Now that the Flair...
has been on my counter for a month or so, and I've pulled quite a few shots with it I think it's time to do a review for it. The model that I have is the Signature Pro, which comes with a pressure gauge, updated stainless steel pieces, an additional portafilter, a larger brew reservoir, and a sweet little baby tamper. But regardless of the model, they work as advertised and make some seriously good quality espresso. On par with most commercial and prosumer machines I've used in my career. That of course is great, but lets go over some of the pros and cons of this machine versus a traditional machine, like my beloved Linea Mini.
The first pro is the Flair has no mechanical or electrical parts to break down. No need to worry about your pump, or power supply, all of the pressure for this machine is created by hand. Along with that, all of the pieces on this machine are superbly crafted stainless steel, and the only components I could see having to ever replace are some o-rings. This leads into the second pro, low cost of ownership. A classic espresso machine will cost you for regular maintenance, and likely some unexpected repairs from time-to-time. Third, the Flair is a great learning and teaching tool for those new to, or who often train people about espresso theory and extraction. But these are just a few of the pros for this machine. I disuss these, and a few more in the video above.
Yet, like all things there are some cons. The biggest con, and the reason why the Flair won't be my everyday machine is the amount of preparation needed to pull a single shot of espresso. On top of your standard espresso preparation list, you'll need to add quite a few more steps to get a proper shot. There is also an elevated risk of human error since the user is in full control of the extraction process, i.e. creating the pressure and timeline for the shot.
My final thoughts are the Flair is great home espresso machine for those who don't mind the lack of a steam wand. It makes espresso as good as a standard pump machine, but at the sacrifice of time, and an increased risk of human error and consistency issues.