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Thread: Discussion on Flair Espresso

  1. #101
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    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Still very happy with the Flair. Not saying I would never go back to a “proper” machine, but in no hurry because it ticks all the boxes. I enjoy not having to deal with water filtration and fresh and chemical back flushing etc. We have a Brita fridge filter so still use filtered water.

    Also when we go away on holidays it is compact.

    Wondering what security at the airport will think when it goes through the X-ray machine though..........

    We drink milk based coffee so use one of these in the photo. I have a thermometer and check that I get about 60 to 65 degrees C. Microwave the milk (on ours 1:30) and check the temperature. We have two because my wife bought one to bring to work but didn’t use it there. Good to have a spare in case one breaks.

    They were about $27 from David Jones and the brand is Bodum.

    F1C23279-F43D-4FA8-B6CD-A2C5CC94B237.jpg
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  2. #102
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    It will be interesting to see what people think of the Signature Pro when it is available here.

  3. #103
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EZCFlair View Post
    Still very happy with the Flair. Not saying I would never go back to a “proper” machine, but in no hurry because it ticks all the boxes. I enjoy not having to deal with water filtration and fresh and chemical back flushing etc. We have a Brita fridge filter so still use filtered water.

    Also when we go away on holidays it is compact.

    Wondering what security at the airport will think when it goes through the X-ray machine though..........



    F1C23279-F43D-4FA8-B6CD-A2C5CC94B237.jpg
    Absolutely no problem taking the Flair in checked luggage (I have it with me in Ireland). You might run into a problem if you try bringing in your carry-on though.
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  4. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by EZCFlair View Post
    It will be interesting to see what people think of the Signature Pro when it is available here.
    As part of the process of learning to use my new Flair, I've examined the official Flair videos (and plenty of others). There's a two minute one using the Signature (posted earlier in this thread) and a five minute plus one on the Pro.

    Looking at these, and using my own Signature as a guide, the Pro is more than just a a Signature with a gauge:

    . The gauge and piston combo you can buy for the regular and Signature models as a retro fit seems to be quite different to the one that comes with the Pro. The piston is narrower.
    . The boiler equivalent (the part where the hot water goes) of the Pro is therefore quite different, to fit the piston, with different filling instructions.
    . There's a warming cap, so that you don't have to use the piston to plug the "boiler" to pre-warm it.
    . The shower / dispersion screen is different, in that there's no rubber or plastic surround to hold it in place.
    . The brew head is different, because it has a ledge to position the new screen on, and you just press on one side of the screen to raise the other side and remove it.

    Of these changes, the shower / dispersion screen is the one that appeals the most. That soft surround in the original screen must be a potential point of failure.

    If you want a gauge the Pro will be a no-brainer, despite its cost. If not then it's a tougher proposition. Some of the changes are desirable, but are they worth the extra?
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  5. #105
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    Oh lordy yes, I made the tactical error of taking the Flair and Aergrind thru as carryon.....thought I was up for a "personal" search or something until they read the instruction brochurre in the carry case. Never again.

  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunda View Post

    . The gauge and piston combo you can buy for the regular and Signature models as a retro fit seems to be quite different to the one that comes with the Pro. The piston is narrower.
    . The boiler equivalent (the part where the hot water goes) of the Pro is therefore quite different, to fit the piston, with different filling instructions.
    . There's a warming cap, so that you don't have to use the piston to plug the "boiler" to pre-warm it.
    . The shower / dispersion screen is different, in that there's no rubber or plastic surround to hold it in place.
    . The brew head is different, because it has a ledge to position the new screen on, and you just press on one side of the screen to raise the other side and remove it.

    Of these changes, the shower / dispersion screen is the one that appeals the most. That soft surround in the original screen must be a potential point of failure.

    If you want a gauge the Pro will be a no-brainer, despite its cost. If not then it's a tougher proposition. Some of the changes are desirable, but are they worth the extra?
    Thanks for your thoughts Gunda. . It is interesting to hear other’s experiences.

    I’m happy with my Signature Flair although the Pro has a couple of things that would attract me to it.

