Flair 58 vs Cafelat Robot

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.

#1: Post by Leopoldo95 »

I've been eyeing the Flair 58 and the Cafelat Robot for a manual espresso maker.

Has anyone here owned or tried both and if so, which one did you find to be better?


#2: Post by Vince_ »

Do you know about Flair58 and Robot in detail? Flair58 uses the standard 58mm portafilter, while Robot uses a non-removable 57.5mm basket, and Flair58 can be electrically preheated, while Robot cannot. Flair58 has higher playability and better thermal management, with higher production stability, especially for light roasts. In terms of ease of use, Flair58 is also more effortless and easier to press. On the other hand, Robot is more portable and cuter! Which aspect do you prefer?


#3: Post by Jonk »

Yes. I shared some thoughts in these posts

In short, I disagree with some things Vince_ wrote and I think overall the Robot is a better and more refined product. It's not perfect though and if you prefer quite light roasts there are compelling reasons to choose Flair58 instead - mainly choice of filter baskets.

User avatar

#4: Post by Spitz.me »

I own both. I only still own the Robot because I'm lazy and haven't put it up for sale yet.

I won't bore you with information you can just read on the product detail sheets.

The Flair 58 (not the x) is leagues better in terms of consistency from cup to cup and in workflow. The Robot needs a lot of work on temperature management to be really consistent shot to shot and it's fiddly and clunky in execution. It's by design, I get it, but it's not for me.

The Flair 58 heated group is very useful for helping with shot to shot consistency. Pulling a lever down is much nicer than haunching over to bring the arms down on the robot. Seeing the pressure gauge... the Robot placement is wildly hilarious. It requires you to find a way to keep a consistent pressure while shifting your body to see the gauge. You don't need a gauge, but the reality is that if you're just feeling your way through a shot, you're going to get a lot of misses until you finally find the "right amount" of pressure to apply.

This doesn't even consider the fact that you can use standard 58mm accessories with the Flair 58 while the Robot needs Robot specific items.

You can make great coffee with both, but the Flair far, far, far, far exceeds the Robot in user experience and consistency.

Caveat - To me, the Flair 58 feels much more like a pump driven machine experience and that is more like what I like. I don't prefer manual levers, I'm just using one until I get a new pump drive machine. At this time I'm waiting for the meticulous to deliver.
LMWDP #670


#5: Post by jgood »

I have no experience with the Flair but have a Robot in a vacation home -- it's excellent but I am a dark roast guy -- and it's excellent for that. My understanding is that for light roasts one wants to preheat various components in the Robot, which sounds like a PITA -- so the Flair with heater, may have some real advantages for light roasts. BTW I have no real issues with the gauge -- face the gauge away from the operator and have the Robot at table height (not counter height!) and it works fine. If you want to steam milk the Bellman works quite well.


#6: Post by Jonk »

Spitz.me wrote:the Robot placement is wildly hilarious
This is a valid point. I'd suggest either skipping the gauge completely or moving it to a better position. Preferably so it's fully visible from the top - personally I much prefer using body weight to pull a shot instead of the arm strength needed for Flair 58 (well I haven't found a better technique so I just stick to low pressure and fast shots).
Spitz.me wrote:the Flair 58 feels much more like a pump driven machine experience
I agree with this as well, but consider it a negative :wink: I guess I'll add a list of the annoyances I have with the Flair 58 experience, coming from a Robot:
  • Pre-heating is strictly necessary.
  • It's supposed to be done with the lever upright..
  • ...but you need to lower it and then fill water slowly while raising the lever to avoid trapped air below the piston (and perhaps even dislodging the puck like with a Europiccola).
  • As an added, minor grievance, the lever in fill position is in the way of locking in the stock portafilter (at least with my unit).
  • In my opinion the lever feedback is not nearly as good as with the Robot, probably due to the whole group/frame flexing.
  • At least for me it's a lot more physical effort to pull >6 bar or slow shots.
  • The piston is secured at an angle, if you're not careful you can accidentally deform the whole brew cylinder.
  • The piston rotates and you need to reset it every now and then or you won't be able to raise it with the lever.
  • You pretty much need to manually purge excess water, once or twice, not necessary with the Robot.
  • There is always excess water, not necessarily the case with the Robot.
  • Needs more cleaning, especially the stock puck screen.
  • The temperature controller won't remember the last setting.
  • Capacity is lower and thus possible shot ratio unless you want to pull singles.
  • I prefer using baskets unsecured to the portafilter, but with the Flair it actually feels unsecure.
  • You need a dosing funnel.
  • It's more messy, because you can't use a cup that extends up around the bottomless portafilter.
Sorry for the rant I guess. I'm the first to admit some of these are petty complaints that might have solutions, but the overall experience is worse for me. I'm still keeping the Flair 58 because it can brew better light roast espresso coupled with the right baskets, I'm just not a happy camper.

