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Thread: Flair Espresso maker - on the road review

  1. #1
    KJM
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    Flair Espresso maker - on the road review

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    It's been a while since I contributed something to CS, so it's about time

    This Christmas (2017) I bought myself a Flair espresso device from the wonderful folk (but not CS sponsors..) at Alternative Brewing in QLD. For those who don't know the Flair - it is a seriously well engineered fully manual portable lever espresso. I've used it a reasonable amount now, and am writing this from Brisbane - so this is very much 'on the road'. You can find lots of videos of it in action, espresso porn etc etc via Google. I won't bore you with those details!

    I have a collection of coffee and espresso gear that I have used while camping - from the humble (but excellent) Aeropress, the disappointing MiniPresso, the hard to heat enough ROK, through to the absolutely fabulous (original) Portapresso Rossa. I've used them all for a few years camping, and can truthfully say the Flair is in the Rossa class - produces spot-on perfect espresso. It sits slightly behind the Rossa - the Rossa is capable of brewing slightly hotter than the Flair, which is an advantage. But the Flair is just easier to use - so it wins!

    This is the only (minor) problem with the Flair: it is slightly tedious to pre-heat the stainless steel brewhead adequately. Particularly if it is outside, in the cold, with a wind blowing.. But that is also true for the Rossa. It is just more critical for the Flair. But to be fair - this is true for the Rossa too. The ROK does not rate with me in this at all. The ROK is just woeful in this regard (IMHO).

    The KJM brew process consists of pre-heating the brewhead first. In the Brizzy hotel room we're in right now, this is done by boiling the kettle and putting the piston into the end of the brewhead and standing it upside down on the counter. Then fill the brewhead with boiling water. I then grind and load the portafilter while tipping the pre-heat water out and repeating. Then putting the thing together and pulling a shot. This results in a brew temp (measured at home) of between 92 and 95. Which is pretty good. The shots are pretty much identical to those I pull on the Expobar! This process wastes 2x brewheads of water, so when we are ACTUALLY camping - I pop the brewhead(s) (I have 2) into the billy for pre-heat action (I'm from South Australia - water is a darn scarce thing when camping!)

    I actually have two brewheads, and I'd suggest anyone with an accompanying person needs to buy a second brewhead. The thing makes 1 shot. Having two just makes it so much quicker and easier. The downside to the second unit is that it has no moulded in spot in the lovely case they supply - but it fits in quite fine.

    The Flair includes no grinder, but I already have one of Ross's *fabulous* Rosco Mini grinders. I love this grinder. Best hand grinder I've tried. So all the testing I've done has been with that or my Macap at home.

    There are some comments/reviews on the Flair out there that I have found very peculiar. You might read (for example) that the instruction booklet is essential. Really?? The thing is obvious. I do mean *obvious*! I guess if you have never made an espresso you might, perhaps, find it difficult to assemble/dis-assemble but it isn't. You also need to know how to dial in an espresso machine. It *is* an espresso machine. The lever is not hard at all to push down. You do NOT need a pressure gauge either! The human-in-the-loop feedback system you get with lever machines is really, *really* , good. You pull a shot while looking at the crema that flows out! Perhaps the oddest comment I've seen is that you need the manual to be able to pack it back into the case! (I will refrain from observing that the comment was made by a USA person Sorry Javaphile!)

    My colleague hazbean has an Olympia Cremina - I did wonder why he sold his Isomac Mondiale and replaced it with that. Owning the Flair: I now appreciate it! Levers are actually most excellent. I won't be replacing my Expobar Minore at home with a Flair - but if I was a single person espresso residence - I might consider it. It really is a quite superb machine.

    So the overall summary: darn near perfect. Produces stunningly good espresso. Camping on the side of the Savage River in Taswegia with a thick syrupy espresso is hard to beat. Making superb coffees in the hotel room in Brisvegas is also hard to beat. No regrets buying this thing...

    Cheers
    /Kevin
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  2. #2
    Senior Member woodhouse's Avatar
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    the flair is awesome. the only improvement i can make on my espresso is upgrading to a decent de1+.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Jackster's Avatar
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    Great to hear this. I am considering a flair, as it seems i spend more time away from my musica than with it. I have never used a lever machine and everything i know about using my hx machine is picked up mostly from this site.
    How would i balance the lever pressure/grind setting? Would i use the same grind setting as on the hx machine and use lever pressure to deliver a 30sec shot, or is there a correct pressure to use and then adjust grinder?

