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Thread: Decent Espresso Machine

  1. #1
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    Decent Espresso Machine

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Guys,
    Apologies if this has been covered recently.
    But our of sheer curiosity, I am wondering how the owners of Decent Espresso machines are travelling?
    These machines have been in the market for over 12 months, so keen to understand:
    1. Are the owners sticking with the machine? Or is there temptation to revert to a more traditional machine?
    2. Any issues or things that could be improved.
    3. Has the quality of your espresso been consistent throughout?
    4. Ultimately whether you still highly recommend the machine?
    Thanks
    Faatshank

  2. #2
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    This could be an interesting thread.

    I've been following the Decent thread for almost three years now, all 2072 replies, there certainly seems to be a small hard core of rusted on aficionados out there.

    However, actual user experiences are pretty thin on the ground, the Decent forum doesn't seem to be readily accessible.

    Whilst there is much talk about the machine making every other type of machine obsolete, I certainly don't see any evidence of this.

    There seem to be a few Coffee Snobs using the machine, however we only ever hear from a couple of them, I imagine they will have something to say here pretty quick smart.

    I note with interest that the thread is still in the $1500 to $3000 category, is it possible to land one in Australia for $3000 or less?
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  3. #3
    338
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    Faatshank, I would suggest you also ask for people to PM you if they prefer. Some will not be comfortable disclosing their true feelings in a thread John will see, when they are so dependent on him for software updates, to use the manual, etc. Not that he is anything but gracious. I appreciate your position, the user group is closed, even the manual is closed and you can't access it, hard for a potential buyer to get info. Even though the manual is evolving, it would be nice to have an observer status. As it is, it requires a $4k buy in to look at the manual or find out what the user group thinks. There are plenty of $300 machines you can download the manual before deciding to purchase.

    There is at least one user who posted they hadn't used their Decent for 12 months, preferred the comfort of the older machine. Of course there is also many happy users.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 338 View Post
    Faatshank, I would suggest you also ask for people to PM you if they prefer. Some will not be comfortable disclosing their true feelings in a thread John will see, when they are so dependent on him for software updates, to use the manual, etc. Not that he is anything but gracious. I appreciate your position, the user group is closed, even the manual is closed and you can't access it, hard for a potential buyer to get info. Even though the manual is evolving, it would be nice to have an observer status. As it is, it requires a $4k buy in to look at the manual or find out what the user group thinks. There are plenty of $300 machines you can download the manual before deciding to purchase.

    There is at least one user who posted they hadn't used their Decent for 12 months, preferred the comfort of the older machine. Of course there is also many happy users.
    Good points 338, whilst the Decent thread makes much of transparency the user group and manual seem to be a bit less so.

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    I have been mulling over these responses.... Without being disrespectful, I struggle to get my head around the ‘conflict of interest’ that has been suggested in these posts. I don’t want to give public feedback on the machine, because I am reliant on the person (I am giving feedback on) to make my machine work... In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t even realise they had a private forum. I only asked the question as I purchased a grinder off a fellow snob a few months back and he had the decent espresso machine. He had just received it and spoke highly of it. Was really just trying to get an understanding of ‘actual user experiences’ (which Yelta articulated well). So be it I suppose. I might just have to buy one to test it out, could be a clever marketing ploy!!! Thanks for the responses.

  6. #6
    338
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    Hi Faatshank, I have been in the same position as you, considering this machine and looking for feedback from users. There is very little, much less than other machines with this much interest. I put it potentially down to two things, the machine is quite complex and hard to feel like your review does it justice or not wanting to post a neutral review on a forum the owner of the business is so active on. John does an exemplary job of communicating and from everything I have read backup would rate above and beyond, but maybe people don't want to talk in front of him.

    PS I am glad you are taking the step - don't forget to post a review!!!

    Pps Forgot to mention John has a good facility to download emulation software to see how the machine looks.
    Last edited by 338; 4 Weeks Ago at 03:20 PM.
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    Besides being more active on the forum (and having a very user friendly business model) how is John really any different to all the other Site Sponsors who advertise and sell product to the group?
    Members discuss their products all the time.
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  8. #8
    338
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    I don't know Saeco, why do they discuss their products but little on the Decent. Many times I have had to ask for an opinion. What do you think the difference is?