    The current shower screen with the silicone surround may be a weak point over time with the Standard/Signature although I’ve had no trouble with mine. The new style Pro screen looks like an improvement.

    I find that my brew cylinder and portafilter ranges from hard, to nearly impossible, to separate for cleaning after extraction. Once it has cooled it is ok. I get around this by using food grade CRC silicone gel on the oring in the cylinder, which works well.

    The Signature portafilter holds about 16 to 17 grams max. whereas the new one on the Pro holds about 22g I think. It would be interesting to see what difference this makes.

    I don’t feel the need for a gauge to know when I am applying the correct pressure to the lever. Some people may like the benefit of knowing, but I would rather judge by sight and feel. Release or add pressure when it feels and looks “right”.

    It is tempting to buy a Pro directly from the US as I don’t feel that it would be a particular disadvantage (warranty etc) unless the Flair distributor in Australia is easily contactable by phone. Some distributors here are online only, which I think is a pain.
    Last edited by EZCFlair; 20th January 2019 at 11:30 PM.

  7. #107
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    I find that my brew cylinder and portafilter ranges from hard, to nearly impossible, to separate for cleaning after extraction. Once it has cooled it is ok. I get around this by using food grade CRC silicone gel on the oring which works well.
    Yeah, you shouldn't try removing the piston until the unit has cooled somewhat.
    Risk tearing the Silicone O-Ring otherwise. No need for lube of any kind...

    Mal.
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  8. #108
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    I like the pressure gauge. But I'm hoping that I'll soon be confident enough to do it by feel with the original set up. That said, if I'm really honest, the coffees I made with the original setup were pretty good anyway.

    And I've been removing the piston immediately after pulling my coffee. because it seems to me that it's easier to blow the puck out of the portafilter when it's still hot.

    Other users leave it there overnight and it's tricky to scrape out the coffee in the morning.

    I've noticed no damage to the O ring yet. But that doesn't mean it won't rip apart tomorrow morning
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  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Yeah, you shouldn't try removing the piston until the unit has cooled somewhat.
    Risk tearing the Silicone O-Ring otherwise. No need for lube of any kind...

    Mal.
    What I meant there Mal is getting the brew cylinder apart from the portafilter to remove the puck, not the piston out of the cylinder. This is in the case of making several drinks, one after the other. I have a few pistons spare to cope with that.

    My explanation wasn’t clear.

    The puck blows out easily as Bushtocup mentioned.

    I usually leave things sit in the sink for 15 mins or so to cool or use tepid water very carefully on hot parts. (So there is no sudden temperature change to ruin parts)

    I discovered that silicone gel on the piston ring has an adverse reaction, in that back pressure is reduced and the extraction “wants to happen” too fast. Tried it once and decided it was a bad idea.
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  10. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by EZCFlair View Post
    Thanks for your thoughts Gunda. . It is interesting to hear other’s experiences.
    Just to be clear, I don't own a Pro, so my comments were not "experiences" of it. I don't think the Pro is available here yet. My comments were observations based on looking at two videos from Flair, using my own Signature non-Pro as a guide. I was surprised how many changes there are in the Pro. I mentioned them as I hadn't seen them remarked on elsewhere. There may be more changes that I missed.

    Quote Originally Posted by EZCFlair View Post
    I discovered that silicone gel on the piston ring has an adverse reaction, in that back pressure is reduced and the extraction “wants to happen” too fast. Tried it once and decided it was a bad idea.
    I hadn't considered doing this, but it intrigues me nonetheless. My impression had been that all or most of the resistance I experience when pressing on the lever when pulling (pushing?) a shot was the resistance of the puck. But this suggests that it's also the piston in the cylinder. So lubing the piston o-ring would make the puck the only source of resistance. Which you'd think might be a good thing, but it's clearly not part of the design, so probably it's not a good idea. I guess it is intended to slow to shot down. Hmmmmm ...

    I've only had my Flair for less than a week and I'm still struggling to get the same results that most others seem to. Which I'm keen to, as my main machine is still in the tender care of a certain site sponsor.
    Last edited by gunda; 21st January 2019 at 10:30 AM. Reason: minor typo
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  11. #111
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Have to say my Flair produced excellent shots from day one, I don't see a need for tinkering, added pressure gauges, lubricant or any other user mod.

