of coffee before work the flair may not be the right choice. A quick estimate for me would be 10 minutes to make a shot of espresso. And this isn’t passive like most other forms of brewing coffee. You will be constantly preparing something heating something and that is not factoring cleanup time!
Is it worth it?
There aren’t other machines on the market that can provide as much value as a Flair espresso maker for the price.
The ROK espresso maker is a comparison people like making. The base models of these two espresso makers are the same, but the Flair obviously looks and feels much higher quality. Overall the espresso may be the same, but Flair is the next step and evolution in the manual espresso makers.
Compared to the Handpresso, another travel espresso maker the Flair is the winner by far. The only thing the Handpresso has on the Flair is the size. For a real coffee enthusiast, the Flair wins due to the quality of the brew. The shots brewed from a Handpresso are weak and uninspired. It is probably because the Flair can actually reach pressures that can make real espresso with a thick crema.
The La Pavoni Europicolla is another direct piston espresso machine that uses manual labor to pull down a piston. The only real benefit to the La Pavoni machine is the built-in kettle reducing the amount of work you need to do. However, is it worth it to bay almost triple the cost of a Flair? You also have less control of your water temperature, ultimately brewing worse coffee. La Pavoni machines have a tendency of overheating when brewing multiple shots of espresso.
The bottom line is the Flair Espresso Maker provides undeniable results for the price. It is an incredible value and most manual espresso makers cannot hold a candle to the Flair.
The Flair has everything you need to brew amazing barista-quality espresso shots. Going by looks, the flair makes a great first impression and would look great on your counter or shelf.
The only caveat for this machine is the learning curve and brewing process. However, once you get the hang of brewing, it becomes a joy to use.
Overall, the flair is an excellent value and delivers authentic espresso on a well-built platform.
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