You probably know how much I love coffee, especially a delicious espresso. In addition, I am personally very passionate about seeing new launches of coffee makers, machines, grinders, accessories, everything that has to do with coffee, and the latest technologies and inventions.
It is for this very reason that I have been following this brand for a long time; since they launched their first product, I was amazed and could not wait to try it. I’m talking about Flair Espresso and their small manual espresso machines (don’t miss my experience with the Picopresso, the Nanopresso, and the Flair Neo).
A few months ago, I tried one of these little machines and their manual grinder, which exceeded all my expectations. This is why I want to share my experience with this amazing portable espresso machine.
This coffee maker comes with a small bag (or briefcase) where we can disassemble the parts and store them to take it anywhere. We don’t need electricity; we can prepare a delicious espresso anywhere, just by carrying coffee and hot water.
Components of the Flair Pro-2 maker
I’ll start by talking about the parts of this little machine since seeing everything for the first time may seem a bit confusing.
We have two main parts that form the machine’s base and body. Using it at home can fix these two parts with a screw in the case. This gives a little more stability, although it is not necessary to use it.
It comes with a drip tray composed of two pieces of stainless steel, which are very easy to clean.
Then, we have the machine group composed of a cylinder with a plunger (where we will place the water), the filter holder (where the coffee goes with its distribution screen), and a removable nozzle.
Above the group, we place the piston rod that presses the plunger with a pressure gauge. This indicates the pressure (in bars) we are applying, which is very useful.
And finally, we find the complete accessories included with the coffee maker:
We have a steel tamper, a dosing funnel to place the coffee properly in the filter holder, a dosing container, and a silicone cap to preheat the cylinder.
One thing to note about all these parts is that everything is made of stainless steel and feels very heavy and of excellent quality; this was one of the things that surprised me the most.
The coffee maker feels “premium range” and gives the impression of being something that will last you for a very long time. The materials are incredible, and you can tell that everything is very well thought out.
Operation of the Flair Pro-2 maker
Now I am going to explain the step-by-step so that you can see how this coffee maker works, and at the end, I will give you some tips based on my personal experience using this manual espresso maker.
How to prepare coffee with the Flair Pro-2 maker step by step
1. The first thing we need, as in any espresso machine, is that the group and the filter holder are as hot as possible so that the extraction temperature does not drop. But with this espresso machine, we have to do it manually, and for this, we have two options:
- We have the silicone cap to place boiling water inside the cylinder and discard it, but we would have to do this process about three or four times until it reaches a high temperature. This option would be recommended if we take it somewhere and do not have a place to heat the water.
- The best (and fastest) option is to heat the unit with the steam from the water. For this, we need something to place the unit suspended above the water. In the photo below, I used a rubber funnel.
2. Then, we are going to weigh the coffee beans that we are going to use. The filter holder has a capacity of 16 to 24 grams. And like any espresso machine, it is essential to have a good grinder designed for espresso, giving us a good grind.
3. Once we have the ground coffee and the boiling water, we will grab the filter holder with a towel or cloth and dry it well.
4. With the dosing funnel, we will add all the coffee. And a very important step is to evenly distribute this coffee to break up any lumps that may be present and thus avoid channeling.
5. Now, we are ready to tamp. We can do it with our fingers to touch the edges, and looking at it from above, we press lightly, leveling it as much as possible. Now we slide the screen over the top, which will distribute the water like a shower, and place it on the base.
6. In the tray, we place an espresso scale, add a cup, and tare to zero. We take the cylinder over the filter holder until the union is sealed. Add water until it comes out of the surface of the plunger so that no air is left inside. We fit the piston rod into the plunger, making sure that the pressure gauge is in a comfortable position so that we can see how the needle moves.
7. We start the timer and are ready to start pressing. We start by lowering the lever gently, keeping it at 1 or 2 bars at first until it starts to drip. Then, we increase the pressure a little until we reach the pressure we want to reach.
8. Once we get close to the espresso weight we want, we release it again little by little, lowering the pressure gently. The extraction times are a little longer than in a normal espresso machine (around 45 seconds is the most common), but this will vary depending on your recipe.
9. We remove our cup, and we have our espresso. It looks incredible, with a tabby cream; all we have to do is stir and enjoy; it is delicious!
Advantages and disadvantages of the Flair Pro-2 espresso machine
Honestly, what surprised me the most is that we obtain espressos similarly or sometimes even better than some professional machines of more than ten times their price. And this is due to the great advantage of having all the variables at our disposal.
