User Experience: Flair Espresso Manual Lever

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
mivanitsky

Postby mivanitsky » Dec 24, 2016, 2:14 am

As many others here have doubtlessly done, I purchased a Flair Espresso Maker manual lever, late in its Kickstarter funding cycle. I bought the "hostess kit," which includes two brewing cylinders. I also purchased their extra metal tamper, which sold in the preorder for $12, and will be $20 at retail. I actually bought two sets of everything, and was pleased to give this to my visiting favorite aunt, before she left my home today. She is now well set-up with Helor 101, CCD, and Flair.

In a hurry to try this thing out, I cheated a bit. Boiling water came from the hot water tap of my Slayer. I used a Monolith Flat to grind the beans (Klatch Elida Honey/Elida Natural blend).

Low hanging fruit, if this thing is truly a functioning manual lever, right?

It comes in a lovely travel lunchbox:
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Ooooh goody! what's inside?
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Grinding 18.5g into the dosing funnel/PF/base unit:
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18.5g, shown here, is probably a bit too much. 17.0g allows use of the screen thing they provide (not shown):
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Pour in water after placing PF/base on heated cylinder:
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Press the lever and this stuff comes out:
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... and it tastes great! Thick, sweet, complex shot. This was a 17.0g extraction, and my second attempt. The first one was a very short ristretto with 18.5g, which was also delicious, but much too small.

This second shot is as good as good shots I've had on Pat's Cremina, so I think that this device is a real and fully functional manual lever. With a little grind adjustment, It will be as good as any other decent machine, and it fits in my suitcase.

Though I have much excellent equipment, and the skills to match, I should note here that I am quite a lever neophyte. I am exceedingly pleased with the results of my early experiments with this device. Though it is certainly not the first high-quality manual portable espresso making device, it may be that it is no longer necessary to pick only two of: portable, inexpensive, excellent.

May I apply for LMWDP membership now?

I look forward to hearing of others' experiences with this neat little machine.

-Mike

gimpy

Postby gimpy » Dec 24, 2016, 2:54 am

Nice, :>) good looking shots. Taste as good as it looks? Hope mine arrives shortly.
(Whoops, when I started typing, the writing wasn't there. But was after I posted)

mivanitsky

Postby mivanitsky » replying to gimpy » Dec 24, 2016, 3:04 am

Tasted better than it looked.

RyanP

Postby RyanP » Dec 24, 2016, 3:59 am

I bought this as a Christmas gift for my brother and it arrived today. I opened it up just to inspect and make sure everything looked good. I was pleased to see they added a screen to cover the grounds before filling the cylinder with water. I think that was a smart move for maintaining the puck. The construction feels solid and seems like longevity of the unit should not be an issue. The tamper is a plastic piece and the only "meh" part of the setup. It is very quick and easy to put together and take a part. Like, very easy. I love how it all packs away nicely into its case to be stored until the next use. Cleaning should be no problem from what I can see. As much as I wanted to give it a spin, I didn't use it and so can't comment on performance. But, overall the QPR seems high and just from initial inspection I'm pleased with the purchase. I look forward to giving it to my brother who has no experience making espresso, but I think this should be pretty easy for him to figure out.

mivanitsky

Postby mivanitsky » Dec 24, 2016, 6:05 pm

Here is the metal tamper in the funnel/PF (not level to better show the tamper):
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Control shot: Helor 101, Slayer, 18g coffee
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Test shot: Helor 101 (1/4 turn coarser), Flair, 17g coffee
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Both shots taste very good, and quite similar to each other, and to the same coffee ground with Monolith, though Monolith shots are a bit better in clarity.

I will not be changing my daily drivers, but for travel, the Helor/Flair combo will be outstanding, and will only be beaten by the upper eschelon of cafes, assuming I have access to decent water and bring good coffee.

Simon345

Postby Simon345 » Dec 24, 2016, 6:55 pm

Thats a great write up thanks!

If you have time I would love to see a video of the extraction showing the bottom of the basket.

Saying that a $100 machine makes a similar tasting shot to a Slayer is a big call, I might have to buy one of these gadgets!!!

mivanitsky

Postby mivanitsky » Dec 24, 2016, 7:42 pm

Not possible, because there is an unremovable single hole spout on the bottom under the PF. This actually is a potential issue for cleaning. I may chop one of mine later, but a completely bottomless PF is not possible, due to the mount of the base to the frame.

Of course the Slayer/Monoliths combination is better, but to get IMHO 85-90% as good for $500 vs $15000 is a compelling proposition for those with limited funds, fiscal responsibility, or for use as compact travel setup.

Helor/Flair may also be the price/performance/size optimum for the newbie seeking early success at creating exceptional espresso at home.

The downside is the need to preheat the cylinder and source good water when traveling.

samuellaw178
Team HB

Postby samuellaw178 » Dec 24, 2016, 9:40 pm

mivanitsky wrote:Of course the Slayer/Monoliths combination is better, but to get IMHO 85-90% as good for $500 vs $15000 is a compelling proposition for those with limited funds, fiscal responsibility, or for use as compact travel setup.


Hi Mike,

Thanks for the review. Just to get a better picture, in terms of cup quality, where would the Flair sit between the Slayer and Reneka Techno? This has to be the only Kickstarter project I've seen that delivers within the time frame promised, impressive!

I would love to see that 'portafilter' goes bottomless as well or if it is in fact possible - exactly for the cleanliness concern you had mentioned.

Simon345

Postby Simon345 » Dec 24, 2016, 9:53 pm

Also, what is the part of the piston that comes in contact with the brew water made of?

mivanitsky

Postby mivanitsky » Dec 24, 2016, 10:05 pm

samuellaw178 wrote:Hi Mike,

Thanks for the review. Just to get a better picture, in terms of cup quality, where would the Flair sit between the Slayer and Reneka Techno? This has to be the only Kickstarter project I've seen that delivers within the time frame promised, impressive!

I would love to see that 'portafilter' goes bottomless as well or if it is in fact possible - exactly for the cleanliness concern you had mentioned.


My Techno is out of service presently, and I am not comparing directly. I place the Flair at an equal level flavor-wise with other excellent manual levers, such as the Cremina. I like these and The Slayer better than the Techno, which will someday be replaced by a commercial lever machine, more likely than a second Slayer.