Flair PRO 2 Review

Flair PRO 2

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Quick Summary

Pros

  • Capable of making top-quality espresso
  • Nearly 100% stainless steel construction
  • Fully manual - no electricity required
  • Portable
  • Can make cold-pressed espresso

Cons

  • Too many parts
  • A few nooks and crannies that can be difficult to clean
  • Pre-heating is cumbersome
  • Espresso isn't noticeably better than previous Flair generations

What is The Flair PRO?

The Flair PRO is an elegant manual espresso maker that makes excellent quality espresso, albeit with a little bit of extra effort. 

The Flair PRO 2 is one of the latest SKUs in Flair's lineup, which distinguishes itself from its predecessors in some key areas. 

We'll take a closer look at the differences later on in this review.

Who The Flair PRO is For

If you're an espresso enthusiast who is looking for something that brews high-quality espresso at an affordable price, the Flair may be the perfect choice for you.

If you don't already own a manual espresso maker, I would unequivocally recommend the Flair Signature PRO over all manual espresso makers currently on the market.

Yes, it's that good.

Who The Flair PRO is NOT For

If you're looking for convenience, none of Flair's current espresso makers will be a good fit.

Manual espresso is more about the craft and ritual of making espresso. It's the opposite of something like a Nespresso machine in terms of convenience. 

Just like pour-over coffee, manual espresso is largely about appreciating the craft of your brew. 

Automated espresso makers (like Nespresso machines) are more about speed and convenience, and less about the quality of the espresso itself.

With that said, if you're just getting started with espresso, then the Flair might not be the best choice for hitting the ground running.

It has a steeper learning curve than semi-automatic, automatic, and super-automatic espresso machines.

Finally, if you're a current owner of one of the older Flair espresso makers and considering upgrading to the PRO, the new features are not worth the additional cost, in my humble opinion.

Is It Worth Upgrading to Flair PRO?

If you're coming from an older Flair model, you may consider making the upgrade to the latest PRO model.

At the end of the day, only you can make the decision on whether it's worth upgrading or not.

But to help you in your decision, I'll point out that all Flair models are capable of brewing delicious espresso. Any differences in espresso quality are more-or-less negligible.

Aside from espresso quality, the build quality of the Flair PRO 2 is better than all its predecessors. Plus, the included pressure gauge makes it a whole lot easier to troubleshoot your shots.

So if these things matter to you, then you'll likely be pleased with the upgrade. 

Just don't expect to pull infinitely better espresso shots just because you're using the latest (and greatest) Flair espresso maker.

What's New with the

Flair PRO 2?

The Flair PRO 2 is really not that much different from the original Flair PRO.

In fact, there are only 4 new features.

Here's what's new with the Flair Pro 2:

Stainless Steel Spout

Flair PRO Stainless Steel Spout

The all-new stainless steel spout is probably the most significant update that comes with the Flair PRO 2.

While this update doesn't matter much for naked portafilter users, it's a pretty nice update for those who experience residual espresso spray and/or don't own a grinder that is capable of grinding quite fine enough.

The previous spout was 100% plastic, so I'm sure the "no plastic" camp will be thrilled with this update.

Silicone Handle Grip

Flair PRO Silicone Handle Grip

The PRO 2 comes with a silicone grip on the handle to prevent hand slippage during the press.

It's a nice new feature, but certainly not anything to get too excited about.

Silicone Pressure Gauge Guard

Flair Silicone Gauge Guard

This is simply a silicone cover for protecting the gauge from inadvertent knocks and drops.

This must have been one of the late-adds to the PRO 2, since the pressure gauge that came with my Flair PRO 2 did not have a gauge guard.

Personally, I've never felt like the gauge was that vulnerable or fragile, but I suppose it was enough of an issue for Intact Idea (the Flair's creators) to decide to add it to the PRO 2.

Enhanced Flow Bottomless Portafilter

Flair Pro Enhanced Flow Bottomless Portafilter

Since I never actually had a chance to review the original Flair PRO, it's hard for me to say what exactly has changed with the bottomless portafilter in PRO 2.

Really, I'll just take Flair's word for it that it's an improvement, though I can't personally speak to why it's an improvement.

Looking at the two portafilters side-by-side, you will notice that the perforations are different, and perhaps this plays a role in the enhanced flow of the PRO 2's version.

