What's in the box
This is the packing list from Flair's site:
What's it like to pull shots on the PRO?
- Post & lever with copper portafilter base
- Stainless steel portafilter with screen
- Stainless steel brew cylinder with plunger
- Preheat and tamping cap
- Stem with pressure gauge
- Dosing cup
- Two-piece stainless steel drip tray and branded polishing pouch
- Stainless steel tamper
- Carrying case
- Screw for affixing post to base permanently
- Brewing guide
Here's the workflow, assuming you've set up the PRO, and it's ready to brew with the stand inserted on the base and the drip tray and grate inserted. Place a cup on the drip tray.
Here are the basic steps.
- Preheat cylinder
- Prepare coffee puck
- Assemble brew group and position on stand
- Pull through
- Release pressure
I'm using a Bonavita 1L computer temperature-controlled kettle, and a quality grinder (Niche Zero). I have a large Rattleware knockbox for discarding grounds and an electronic scale that measures to 0.1 gm. I have a steel dissecting probe with a dulled point for redistributing grounds (for Weiss Distribution Technique, aka WDT).
Preheat cylinder, first fill:
Set the kettle to just off the boil at 99°C/211°F. No need to measure water carefully, because I'll preheat the cylinder once or twice before the shot. I prepare the cylinder by making sure the piston is at the top of its travel -- for denser shots you can pre-set the piston a bit lower in the cylinder to reduce the fill. The piston is easily pushed into place by hand or with the included plastic dosing cup. Place the bottom of the cylinder in the silicone warming cap. Pour water until it fills into to the top reservoir and let the cylinder sit for 30 to 45 seconds. Since I'm going to refill, I'm not timing this carefully.
Prepare coffee puck, dose and grind:
Measure coffee beans into the dosing cup on a scale. Add a few drops of water before pouring the beans into the grinder chute (Ross Droplet Technique, aka RDT, reduces static cling of the grounds). Grind the beans.
Preheat cylinder, second fill (if needed):
Turn the cylinder upside down over the sink to drain it, and refill with hot water. If you're using a medium to dark roast a second fill may not be necessary. With some dark roasts, preheating isn't needed -- more on this later.
Prepare coffee puck; dose, distribute, and tamp:
Set the funnel over the portafilter, add coffee grounds, stir with a probe (WDT mixes particle sizes that differ from start to finish with a single-dosing grinder). Insert provided tamper into the top of the portafilter with the dosing funnel still attached. Do a soft, nutating tamp* to evenly distribute grounds. Remove the dosing funnel.
Assemble brew group:
Place the shower screen on top of the coffee grounds. The smaller holes face down so the screen is easier to clean. The shower screen allows even infusion of water into the coffee and keeps the wet grounds in place to help prevent channeling. Pour water out of the cylinder, inverting it over the sink. Turn it over, and remove the warming cap, keeping your hands away from the hot water runoff. Place the cylinder on top of the portafilter. Raise the lever and seat the assembled cylinder and portafilter on the brew group base.
Gently pour hot water into the cylinder until it starts filling into the reservoir. Filling slightly into the reservoir helps prevent an air gap above the coffee at the end of the pull. Gently insert the plunger and engage the lever at the top of the plunger, applying minimal pressure for about 15 seconds. As the coffee becomes infused with water, you'll see droplets start into the cup.
When those droplets are falling evenly, increase pressure to pull your shot. I like to apply highest pressure here, whether it's 6 bar or 8 to 9 bar on the gauge. Higher pressure requires some effort, so I may be using two hands on the lever. I gradually ease the pressure during the shot to mimic a spring lever pull and avoid overextracting the coffee. Use your taste as a guide to how much maximum pressure you need.
I don't do a hard push to squeeze out every last bit of water but do take the lever wheel past the top of the plunger. Then I ease up at the end. Watch the gauge to see that the pressure has released but also keep the lever engaged while easing pressure. The cylinder may lift slightly off of one side of the portafilter, but it will not break the seal. If your dose and grind are dialed in this may not happen. Now the pressure is released.
Remove the plunger from the top of the group. Hold the cylinder assembly over your knockbox. Turn it sideways. Gently unfasten the portafilter and allow remaining water to run off into the knockbox. Press against one side of the shower screen so you can grip an edge and lift it out. Knock out the spent coffee grounds. Rinse these parts at the sink. Flair's instructions advise you to wash by hand, without soap that could flavor your coffee. They also warn against putting any components of the Flair into a dishwasher.
For tuning your shot, you can reference the chart in the Quick Start Guide
, which I show here. I don't automatically assume I'll need to pull at full 9 bar pressure at the start. Depending on the roast level and coffee and the amount of effort you want to exert, you can pull lever shots at about 6 bars to start. Again, let your shot quality be your guide.
Image is courtesy of Flair Espresso and (c) of Intactidea
The Quick Start Guide recommends dialing in dose and grind with inexpensive beans. That may be good to get into a general range as long as the beans are fresh and are similarly roasted and processed to what you'll be using. But for dialing in your intended coffee, you'll need to use that coffee. Otherwise your shot may not be sufficiently tuned.
Fine-tuning flavors and mouthfeel is a basic skill applicable to any espresso machine. Here's a link to the guide on Home-Barista.
Espresso 101: How to Adjust Dose and Grind Setting by Taste