The Flair Espresso Maker burst onto the coffee scene, captivating coffee enthusiasts with its simplicity, affordability, and exceptional espresso. Embracing the art of manual lever brewing, it unlocked the gateway to top-notch espresso for anyone willing to embrace the learning curve.
Since its groundbreaking debut, the Flair brand has been on a journey of innovation, expanding its lineup to include four exciting new models. In this comprehensive review, we’ll explore the changes, what remains unchanged, and guide you in choosing the perfect Flair model to suit your espresso needs.
The Flair Espresso Maker Overview
The Flair Espresso Maker family is a collection of manual lever espresso makers designed to achieve the optimal 9 bars of pressure, ensuring every shot is packed with flavor. With a focus on simplicity and efficiency, Flair maintains affordable prices without compromising on quality. These machines boast a high-quality build that requires minimal maintenance, providing you with an espresso-making companion that lasts.
A Closer Look at the Flair Line-Up
Formerly known as the original Flair Espresso Maker, the Flair Classic has stood the test of time, delivering exceptional espresso at an affordable price. Sporting a stainless-steel manual lever frame, stainless steel group head, and a bottomless 2-in-1 portafilter, the Flair Classic enables you to extract the best flavors from 12 to 18 grams of coffee, producing up to 45 mL of espresso.
As an ideal choice for beginners, the Flair Neo retains the stylish stainless-steel frame and capacity of the original Classic but introduces a redesigned group head for easier shot-pulling. Its patented Flow Control Portafilter ensures consistent pressure and extraction, even if your grind or puck preparation isn’t perfect.
The pinnacle of Flair’s lineup, the Flair Pro 2, represents the ultimate in espresso-making prowess. Enhancing coffee quality and machine durability, this model includes a pressure gauge with a silicone case for added protection. It also boasts an upgraded portafilter with a larger capacity, accommodating up to 24 grams of ground coffee and yielding 56 mL of rich espresso.
Portability and Design
Designed with portability in mind, the Flair Espresso Maker is relatively compact when assembled, measuring just 14 inches long, 10 inches tall, and 4 inches wide. Its fully disassemblable parts can be neatly packed into the custom suitcase included, making it the perfect companion for espresso on the go. With a weight of around 7 pounds, it strikes a balance between portability and durability.
The Flair’s sleek and minimalist design not only adds to its aesthetic appeal but also serves a functional purpose. Its removable brew chamber, comprising four separate parts, is where all the magic happens. The bottom portion functions as the portafilter, where you place the finely ground coffee and gently tamp it to ensure an even surface. Above the coffee, a screen is placed, and hot water is added to the cylinder before securing it in place. Then, with a satisfying pull of the lever, the water is forced through the coffee grounds, yielding a delicious shot of espresso.
The Flair effortlessly achieves the optimal 9 bars of pressure required for brewing espresso, thanks to the precision engineering of its piston. By comparison, other pseudo-espresso makers like the Aeropress or Moka pot can only reach 1 to 3 bars of pressure, which falls short in producing the rich crema and full-bodied flavor that espresso aficionados crave.
Another delightful aspect of the Flair is its manual control over the extraction process through the lever. This unique feature allows you to experiment with flow profiling, enabling you to adjust the pressure as you pull the shot. This level of control is a luxury not commonly found in automatic espresso machines, adding a personal touch to your coffee-making experience.
However, it’s important to note that there are some aspects of using the Flair that may be considered finicky compared to other manual espresso machines. The large thermal mass of the brew group means it requires pre-heating before each shot to ensure your espresso retains its heat. While the process only takes a few minutes, it might be a consideration for those seeking a quick and hassle-free morning routine. If convenience is a top priority, the Flair 58, purposefully designed to tackle these inconveniences, might be the better option.
Build Quality and Maintenance
The Flair Espresso Maker impresses not only with its design but also with its exceptional build quality. Crafted from high-quality materials, the base is a single piece of forged aluminum, offering a perfect balance of strength and lightweight portability. Other key components, such as the group head, lever, and portafilter holder, are expertly crafted from solid stainless steel, ensuring sturdiness and longevity even in the face of frequent travel.
Cleaning and maintenance are a breeze with the Flair, especially when compared to traditional automatic espresso machines. Say goodbye to complicated backflushing and descaling routines. After each brewing session, a quick rinse of the group head assembly components with warm water is all that’s needed. For a more thorough cleaning, using soapy water and a gentle wipe with a microfiber cloth once a week will keep your Flair in top-notch condition. In the rare event of clogs in the bottomless portafilter, a fine needle can easily resolve the issue.
