Making a great shot of espresso may appear to be an art form, but if you have the right machine and get confident using it, you can become an expert. In this Flair espresso maker review, we’ll explore this model to help you discover if you can easily make great quality shots at home to impress your family and friends.
The coffee shop industry is predicted to reach a mammoth $200 billion in the next decade. This means that millions of people are prepared to pay an average of $2.70 or more for a cup of coffee. The main reason why people are prepared to pay a premium for their cup of Joe is that making a good cup of coffee appears to be very complicated.
The Flair espresso maker actually has its roots in a Kickstarter campaign. The developers wanted support to create a portable espresso machine that was not only minimalist, but also robust. Today, the Flair espresso machine can allow you to handcraft high quality espresso.
The Flair differs from many other manual espresso machines, as it has a stainless steel brew head and the rigid container will not expand with pressure, so you can enjoy a consistent cup each and every time.
Although it may have a small water capacity, it can produce a perfect shot to make your favorite coffee dishes. However, if you regularly make espresso for groups, you may find the small capacity a little frustrating.
The overall performance of the Flair is impressive. It has the potential to deliver a high-quality shot each and every time, but you will need to be prepared for a learning curve as you develop your confidence using the machine.
The Flair manual espresso machine is not pretentious. It has a clean design with nothing extra. All you’ll find is a base, brew chamber, and a level- no bells, whistles, or frills. It has a sleek, modern design that would look attractive on any countertop.
This simplicity means that this machine does exactly what it needs to. You simply pull the ergonomic lever to create a high-quality shot. Depending on the pressure, the lever can be a little challenging to pull. This means there is a little learning curve, but with a little practice, the design permits a consistent espresso brew.
The Flair is mostly made of high-quality metal, but there are some plastic parts. These components do have FDA approval for food contact and are safe for exposure to temperatures exceeding the boiling point. The components fit together well to create a sturdy product that not only looks great, but has superb functionality.
As we touched on above, the Flair does have a fairly small size. It is limited to one-shot serving sizes. So, if you want to serve several people, you will need to purchase additional portafilters. Typically, you can remove the disk and pre for the next pull quickly. However, it is best to use a long pull if you want to share.
The pressure on the Flair espresso machine automatically adjusts according to the force you use to pull the lever, your tamping technique, and your grind size. You will need to get a feel for the correct amounts of pressure as you get more confident using the machine.
The basic model does not feature a pressure gauge, but if you purchase an upgraded model, there is one. Using a gauge can provide a better sense of the correct pressures to use. However, once you become familiar with using the machine, you are not likely to need to rely on a gauge. You’ll simply develop the muscle memory needed to pull the perfect shot.
The Flair can deliver the optimal 6 to 9 bars of pressure to create a shot of espresso with a thick, buttery crema.
You’ll need a minute or two for the setup, approximately 30 seconds to pull the shot, and a couple of minutes for clean up. It does take time to dial in your perfect shot. You are likely to need to pull a couple of shots to find the ideal grind size and coffee amount.
However, the learning curve is well worth the time investment. The espresso quality you can get with the Flair manual espresso machine can rival any other type of espresso you can make at home, or even what your local coffee shop can produce.
Since the Flair is a manual espresso maker, you don’t need to connect it to an electricity supply. This means you don’t need to be near an outlet to make a great espresso shot. It is also possible to disassemble the unit for easy transportation. The machine is supplied with a padded, portable case, so it can be stored flat in your briefcase, car, or luggage.
While it is easy to take apart and then put together, the product is supplied with an instruction manual to help you out. There are also how to videos and tutorials on the Flair website to teach you how to brew and use the machine.
As we previously mentioned, once you become familiar with the Flair, it is easy to take apart and put back together. You will need to disassemble the brew head between each shot and for cleaning.
This does make it easy to clean, as you simply need to rinse the brew head components in the sink. There are no other maintenance requirements, which gives it a distinct advantage over electric espresso machines that often need more in-depth maintenance.
