The Flair Pro 2 and Cafelat Robot are two of the best manual espresso makers on the market. The Flair is made for travel. It is lightweight, easy to disassemble, and comes with a suitcase. The Robot is made for countertops. It is sturdy, has professional-size parts, and, though it too disassembles easily, does not come with a carrying case. In this video, Steve provides an overview of the two and then demonstrates the process of making an espresso on each so that you can make an informed decision.
Hi, I'm Steve with Prima Coffee. And today, we're going to compare the Flair Pro 2 and the Cafelat Robot Manual espresso makers. So both of these espresso makers can make true espresso, and they work in the same fashion in that they have a lever that pushes down onto a piston, that pushes into the basket, and that creates pressure because of the coffee. And the harder you push, the higher the pressure goes, and then if it doesn't work that way, you do need to grind finer, etc. And then you go ahead and push the lever down. That's how you get your desired amount of coffee. So they do both work that way. But the comparison is kind of in the way that they do that and then the materials that they use. At first glance, you can tell that the Robot is more streamlined. The parts...all of the parts that you need to use the Robot are here, the tamper, the basket is inside the portafilter. The dispersion screen is inside of that. It all kind of fits up like this on your countertop. And it is much more substantial. There's just more stainless steel that is heavier. And over here, you can see that the Flair has more parts. And one of the things you can probably also see is that these are smaller. So when we have professional 58-millimeter sizes over here for your basket and your tamper, the Flair is meant to be portable. It actually folds up and into a suitcase, and you can take it with you. So some of the parts are going to be a little smaller. This is a 45 and 1/2-millimeter tamper, a 45 and 1/2-millimeter basket and dispersion screen as well. The piston fits into here, which is a little different. On the Robot, the piston is actually part of the main body there. And over here, you have the pressure gauge, which is made of plastic. And then you have this plastic piece that is both a tamper, if you don't want to use this one here, and also, it's the piece that you need in order to return the piston to its zero position after you brew. So that's kind of, like, an overview of both of these. We've got a travel espresso maker over here, and we've got one that's more substantial, and it's meant to sort of be there on your countertop as a permanent fixture.
Okay, so I'm going to go ahead and show you how the Robot works and then how the Flair works, and so you can kind of do your own comparison as well. I have everything that I need in front of me to make espresso on the Robot. Like I said before, it's a pretty streamlined machine. I have my 58-millimeter basket, my portafilter, the dispersion screen that goes into the basket. You pour the water over it. You actually do need to use this. If you don't use this, you will make a mess. I have my tamper and the Robot hand. And I have a scale with which to weigh everything. So I'm going to go ahead and get started. I'm going to use 18 grams that is in this basket. So unlike the Flair, the Robot's basket is where you pour the water as well because the piston is built in here to the machine. You will push your coffee in here, tamp it, put the dispersion screen on, and then pour your water down onto that, which is different from the Flair. So what that actually does is it helps you to keep your temperature about where you want for espresso. I'm going to use boiling water, which is 212 degrees, and when I pour it into this basket, it's going to lose some of that temperature, and it's going to be reduced down about 5 or a little more degrees. And that's going to be right where I want it to make my espresso.
So let me go ahead and tamp. I like to use my thumbs to create even pressure. Go ahead and put that over here. And then I add my dispersion screen in. Make sure that that's level. Let me get my water here. Like I said, I'm using 212, so I'll put it on the scale. I found that with 18-gram dose, I'm trying to get 36 out, that about 60 grams of water going in here is about what I want. With the Robot, you can stop the shot at any time you want when you've reached the desired amount of coffee on the scale by just lifting the arms up a little bit. So then I put that into the portafilter, let me put this to the side, bring the Robot over here for you. Okay, so you can kind of see. But to lock this in, you will want to put the arms up, hold them there, portafilter into the front, push it up, and then slide it over. And now your portafilter is in its place. So I'm going to go ahead and put the scale in. And I'm going to go ahead and apply pressure. I'm going to do some pre-infusion. So, I'm going to apply a little bit of pressure until I see coffee. Okay, and I'm going to leave it there for a couple of seconds. All right, and then I'm going to keep going through. And you can see up here on the pressure gauge where I am, I usually shoot for about 8, and that seems to be pretty natural. All right, there we go, about 36 grams, lift up a little bit. You can pull your coffee out. The water stops running through. To clean this, you just need another cup. Go ahead and press out any water that you did not use, okay? And lift the arms up, slide the Robot out, and tilt it from the handle, and the basket comes out with the portafilter. So, you need to clean your dispersion screen here and dump your coffee from the basket. And that's pretty much all you need to do. So there's your espresso. So now I'll show you how the Flair works so that you can have a comparison to the Robot. As you can see, there are just a lot of moving parts here. That wasn't the case on the Robot. We have our pressure gauge, we have our dispersion screen. This is our basket here. This here is the chamber that's going to have the water. It is also the piston that the lever goes down on. And we have our tamper here, another tamper, and this is the device that also pushes the piston back into its position.
