Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What is the difference between the Flair and other popular products, such as the Aeropress?
A: The espresso process requires a minimum of 6-9 BAR pressure to effect emulsification. This is a key component to production of crema and to extract the necessary amount of dissolved solids to yield the darker colors and mouth feel associated with espresso. Aeropress and other similar small hand brewers are only capable of 1-3 BAR pressure depending on size and strength of operator, far less than what’s required for espresso.
Q: What is the difference between the original Flair and the Flair Signature models?
A: The Signature models are built with the same solid aluminum components as the original Flair. The difference between the two lines of models – Classic and Signature – is that the Signature models go through a process of hand polishing due to the Chrome, Cool Black Matte, and Copper finish. All Signature models also come standard with our Bottomless 2-in-1 Portafilter.
Q: How coarse, or fine, should my grounds be when using the Flair?
A: The coarseness of your grounds will depend on the specific bean and dose you are using. However, beans used in the Flair - and other espresso machines - must be ground more finely than for use in a drip coffee machine. If you do not see any crema when brewing, try to grind your beans increasingly more fine and/or dose higher until you get the taste and flavors you desire. Remember, if you can’t lower the lever without a struggle, you’ve ground too fine.
Q: Why is there almost no pressure or resistance when I lower the lever and/or the brewing takes only a few seconds?
A: If there is no pressure or resistance, it is most likely that your grounds are too coarse and/or your dose is too low. Re-grind your beans to be finer and/or dose higher, and ensure you have good distribution of the grounds and an even surface. If you have purchased pre-ground beans, please remember these will not work in the Flair.
Q: How do I know that the pressure or the force I put on the lever is right?
A: You usually know you have the right force when you pull the shot between 30-45 seconds while feeling a moderate amount of resistance in the lever. You can also place the Flair on a bathroom scale and pull a shot as you normally would. A good average is about 30-40 lb of force on the lever sustained for the entire brew period.
Q: How much should I preheat the brewing components? Which ones need pre-heating?
A: Pre-heating the cylinder is essential to temperature stability. Fill the cylinder with boiled water and pre-heat for at least 30-45 seconds before brewing. If you’ve purchased the stainless steel piston, this should also be pre-heated. Finally, pre-heating your cup with hot water can keep your beverage warmer longer!
Q: Why can’t I use pre-ground coffee when it is much more convenient?
A: Pre-ground beans will not be calibrated for use in espresso machines, and the Flair is no exception (your shots will run too fast, or possibly too slow). Beans lose stored CO2 immediately after being ground and dry out at an accelerated rate. Pre-ground coffee is especially bad for pressurized brewing.
Q: What’s the best grinder to use with the Flair to get good crema?
A: We do not have a specific brand recommendation, but it is essential that you use a burr grinder. Stay away from blade grinders; they do not let you control the grind size, which is essential for making espresso. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to produce a good shot of espresso from coffee beans that have been ground in a blade grinder.
Q: What coffee beans do you recommend for the Flair?
A: Whole beans freshly roasted and ground minutes before brewing. Both blends and single origin work well, medium to dark roast generally are preferred by most. When searching for beans, it is always easiest to first select those designated specifically for espresso by the roaster.
Q: Can I fill half the portafilter with coffee grounds to get a lighter espresso?
A: We recommend you extract a standard double and then dilute the shot by adding boiling water to the cup. If you would like to use a lower dose, you will need to grind finer to achieve the same resistance as before to extract within the target 30-45 seconds with at least 30-40 lb of force on the lever.
Q: If the Flair makes a double shot espresso, why is the shot so small?
A: The typical double shot is traditionally considered to be a 45-60 ml yield, and 60 ml is the capacity of the cylinder when filled to the line. When brewing, there is some water lost due to absorption by the coffee grounds, and some water gets trapped between the portafilter and the piston. When we say “double shot espresso,” we are basing that on the new standards that use brew ratios to describe yields e.g. 32-34 ml of espresso from 16-17 grams of coffee on average.
Q: My espresso tasted bitter/sour. How can I fix this?
A: A bitter or sour flavor is most likely linked to the size of your grounds and the temperature of your water. If your grounds are too coarse (too large), you will not have enough resistance in the puck to slow the flow of water (contact time is too short), you can under-extract your espresso and get a sour taste. But if the grounds are too fine, you will have too much resistance in the puck, slowing the flow of water (contact time is too long), and you can over-extract. This can yield a bitter taste. Similarly, if your water is too far below 200 degrees F, your espresso could become sour, and too far above 200 degrees can turn a shot bitter.
Q: How do I remove the used grounds from the Flair after I’ve brewed?
A: You can remove used grounds, known as the puck, in a few different ways. We recommend knocking the portafilter against the side of a trashcan or knock-box to remove the grinds. You can also invert the portafilter and blow through the opposite end or dig the grinds out with a utensil or your finger.
Q: How do I clean the space between the bottom of the basket and the portafilter body?
A: You don’t need to. When you rinse your portafilter in cool water every time after you pull a shot, the residues of coffee below the basket will be washed away.
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