The Flair’s build quality and straightforward maintenance routine ensure that your investment will stand the test of time, providing you with an espresso-making companion that consistently delivers exceptional results.
Value for Money
Each model in the Flair lineup offers a different price point, catering to various budgets and preferences. Regardless of the specific model chosen, all Flair Espresso Makers provide excellent value for money, delivering outstanding espresso quality at affordable prices.
However, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing a Flair model. For coffee enthusiasts who enjoy milk-based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, it’s worth noting that the Flair lacks a built-in milk-steaming system. As a result, a separate milk frother will be necessary to create those silky smooth milk foam textures typically achieved with a steam wand. Moreover, only the Flair Pro 2 offers a larger capacity that approaches that of a double shot, making it the ideal choice for those seeking a robust caffeine kick in the morning.
The Flair Espresso Maker is a unique and remarkable addition to the world of home espresso. Embracing the simplicity of manual lever brewing, it removes all unnecessary elements, creating an enjoyable and rewarding espresso experience. While it may require a bit of a learning curve compared to automatic espresso machines, the quality of espresso it delivers makes the extra effort worthwhile, especially given its remarkably affordable price point.
Among the Flair lineup, the Flair Signature strikes an ideal balance of features and cost, offering tremendous value for money. For existing Flair Classic owners seeking to upgrade, the pressure gauge add-on presents a compelling option. Serious espresso enthusiasts looking for the ultimate experience should consider the Flair Pro 2, which represents the pinnacle of espresso-making prowess.
Discover the art of manual lever espresso with Flair, and elevate your coffee journey to new heights. Embrace the control, simplicity, and exceptional flavour offered by the Flair Espresso Maker, and savour each and every shot of espresso crafted with love and precision. Cheers to the perfect cup!
Pros and Cons of the Flair Espresso Maker Line-Up
- Outstanding Espresso Quality: The Flair Espresso Maker consistently delivers top-notch espresso with rich flavours, thanks to its ability to achieve 9 bars of pressure.
- Affordable Price: Flair’s commitment to simplicity and efficiency ensures that all models remain budget-friendly, making high-quality espresso accessible to a broader audience.
- High-Quality Build and Durability: With its forged aluminium base and solid stainless steel components, the Flair Espresso Maker boasts exceptional build quality, promising longevity even during travel.
- Full Control over Pressure Profiling: The manual lever allows for precise control over pressure and extraction, empowering you to experiment and customize your espresso shots.
- Portable and Travel-Friendly: The Flair’s compact design and included custom suitcase make it easy to disassemble and take on the go, perfect for coffee lovers on the move.
- Learning Curve: Mastering the manual lever technique may take some practice, especially for beginners who are used to automatic espresso machines.
- Pre-Heating Required: The Flair’s brew group’s large thermal mass necessitates pre-heating before pulling each shot, adding a few minutes to the espresso-making process.
- No Built-in Milk Steaming System: For those who enjoy milk-based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, a separate milk frother is required, which may not match the quality of a steam wand.
- Limited Yield for Double Shots: Except for the Flair Pro 2, which has a larger capacity, the other models are more suitable for single shots, requiring consecutive pulls for double shots.
FAQs on the Flair Espresso Maker Review
Do all Flair models include a pressure gauge?
No, only the Flair Signature and Flair Pro 2 models come equipped with a pressure gauge for precise shot pulling.
Can I purchase a pressure gauge separately for the Flair Classic?
Yes, the pressure gauge is available as an add-on for the Flair Classic, allowing you to upgrade your espresso-making experience.
What is the capacity of the Flair Pro 2’s portafilter?
The Flair Pro 2’s portafilter has a larger diameter, accommodating up to 24 grams of ground coffee and yielding 56 mL of espresso.
Are there any special cleaning requirements for the Flair Espresso Maker?
Cleaning and maintenance for the Flair are straightforward. After each use, rinse the group head components with warm water. Weekly cleaning with soapy water and a microfiber cloth is recommended, and a fine needle can be used to clear any clogs in the bottomless portafilter if needed.
Is the Flair Neo suitable for beginners?
Yes, the Flair Neo is designed with beginners in mind, featuring a simpler workflow and the patented Flow Control Portafilter to ensure consistent pressure and extraction.
Which Flair model offers the best value for money?
The Flair Signature strikes an excellent balance between features and cost, providing great value with its pressure gauge and an updated design.
With these insights, you can confidently choose the Flair Espresso Maker that best suits your coffee preferences and embark on a rewarding journey of manual espresso brewing.