    Not saying the design cannot be improved, what I am saying is the device as supplied does an excellent job doing what it was designed for, pulling shots.

    Have not experienced any of the inferred drama's, the piston slides out of the barrel without problem and spent pucks are easy to remove, as far as lubricants are concerned, I'm wondering about the perceived need.

    I've found the maximum dose allowing the screen to seat comfortably to be 15 grams, any more is overfill resulting in a potential mess.

    As Dimal said early on the flair does seem to be quite forgiving of grind and will produce the goods over quite a range, however like most espresso machines there certainly is a sweet spot which takes very little effort to locate and reproduce.

    I still think it's a great little device.
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  12. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    .............as far as lubricants are concerned, I'm wondering about the perceived need.............
    Found the reason why I’ve had trouble separating the brew cylinder from the portafilter.

    The black plastic surface on the PF has been scratched on only one of the three I have (one on the left in the photo). I presume I accidentally let some grinds fall down the side when putting the shower screen on and didn’t wipe them off before putting the brew cylinder on. The surface now feels a little rough so that explains it. Once remedied, it should be back to normal. I’m annoyed that I let this happen as I am usually very careful with cleaning and maintenance.
    Bugger.

    The two on the left and right are easyclean and the middle one is standard. A second click on the open photo gives a close up view.

    1A8F94D2-0CD8-43E7-901E-1F085EA63CA7.jpg

    4E9E7C1C-F40B-4114-946F-A14D835C0EC2.jpg

  13. #113
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    That's pretty badly scratched up alright.
    I guess you could try gently polishing it with very fine wet and dry but some of those scratches look pretty deep...

    Mal.
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  14. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Yeah, you shouldn't try removing the piston until the unit has cooled somewhat.
    Risk tearing the Silicone O-Ring otherwise. No need for lube of any kind... Mal.
    That was my first thought too.
    However, I don't have a second cylinder, and while recently on holiday I wanted to make multiple coffees quickly.
    To do so, I cut a 3cm length of thick dowel. After the first shot I removed the portafilter and placed the dowel above the piston.
    I then used the Flair lever to push the piston all the way through. It pushes as easily as when making coffee.
    Have done it about 20 times and O Ring still intact. Possible will wear out sooner than normal.

    The only thing I particularly like about the new Pro model is the larger basket and shot volume.
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  15. #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Have to say my Flair produced excellent shots from day one, I don't see a need for tinkering, added pressure gauges, lubricant or any other user mod. ..... As Dimal said early on the flair does seem to be quite forgiving of grind and will produce the goods over quite a range, however like most espresso machines there certainly is a sweet spot which takes very little effort to locate and reproduce.
    That seems to be the norm, and on the basis of such reports I made the leap. And as the saying goes, if it ain't broke then don't fix it.

    But there are exceptions to the norm. I guess it'll find the right combination of beans, grind, dose, tramp soon. In such circumstances a gauge might be useful, except that this discussion suggests that part of what it would me measuring would be the resistance of the piston.

  16. #116
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    I would suggest the exceptions to the norm have little to do with the equipment and much to do with the people attempting to use it lacking the basic skills and knowledge to do so.

    It's a simple device, if you cant successfully produce a decent shot right out of the box a pressure gauge will do little to assist.

    No magic involved, trying to understand the process along with a little research will have you producing the goods in no time at all.

    As far as resistance of the piston is concerned, forget about it, another red herring.

    Hark back to basic physics.

    I'm trying to understand why we have to keep repeating the message.
    Last edited by Yelta; 21st January 2019 at 11:12 PM.
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  17. #117
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    I don't see any harm in having a pressure gauge (though I wouldn't go out of my way to get one). It eliminates one variable in the process for people trying to get their sights set, just as weighing one's dose does (seems to be way too many o's s's and e's in that phrase).

    I've had good results with initial grind settings that have been a bit too coarse and a bit too fine. I tend to err on the side of grinding too fine when dialing in new beans on the Flair. Seems to work best.
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  18. #118
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
    I don't see any harm in having a pressure gauge (though I wouldn't go out of my way to get one). It eliminates one variable in the process for people trying to get their sights set, just as weighing one's dose does (seems to be way too many o's s's and e's in that phrase).