    I have commented many times that John must be tearing his hair out that users seem to talk a lot on their Diaspora forum, but then don't go forth and share their opinion. I even jokingly suggested he close the forum on weekends to force them to go somewhere else to discuss the machine.



    PS Thinking more on this Saeco, I think it might be because Decent is John's baby, we all see him obsess over it in great detail, from drip tray on. Who else aligns the bars so you can put the cup in the right spot? By comparison Charlie for Profitec or Antony from Izzo are custodians who make small changes, they don't spend all day thinking about one machine. It is a bit like it is easier to tell the au pair the baby is a bit tubby rather than the mother
    Last edited by 338; 4 Weeks Ago at 08:41 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faatshank View Post
    Guys,
    Apologies if this has been covered recently.
    But our of sheer curiosity, I am wondering how the owners of Decent Espresso machines are travelling?
    These machines have been in the market for over 12 months, so keen to understand:
    1. Are the owners sticking with the machine? Or is there temptation to revert to a more traditional machine?
    2. Any issues or things that could be improved.
    3. Has the quality of your espresso been consistent throughout?
    4. Ultimately whether you still highly recommend the machine?
    Thanks
    Faatshank

    G'day Faatshank

    Firstly, the reason there is so little info on the forums is the difficulty in reviewing such a complex beastie.

    I started with a La Cimbali espresso machine in 1970, spent 4 1/2 months a while back (mostly) taming a Strada and have owned the DE1Pro since Feb this year. I have used at least 50 different machines over the years (virtually every "up market machine" most people know except a Slayer). The Strada is as far as I know the only machine as at today with anything like the capability of the DE1 - and it is a distant second in functionality. I also reckon I have barely scratched the surface of what the DE1 can do (still on "P plates" here).

    I intended to write a full review of the DE1, however the quick version is currently topping 16 pages and is quite inadequate. It literally needs a novel or a series of videos to fully outline what it can do. The following is my personal opinion only, even some other DE1 owners may disagree. BTW, I prefer light to medium roasts, I change roasts every 500ml (often for a totally different one in every sense of the word), use (depend upon?) VST baskets, a naked portafilter and the Mahlkoeniq Varios to feed the DE1. A number of "alternative machines" cannot even handle some of the light roasts the DE1 can nail - e.g. a recent Ecuador roast was the lowest solubility, densest beans I have ever encountered. Three conventional machines literally could not handle that roast, even when fed by my setup. Any machine can handle dark roasts.

    1. "Are the owners sticking with the machine? Or is there temptation to revert to a more traditional machine?" You bet it will stay (or a newer version)! My only current decision is whether to go for the DE1Cafe (simultaneous shoot and froth at last) or update to the V1.3 group on my current DE1 or both - I have a few family members who would love my Pro for XMas / birthday / anytime or reason and I may well try the new V1.3 group in my current DE1 first.
    2) A few things could be improved, mostly they will be fixed with the V1.3 group. FYI, It allows real time flow / temp / pressure adjustment so it really is like a combo made in heaven of a manual lever, noting the settings and then automating them. I say heaven as the DE1 and Strada are an initial nightmare when faced when an unknown roast as they are both very sensitive to coffee density and solubility (the DE1 even more so if that is possible). The new group should make that process easy. A side note - the DE1 can do 8mls/sec at 12 bar pressure - it is incredibly powerful yet highly sensitive using flow control. The water tank could be a lot taller and not as shallow (major redesign of the internals - don't hold your breath!). It should be able to shoot and froth at the same time. That is probably the end of my "improvement list". On the plus side, the DE1 keeps itself cleaner than any other machine I know - and by a wide margin. Living with the DE1 for me is the easiest machine to have in a domestic setting over nearly 50 years of espresso.
    3) "Has the quality of your espresso been consistent throughout?" Yes, 100%. I would add that I have been using a naked p/f for decades without having spraying issues after the first year or so, so my technique is pretty consistent. VST 7g single baskets baskets do not allow much margin for error and they do not tolerate rubbish roast or technique either. The Vario is also 100% consistent - most grinders aren't. The DE1 is ruthless in revealing differences in technique or gear, however a few newbies in my near circle of friends have had no issues with my whole current setup. IMO using traditional (poorer particle spread) grinders with the DE1 reveals their inadequacies all too clearly.
    4. "Ultimately whether you still highly recommend the machine?". I would recommend it unreservedly to those who love balanced cuppas using light to medium roasts - they have / will become instant fanboys as long as they are willing to tinker (or await the new group which will save them a lot of grief). Those who prefer dark roasts and use traditional grinders - I would suggest they "try before they buy" as their setup is not really good enough to access the DE1 strengths. It is also probably overkill for them.