Flair Pro Bottomless Portafilter

Flair Pro - Image from Sweet Maria's

Flair Pro Enhanced Flow Bottomless Portafilter

Flair Pro 2

Still, I don't imagine that most people will notice much of a difference in their shot quality.

Please prove me wrong though.

First Impressions


The Flair PRO Espresso Maker is even more beautiful than the Signature Plus that I reviewed last year.

Despite having ample experience pulling shots with the Signature Plus, I still managed to screw things up when first getting started with the PRO 2.

So no, this isn't necessarily the type of product you can take right out of the box and immediately know what you're supposed to do based on intuition alone.

It'll likely take you a few attempts to get familiar with the ritual.

And if you end up with hot water all over your countertop?

Don't despair, because this is exactly what happened to me on my first shot attempt (and I DID follow the instructions, just not very well apparently).

Once you get past a few trial runs and start to experience what the Flair PRO is capable of in terms of shot quality, your initial frustrations should be put to rest.

Flair Models: Compared

Flair Espresso Maker, Classic - Manual Press
Flair Signature Espresso Maker (Plus, Chrome)
Model Reviewed Here
Flair Model
Classic
Signature
PRO 2
Available Colors
Black
Black, Chrome
Black, Chrome, White
Tamper
Bottomless Portafilter
Pressure Gauge
Stainless Steel Drip Tray
Preheat (Tamping) Cap
All-Stainless Steel Filter Basket
Yield Capacity
-
-
55ml
Amazon Rating
N/A
Price
$130.00
Price not available
$309
Flair Espresso Maker, Classic - Manual Press
Flair Model
Classic
Available Colors
Black
Tamper
Bottomless Portafilter
Pressure Gauge
Stainless Steel Drip Tray
Preheat (Tamping) Cap
All-Stainless Steel Filter Basket
Yield Capacity
-
Amazon Rating
Price
$130.00
Flair Signature Espresso Maker (Plus, Chrome)
Flair Model
Signature
Available Colors
Black, Chrome
Tamper
Bottomless Portafilter
Pressure Gauge
Stainless Steel Drip Tray
Preheat (Tamping) Cap
All-Stainless Steel Filter Basket
Yield Capacity
-
Amazon Rating
Price
Price not available
Model Reviewed Here
Flair Model
PRO 2
Available Colors
Black, Chrome, White
Tamper
Bottomless Portafilter
Pressure Gauge
Stainless Steel Drip Tray
Preheat (Tamping) Cap
All-Stainless Steel Filter Basket
Yield Capacity
55ml
Amazon Rating
N/A
Price
$309

At the time of this review, there are currently 6 different bundles across 3 generations of the Flair.

In this review, we're specifically looking at the PRO 2 model, but as you can see in the table above there are not many big distinctions between the Classic and Signature models.

All models are capable of making equally delicious espresso, so long as you have a good burr grinder.

The Classic Series

Flair Classic Espresso Maker

The original Flair Espresso Maker comes in a black and red color scheme, with the same 2-in-1 bottomless portafilter as the Signature series.

The majority of the parts are the same when compared to the Signature Series, except there is no possibility to get it with the pressure gauge kit directly, nor is there a matte black or chrome color option.

The Signature Series

Flair Signature Plus Espresso Maker

The Signature series includes the 2-in-1 portafilter (option to brew bottomless) and the chrome color option instead of just black.

If having a bottomless portafilter doesn't mean anything to you or you prefer black a a color, then the Classic generation should suit you just fine.

The PRO Series

Flair Signature PRO 2

The PRO model is Flair's latest generation of espresso makers, and it includes a pressure gauge, larger capacity filter basket, stainless steel drip tray, and an all-stainless steel bottomless filter basket.

The PRO 2, which I'm reviewing here today, includes a stainless steel spout, silicone handle grip, silicone pressure gauge guard, and enhanced flow bottomless portafilter.

All PRO 2 parts are compatible with the original Flair PRO. 

Unfortunately, most of the PRO's parts will not work with the Signature or Classic generations. The exception to this would be the two-part stainless steel drip tray, which is compatible on all models.

The good news is that you can buy the pressure gauge piston to use with the Classic models.