    I would think its the latter. Use consistent (x)kg on the lever and adjust grind to suit.
    What kg on the lever?

  4. #4
    Senior Member woodhouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackster View Post
    Great to hear this. I am considering a flair, as it seems i spend more time away from my musica than with it. I have never used a lever machine and everything i know about using my hx machine is picked up mostly from this site.
    How would i balance the lever pressure/grind setting? Would i use the same grind setting as on the hx machine and use lever pressure to deliver a 30sec shot, or is there a correct pressure to use and then adjust grinder?

    I would think its the latter. Use consistent (x)kg on the lever and adjust grind to suit.
    What kg on the lever?
    observe the flow rate, and adjust the pressure on the fly to suit. i've found this to work the best with my shots, as opposed to obsessing over the grind.
    Dimal and Kjarsheim like this.

  5. #5
    KJM
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    Apologies for not responding sooner, but we've been on the road

    Woodhouse has it on the money. I use the same grind as I do on the Expobar at home. The Flair folk suggest a slightly coarser grind, but I find it doesn't *actually* need that - you just need to put the right amount of coffee in the PF, and if you've ground it a bit too Turkish, it'll simply not extract

    Dialling it in is actually EASIER than the Expobar too - you can 'adjust' your extraction rate/pressure by just observing and lessening/increasing the force (within reason, obviously...).

    The other point I'd make is that boiling the S/S brewheads in the kettle does work a treat. The only downside is how to remove them from the kettle I found that putting the piston into the top and quickly lifting works, but it remains a slightly perilous operation.. But it does lead to a perfect result.

    In answer to the what kg of force is required, it isn't that much. There is a cute sticker on the lever telling you not to exceed (I forget what) pounds, but it really is very self evident. The force I use is just sufficient to require me to hold the back of the device otherwise it tends to slide backwards over the tabletop... This seems to be the same for all tabletops - the plywood 'table' thing I insert into the side of the canopy on the ute, the fold-up table or the kitchen table...

    It really does *just work*.

    (I hasten to add: I receive no commission etc etc.. )
    /Kevin
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  6. #6
    Senior Member woodhouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KJM View Post
    The other point I'd make is that boiling the S/S brewheads in the kettle does work a treat. The only downside is how to remove them from the kettle
    silicon tongs work perfectly. you can get a set from woolies for under $5.

  7. #7
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    Been using a Nanopresso with the pressuriser bung removed for a year now as my away-from-home espresso maker. But as my education has progressed, its shortcomings have become increasingly evident.
    Followed the Flair with interest since its launch and finally pulled the trigger.
    Three weeks in and I'm loving it.
    It's a very big step up in taste from the Nano. The overall execution is very clever, well thought out and really works well.
    So impressed with how it all comes together to make a good espresso.
    Only downside is the unhealthy interest it generates as carry-on through airport security! All that metal with a big fat steel tube......
    I'm using a kettle to preheat as well and have found that for me, a commercial grade slotted plastic kitchen spoon is perfect for placing and removing brew head from the kettle....(something I hadn't considered until too late - working away from home/civilisation, it was a quick fix that'll likely be a keeper).

  8. #8
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    You won't be sorry mate, we (my son and I) love our flair...

    Mal.
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  9. #9
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    Here is a photo of my setup when I go on a cruise liner.
    Dimal likes this.

  10. #10
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SammySS View Post
    I have been enjoying coffee from the Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, works pretty well for me.
    We have one of those too; makes a beautiful cuppa when you want something a little different from an espresso or filter brew...

    Mal.

  11. #11
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Flair now offering their great little units with some upgrades - Look good...
    https://dailycoffeenews.com/2018/11/...signature-pro/

    Mal.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Flair now offering their great little units with some upgrades - Look good...
    https://dailycoffeenews.com/2018/11/...signature-pro/

    Mal.
    Certainly looks interesting Mal.

    My Flair is getting a real workout at the moment.
    The Bezzera is in the repair shop, for various reasons wont have it back until mid December, a relay failed, bugger.
    Dimal likes this.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Yep, I'm taking mine to Ireland for a month over Dec-Jan, and plan to give it a severe workout there. They are a very good piece of kit.....I can't (thus far) equal what I get from the Bacchi...but the Bacchi is twice the price and not conveniently shaped to put on a plane
    Dimal likes this.

  14. #14
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight



    my new camping setup, iíve still got some practice to do to get used to the Bellman Steamer, but the coffee from the Flair is amazing.
    Dimal, roosterben and woodhouse like this.



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