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The Flair Espresso Maker Review

Have you ever wished you could pull a quality shot of espresso at home, without dropping thousands of dollars on an electric espresso machine?

Do you enjoy the process, the craft of making great coffee, so much that you prefer manual coffee makers to automatic ones?

If you answered yes to either of those, you may be interested in the Flair.

What is the Flair?

The Flair is simply a hand powered espresso maker that creates enough pressure to mimic a top of the line, electric espresso machine.

Yes, achieving this kind of pressure by hand is actually possible with a properly designed device.

The Flair Espresso Maker ‘In A Nutshell’

a cup of espresso made using the Flair Espresso Maker
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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 artesian, 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.

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.

flair espresso review
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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

Flair Espresso Maker Review
  • Ease Of Use
  • Quality of Brew
  • Price
  • Capacity

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.

making espresso with the flair
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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.

flair lever
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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.

Optimal Pressure

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.

espresso made with the flair
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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.

What Are The Alternatives To The Flair?

I get it, the Flair might not be for everybody. Maybe you are looking for something that’s easier to pack up and take with you, or something with less pieces to keep track of.

Maybe one of these will be the best manual espresso maker for you.

The ROK Presso Manual Espresso Maker

portafilter and other gears under the ROK Manual Espresso Maker
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The ROK Presso looks even cooler than it sounds. This espresso machine has a polished metal frame to keep it from breaking. On the bottom are rubber legs to keep the device from moving around on the counter and to keep your counter from getting scratched.

It comes with an actual portafilter (the kind you seeing baristas use at coffee shops) as well as the Rok milk frother, hand powered of course. On top of all of that, it comes with a 10 year warranty, ensuring that you will always have a cup of espresso. Read our full ROK Espresso Maker review.

The MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker

ground coffee, coffee, and the Minipresso
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The MiniPresso is a one of the best portable espresso machines. Similar to the Handpresso, this gear is an all in one manual espresso maker. When all the pieces are in place, it takes the shape of a single, small capsule.

Once the coffee grounds have been properly placed and hot water added, simply press a button a few times and your espresso brews into the bottom chamber, which conveniently unscrews and can be used as a cup. Perfect for the outdoors.

Read our Wacaco Minipresso review.

The STARESSO All in One Espresso Maker

the Staresso on white background
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Drink award winning espresso with the STARESSO.

Not only is this the most affordable hand powered espresso maker, it’s the winner of the Red Dot Award for best new product design.

This device is similar to the MiniPresso, but rather than a button to press on the side, this brewer has a pump handle on op that you push down, similar to a french press.

You can also remove it and set it on a glass of milk to froth.

The removable cup is an actual drinking vessel so you don’t need to be camping to drink out of it.

The Verdict

the Flair coffee maker in white background
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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.

  1. 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
Hi, I'm Scott, and I've traveled extensively through North America and Europe, exploring food and drink pairings around the world. My Love of coffee began during my teen years when a friend's family introduced me to the glories of the classic Italian Moka pot. That technology got me through too many early-morning final exams in college and eventually led to a manual espresso machine after graduation.

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