So unlike with the Robot, with the Flair, you do have to preheat this brewing vessel, and that is because it is not the same piece as the filter. So on the Robot, you have your portafilter, but you also have the basket itself, and that's where you pour the water. On the Flair, this is the basket, but this is where you pour the water. This will go on top of that. And because they're different, you're going to just lose a lot more heat on the way down to the coffee. So what we're going to do is go ahead and dose our coffee into here. And while we're doing that, we're going to preheat this vessel. So Flair provides with the package this silicone piece that that goes on top of. And we're going to go ahead and take boiling water and fill this up so that it can preheat. Okay? And so while that's preheating, I'm going to go ahead and fill the basket up with 18 grams of coffee. So now that we have our basket, 18 grams of coffee in there, you can see that it's pretty far up to the top. You can, I guess, probably fit about 20, but that's probably going to be the max. So we're going to take this here, go ahead and tamp it. I like to use this one because you can apply more pressure with just your palm. That's there, put that aside. Put our dispersion screen into the basket, and make sure that it's in there. And so now this is good. We can dump the water. Okay. Take off this silicone piece, add it to the basket. Okay? Get it into its place. And unlike on the Robot, we're going to go ahead and fill this all the way to the top. It has the same principle. You can stop the lever whenever you want, whenever you've reached the amount of coffee that you want on the scale, but it works best if you fill this chamber all the way to the top instead of like we did in the Robot, about 60 grams. So now that that's on there, we'll go ahead and put our pressure gauge on top. The scale here fits really nicely onto the Flair's drip tray, where you saw on the Robot, we had to turn it at an angle to get it on there. So I'm going to get this into a position that's more comfortable to pull the lever. So turn that pressure gauge so you can see it...so I can see it. Cup into position. Tare it. Okay? And then I'm going to go ahead and start. And what I'm going to do, like I did on the Robot, I am going to get a little pre-infusion. So once I see some drops, I'm going to go ahead and keep the pressure where it is. Okay, so there you go, the basket is dripping a little bit. I'm going to leave it there for a couple of seconds. And now I'm going to come through. So we like to do the same thing about 8 BAR. And even though this is one-handed, you can see that I'm still using two. Got it right there, right around 8 BAR, keep going. You can see it's a little more unstable than the Robot as you push down to kind of…it goes back and forth. That doesn't seem to affect the shot, but it is lighter. So we'll do that for about right there.
Now, you have to be careful. When you pull up on this, so we're about 36, what tends to happen is that these could separate if you pull up too quickly, and that'll cause the water that's in there to sort of spurt out. So you do kind of have to hold that as you push up. So there's our shot there. Pull this stuff out of the way. And same principle on the cleaning, we're just going to push out any remaining water. And because on the Robot we kind of choose the amount of water we wanted to add, it was a little faster cleaning up than here on the Flair. So about there. That's pretty good. And then we just disassemble it, take off piece by piece. First piece, we bring this out, take off our piston, which is also where you put the water. And to return this back, the piston back to the top, you will need this piece here, and you'll just push it down on top. That's ready to go for another shot, and then you'll need to clean out the basket and the dispersion screen as well. So that is the Flair, and as you can see, there are some differences. There are just more parts, one extra step for the preheating, and it is a little more unstable as you're pressing down. But again, that is because this is really meant to be portable, so it's light. So you just have to be more controlled in the way that you pull down the lever. So that is the comparison of the Flair Pro 2, Cafelat Robot Manual espresso makers. Like I said, they can both make true espresso. It is just kind of in the purpose. So over here, we have a travel espresso maker, and over here, we have one that's meant to be at home. It is heavier, and it's much more substantial. It has these professional-sized parts. And over here, we have lighter parts, we have more of them, but they do fit nicely into a suitcase that Flair provides.