In many machines, we cannot modify the water temperature, much less we can modify the pressure, even in the most expensive ones. We must leave these variables fixed, modifying the others around them.
But this great advantage for some can be a great disadvantage for others, as for beginners, since everything can get out of hand if we do not know well what we are doing.
For this reason, this model is aimed at those who already have some experience in the espresso area, and the other models, such as the Flair Neo, which we are going to see in another article, are aimed at those who are just starting in this world of coffee and perhaps do not have a good grinder.
Tips when using the Flair Pro-2 maker
Some tips that I can give you to keep in mind when using this coffee maker are the following:
Regarding coffee dosage
I generally use between 16 and 17 grams for light roasts and 18 to 19 grams for medium roasts. It should be taken into account that the filter holder of this machine measures 46 millimeters. In comparison, in other machines, we generally see them of 58 millimeters, which means that we will have a smaller and taller coffee puck.
For this reason, we will have to grind a bit coarser and take care of the distribution so that the water passes through uniformly. For this reason, starting with a lower dose will be easier.
Then, I highly recommend buying a small cosmetic mirror, preferably with magnification, to place it next to the Flair and watch from the naked portafilter as the espresso comes out.
Not only is it a spectacle to see how it changes color and how that dense thread of espresso that looks like honey falls, but some things will tell us what is happening inside the portafilter.
For example, if it takes a long time to come out and we see how it drips, even above nine bars of pressure, the grind is too fine; in this case, try grinding it coarser. And if, on the contrary, we do not start to press well and it comes out very fast, and we do not reach high pressure, it is too coarse; try grinding finer.
The output flow and the pressure sensation we feel on the lever indicate when it is well calibrated, which you will realize with time and practice. If, for example, you are only one point coarser than the indicated grind in your experience, seeing how it drips with more flow than normal, you can immediately push the lever up to nine bars quickly.
This abrupt change in pressure will compact the coffee bean more, creating more resistance to lengthen the contact time between the coffee and the water. In this case, we also recommend increasing the ratio by obtaining a few grams more in a cup to give more extraction to the beans. Although with this, we are sacrificing a little bit of body and intensity.
These are things that you will realize with experience. But thanks to having total control over the pressure, we can try to save an espresso instead of discarding it. And if we see, for example, a few shots of espresso shooting off to the side, or places where we see the basket, we can identify the channeling.
This can happen if you do not distribute the coffee well after placing it in the basket or, more obviously, if you do not have a good grinder that makes a uniform grind.
The last topic I wanted to touch on is pre-infusion. Living pressure control is great for experimenting with pre-infusions and different pressures for different types of coffee.
This may be too much for the beginner to experiment with Flair, so I recommend starting the simple way. Always do the same thing and keep modifying the other variables until you are well-calibrated with a recipe you like, and then try to experiment with this.
With longer pre-infusions, which can be by time or by weight, we can also stay, for example, at 6 bars instead of going to 9 and down. Many options will go better with certain coffees, and that’s the fun thing that we can play with these variables and test.
Cleaning the Flair Pro-2 maker
Finally, I want to mention that cleaning this machine is quite easy. Simply, after enjoying our espresso, we are going to press the lever again to discard any amount of water that may remain inside the cylinder.
Then, we remove the group by pushing from the bottom edges, pulling the rod out of the cylinder, and discarding the little bit of water that may remain inside. Carefully remove the filter holder and the screen by pressing it a little.
Now, discard the coffee pod by simply wiping the filter holder with a microfiber cloth, and we are ready to use it all again if we want to make another espresso. And if you do not want to use the coffee maker again, you should wash everything with water, without soap, and dry it well.
Who do I recommend this coffee maker for?
It seems to me that this is an excellent option for the lover of a good espresso and who is looking to prepare one like the one in the coffee shop both at home and to be able to take it on trips or wherever they want.
It is much cheaper than an electric machine that can produce an espresso of the same quality precisely because we do not have a pump, boiler, or anything automatic. And this is the thing to consider if you are looking to buy an espresso machine and don’t know which one to go for.
With this one, we have to take the time to prepare everything, heat the water, preheat the parts, and so on. It may seem like many steps, but it’s like anything else; once you add them into your routine, you do it almost without thinking.
I would recommend it to someone with knowledge of espresso theory and who has a good grinder, as it can be very frustrating for someone just starting in the world of coffee. I love it and use it daily, especially to try new coffees with different profiles.