Flair Espresso

Flair Espresso is now a household name in the specialty coffee world. It was first launched on Kickstarter in 2016 and has since become a well-respected brand known for making high-quality espresso both affordable and accessible. In this article, we review the different Flair Espresso Models to help you see which would be right for you.

About Flair Espresso 

As mentioned above, Flair Espresso was first launched via a Kickstarter campaign in 2016. The company had a single goal: to produce the best espresso. The founder, Sergio Landau, wanted to strip espresso back to the basics and remove all the complexity found in high-end espresso machines. And so the Flair Espresso Maker was born. 

All the Flair Espresso machines share a simple design; they use a lever to force water through a compressed puck and produce espresso. The Flair Espresso machines are capable of producing high-quality espresso at a fraction of the cost of other lever espresso machines. So if you are after a portable, manual and affordable espresso machine, you ought to consider the Flair Espresso range.

Why Buy A Manual Espresso Maker?

All the machines in the Flair Espresso range are manual espresso makers. So you might be wondering why anyone would want a manual espresso maker? They take longer to pull a shot and are often more fiddly to use. However, there has been a rise in their popularity with the specialty coffee movement. Hobbyist baristas love the idea of mastering the art of espresso. A manual espresso maker gives you complete control over the entire brewing process. There is something beautiful and rewarding about handcrafting a perfect shot of espresso. Manual espresso machines are also more durable (due to their simple designs) and affordable than their electric counterparts.

Flair Espresso Review


Design

The Flair Espresso machines have a simple but modern design that is sure to attract attention. All the Flair Espresso machines share the same core design, which consists of a base, a lever, and a brewing chamber. The three components come apart easily for portability. While the different models vary in terms of the accessories and upgrades they come with, they all have a simple purpose: to produce a high-quality shot of espresso. And they definitely succeed at that! Flair Espresso machines also have an excellent build quality. They are made from a combination of cast aluminum and stainless steel- both durable metals that will stand the test of time. Flair also offers a 5-year warranty on the stand and brewing head which is pretty remarkable.

Flair Espresso

Ease of Brewing

Brewing with a Flair Espresso machine can be a bit fiddly and does involve a steep learning curve (especially for the uninitiated!) Each shot takes around 3 minutes to pull, which is a similar time to brewing pour-over. Unfortunately, all the Flair Espresso machines (with the notable exception of the Flair 58) require you to preheat the brewing chamber before use.

How To Use A Flair Espresso Machine

  1. Preheat your brew head.
  2. Grind your beans and fill your portafilter, then tamp. Place the dispersion screen on top.
  3. Prepare the brew head by placing the cylinder on top of the portafilter and adding near-boiling water (194-204F). Place the piston on top.
  4. Move the brew head onto the Flair base. 
  5. Press down the lever to force hot water through the coffee grounds.
  6. Voila! Espresso!

As you can see from the brewing instructions, the Flair Espresso range is really designed for single-serve brewing. Unless you have multiple brewing chambers, it is very time-consuming to churn out multiple shots. The Flair is also pretty hard to brew with if you don’t have a pressure gauge to tell you how much pressure to apply. We highly recommend investing in one of these!

While it is initially hard to understand the brewing process and to dial your espresso in, once you have wrapped your head around it, it is a straightforward process to use the Flair and produce excellent espresso!

Flair Espresso

Espresso Quality

Ultimately the espresso quality will come down to both the quality of your grinder and the skill of the user, but the Flair Espresso machines have the ability to produce outstanding espresso topped with crema. Their unique design means they can reach the 6-9 bars or pressure which is required to brew real espresso, not just espresso-like brews like the Moka pot or Aeropress.

Cleaning

Flair Espresso machines are very easy to clean. You simply knock out the used puck and then rinse the brew head components in the sink. Some users have complained that the used puck can be difficult to knock out. If this is the case, you can run a second pull to remove any excess water. Being manual espresso machines, they do not require regular backflushing or descaling.

Portability

The Flair Espresso machines were designed to be portable. The machine is easy to pull apart and put back together and comes with a handy travel case that stores flat. The machines range from 5lb to 7lb. So they aren’t the smallest or lightest options if you are looking for a coffee maker for travel, but it is still doable. 

Flair Espresso Models


Flair Espresso offers a range of different models from beginner to expert. They all share a similar design with different add-ons and upgrades. 

The Neo

Flair espresso

The Neo is the most basic and affordable model in the Flair Espresso range. Costing around $119, it really is a steal! The Neo is really aimed at the newbie wanting to try manual espresso brewing. It uses a standard brew head but has a flow-controlled portafilter. This is basically a double-walled portafilter that allows you to brew with pre-ground coffee and still produce evenly extracted espresso. While The Neo doesn’t have a pressure gauge or any fancy add-ons, it is an excellent stepping stone into the world of espresso and won’t break the bank. There are also upgrades such as a normal portafilter and pressure gauge available. 

