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Flair espresso maker review: Low price but high quality?

The Flair espresso maker has turned some heads over the past couple of months, so we thought it was time to evaluate this home espresso maker and its respective benefits. In our Flair espresso maker review, we’ll talk about what make the Flair such an interesting machine.

Why would you want a manual machine? If you truly savor the art of making coffee and wish to have full control over everything, a manual espresso maker may be for you.

The Flair is from perfect, though, so let’s get into it.

Flair Espresso Maker - Classic: All manual lever espresso maker for the home

Flair Espresso Maker Review: Quick Points

When you are a coffee aficionado, you’ve undoubtedly discovered how much a higher end manual espresso machine can cost you. Breaking the bank is not that uncommon for a manual espresso maker(the La Pavoni machine for example), but fortunately there is now an affordable alternative with the Flair espresso machine.

The Flair espresso machine is only a small fraction of the regular price for high-end manual espresso machines. While we will elaborate on its performance next, we can already say that this espresso machine can certainly compete with some of the more expensive options out there.

The lower price of the Flair espresso maker does not mean that this machine is any less elegant. Quite the contrary in fact, because the Flair espresso machine comes with a really sleek design that will look stunning on your kitchen counter.

It makes a respectable cup of espresso, but it’s not without its flaws.

Espresso shot quality

Let’s look a little closer at the performance and the design of the Flair espresso maker. There are several factors to consider, and we look at each one in great detail.

Brew range

Since this device has a really good brew range, you could certainly use it to make a shot of espresso for your Americano creations. As you may know, the right shot consistency is important for this drink and you can undoubtedly achieve the best shot with this espresso maker.

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Everything is done manually.

Brew Head

The brew head is impressive on all the different models of the Flair. The brew head has a good capacity and dose range. In other words, this brew head can handle various brew ratios, giving you a more customisable brewing experience.

Please note that the size of the head may vary depending on the model you have. The standard option has the smallest one, while the Pro 2 and the Signature have a bigger version.

Flair Signature

Different versions of this espresso maker are available. The Flair Signature is considered the top of the line and should be a serious consideration for coffee experts. If you are not a coffee expert, but simply looking for an amazing brew nonetheless, you can still use the Flair Signature.

We must mention that the Flair Signature had a minor issue with its finish on the earlier models. While the manufacturers have now rectified this problem, it is a good idea to check the version of the Flair signature you buy.

Durability

The Flair is an espresso maker with quite a bit of durability too. While many people could be hesitant to purchase it because of the lower price, manufacturers have not skimped on durable materials.

The components to make your brew fit like a glove and the lever mechanism is unlikely to give way. The manufacturers have chosen stainless steel for the majority of the design, which certainly bodes well for the longevity of this espresso maker.

It is important to note that not only the main construction of the espresso maker is made from stainless steel, as the same is the case for the cylinder, the incorporated portafilter and the shower screen.

While the piston inside the espresso machine is made from plastic, the manufacturer recently updated it with a steel cap for additional durability and longevity. So, the design certainly delivers.

Temperature Control

This is one of the factors that you have to be very careful with. Since this is a manual espresso machine, you will need to heat the water to the correct temperature. You can’t rely on the machine to do anything for you except help you generate pressure.

The ideal brewing temperature is 205 degrees F or about 95 degrees C.

User-Friendliness

Even the best espresso makers can have issues with user-friendliness. They can contain tons of different levers and a variable pressure gauge, which makes it more difficult to get that perfect shot of espresso. Fortunately, this is not the case for the Flair.

Even though this espresso machine is really user-friendly, we do need to mention that you will have to assemble it.

However, the assembly is quite straightforward. Simply take the base out, add the lever support and then insert the drip tray for the coffee. Be sure to use the screws to ensure the lever remains on the base.

With that said, cleaning it and taking it apart is rather cumbersome, since there are so many removable parts. You do need to regularly clean the machine to keep it running in good shape.

Functional Accessories

When you choose a Flair device, you can also count on a bunch of functional accessories. While your basic device comes without these additional available accessories, the price of all functional accessories is quite affordable.

The accessories, including additional portafilter, can be found on the website. The name of the accessory also indicates which model it belongs too. For example, if you are looking to acquire a portafilter, be sure you choose a portafilter that has the tag of your Flair model.

For example, the portafilter has the tag classic/signature. Evidently, this means that the portafilter can be used for both the classic model and the signature model. This does not apply to the portafilter alone, but also other accessories.

How Do You Make Espresso with the Flair?

Making an espresso of good quality requires some knowledge. Fortunately, we have a complete guide for you on how to get espresso of the finest quality from your Flair machine.

