The Flair Espresso Maker Review
Would you believe it’s possible to pull a quality shot of espresso at home without dropping thousands of dollars on an espresso machine? It’s true!
For lovers of the craft of making great coffee, there’s the Flair manual espresso machine.
We tried it and were astounded by the quality of espresso for the price. Read on for our detailed review.
The Flair Espresso Maker ‘In A Nutshell'
We're going to share in this review what makes the Flair Espresso Maker a good choice for your homemade espressos. Most coffee fanatics love espresso. To tell you the truth, it’s hard not to love it.
As you can see in our best manual espresso machine list: a good lever machine can set you back a pretty penny. Sometimes up to $1000 or more. These are artesan, well built machines. While that’s a noble investment for some, it’s not feasible for most. So our options are to either go to a coffee shop everyday, or to find a much cheaper way to make espresso at home.
The Flair solves this issue – It costs a fraction of what a typical lever espresso machine would cost and it still powered completely by hand. In fact, Flair Pro 2 made it on to our list of the best espresso machines under $500.
After inserting the coffee grounds, you fill the water chamber with hot water and secure it above the coffee. Then you pull a lever which forces the water through the coffee grounds producing a shot of espresso.
This action creates enough pressure to properly extract the coffee and make a great tasting shot of espresso.
We bought one and sent it to Scott from our team as he is the resident lever espresso expert around here. This is what he had to say about it:
- Simplified design makes it easy to use.
- Piston creates the perfect amount of pressure for espresso.
- Multiple smalls parts that need adjusting and washing with each brew.
- More expensive than most manual espresso makers.
Things To Consider Before Buying A Manual Espresso Maker
What do you need to know before jumping in and purchasing a manual lever espresso machine?
Ask yourself some of these questions – How much time do you have every morning to make espresso? While the Flair is convenient in that it doesn’t require electricity and is quite affordable, it takes a little bit of time to pull each shot and clean up.
It could take 3 minutes or more, depending on how particular you are – While this is comparable to crafting a pour over, your yield in this case is tiny for the amount of time you invest in each shot.
At a coffee shop, it typically takes a barista 60 seconds to prep, pull and serve a shot of espresso. How hands on do you like to be?
The Flair is quite hands on. If you are used to brewing coffee with an automatic dripper, be careful when you purchase this. Every part of the brewing process requires your time and attention. You cannot simply set it up and walk away. Do you need to take it with you?
The Flair is definitely not something you'd take on a plane with you (like an Aeropress or a Bialetti Moka Express). In fact, there are quite a few pieces to take into account. Plus the shape and size of the brewer would make it difficult to pack up and use elsewhere.
But for camping trips, local trips, or if you have lots of extra luggage room, it could work (it comes in its own suitcase).
If you plan to only make espresso in your own home and are prepared to spend a few minutes on your morning routine, then read on to find out why the Flair might be the coffee maker for you.
The Flair Espresso Maker Review
Sure, the La Pavoni Professional and the La Pavoni Europiccola look nice and fancy. Both manual espresso makers also make great espresso, too. But here's the thing: you are determined to find the perfect espresso maker at a reasonable price. One that can make strong, sweet espresso that you long for every in the morning. Here's what you need: the Flair.
Grind your coffee, add it to the portafilter. Insert the screen and place in the Flair. Pour just enough hot water over top and begin pulling the lever.
Aim for between 30 and 45 seconds for a well balanced shot. Enjoy your espresso!
Simplified, Stripped Down Design
The Flair prides itself with being everything it needs to be to brew great espresso, and nothing more. It's minimalist design shows that not much is needed to properly pull a quality shot of espresso. Really, all you see when you look at the brewer is a handle with a tiny brew chamber, under which you can place a cup.
All of the magic happens within this tiny chamber, which is removable to easily prepare your espresso.
Detachable Brew Head
The brew head is removed in one piece, but disassembles into 4 separate pieces. The bottom portion is the portafilter. This is where you place the ground coffee and “tamp it,” that is, press it down to create an even surface. Then you put a screen on top of the coffee. Next, you add hot water to the cylinder and and place on top of the coffee.
Finally, you top the cylinder containing the water with the piston, which is what the long handle attaches to to force the water through the coffee grounds.
Each time you would like to prepare an espresso, you need to disassemble the device and reassemble it completely, which doesn’t take more than a minute.
The piston creates the perfect amount of pressure for brewing espresso. Typically, you want around 9 bars of pressure (1) to produce the best espresso, and the Flair can create 8-16 bars. In comparison, the hand powered Aeropress can typically only reach 1-3 bars.
The pressure is what is able to extract the coffee properly to replicate the strong, bittersweet taste of espresso.
It’s what creates the crema, the light colored, thick layer on top of a properly brewed espresso.
On another note, Flair released more models over the years. Here's where we compared these models:
- Flair Neo vs Classic: What’s the Difference?
- Flair Classic vs Pro 2: Which Flair Has The Right Flair For You?
Don’t Buy The Flair If…
You want something less expensive – With the Flair, you get what you pay for; it’s a beautifully crafted piece of equipment. But there are cheaper ways to pull a great manual espresso shot, like the ROK Presso, which looks even cooler than it sounds.
This espresso machine has a sturdy polished metal frame, and rubber feet so it won’t move around while in use or scratch your countertop. It comes with an actual portafilter as well as the hand-powered ROK milk frother. On top of all of that, it comes with a 10 year warranty, ensuring you’ll never be without a cup of espresso.
Read our full ROK Espresso Maker review.
You like funky designs – Sure, the Flair has its own unique look – even the aesthetically-pleasing Flair 58 has a look of its own. But the Cafelat Robot looks like something that came out of a science fiction movie. If you want to know more, head to our Cafelat Robot review. We also compared the Flair and the Robot here.
You want something more portable – The Flair might be more portable than the average espresso machine, but you can’t exactly carry it in your pocket. For that, you want the Wacaco Minipresso or Nanopresso, one of the best portable espresso machines.
Similar to the Handpresso, it’s an all-in-one manual espresso maker in the shape of a small capsule. Once the coffee grounds and hot water are added, simply press a button to brew your espresso into the bottom chamber, which conveniently unscrews for use as a cup. Perfect for the outdoors.
Read our Wacaco Minipresso review.
You want the option of a coffee capsule – If there are some mornings where you just can’t resist the convenience of a coffee capsule, consider the Staresso portable espresso maker.
This affordable hand-powered espresso maker is the winner of the Red Dot Award for best new product design. It’s similar to the Minipresso, but rather than pressing a button, you pump a handle to generate pressure. You can also use it to froth milk.
The Flair is a unique take on home espresso.
It takes away all the unnecessary elements and creates a simple, enjoyable espresso experience.
Even though it’s kind of funny looking, it will definitely pull you an outstanding shot of espresso if you are committed to the process.
Though other hand powered espresso makers might be easier, this is going to be the one for die hard homebrewers, as it is capable of pulling a shot of espresso using the optimal pressure.
What do you think?
Are you going to pick up the Flair? If so, you can check it out here.
- Espresso 101: The Methods and Machines Behind the Perfect Shot Retrieved from https://gizmodo.com/espresso-101-the-methods-and-machines-behind-the-perfe-484457706