Pressure Gauge Kit for Flair
17 Reviews
Pressure Gauge Kit for Flair
  • Custom Pressure Gauge with Espresso Range
  • Stainless Steel Plunger
  • Piston Stem
  • Not compatible with PRO or PRO 2 model

Espresso Prerequisites

If you haven't brewed espresso at home before, there are some important prerequisites you need to be aware of before even considering the purchase of an espresso maker like the Flair.

At the very least, you should be using filtered water and freshly roasted coffee, as these two components will have the biggest impact on the espresso's quality.

The other important component is the coffee grinder you're using.

Espresso is infinitely better when brewed with freshly ground coffee, so if you're considering the Flair, please don't use pre-ground coffee unless you have no other choice.

I'm not saying this as a coffee snob so much as I'm saying this as your friend.

Using pre-ground coffee with a Flair is like using cheap motor oil with a Lamborghini (sorry if that was a bad analogy, car people), you're not going to get the best results by using inferior ingredients.

So if there is one thing I'd recommend doing before purchasing an espresso machine, it would be to invest in a good burr grinder that can grind finely enough for espresso.

For more on grinding coffee, check out our thorough guide here.

Here are some quick recommendations for burr grinders that can get the job done:

Baratza Virtuoso - Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
Our Pick
Breville BCG820BSSXL The Smart Grinder Pro Coffee Bean Grinder, Brushed Stainless Steel
Lido E Manual Espresso & Coffee Grinder
Rancilio HSD-ROC-SS Rocky Espresso Coffee Grinder with Doser Chamber
Baratza Sette 30 Conical Burr Grinder
Name
Baratza Virtuoso
Breville Smart Grinder Pro
Lido-E
Rancilio Rocky
Baratza Sette 30
Price
$459.99
$199.95
Price not available
$380.00
$186.75
Type
Electric Burr
Electric Burr
Manual Burr
Electric Burr
Electric Burr
Coffee Concierge Rating
9.0
8.0
Amazon Rating
Coffee Concierge Review
-
-
-
Prime Eligibility
-
-
Baratza Virtuoso - Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
Name
Baratza Virtuoso
Price
$459.99
Type
Electric Burr
Coffee Concierge Rating
9.0
Amazon Rating
Coffee Concierge Review
Prime Eligibility
-
Our Pick
Breville BCG820BSSXL The Smart Grinder Pro Coffee Bean Grinder, Brushed Stainless Steel
Name
Breville Smart Grinder Pro
Price
$199.95
Type
Electric Burr
Coffee Concierge Rating
8.0
Amazon Rating
Coffee Concierge Review
Prime Eligibility
Lido E Manual Espresso & Coffee Grinder
Name
Lido-E
Price
Price not available
Type
Manual Burr
Coffee Concierge Rating
Amazon Rating
Coffee Concierge Review
-
Prime Eligibility
-
Rancilio HSD-ROC-SS Rocky Espresso Coffee Grinder with Doser Chamber
Name
Rancilio Rocky
Price
$380.00
Type
Electric Burr
Coffee Concierge Rating
Amazon Rating
Coffee Concierge Review
-
Prime Eligibility
Baratza Sette 30 Conical Burr Grinder
Name
Baratza Sette 30
Price
$186.75
Type
Electric Burr
Coffee Concierge Rating
Amazon Rating
Coffee Concierge Review
-
Prime Eligibility

    How To Use The Flair PRO

    Brewing with the Flair PRO isn't difficult, but it definitely has a steeper learning curve than most coffee brewing devices out there.

Step 1: Install the Drip Tray

The drip tray consists of two parts:

  • a recessed piece for holding excess liquid
  • a perforated piece to rest your cup

Installing it into the base is as simple as stacking one piece on top of the other.

Step 2: Attach the Lever

The lever fits right into the base like two connected puzzle pieces.

All Signature and PRO models come with an optional screw that you can use to attach the lever to the base more securely.

The folks at Flair suggest doing this if you plan to keep your Flair as mainstay on the counter. Personally, I've never used this optional piece.

Step 3: Preheat the Reservoir

The preheating process for the Flair PRO can be done using one of two different methods:

1) The traditional method

2) The steam method

Note: the method nomenclature is completely made up by me, and not necessarily the same nomenclature others use.

