An Expert Guide to Flair Espresso Makers

Published on 03/19/2024 · 11 min readDive into the world of manual espresso with Flair Espresso Makers. Our guide covers their simplicity, durability, and how they unlock the artisanal side of coffee brewing!
Jason Gass, Coffee Expert
By Coffee Expert Jason Gass

Photo courtesy of Flair

Tl;dr: Flair espresso makers are ideal if you want a simple-to-use, manual espresso maker. They use manpower to create pressure, and because they do not require electricity, they are popular for camping and RVs. Despite their lack of powered features, the line of espresso makers from Flair pulls an outstanding shot of espresso.

Not everyone wants a super-automatic behemoth of an espresso machine in their kitchen. Maybe your kitchen is in your RV (like mine) or a small studio apartment where space is limited. Or maybe you just find joy in manually making your espresso.

Manual espresso makers, like those from Flair, require a bit of effort and muscle power, but they offer plenty of benefits. They also have been designed to pull a quality espresso. In this guide, I will walk you through the ins and outs of the Flair line of espresso makers and give you some helpful information that I have gathered on what to look for if you are considering a Flair espresso maker for your kitchen. If you still have questions at the end, reach out to a Curated Coffee and Espresso Expert for advice!

What Is a Manual Espresso Maker?

Photo by Jim Sosengphet

Manual espresso makers tend to be a lot simpler than the automated machines that we often highlight. Manual espresso makers are intended to make espresso with the same principles as espresso machines but do so without pumps, boilers, electronics, and all the other bells and whistles.

In fact, manual espresso makers tend to use good old muscle power to extract a shot of espresso. This simplicity can be very rewarding for some coffee lovers. However, manual espresso makers demand a bit more practice, and you may find that from day to day the quality of your espresso changes.

The basic premise of operation for manual espresso makers is that the user applies physical pressure to a lever, handle, or plunger to create the pressure that extracts the coffee. Without features like a built-in grinder or water tank with a boiler, you will also have to pre-grind your beans and have some way to heat water.

What to Consider When Buying a Flair Espresso Maker

If you are considering a Flair espresso maker, you do need to ask yourself a few questions. These will help you decide if the Flair is the right manual espresso maker for you.

Can I Apply the Pressure?

You do need to have good arm strength to operate the Flair espresso maker. If you are not confident in your strength or if you suffer from conditions like arthritis, you may want to consider a different manual espresso maker.

Do I Want to Use It for Travel?

If you are considering the Flair for your camper or RV, check out the Flair Neo Flex. It is more compact and does break down for easier storage. Its portability is ideal for the limited storage space in most RVs and motorhomes.

How Much Effort Am I Willing to Put Into Making Coffee Each Morning?

If you are okay putting in some effort to enjoy your morning espresso, the Flair is a great option. However, if you just want to hit a button and have your coffee, look for a semi- or super-automatic machine.

Features to Look Out for in a Flair Espresso Maker

Flair espresso makers are quite simple, and there is minimal variation between the different models. So, when it comes to buying features, you do not have a lot of options to complicate the process.

Quality

No matter the manual espresso maker, you will want to look for options that are made from quality materials and have a good reputation for product longevity. It is particularly important to look for solid construction and sturdy materials in manual espresso makers, like the Flair, since you will be applying a bit of force to parts of the maker.

Flair espresso makers are constructed of die-cast aluminum with stainless steel extraction features. Plastic parts on the Flair line of espresso makers are made from polyacetal or polycarbonate, which tend to be a bit more durable than other types of plastic.

Price

Many people who are shopping for a Flair espresso maker are a bit surprised at the price. The Flair tends to be a bit more expensive than other manual espresso makers. Their product line consists of five different Flair models. They range in price from $100 to $650. If you are on a budget and are looking for an alternative to pricy automatic espresso makers, the Flair may be a good option.

Durability

Going back to the idea of quality materials, the Flair line of espresso makers is exceptionally well made. They are designed to be durable as well as easy to use. Like other products, banging around your Flair espresso maker may result in damage. But, when properly cared for and maintained, these are highly durable espresso makers.

Ease of Use

Though the operation of the Flair espresso maker is fairly simple, you will find that it takes a bit of practice to get a really tasty espresso. As with any appliance your ability to use the Flair properly and successfully starts with taking the time to read the owner’s manual. The Flair espresso makers come with really easy-to-follow instructions. If you follow them step by step, you should have no problems using any of the Flair espresso makers.

The one thing that will make your Flair espresso maker difficult to use has to do with coffee grounds. If your grounds are too fine, or if you overfill the portafilter, you will quickly discover how hard it is to depress the lever. Depressing the lever takes a bit of strength when properly filled, but under certain conditions, can be nearly impossible to operate.

The Extras

The Flair line of espresso makers does not come with a ton of bells and whistles. However, some of the higher-end models do have a few more extras. With this said you will need to invest in a few other pieces of equipment to get the most from the Flair espresso maker.

