Full Flair Espresso Maker Review – Is it worth it?
The Flair Espresso is a throwback to when times were simpler, and so was the process for pulling the perfect espresso. This manual press is seeing a resurgence as more people want to cut out filler ingredients and do simple processing.
Without using electricity The Flair can produce enough pressure to match the best espresso machines. This hand-powered titan combined with the best espresso beans will start every morning with a delicious espresso.
There are three models of The Flair. It started with the Classic Flair. Next came the Signature Flair. Lastly there was the Pro Flair.
The Classic and Signature are extremely close in resemblance and functionality. The Pro has some standout features that we’ll go over later.
Each of them is built based on the single lever, used to force water through a compacted disk of ground coffee. With some manual effort, the flair also delivered the right amount of pressure.
Usually, manual espresso makers can be pretty pricey compared to electric espresso makers. Some are valued at $1000.00! The Flair, is one of the more affordable espresso machines on the market making it worth the risk, especially if this is your first time using a manual espresso machine.
If you order the Flair Pro it comes with a few cool features. One of them is a pressure gauge such that you can monitor how much force you’re generating. Having a pressure gauge reading allows you to make adjustments, such as adding or relieving pressure.
The portafilter is handless and bottomless. Even though it does not have a handle or bottom, it certainly doesn’t take anything away from the flavor. It requires preheating, but the bottomless feature is a nice touch, allowing you to see the extraction process.
To assist with the preheating process the Pro comes with a silicon preheat cap. This is meant to be slid on the bottom of the brew head. With the cap in place, you add water through the cylinder, without worrying about making a mess.
For the best results take the time to preheat twice!
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Flair Espresso Maker
Is the espresso any good?
When it comes to espresso, one quality to look for is in the crema. The Flair has optimal performance around 6-9 bars of pressure. The quality of the espresso pulled is consistent across each model!
You can use your favorite espresso beans, but they will need to be ground before using them in The Flair. It is advised to invest in a really good one! Check out this review of the best coffee grinders and buyers guide to give you an idea.
Be aware of…
The Flair is limited to one-shot serving size. If you want to serve multiple people then you will need to buy more portafilters. Normally you can remove the disk, and quickly prep for the next pull. For this particular device, the best you can do is a long pull to share.
Pulling down the lever is requires a bit of arm strength. At the 5 – 6 bar, the amount of effort may not be too much. But at the 9 – 10 bar, you’ll notice it become a workout.
If you were looking for an option to make a latte, look again. To make a latte or cappuccino you’ll need to buy a steamer separately.
Flair Classic vs Signature vs Pro
The Flair Classic and The Signature models share many of the same features. They even look alike. The biggest difference is with the latest model, The Flair Pro. Let’s take a look at how it compares to the classic.
Compared to the Classic the Pro has a larger basket that can easily contain 16-19 grams. The brew head is much larger from 265 g to a whopping 520 g of stainless steel.
The larger head provides more temperature stability, but it takes way more energy to heat.
If you find that your espresso shots are lacking sweetness, it may be due to the preheating. The Pro includes a preheat cap. It’s made of silicone and effortless fits on the brew head such that you can pour water right into the cylinder.
Pro Tip: Preheat Twice for the best results.
The portafilter in the Pro model is bottomless. This does not impact the flavor but it makes for a great experience, allowing you to see every bit of the extraction process in detail. The normal filter has a spout and is made with some plastic.
In the Pro the portafilter has a larger diameter making it more traditional. The deeper and more narrow basket in the Signature makes it easier to build pressure since there are fewer square inches.
Workflow Using Flair Espresso Maker
To use The Flair, start by preheating the cylinder. Insert the piston far enough such that the “O” ring is touching the inside. Use your brew water, which should be between 98 to 105 degrees.
On to the coffee. You’ll want to ground up 15 to 17 grams of coffee. It may take some time to get the right amount with the espresso machine. So take some time while experimenting. Tap the grounds to remove any pockets.
Next, take the included stainless steel tamper to tamp and twist. Put on the dispersion screen, then the spout.
Insert in place. Dump out the water used to pre-heat. Insert cylinder. Fill to the line with brew water. Add the top. Pull down on the lever. Prep time should be 40 seconds.
Which Flair Espresso Maker Should You Choose?
So which one should you choose? The Signature or The Pro?
Well, the truth is either one works great. The Signature has a longer portafilter that makes this easier to pull. But it also has a dispersion screen and basket that feels a bit cheap compared to the Pro.
The true factor will lie in your coffee grinder. Both pull a great espresso, but if the grind size is not right then this will become another morning task rather than a treat. If you have a quality grinder at home then you’ll be in a great position to start pulling shots like a badass barista!