Welcome to this new article, where I will continue with the Flair series and its portable manual espresso machines. In the last article, we saw the Flair Pro-2, which, due to its features, is ideal for baristas at home or anywhere. With the Flair Pro-2, you will get a delicious espresso with all the variables at your disposal.
On this occasion, I will introduce you to the Flair Neo. Among the Flair models, this coffee maker is the most basic level. It is designed for beginners who want to prepare a rich espresso within a limited budget, which is at the level of Nanopresso.
- 1 Flair Neo Coffee Maker Components
- 2 Operation of the Flair Neo coffee maker
- 3 The main feature of the Flair Neo coffee maker
- 4 Who do I recommend this coffee maker for?
- 5 Differences between the Flair Neo and other electric espresso machines
- 6 Differences between the Flair Neo and the Flair Pro-2 coffee makers
- 7 Cleaning the Flair Neo coffee maker
Flair Neo Coffee Maker Components
I will start by showing you what its parts are, and if you are familiar with the Flair models, you will see something very similar, although with some small changes. As this is the lowest priced model, it will vary slightly in the materials to keep the low cost but still grant a good product.
To begin with, I must say that it comes packaged in a box and does not include the case with the other models, although we can buy it separately.
As always, we have the machine’s base and body, so characteristic of the Flair brand. These two pieces can be fixed to the table with a screw (included), which gives us a little more stability, although it is not necessary for its use.
Then we see the coffee group, which is formed by:
- A stainless steel cylinder will contain the water.
- A filter holder where we are going to place the coffee
- The dispersion screen for the water
- And above the cylinder, a piston will exert pressure when the lever is lowered.
We also have a simple drip tray. And as accessories, we see a funnel to place the coffee inside the filter holder and a small dosing cup.
The dosing cup is used to weigh the coffee that we are going to use, as well as to remove the piston from the cylinder and use it as a tamper to compact the coffee.
Operation of the Flair Neo coffee maker
Now I will show you the step-by-step process so that you can see how this coffee maker works. Then I will cover some very important topics to keep in mind before using this machine.
Step by step to prepare coffee with the Flair Neo coffee maker
1. Before using it, we need the coffee group of the machine, which is made of steel, to be very hot so that the extraction temperature does not drop. I heat it with the steam from the carafe, where I boil the water.
We can leave it suspended above with a silicone funnel or other material; if not, we can immerse it directly in boiling water a few times.
2. Next, we need a coffee with a fine grind, although not as fine as the one we normally use for espresso. This filter holder has a capacity of 12 to 18 grams of coffee, which we will place in the funnel and distribute by moving it a little, and tapping it gently.
3. We compact it slightly with the dosing cup until we feel that the grains do not move anymore. On top, we add the dispersion screen and put it on the base.
4. Once we have the cylinder hot enough, we attach it to the filter holder, and we are going to place the water up to the line that we see marked inside; with this, we make sure that once we put the piston, there is no air left inside.
5. In the tray, we put a scale and a cup taring to zero, and we are ready to start pressing.
6. We lower the lever, and we will quickly feel resistance. We constantly press until we reach the amount of espresso we want, we look for approximately 25 to 30 seconds of extraction, and we have our espresso ready.
The main feature of the Flair Neo coffee maker
The main feature of this Flair Neo is that it has a filter holder called “Flow control”. This filter holder is pressurized; it has a nozzle that restricts water flow through the ground coffee to help ensure proper pressure and extraction time.
This filter is designed to help in specific situations; therefore, it is more recommended for some than others.
Who do I recommend this coffee maker for?
I mainly recommend it for those looking to prepare espresso at home with the lowest possible budget, surpassing some of the more common options that claim to make espressos, such as the capsule machine or the Moka pot.
For those who buy ground coffee or do not have a quality grinder, this filter holder compensates for the uneven grind of a blade grinder. If we used this grind in an unpressurized filter holder, the result would be directly unpalatable.
It can also be ideal for those who may have a good espresso grinder but are beginners and find it difficult to calibrate.
With a standard filter holder, without pressurizing, we need a precise fine grind that we will use together with other variables to prepare a correctly extracted espresso. So this filter holder compensates very well for this to start experimenting and testing. And once you’ve mastered all this well, you can move on to a standard filter holder.
This is what I like most about Flair and what I think is excellent; you can buy a Neo to start and see if you like it; then, if you feel you want more control, you don’t need to buy another machine; you can just buy the accessories that improve and upgrade it.
The extra accessories are the standard filter holder without pressurizing, the manometer to measure the pressure we apply, the tamper, the steel tray, and the case.
Differences between the Flair Neo and other electric espresso machines
The difference between buying a Neo and some other cheap electric espresso machine, which comes with a pressurized filter, is precisely the control we have over the other variables.
In cheap electric machines, such as the Delonghi Dedica, the pressure is always wrong or does not reach what we want or pass it. The same happens with the water temperature, which does not remain constant, and we cannot play much with the coffee dose.
With the Neo, we can do all this, and then if we upgrade it with the accessories, we have a machine that produces espresso at a professional level.
The Flair Neo outperforms in features many machines more than 10 times its price, so it pays to have it. Besides the fact that it does not require electricity, we can take it with us on a trip or to the office and prepare a delicious coffee wherever we go.
Differences between the Flair Neo and the Flair Pro-2 coffee makers
Comparing it with the Flair Pro-2 that we saw in another article, the espresso it produces is not the same; with the Pro-2, we can obtain espressos like in a coffee shop, with many bright flavors and a creamy body. But it requires knowledge of espresso theory and a major investment, not only in the machine, but a good grinder that produces a uniform grind is a must.
With Neo’s pressurized filter, we can get an acceptable, rich espresso with consistent results every time, and the more even the grind, the better results we will get. However, it will never reach the same level as a professional espresso; we need to add some other parts.
Cleaning the Flair Neo coffee maker
Finally, I should mention that the cleaning of this machine, like all models, is quite simple.
After purging all the water inside the coffee group, we remove it from the base. To remove the filter holder, we turn it upside down and separate it from the cylinder, where we will be left with the screen and perhaps a little coffee.
Now we discard the coffee pod with a few taps, and if we want to make another espresso, we simply need to wipe the filter holder and the screen with a microfiber cloth or paper towel, remove the piston from the cylinder and start over. But if you don’t want to use it immediately, just wash all the parts with water without soap or detergent and dry everything well.
The good thing about this pressurized filter is that it is removable for cleaning, and you have to clean it well after each use so that it does not clog that small hole. If you notice that it gets clogged, let it soak in vinegar for about 20 minutes, and then give it a good rinse. You can also buy a replacement spout if it becomes permanently clogged.
The Flair Neo seems to me to be an excellent option for many who want to enter the world of espresso without spending a lot of money. They can learn a lot and improve as time goes by.
➡️ Don’t miss my experience with another great manual espresso machine, the Picopresso.