Test Drive—Make Coffee on the Flair Without Breaking the Bank

The Flair Espresso Maker is the home espresso machine for home enthusiasts and coffee professionals alike—without the thousand-dollar price tag.

BY JOSH TAVES
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

Quite often I get asked what espresso machine I would recommend for home use, and just as often the questioner is disappointed by the price of the response. Let’s be realistic: If you are spending less than $1,000 on an espresso machine, it’s probably not going to do what you want it to do, right? I’m glad to say that that may not be true anymore. I recently had the opportunity to spend a few weeks testing the Flair Espresso Maker. Even though I’m a stingy skeptic, I ended up liking what I found.

The Flair is a simple device that consists of a manually filled brew chamber that locks to a portafilter, a piston, and a lever. Fill the portafilter, lock it into the brew chamber, fill it with the desired amount of water, put the piston in the top of the chamber, push down on the lever, and bada-bing-bada-boom, you’ve got espresso.

The Flair Espresso Maker, pictured above, is an easy-to-use espresso machine for coffee pros and home brewers alike.

Now you might ask why the Flair is any different than similar machines that have utilized these same principles for years, like the Rok or Gaggia machines. The real benefits to the Flair are its portability (it comes in its own travel case), the all-metal brew chamber, and the control that you have over the individual parameters at a price that will leave you with plenty of leftover cash for that grinder you’ve been eyeing. Not only are you able to control the grind, dose, and pressure, but you are also able to vary the amount of water in the brew chamber as well as the precise temperature of that water by pairing the Flair with a variable temp kettle.

The Flair kit. Along with being simple in design, the espresso maker is also portable.

What really got me excited about the Flair, however, is that it’s the perfect espresso machine for those looking to start learning about espresso and big espresso nerds like me! I started out my time with the Flair by using the Signature model. This is a great starting place for folks looking to learn about espresso or just get their feet wet with the Flair. Cost-effective and simple, the Flair Signature is the perfect way to introduce yourself to espresso and all the Flair system is capable of.

Seeing as how I am always looking to mod my gadgets, I immediately started playing around with accessories for the Flair, and this is where the fun comes in, in my book. Releasing this month, the Flair Pro includes a bigger brew chamber, which allows for more variability in both coffee dose and water dose, as well as a pressure gauge to really fine-tune your profile. This opened up a whole new world of things to play with and espresso-soaked rabbit trails to follow.

Different models of the Flair make it versatile for folks of all skill levels. The Signature model can be used to make basic espresso drinks, while the Pro model allows the user to get really technical with extraction.

Still not satisfied? Then check out the Smart Espresso Profiler (SEP) from a company called Naked Portafilter and get your Flair hooked up to a Bluetooth data logging app. And if you are feeling really sporty, pair the SEP with your Acaia Lunar scale and add even more data about your espresso output and flow rate. If all of that isn’t enough to keep you busy for a very long time, then maybe you should give up espresso and study quantum physics instead!

All in all the Flair is a great, cost-effective home espresso maker that has the ability to grow with you as your knowledge and interests expand. From the standard ratio/grind adjustment, to temperature profiling and advanced pressure profiles, the Flair gives you the ability to explore it all in a compact and attractive package that you can take anywhere.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Taves is the director of quality control and business development for Novo Coffee in Denver. He’s been working in the coffee industry since 2006 and enjoys taking advantage of all the great adventures Colorado has to offer. He is also the inventor of the Rattleware Cupping Brewer and a 2017 USBC finalist, so he knows his way around lots of different coffee gadgets.

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