Of course, there are other reasons to go with a Flair 58. For example if you want to use tall/wide cups or a scale that won't fit the Robot (notably Acaia Lunar). You could actually pull proper singles if you want.

User avatar

#7: Post by Spitz.me »

I imagine it goes without saying, but, I don't agree with your list. Lol

I easily get 40g liquid and still need to purge. That's more than enough for me.

I always purged my robot so this is no different. And handling the robots portafilter super fidgety and very easy to spill extremely hot water when your engaging and disengaging the group.

It's actually not easier to clean in my opinion. You're still rinsing a shower screen and a basket. How does the puck screen really change that?

I fill the chamber with the lever down. It works for me and I'm not fussing over whatever might be happening below. I get great tasting shots. Trapped air bubble is easy to manage and remove when it happens.

I found cleaning the robot between shots to be super clunky. Remove a very hot portafilter and you need to handle everything that's hot and actually touch it. The only thing I need to actually put my hand on that is a little hot with the Flair 58 is the screen. Everything you handle on the robot is hot if you don't rest a bit.

Edit - I apologize if my replies read a bit wonky. I primarily browse this forum with my phone and I find that editing out rambling and double messaging isn't easy with the smaller screen, so I don't catch everything with long replies
LMWDP #670


#8: Post by Allongedaze »

Ultimately it depends whether you want to plug in your lever machine and wait for it to get to temp with that laptop power brick on your worktop. Seems at odds with the look and feel of a manual machine and it's a clunky workflow but it does solve the temp instability issues that previous Flairs had. Of course it also means there is a part which will wear out and fail eventually given it is electronics, unlike the Robot which will last a lot longer given the fact it's fully manual and has a more robust build with fully replaceable parts.

I also find the Robot basket easier to clean than my 58mm e61 machine's portafilter, the basket rim doesn't hold heat so I usually hold it from that when knocking the puck out. I enjoy the workflow a lot more and it's a really easy cleanup.

However if you like light roasts and want to push temperatures on them you'll want to preheat both machines with the help of the kettle. So while Flair has the heating edge over Robot once you wait for it to get up to temp, it still doesn't negate the need to preheat the basket etc. This is still a workflow constraint and something to be aware of with all manual levers when using light roasts.

Unsure what the comment about Cafelat having a non removable basket is but it's untrue , there's two parts - a portafilter and a basket both of which you can remove from one another. It's of higher quality than Flair's stock one and is a precision basket but with Flair you can swap it for other 58mm aftermarket ones and use a standard tamper etc.

The Cafelat's pressure gauge isn't to everyone's tastes but ask any owner and you'll get a feel for pressures quickly. People do mod theirs and there's talk of the design being changed but it's not a big deal for many - it's just not adjustable like the Flair. Doubt it's a deal breaker for many as most care more about the naked pf extraction than the pressure once you have the hang of it.

I'd watch videos of both machines and see what works for you, they both have quirks but there's two fundamentally different design philosophies here.

Flair 58 is one of the company's premium line up of levers and will no doubt be replaced by future models, this may leave buying replacements like the power brick, gauge and other things difficult to do in a few years if the company drops support and moves on like it has with previous models. It's also a modernist design using electronics for better or for worse depending on your feelings about how it looks and adds to workflow versus temp stability.

Robot on the other hand is unlikely to ever be replaced by Cafelat with the exception of a possibly upgraded pressure gauge. Even if it it is, Cafelat stocks parts on their site and will continue to do so, like they did when they added the first pressure gauge. It's also a more solid build and will last for a very long time, much like the the classic Faema baby which inspired it. But if you feel like you'll want to upgrade and move on to another machine sooner rather than later then this might not bother you.


#9: Post by Jonk »

Most reviewers complain about the power brick, I really don't mind it. Bummer if the electrics fail of course..

The fines trapped inside the mesh screen won't just rinse off. Using a filter paper beneath / instead or buying an aftermarket screen solves that - but a thin, solid screen can instead be damaged by the piston.

Sure, 40g is no problem and trapped air / careful filling is then less of a problem. I'd like to be able to reach more than 1:3.5 if the shot dictates, but can't. Added insult that there's still a need to purge after hitting the limit :wink:

So, it's great for light roasts but then falls short in one important aspect of pulling light roasts. What was Hoffman's tagline? Frustratingly Close To Outstanding

Still holding out for a modern, somewhat affordable and hopefully stable open boiler.

User avatar

#10: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

Neither. Espresso Forge for me. Went to the beach with the family. Made 110 espressos in 7 days as word got out. Simple and just works. Use your own baskets of choice. Good thing I brought my Arco electric base with me too. I had planned on about 40.
Artisan.Plus User-
Artisan Quick Start Guide