  • Kettle: You will need a way to heat water. You can either invest in a stovetop kettle or check out an electric gooseneck kettle. If you have access to power, electric kettles heat water much faster than a kettle on the stove.
  • Grinder: Buying pre-ground coffee never makes a tasty espresso. Invest in a good burr grinder that has adjustable grind settings. This will allow you to use the grinder for your Flair and also for your drip machine, pour-over, or French press.
  • Scale: For the greatest level of consistency, weighing your espresso grounds is the best practice. A good-quality kitchen scale is a good complement to your Flair espresso maker.
  • Tamper: The tamper is not a necessary extra, but it will make your life easier. Tampers allow you to properly compact grounds in the filter basket for optimal extraction. However, you can also use the back of a spoon if you do not have a tamper.

Which Flair Espresso Maker Is Right for You?

If my words of wisdom have convinced you that a Flair espresso maker is exactly what you want, you will then need to decide on the model that fits your needs. Each is a little different and has a different price point, so make sure you carefully consider your needs and your budget.

Flair Neo-Flex

The Flair Neo-Flex is the base, entry-level model. It is compact and has a lower price tag. It is best suited for shoppers who are:

  • On a budget
  • New to making espresso

The Neo-Flex is the easiest-to-use option from Flair. It is simple, comes with just the basics for operations, and has a compact footprint. If you are curious about manual espresso extraction but do not want to break the bank experimenting, the Neo-Flex is an ideal pick.

  • Free shipping
  • We price match
  • Returnable

Flair Classic

The Flair Classic is the original Flair espresso maker. It is a simple step up from the Neo Flex. It is the ideal option for shoppers who:

  • Want a good travel espresso maker
  • Have a little more to spend

Though a bit more expensive than the Neo-Flex, the Classic is a solid pick if you want an espresso maker that is a little more substantial. The Classic comes with a few more features in the box, including a funnel, tamper, and carrying case. It can also be mounted to your countertop, making it ideal for campers and RVs.

Flair Pro 2

Taking a jump in price and features, the Flair Pro 2 is, as it implies, made for more experienced espresso makers. It is an excellent choice for shoppers who:

  • Want more consistent results
  • Make espresso for more than one person

The Flair Pro 2 offers you a couple of features that you won’t find on the lower-level models. It is the first in the line that offers a pressure gauge for monitoring your extraction efforts. It also has a copper base plate in the portafilter. This plate retains heat better and is ideal if you want to pull multiple shots without reheating the portafilter.

Flair 58

The 58 is the newest addition to the Flair lineup. It is also the most expensive of the bunch. It is a good selection for espresso lovers who:

  • Want style plus function
  • Demand more extraction control

The Flair 58 really takes manual espresso extraction to the next level. It comes with all of the features of the Pro 2 but with the added electrically heated portafilter and a larger filter basket. The 58 is slightly larger and has a longer lever, but this just makes it easier to enjoy a manually extracted shot of espresso. The highlight of the 58 is the attractive styling and wood features that will look striking sitting on your counter.

How to Choose the Best Flair Espresso Maker for You

So, you are ready to buy a Flair espresso maker, but you still have questions, and you need a bit of help narrowing down to one. Below are several examples of Flair expresso makers I have recommended to Curated customers. Each example shares the needs of the customer based on their level of experience with using a Flair espresso maker.

Jenny: The Espresso Rookie

Jenny loves her morning espresso, but stopping by her local coffee shop every day is a hassle. She wants an espresso maker with a compact size and small footprint, making it a solid addition to her drip coffee maker. It should be easy to use, so she can enjoy her espresso favorites from the comfort of her home.

Features Jenny should look for:

  • Small countertop footprint
  • Easy to use for newbies

Product to consider:

Josh: The Aspiring Barista

When Josh entertains, it becomes abundantly obvious to his friends that he loves to experiment with different espresso styles and drinks. But with his current manual machine, it takes a while for him to make a drink for every guest. He wants more customizable options and some upgrades such as a pressure gauge for monitoring his extraction efforts. He wants to be able to switch between brewing styles quickly and easily. It should have a copper base plate for maintaining heat better and accommodate Josh’s love of entertaining.

Features Josh should look for:

  • Copper base plate
  • Pressure gauge

Product to consider:

Tom: The Manual Espresso Boss

Tom is one of those coffee lovers who is very picky about his espresso drinks. He knows just what he likes, how he likes it, and expects his espresso to be the same every time. He’s looking for a heated portofilter as well as other upgrades to keep things nice and hot. These options will allow him to pull a beautiful shot while looking good with the attractive styling and wood features.

Features Tom should look for:

  • Sleek design
  • Heated portafilter

Product to consider:

Find the Right Flair Espresso Maker for You

Photo courtesy of Flair

Manual espresso makers are an excellent way to enjoy a delicious espresso without a ton of effort. They are generally easy to use and offer you the ability to enjoy your favorite espresso drinks even when electricity is not available.

The Flair line of manual espresso makers has options for a range of needs, experience levels, and budgets. They offer sleek products that are durable and simple to use. You just need to find the one that is the right fit for your needs.

If you are still looking for more information about Flair espresso makers or have questions about manual espresso extraction, reach out to a Curated Coffee and Espresso Expert. We would love to help you find the ideal Flair espresso maker for your needs.

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Shop Coffee & Espresso on Curated

Flair Neo Flex
$99.00
Flair Espresso Flair Classic Espresso Maker
$165.00
Flair Espresso Flair Pro 2 Espresso Maker
$325.00

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Flair Espresso Flair 58 Manual Coffee Espresso
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