Portafilter: 40mm | Reservoir capacity: 60ml | Weight: 5 lbs | Dose range: 12-18g | Yield: up to 45ml

Flair Classic

Flair Espresso

The Flair Classic is the original Flair Espresso machine. Costing around $159, it still offers excellent value for money. It uses the standard brew head but has a bottomless portafilter, so you can pull some tasty shots. Once again, the Flair Classic doesn’t have a pressure gauge, but you can buy one as an add-on. Both the Neo and the Classic yield up to a 45ml shot which is slightly less than a double shot. The Flair Classic is not the nicest looking machine in the lineup- it is only available in a glossy black color with a red portafilter base. However, it is still an excellent choice for a beginner who already has a good grinder to pair with it. This really is one of the most affordable manual espresso machines on the market today.

Portafilter: 40mm | Reservoir capacity: 60ml | Weight: 5 lbs | Dose range: 12-18g | Yield: up to 45ml

Flair Signature

Flair Espresso

If you love the finer things in life, you may want to consider upgrading to the Flair Signature at around $239. This is a step up from the Flair classic in terms of style and aesthetics. It is available in either a brushed chrome, matt black, or white finish and has a copper-plated portafilter base. The Flair signature also comes with some handy add-ons, including a stainless steel tamper and a pressure gauge.

Portafilter: 40mm | Reservoir capacity: 60ml | Weight: 5 lbs | Dose range: 12-18g | Yield: up to 45ml

Flair Pro 2

Flair Espresso

If you want to get serious about espresso, you may want to consider the Flair Pro 2. At around $309, it is a decent chunk to invest in a manual espresso machine, but it does have a better build quality than the cheaper models and a larger capacity. The main difference lies in the brew head. The Flair Pro 2 has a larger 46mm portafilter and 70ml reservoir and thus a larger capacity. Both the portafilter and dispersion screen are made from stainless steel rather than plastic. The Flair Pro 2 also comes with a built-in pressure gauge to take the guesswork out of brewing. It has a few nice additions, including a silicone grip on the handle, a removable spout for the portafilter, and a stainless steel tamp.

Portafilter: 46mm | Reservoir capacity: 70ml | Weight: 7 lbs. | Dose range: 16-20g | Yield: up to 56ml

Flair 58

Flair Espresso

Finally, for the espresso enthusiasts out there, Flair Espresso has recently released their latest model, the Flair 58. This beautiful machine is really aimed at the home baristas, and at around $529, it costs a pretty penny. The main feature that distinguishes it apart from the others is that it has an electronic temperature control system (shock horror!), so there is no need to preheat before brewing. While the traditionalists will balk at the electronic heating system being employed, it is useful in ensuring thermal control while speeding up the workflow. The heating system only heats the brewing head (not the water) and has three different temperature levels. It can be kept at 85C/185F, 90C/194F on medium, and 95C/203F high. As the name would suggest, the Flair 58 uses a professional grade 58mm portafilter with a sweet wooden handle. The frame has a more robust build, and the lever is a lot easier to use. The Flair 58 delivers exceptional quality espresso and really just looks incredible.

Portafilter: 58mm | Reservoir capacity: 90ml | Weight: 12 lbs | Dose range: 16-24g | Yield: up to 55mls

The great thing about Flair Espresso is they offer one of the most affordable entry points into espresso. And it is easy to buy accessories such as a bottomless portafilter, drip tray, or pressure gauge to upgrade your machine. The main difference between the machines lies in the dose size and quality of materials used in the design.

Who Is the Flair Espresso Range For?

As you can see from their range, Flair Espresso really caters to everyone from the newbie to the expert. In my opinion, where they really excel is in their entry-level models. They really are leading the pack in terms of affordability. If you are wanting to pull quality espresso without dropping hundreds of dollars on an espresso machine, the Flair Classic is an excellent option. The Flair Pro 2, while a good machine, falls short in terms of ease of use when compared to its rival, the Cafelat Robot. 

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Offers complete control over the brewing process
  • Excellent quality of espresso produced
  • Portable
  • Five-year warranty

Cons:

  • Fiddly to use (especially the models that require preheating)
  • It doesn’t heat up the water
  • Steep learning curve
  • Time-consuming to brew 
  • No milk steamer
  • Single-serve brewers only

The Final Verdict

Flair Espresso is making waves in the specialty coffee world with its beautifully crafted, manual espresso machines. They have opened up a simple and affordable way to achieve an excellent shot of espresso at home or on the road. Their manual espresso machines allow you to enjoy the process of brewing just as much as the final shot. So whether you are a newbie to the coffee world or an expert barista, Flair Espresso offers something for you.

Happy Buying

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