2022-02-19

I am a big lover of coffee. If you know me, you are probably aware that I am rather knowledgeable and enthusiastic about my favorite drink. For many years (probably 10 now) I would go out for an espresso 1-2x each day. Now, I may go out once a week for a social occasion and that’s about it. But why?

Coffee is Expensive

Back when I started drinking espressos, they started around $1.40 each espresso. Not bad! It was rare that I had a bad one, and I figured for $2.80 each day, it was worthwhile since it gave me a break in the day, a moment to chat with my barista friends, and have a place to chill away from home with a good (albeit fast) drink. Over time it has crept up in cost. When I graduated from the university in 2018 it was just over $2/shot, while I was going to the university it was $1.81. Still not too bad when you consider the return on investment that has to be made on espresso machines. But now, those espressos are $2.80, or over $5 each day for coffee.

Fun fact: you can get 1lb of unroasted coffee for about $6-$9, which will net you about 12oz of roasted coffee in the end which could get you 17-22 espressos, depending on how much coffee you use per espresso.

Now, I took a break from roasting, which, I should pick back up, but you can see that with that, or even buying a 12oz bag for $15 will still net you an espresso for $0.68 to $0.77.

I Make Better Coffee at Home

This isn’t an insult to my baristas. You all do an AWESOME job. And if you’re reading this knowing the coffee shop you work(ed) at and who I am, know I am beyond grateful for the kindness and attention you put into making my espresso. However, most coffee shops will have a blend that is good, it isn’t always what I’m looking for. And, since there’s only so much you can do to make a "perfect" espresso when there are other customers, it becomes clear that the quality will go down.

At home, I am in charge of how often I clean my machine, the exact amount of beans that go in, how it’s prepped, and how it is extracted. With what I know of how to make coffee, and what I like, I know how to tune my machine to make what I want consistently.

What Do I Use?

I started making espresso with the Flair Classic which is an awesome espresso maker. However, in 2021 they released the Flair 58, which is a bigger, and electric version of the Classic. Coming in at $530 when I got it, to get features akin to this machine, I would be paying probably $3k minimum for a standard machine you’re more familiar with. Which features? I guess just one…​which is the pressure profiling that you can do with the lever. Most machines will usually try to pull shots at a straight 9 bars. However, I get control of the pressure the entire extraction. So, full coffee cart lineup:

  • Espresso machine: Flair 58

  • Grinder: Eureka Mignon Notte (with single dose hopper & silicon bellow)

  • 10/15/20/22g Decent Espresso baskets (and the 18g high flow that came withe the Flair)

  • Decent Tamper v3

This is my favorite setup, costing just over $1k, which sounds like a lot (maybe it is because most people will go out and get a $30 drip maker) but Real espresso isn’t a cheap ordeal.

Can I Make Espresso at Home?

YES! Anyone can make espresso at home. But please don’t cheapen your experience with cheap espresso machines. James Hoffman made a great video on espresso machines under £100, and you can see for yourself what the outcome is. If you want a coffee machine the cheapest I can recommend is the Gaggia Classic Pro. It’s an actual machine, and not an appliance like the cheaper Breville espresso machines. The difference being cup quality and appliances being harder or impossible to service when parts fail. From there my next recommendation is the Rancilio Silva. There’s other good ones too, but most good machines will be $800 and up.

Next, you need a good grinder. If your grinder sucks, your coffee sucks. Doesn’t matter how good your machine is. I like my Eureka, which cost $300. Anything in their Mignon lineup will be good. There’s many others too, but usually good grinders will be around $400+

But That’s Way Too Much Money!

Yes, yes I agree. That’s actually what drove me to start with the Flair Classic, which I got my hands on for about $150. You still need a good grinder, but you can get the Flair Neo for $125 and any cheap (please get a burr grinder!) grinder will do. You could probably be making espresso at around $180.

But, if you could, I would HIGHLY suggest a whole kit under $500, which will make you GOOD espresso once you learn. What do you need?

  1. Flair Pro 2

  2. 1Zpresso JX Pro hand grinder

These 2 tools will make you some of the best espresso ever, and for under $500. The best part? There’s no maintenance! Just wash it when you are done, takes maybe 2 minutes.

Wrapping Up

Thanks for reading my random opinion piece :) this was just a bit of filler writing for the sake of having something on my blog that isn’t computer related, and to kick the tires on my writing process. Hope this at least inspired someone to consider brewing at home. With my Flair machines, I have a pretty lengthy process. When I used the Pro model I would spend maybe 15 minutes from taking everything out to drinking my espresso and cleaning everything up. With my 58, I can do all that in maybe 5 or so minutes. It’s really a great way to take a pause in your day and make a good coffee.

Oh, and didn’t mention milk drinks in here, but I make my milk drinks with the Nanofoamer.

Also, I have no affiliation with Flair, I’m just a fanboy who has really loves their product and have been so happy to have a low cost machine that can compete with the "big boys".