We even made this guide suitable for beginners. So, if you haven’t got a clue what the difference is between a coffee and an espresso, let alone know how to brew them, be sure to check out this detailed guide.

As a beginner, though, we’d recommend you check out a semi-automatic espresso machine as those are great starter machines. The Flair is geared more towards purists and serious enthusiasts.

What is the difference between espresso and coffee?

An espresso is a way of brewing coffee in one particular way. For ftip coffee, gravity does most of the work, as the water mixes with the grounds and then slowly drips through the filter. An espresso however, is made by forcibly pushing water through a tamped down puck of fine coffee grind.

Another phenomenon you need to be familiar with is the term “crema”. Crema points to a good quality espresso, as this is the thick layer of foam on the top that shows you have done a good job.

To get a crema, carbon dioxide is off-gassed while the water is forcibly pushed over the coffee grounds. This leads to the fine bubbles that creates the crema on top of the shot.

Brewing preparation

If you want the best result and superior quality, we urge you to consider the brewing preparation steps that have been recommended by the manufacturer of the Flair coffee maker.

To start, you need freshly roasted coffee beans. It is important to know that there is no such thing as “espresso beans.” After all, you only get espresso by using a specific brewing technique. So, do not be fooled by one of the coffee bags in stores labelled as espresso.

You want look for an option that has been roasted relatively close to the date of purchase. One to two weeks before your purchase date is usually the sweet spot. You can even find suppliers that roast them upon ordering(check out Trade Coffee), always giving you the freshest option for a full cup or a shot.

Before you can start making an espresso, you will need to have the right grind; this has been mentioned earlier in this review. Fine grounds are the way to go. They must almost be the consistency of a powder.

Blade grinders are a passable option for many coffee brews, but we do need to mention that the burr grinder is always best for espresso. In fact, Flair recommends the burr grinder specifically on their website.

The benefit of using a burr grinder is that it provides more consistent grounds and it allows you to change the size of the grounds with ease.

Once you have your grounds, it is time for the “tamping” process. Tamping is basically moving your coffee grounds to the portafilter and packing them in tightly.

It is important to do this is an even fashion, even for home brews. When you do not distribute evenly for your home brews, water will not come into contact with all the coffee. It can also put more resistance on your lever, something you can do without when you have a manual machine.

Finally, you need the right water temperature for your espresso. The ideal temperature for dark roasts has been determined at 195 degrees Fahrenheit. The best temperature for light roast beans is 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the Flair machine, the manufacturer recommends 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brewing with the Flair

When you start brewing with a Flair, you can encounter some different instructions depending on the device you have acquired. To ensure you are brewing at home like a pro, make sure you follow the right instructions. For the purpose of this review, we focus on the classic Flair espresso maker.

Preparation: Before you start brewing, you have to prepare the espresso maker. Add the post in the base and then add the drip tray on top of the base. Next, pull apart the brew head.

Bean prep: Once you have prepped the Flair, it is time to prep your beans. Put between 12-15 grams of your preferred beans in a burr grinder and keep grinding until you have fine grounds.

Brew head prep: Once the beans are done, you can start putting the head together. Invert the cylinder of the Flair and then fill it with the boiling water. Leave it to stand for approximately 30 seconds to pre-heat. Then, remove the water and connect the cylinder to the filter. Then, add the brewing water (ideally 200 degree Fahrenheit) to the cylinder and fill it up to the line.

Time to brew: Now that the prep is fully over, you can take the next step to to brewing. First, add the piston to the top of the cylinder. Then, simply lower the lever. At 9 BAR pressure, brewing should take approximately thirty to forty-five seconds.

The right pressure for espresso has been determined between 9 and 15 BAR. Like with other aspects of the brewing process, you might find that a specific pressure provides you the flavor you like most.

Once again, it can be a process of trial and error. Fortunately, thanks to the affordability of the Flair, you can get plenty of coffee beans to test it out. Once you have determined the best pressure, you are guaranteed to enjoy your favorite brew every day.

Always remember that brewing to perfection requires a perfect combination of pressure, grounds, and time. Once you have mastered these three properties of the brewing process, you will have one cup of espresso you will never forget.

How Do You Clean A Flair Espresso Maker?

Cleaning a Flair coffee machine is relatively simple and you can find many tips and hints in the instructions that come with your device. Still, if you want to know how much maintenance this device needs, let us elaborate on some of the maintenance involved with the Flair.

Removing used grounds

It is vital to remove used grounds each time you use the device. After all, remaining grounds can influence the coffee you make next. To remove the “puck”, take out the portafilter and knock it against the side of the trashcan. You can also invert your filter to easily remove the puck with a suitable utensil.