    I've had good results with initial grind settings that have been a bit too coarse and a bit too fine. I tend to err on the side of grinding too fine when dialing in new beans on the Flair. Seems to work best.
    Evening Barry, no argument from me re the pressure gauge, if that's your desire, go for it, what I am saying is that the pressure gauge is not the panacea, if your having problems pulling shots on your bog standard Flair, a pressure gauge won't solve the problem, it will simply introduce another confusing element.

    Add a flow meter if you want, but don't expect any additions to simplify the process, the more you have to think about the more confusing a process will become.

    If people are looking for consistency re extraction pressure why not employ a bathroom scale, big dial easy to read, will certainly help with repeatability.
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  19. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I'm trying to understand why we have to keep repeating the message.
    Perhaps because it's not actually helpful.

  20. #120
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunda View Post
    Perhaps because it's not actually helpful.
    Can you tell me exactly what information you would consider helpful.

  21. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    why not employ a bathroom scale
    I have no regrets about getting the pressure gauge. As I say above, it's made only a small difference, at most, to the quality of my coffee. But it's fun to know exactly what my puck's experiencing as the black gold starts to flow - and also, as a relative newbie, reassuring to know that I was close to doing the right thing in the first place.

    It doesn't really complicate the workflow. In fact, I find it easier to heat the necessary bits without the shaft of the piston protruding.

    And it has a much higher acceptance factor on the kitchen benchmark, from fellow householders who highly value form over function, than a set of bathroom scales

    All that said, I doubt the purchase of the pressure gauge is justifiable in terms of long term value for money when it comes to the quality in the cup. And when I think I have the feel for what's the right pressure, it may be retired.
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  22. #122
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    Really, there's no need for anything other than what comes with a standard Flair System...
    Then, just follow the basics of what is needed to produce decent espresso. As I have mentioned elsewhere a while ago, one only needs to apply 17-18Kgs to the end of the handle in order to achieve ~9.0Bar of brew water pressure; apply this for ~30 seconds, and a great espresso awaits you. If it pours too quickly, adjust your grinder finer, if too slowly, adjust the grinder coarser - Too easy.

    If you're not sure how much force equates to 17-18Kgs, do as Yelta suggests and sit the Flair on top of a bathroom scale or similar until you know what you're dealing with, then put the scales back in the bathroom...

    Bells and whistles are always intriguing and sometimes useful, not always necessary but if they make you happy, go for it...

    Mal
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  23. #123
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushtocup View Post

    And it has a much higher acceptance factor on the kitchen benchmark, from fellow householders who highly value form over function, than a set of bathroom scales
    Wasn't suggesting the bathroom scale become a kitchen fixture, just a training aid to enable users to become accustomed to the amount of force that needs to be applied to enable an acceptable extraction, once this is known muscle memory quickly takes over and repeatability becomes second nature, then, back to the bathroom with em.

    As an aside the force on the lever can also be varied during an extraction, flow too fast, back off a little, too slow crank her up a bit.
    May the force be with you.png
    Last edited by Yelta; 22nd January 2019 at 10:14 AM.
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  24. #124
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    If you ever fancy an Aeropress-style drink (partic. if your only option is beans that are roasted too lightly for espresso)....just leave the shower screen out of the Flair process, tamp only very lightly and allow the water 30 seconds to stand before 'pressing'.

    .....and how did I work this out.....well.....I might have forgot to put the shower screen in one day........
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  25. #125
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
    If you ever fancy an Aeropress-style drink (partic. if your only option is beans that are roasted too lightly for espresso)....just leave the shower screen out of the Flair process, tamp only very lightly and allow the water 30 seconds to stand before 'pressing'.

    .....and how did I work this out.....well.....I might have forgot to put the shower screen in one day........
    Some of the greatest innovations were the result of happy accidents.
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  26. #126
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Some of the greatest innovations were the result of happy accidents.
    Yes, an accident and an irrational determination to avoid sending that shot down the sink.
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