Flair Neo vs Classic: What’s the Difference?
Once upon a time, there was only one Flair Espresso Maker. But times have changed. There are now five options. And with each new addition, it becomes increasingly tricky to pinpoint the right model for your needs.
We’re here to help! This article compares the two least expensive models, the Flair Neo vs Classic, to find the perfect Flair for your kitchen.
Flair Classic – The Original
The Flair Classic was the brand’s first model, launched to much fanfare in 2016. It continues to offer incredible espresso quality at a low price, making it an instant hit.
The Flair Classic is a manual espresso machine with precisely what you need to pull incredible espresso, nothing more. The design allows complete user control over the brewing process. Portability is another selling point, and it is sold with a custom hardshell carrying case.
- Can brew cafe-quality espresso
- 2-in-1 portafilter can be spouted or naked
- Carrying case included
- Takes practice
- Requires a quality burr grinder
Flair Neo – Beginner Friendly
The Flair Neo was released in 2020 to cater to espresso beginners. It looks nearly identical to the Flair Classic and has the exact weight, size, and capacity specifications.
The only difference is the custom Flow Control portafilter, which restricts water flow to increase pressure. Much like a pressurized filter basket in a traditional espresso machine, the portafilter in the Neo guarantees a beautiful, crema-topped espresso even if your puck prep isn’t quite dialed in.
- Easy to use
- Lowest price option
- Can use pre-ground coffee
- Available in two colors
- Pressurized basket limits espresso quality
- Harder to clean
The Face-to-Face Showdown
With those basics out of the way, let’s get into the meat of this Flair Classic vs Neo showdown. Here is a detailed comparison of some important categories.
High-quality espresso results from optimizing a series of variables; you need the right grind, dose, water temperature, pressure, and extraction time. The Flair Classic gives you 100% control over all these factors. That’s why this simple and affordable espresso maker can pull a shot on par with top-end commercial machines – as long as you put in the time and effort to dial it in.
With the Flow Control portafilter, the Flair Neo takes some of that control out of your hands. The pressurized design keeps you from obtaining espresso perfection. But it also saves you from espresso disaster.
You can improve the espresso quality of both models with additional accessories. For the Flair Classic, add the pressure gauge kit. Add the pressure gauge kit and the bottomless 2-in-1 portafilter for the Flair Neo. This modular system allows your espresso machine to grow with you as you gain experience rather than forcing you to buy a new model.
If the Flair Classic with a pressure gauge interests you, you might also want to compare the Flair Classic vs the Pro 2.
Winner: The Flair Classic wins this round because it can produce higher-quality espresso, provided the user knows what they’re doing.
Ease of Use
A fun (and frustrating) fact about espresso makers is that ease of use and shot quality tend to be inversely related. The easier a machine is to use, the less likely it is to produce top-quality espresso – unless you’re willing to pay an arm and a leg.
The Flair Classic requires you to dial in a series of variables to achieve the perfect espresso. In comparison, you only need to follow a recipe to get a very good – but not perfect – espresso from the Flair Neo. You can even use pre-ground coffee.
The Flow Control portafilter ensures that your espresso is tasty and crema-topped, even if your preparation isn’t ideal. A small trade-off is that the pressure restriction valve makes it slightly harder to clean.
Winner: The Flair Neo, true to its name, is more suitable for beginners. While the brewing procedure is identical for both models, the Flair Neo leaves more room for error.
Build Quality and Design
Build quality and design is a hard-fought category, as all Flair espresso maker models are very similar. Both have die-cast aluminum for the frame and stainless steel for the group head. Both are incredibly durable, with few breakable moving parts and no electronics that can fail.
The Classic and the Neo have near-identical designs, with smooth curves and red accents, and they are the same size and weight. The main aesthetic difference is that the Classic is available only in black, whereas you can have the Neo in white or dark grey.
Winner: It’s essentially a tie, but I’ll give the edge to the Flair Neo for its color options. If you’ll settle for nothing less than a white espresso maker, it’s the one for you.
The Flair Classic and Flair Neo are capable espresso makers offering incredible value. Indeed, they are pretty similar in most respects, but the two portafilter designs target different markets.
Buy the Flair Classic if…
- You’re an espresso pro or have the desire to learn
- You have a good burr grinder
- You plan to travel and want a carrying case
Use the Flair Neo if…
- You’re an espresso neophyte and just want a reliably delicious brew
- You don’t have a burr grinder
- You want the least expensive option
Yes, a tamper is included with the Flair Classic and Flair Neo. It is a lightweight polycarbonate model in both cases, and we recommend upgrading to the stainless steel version.
The Flair 58 is another manual lever espresso maker. It is the brand’s first departure from its minimalist design ethos, adding an electronic heater to the brew group. This avoids the need for pre-heating and makes it more practical to pull back-to-back shots. But it also ups the cost and reduces portability.
A manual lever espresso maker puts full control in the hands of the barista. You can manipulate the pressure exerted on the puck during extraction rather than relying on the steady pressure of a mechanical pump. This makes advanced techniques like pressure profiling possible at an affordable cost.