Worth upgrading to a 58mm on a $700 investment?

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

#1: Post by upoverandbrew »

Hello, semi-frequent browser, first-time (I think) poster here. Looking for some advice about either upgrading, or possibly not.

For background: I've been drinking coffee for nearly two decades, and have been in various states of making my own since learning the basics of shot pulling years ago as a coffee shop employee. (Emphasis on basics -- it's not like you'd be seeing me at a barista championship any time soon)

In that time, I've also been working with a pretty low budget, and took my time to get upgrades. I started with an aeropress, keep a Melitta pour-over cone around, and 4-5 years ago, went with a Flair Classic. That classic has gone through a few upgrades (the necessary/useful: a pressure gauge and a new portafilter base to accept the two-in-one baskets, as well as two of those to make three baskets -- my usual morning intake; the aesthetically pleasing but less useful: stainless steel drip tray), and paired with my Lido ET and my home-roasted coffee beans (in a stovetop popcorn popper, 12 oz of green a batch), makes for a good set of shots that I'm happy with -- either straight or iced. The volume is my priority here, with the need for a steamer less so.

It's all well and good, but I can't help but wonder if there's anything worth upgrading here at a $700 budget, or if I need to decide to end my low budget ways and consider going for a big spend down the road instead. The flair 58 has me thinking about that a little -- it moves me into a 58mm realm that could also work with my desire for larger volumes on fewer pulls (since I could up the basket) -- but I can't decide if that seems worth it as an intermediate step, and/or if there's other options I should consider on the lever front. Portability isn't the worst thing in the world, either -- at least in that I'm and apartment dweller and having something that'll work in that setting and be able to relocate with easily would be nice -- but doesn't need to be as portable as my flair (aeropress + lido makes for a compact-enough travel pack for me)

Thanks in advance for any advice/tips/thoughts!
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Brewzologist
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#2: Post by Brewzologist »

For starters, if you aren't already aware, here are a couple threads worth reading that may help you make a decision.

Flair Espresso news
Flair 58

I'm in a similar situation as you with a Pro2 contemplating where I might go next. What are your goals for "volume"? Are you meaning larger shots, if so how many ml and/or ratio? Or do you mean volume in terms of back-to-back shots?

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#3: Post by walr00s »

upoverandbrew wrote:
Started with your almost exact setup, a hario skerton and an aeropress. Over 3 years went from that to Flair Classic and Lido E (easily my least favorite piece of coffee equipment that I have ever owned) to a Silenzio, then my current setup of an Alexia with a hyper-aligned Vario.

I believe very strongly that you can improve your daily drink the most by upgrading to an electric grinder. You're very close to a Niche with your 700, and since you're not in a rush, I'd go with that. Otherwise, the aligned Vario, if you're willing to do the alignment, is hands-down better than the Silenzio.

You can get great coffee out of the Lido E. I hate it so much for the mornings that you don't get the grind right. Dialing in espresso with it takes a very long time. I ended up frustratedly drinking a lot of bad to mediocre shots since I didn't have the time or energy to regrind.

upoverandbrew (original poster)

#4: Post by upoverandbrew (original poster) »

Brewzologist wrote:For starters, if you aren't already aware, here are a couple threads worth reading that may help you make a decision.

Flair Espresso news
Flair 58

I'm in a similar situation as you with a Pro2 contemplating where I might go next. What are your goals for "volume"? Are you meaning larger shots, if so how many ml and/or ratio? Or do you mean volume in terms of back-to-back shots?
Thanks, had been following the Flair 58 thread, but not the news thread.

On the volume question, I currently get 17 in/34 out (give or take a gram) per basket, and make all three baskets most times I use it. I'm happy with doing that work (one of the trade-offs I expected for the lower initial price tag), but yeah, with a larger basket (i.e., get a 24 g that fits in a 58 portafilter), would probably switch to two runs instead of three, which could cut the work down a little.
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#5: Post by Brewzologist »

With the 3 shots you make now with your Classic, are you making separate drinks with them or combining them into one drink? If larger volume in a single shot is important, early reports suggest the Flair 58 may not be as good as hoped for lungo shots. Trying to get at the root of where your need is in order to help.

upoverandbrew (original poster)

#6: Post by upoverandbrew (original poster) »

Brewzologist wrote:With the 3 shots you make now with your Classic, are you making separate drinks with them or combining them into one drink? If larger volume in a single shot is important, early reports suggest the Flair 58 may not be as good as hoped for lungo shots. Trying to get at the root of where your need is in order to help.
No worries, questions appreciated. I'm making those for a single drink, typically. Strength-wise, I'd prefer 2:1, so fine that a lungo is out, IMO, but agreed I should check for the total volume I can get if I go that direction.
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#7: Post by Jeff »

I haven't pulled more than 18 g at a time for probably a decade. I find that I can't get the flavor balance I'm looking for at even 20 g. If all you're looking for is more volume with the same flavor profile, I don't think you'll find it by going to a bigger basket.

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#8: Post by Brewzologist »

Based on your responses, if your ultimate goal is to produce a drink combining the volume equivalent of 3 shots on the Classic, and to do so more efficiently, then perhaps consider moving to a different machine/grinder setup in the longer term vs. taking an intermediate step to the 58. I agree on the earlier post that a better way to spend the $700 now would be to apply it to a good grinder. That will speed up your current workflow and be a solid part of a future solution.

upoverandbrew (original poster)

#9: Post by upoverandbrew (original poster) »

Thank you all for your comments, they're quite helpful. As you might have guessed, my mentality going into the post was focused on either getting a Flair 58 or some other lever that would allow for the flexibility of a 58mm (choice of baskets/accessories) with the thinking that my Lido ET would be fine -- after all, I have it pretty well dialed in for my needs at this point. Where I'm at now is just taking a further step back and deciding if maybe I should just be happy with what my options are now, especially if I'm not prepared to go multiple thousands at this point, but keeping the Niche Zero (or a grinder in that range) on my radar as the possible intermediate step.
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