The Traditional Method

The traditional method (as I'm calling it) involves attaching the silicone preheating cap to the bottom of the portafilter, pouring hot water into the portafilter, and then waiting approximately 30 seconds before dumping the water into the sink.

I've found that you have to repeat this process 3-4 times to get the water to maintain sufficient temperature for the shot's extraction.

Obviously, this wastes a good amount of water and is quite time-consuming, so it's not necessarily the most efficient of the preheating methods at your disposal.

The Steam Method

The steam method is a hack that many Flair Pros (the people, not the model) swear by.

Steam Preheat with Flair

It involves resting the portafilter over a typical electric gooseneck kettle's 3-hole lid, utilizing the steam from the boil to sufficiently preheat the portafilter.

Personally, I couldn't get this to work with my Brewista Variable Temperature Kettle, even when Macgyvering it with a rubber band.

I'm told that this method works flawlessly with a Bonavita Variable Temperature Kettle, but unfortunately I gave mine away and didn't have an opportunity to test this method to its full potential.

Certainly worth a try with other electric kettles.

If you've had success using the steam method with a particular kettle, please report back by leaving a comment below.

Step 4: Measure and grind the coffee

As you're preheating the cylinder, you should begin to dose your beans (16-24g) and dial-in your grind.

The wider and shorter brew basket is a significant improvement over previous Flair models. Much less mess when grinding, distributing, and tamping the coffee.

If there's clumping, put your palm over the top of the funnel and give the basket a few shakes until the clumps go away. 

Pro tip: I find that using a paper clip to stir the grounds and de-clump can help reduce channeling and improve your shot's overall quality.

Step 4: Tamp the coffee

With the funnel still in place, tamp the coffee. I recommend doing this so that you don't have to deal with any ground coffee overflow.

Step 5: Place the screen on top of the filter basket

Add the included screen to the top of the filter basket so it is flush with the top.

Step 6: Attach filter basket to the cylinder and add hot water

Next, attach the filter basket to the cylinder, and place the now fully-assembled brew head on the holder.

Fill the hot water up to the line inside the cylinder.

Step 7: Place piston in cylinder and pull the lever

Now you're finally ready to brew! Carefully add the piston to the top of the cylinder and pull the lever. Don't forget to put your demitasse on the drip tray so it can catch that sweet, sweet espresso!

Ratings

I reviewed the Flair PRO across 8 different rating categories that I feel are most important to the end user. 

Let's take a closer look at each.

Appearance

Just like the Flair Classic and Flair Signature, the PRO is a work of art. 

I was a big fan of the chrome and copper combo in my Signature Plus, but I think I'm an even bigger fan of the black and copper color scheme in my PRO 2.

Regardless of which version of Flair you own, I think most people would agree it's a pretty attractive device.


Design & Materials

The Flair PRO is an improvement over all previous models in that almost all parts are comprised of stainless steel.

Aside from the piston gauge, your water only makes contact with stainless steel parts. As far as I'm concerned, the Flair PRO is about as good as it gets in this rating category.

Ease of Use

I think it would be disingenuous to say that the Flair PRO 2 is easy to use.

It definitely takes practice, even if you're well-versed in the basics of brewing espresso.

With the attachable stainless steel spout and pressure gauge however, there is a lot more room for error over previous Flair generations.

The pressure gauge makes it painfully obvious how much pressure you need to apply in order to pull your shot of espresso, while the stainless steel spout prevents any potential residual sprays from channeling in the cake.

Still, the preheating ritual coupled with all of the small parts that need to be assembled with each brew make it one of the more difficult ways to make espresso when compared to other options out there.

Espresso Quality

The Flair PRO is capable of pulling top-quality shots of espresso, but only if you create the right conditions for it to do so.

Without fresh coffee, a quality burr grinder, and good water, the Flair PRO is not going to be able to do anything remarkable.

With that said, if you are able to address these espresso prerequisites, you're on your way to some fantastic shots of espresso.

The reason I fell that I can't give it a full 5 stars is because of the pre-heating process. The Flair PRO obviously does not have a built-in PID, so all temperature regulation is up to you.

I often have to go through 3 pre-heats just to get the portafilter to a sufficient temperature. 

If the Flair folks figure out a more practical solution to temperature control and preheating, the Flair PRO will undoubtedly be perfect in this category.