Another maintenance advantage of the Flair is that, unlike many home espresso machines, you don’t need to worry about descaling or backflushing.
It is also easy to knock out a used puck, particularly if you run a second pull after you brew your first shot. This removes excess moisture, so the puck slides out more easily.
A warranty is an indication of the manufacturer’s confidence in its products. When your item is in its warranty period, you don’t need to worry about any defects or faults, as the manufacturer will repair it or replace the unit free of charge.
Unlike many domestic espresso machines, the Flair is provided with a three-year warranty. This means that you should be able to enjoy several years of hassle-free use.
The Flair is available in a variety of styles with different price tags. The base model is very reasonably priced, while the Pro2 and Signature are more costly. These are competitively priced compared to similar models on the market.
However, as a manual machine, the Flair is far less costly than an electric automated machine, which can run to hundreds of dollars, depending on the quality.
As we discussed earlier, there are several variants of the Flair espresso maker. The Classic and Signature look alike and share similar features. The biggest differences in the product line are with the Flair Pro2.
Compared to the Classic, the Pro2 has a larger basket that can hold up to 19 grams of grounds. The brew head is also far larger, which provides greater temperature stability, but this does come at the cost of needing more energy for heating.
If you find your shots lack sweetness, it could be a result of the preheating. The Flair Pro2 features a preheat cap, which is silicone and fits on the brew head. This allows you to pour water directly into the cylinder.
Additionally, the Pro portafilter is bottomless, which allows you to see the extraction process, which is a nice feature.
If you want to perfect Flair espresso, there is a learning curve. It takes a little time and practice to get used to how the Flair espresso maker works. Once you are familiar with the process, you should find it quite easy.
You’ll need to remove the brew head and take it apart to use the Flair. The portafilter is at the bottom of the brew head. This is where you place your coffee grounds. Tamp down your grounds using the bottom of the measuring cup, but if you want better results purchase a separate tamper. The screen then needs to be placed on top of the grounds in the portafilter.
You then need to put hot water into the cylinder section of the brew head. If you want a traditional espresso, you should preheat your brew head by submerging it in hot or boiling water. The water needs to be heated separately, before you put it into the cylinder. Then put the piston on top. Now, when you press the lever, it will move the piston and force water through the grounds to create your perfect shot.
Develop your tamping technique: When you tamp your coffee grounds, push down with your thumb and forefinger on both hands to ensure even pressure. You should notice that the coffee grounds begin to push back a little and you’ll know they are properly tamped.
For the best results, you want to preheat your brew head, but one quick way to accomplish this is to use the steam from your kettle. As you’re boiling the kettle for hot water, put the plunger cylinder on top of the kettle where the steam holes are located. You can leave this while you set up your Flair, it should be ready at brew time.
Even if you get confident using the Flair, you won’t get the best espresso if your beans are past their best. Ideally, your beans should be up to 14 days off roast and they should be correctly stored. Don’t be tempted to put the beans in the freezer, as this dries out the natural oils. If your beans are supplied in a bag with a CO2 valve, leave them in the sealed bag until you’re ready for brewing.
The other important component of your espresso is water, so you need to use good quality water. If your home has hard water or other water quality issues, it won’t make the best tasting espresso.
Finally, you should keep your weighing scales handy. This will help you to find the sweet spot of the right amount of coffee grounds. While you may have seen professional baristas eyeballing an espresso dose, you need to have an accurate idea of what you’re working with. This will help you to fix any potential problems. So, keep a track of the weight of your coffee beans, so you can determine if you need more or less to create your ideal shot. Once you know how much you need each time, you will get used to the look and feel of the correct weight, but you may still need to verify it with your scales.
If you are looking to make great espresso at home, but don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars, the Flair espresso maker may be just what you’ve been looking for. While you won’t be able to set it and walk away as you would with an automatic model, the Flair gives you a hands-on experience, which will help you to develop your espresso aficionado rep. Hopefully, this Flair Espresso maker review has shown this machine is easy to maintain and it is portable enough to take with you if you want espresso on vacation or in the office.