Rinsing

Many people like to rinse their filter with some hot water after each brew, but we recommend the use of cold water. Doing so will remove any residue much better, since warmer water would not completely remove it.

You should rinse the filter on a regular basis, but you should do the same with all other parts of your Flair that are used on regular basis. Simply rinse them under a cold tap to get them clean. However, you should never put these parts in the dishwasher, as this could damage the components.

Please note that rinsing your filter after each use can be beneficial and reduce overall maintenance time. By rinsing regularly, you do not have to clean the space between the bottom of the basket and the filter body.

Storage

Most people keep their Flair on the kitchen countertop, but you can pack it up, too. Since the Flair can be disassembled completely and comes with its own carry case, you can store it to keep the components protected if you do not intend on using it for a longer period of time.

If you have stored the Flair for a considerable time, it is recommended to check the components for any damage or problems before you start using them. If any of the parts appear damaged, do not use the espresso machine.

The portable nature of this espresso maker can have additional benefits. If you like to take your device on holiday with you, the carry case makes it possible! Just make sure you store everything properly to avoid the equipment being knocked about when it is being transported.

It’s not going to be easy to fly with, but you can definitely toss it in your car for local trips.

The last thing to talk about is what kind of grinder to use, since the grinds make the coffee.

Grinder Recommendations

To fully enjoy your new Flair espresso machine, you need more than just some hot water and coffee beans. You will also need a good grinder to create the perfect cup of coffee from those coffee beans and hot water. So, let’s take a look at some coffee grinder recommendations.

When it comes to coffee grinders, you have both manual and electrical choices. To ensure you have a good range to choose from, we have picked a combination of both for you to evaluate.

1. Krups Electric Coffee Grinder

The Krups Electric Coffee Grinder will not disappoint. This automatic grinder can provide both rough and fine grinds, so perfect for anything such as standard coffee and the more refined espresso.

As an additional benefit, this particular option is one of the most affordable in our review today. Despite it’s cheaper price, you don’t have to go without those quality features, as this grinder provides a large capacity, powerful blades for a more uniform grind and a bunch of safety features.

2. JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder

If you prefer a manual coffee grinder over the electric option, you could have a look at the JavaPresse manual coffee grinder. While it is a little more expensive than the previous suggestion, you do get some additional options in return.

The JavaPresse comes with a removable hand crank mechanism, which means it is far less noisy than the electric options out there. The internal mechanism includes some ceramic burrs, known to provide some excellent grinding. Each of these devices also comes with a unique code that you can exchange for a bag of coffee.

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3. OXO Conical Burr

This overview would not be complete without recommending a good conical burr to grind your coffee with. We had loads of options laid us before us, but the one that made the cut is the OXO Conical Burr.

The OXO Conical burr is equipped with stainless steel blades, which ensure better flavor extraction and enables the creation of various grinds. This device also comes with fifteen different settings, so you can easily get the perfect grind in minimal time.

Please note that Flair recommends the use of a burr grinder. So, if you want to stick with the recommendations of the manufacturer, be sure to use this option from our three recommendations.

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The Final Points Of Our Review

Our review has proven that you do not need to purchase the most expensive espresso machine to get excellent results. The Flair manual espresso maker in this review has shown to have countless beneficial properties and does a job that could rival even the most expensive coffee makers and espresso machines.

Of course, there are some valuable tips in this review that you need to remember. No matter how great your equipment is, it will not matter much if you do not have the technique to back it up.

Fortunately, this review has proven that making a quality espresso is not that difficult. All it requires is the perfect combination of pressure, grounds, and the right temperature.

In conclusion, a combination of the Flair and fine-tuning your brewing techniques can give you an excellent cup or shot of espresso.

As a final tip, don’t be afraid to experiment with the flavor of your standard espresso shot. Add a little hint of cinnamon, honey, or even some milk to fine-tune your shot or cup of espresso.

It takes some time to get the exact flavor you want for your cup of espresso or your shot, but the time it takes is more than worth it!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does espresso cost per cup?

Let’s do some quick math assuming you’re using a home machine. A 12 ounce pack of high quality coffee beans is around $15. 12 ounces is 340 grams, which means one 12 gram shot of espresso costs $0.56. $15 divided by 340 grams for the price per gram, times 12 grams.

How to make good espresso with a cheap machine?

More than the machine itself, it’s important that you use freshly roasted coffee beans and grind just before you brew. Even the best machine won’t brew a good cup with stale coffee grounds.

How do you know when espresso is done?

A typical espresso shot is 1.5 ounces, so once you’ve pulled that much quantity, your espresso shot is done.

Last update on 2020-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About Shabbir

Shabbir is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee In My Veins. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.

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