Cleaning Ease

The Flair is relatively easy to clean, considering the whole machine can be disassembled quickly into each of its 13 parts.

Despite having more parts than previous models, it is actually easier to clean than its predecessors.

The portafilter/grounds basket is wide enough that you can easily knock the coffee puck into your compost bin.

With the Signature Plus, this was more of a chore for whatever reason (I often had to use a spoon to remove the used grounds).

There are still a few nooks and crannies, particularly around the plunger and portafilter, that are a bit harder to get into, but overall the Flair PRO is still very easy to clean.

I wouldn't recommend using soap or a dishwasher with any of the parts though. A warm water hand rinse should do the trick.


Portability

If you follow Flair Espresso on Instagram you'll occasionally see these crazy pictures and videos of customers using their Flairs in outlandish places like mountaintops, canoes, airplanes, and [insert remote and picturesque setting here].

Look, I'm not hating on these people for pulling shots of espresso in remote places, but to me, the Flair simply isn't that practical for on-the-road brewing.

Yes, it comes with a carrying case, but that doesn't change the fact that it's still heavy AF.

What backpacker in his/her right mind would ever take this thing to the top of a mountain?

And why bring an espresso maker over other true essentials?

Yes, I like coffee, but let's be real here, it's definitely not an essential

Could you bring the Flair PRO with you on a trip somewhere? Sure.

Is it the perfect portable espresso maker? Eh, it's probably one of the better ones, but it certainly isn't perfect for travel.

To me, portability isn't a selling proposition for the Flair PRO, or any Flair model for that matter.

But please feel free to disagree with me. You do you.

Price

With the Signature Plus, I was a little bit more critical of the price.

After many of months experience using both the Signature Plus and PRO however, it's dawned on me that the price is very easy to justify considering the quality of the shots you can pull with a Flair.

The bigger question is whether you should opt for the nearly twice-as-expensive PRO over the Classic or Signature Plus.

In terms of shot quality, the PRO does not pull shots that are noticeably better than the Signature Plus, and I'd expect this to be true when comparing the PRO to the Classic as well.

So for shot quality alone, I probably wouldn't splurge on the PRO.

However, I think the materials and pressure gauge are good enough reasons to spend the extra money on the PRO. 

After all, without understanding the amount of pressure you're pulling your shots with, it will be hard to dial-in on the right grind for the best results.

Of course, you could use a bathroom scale to measure pressure with the Flair Classic and Flair Signature Plus...

But who in their right mind would put a bathroom scale on their kitchen countertop just to measure pressure?

Not this guy...

Durability

I have a good feeling that my Flair PRO will last me a very long time.

With its replaceable stainless steel parts, lack of pumps and other electronic components, I expect my Flair PRO to last even longer than me.

Final Thoughts

I'm even more in love with my Flair PRO 2 than my Flair Signature Plus, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have been gifted one to do this review.

The bottom line is that I think the Flair PRO 2 is worth the extra money for someone who does not already own any of the Flair espresso makers.

However, if you already own one of the older generations of Flair, I wouldn't recommend upgrading to the PRO 2 just yet.

Of course, you could always sell your older generation Flair and apply the proceeds to the upgraded PRO 2, but I frankly think it's worth waiting for a future model that has more mind-blowing upgrades.

If anything is clear, it's that Andrew and the Flair team at Intact Idea are true innovators and iterators.

I expect them to continue to improve the Flair as time goes on, so really, there is likely already a better version of the PRO 2 right around the corner.

One improvement I would really like to see in the Flair is the preheating process itself. I'm not exactly sure how it would be done, but temperature stability is still the biggest issue that I think the Flair faces.

Tried Flair? Leave a Review Below!

If you own a Flair, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment, question, or review below!

Flair PRO 2

$309
8.9

Appearance

10.0/10

Design & Materials

10.0/10

Ease of Use

7.0/10

Espresso Quality

10.0/10

Cleaning Ease

9.0/10

Portability

7.0/10

Price

8.0/10

Durability

10.0/10

Pros

  • Elegant design
  • Capable of making high-quality espresso
  • Great value

Cons

  • Relatively steep learning curve
  • Too many parts
  • Cumbersome pre-heating process

Last update on 2020-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API