    FYI the DE1 is a continuous development product. Currently there is a lot of tinkering into mouthfeel / group height adjustment which (IMO only as an outsider) is likely to delay the V1.3 group for another month or two. If they can also work out the dynamics of mouthfeel as well (I suspect they will succeed) the DE1 will be smashing down yet another issue that most other machines have not even begun to address. I have noticed that the level of dosing / height of showerscreens in the DE1 affects the mouthfeel - for better or worse. I then went to a few of my other "pet machines" (mainly Linea, GS3 and La Pavoni 2 group) and I could duplicate the type of change in mouthfeel in them as well. I have never even suspected that before!

    So yep, I also reckon the DE1 is starting to revolutionise a lot of other factors involved in getting a better cuppa.

    The other thing I love about the DE1 is pretty basic - after I have set up a roast anyone can just repeat my last setting by pressing "start" under the "default espresso tab". Literally as one button process. Want to do a pre or post flush? Change to the flush tab and press "start flush" - i.e. it is two buttons away. Stopping the flush is a one button operation. Feel like tinkering - that is where I found 16 pages was not enough to outline the "almost infinite" options properly. See Scott Rao's attempt on https://www.scottrao.com/blog/2018/7...ode-on-the-de1 to describe advanced mode and multiply the options by a factor of ten.

    One other point - John does not always agree with my viewpoint, however he is 100% fine with me expressing it. Not a hint of suppression from his direction. If you go through the main DE1 thread you will find a few occasions where we disagree, however we both keep it civil. I also stand by my post about outstanding service from Decent - other manufacturers and coffee wholesalers / retailers are nowhere near that impressive in general - even those who handle my favourite commercial machines and grinders.

    I hope this helps a little


    TampIt

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    G'day Faatshank

    Firstly, the reason there is so little info on the forums is the difficulty in reviewing such a complex beastie.

    I started with a La Cimbali espresso machine in 1970, spent 4 1/2 months a while back (mostly) taming a Strada and have owned the DE1Pro since Feb this year. I have used at least 50 different machines over the years (virtually every "up market machine" most people know except a Slayer). The Strada is as far as I know the only machine as at today with anything like the capability of the DE1 - and it is a distant second in functionality. I also reckon I have barely scratched the surface of what the DE1 can do (still on "P plates" here).

    I intended to write a full review of the DE1, however the quick version is currently topping 16 pages and is quite inadequate. It literally needs a novel or a series of videos to fully outline what it can do. The following is my personal opinion only, even some other DE1 owners may disagree. BTW, I prefer light to medium roasts, I change roasts every 500ml (often for a totally different one in every sense of the word), use (depend upon?) VST baskets, a naked portafilter and the Mahlkoeniq Varios to feed the DE1. A number of "alternative machines" cannot even handle some of the light roasts the DE1 can nail - e.g. a recent Ecuador roast was the lowest solubility, densest beans I have ever encountered. Three conventional machines literally could not handle that roast, even when fed by my setup. Any machine can handle dark roasts.

    1. "Are the owners sticking with the machine? Or is there temptation to revert to a more traditional machine?" You bet it will stay (or a newer version)! My only current decision is whether to go for the DE1Cafe (simultaneous shoot and froth at last) or update to the V1.3 group on my current DE1 or both - I have a few family members who would love my Pro for XMas / birthday / anytime or reason and I may well try the new V1.3 group in my current DE1 first.
    2) A few things could be improved, mostly they will be fixed with the V1.3 group. FYI, It allows real time flow / temp / pressure adjustment so it really is like a combo made in heaven of a manual lever, noting the settings and then automating them. I say heaven as the DE1 and Strada are an initial nightmare when faced when an unknown roast as they are both very sensitive to coffee density and solubility (the DE1 even more so if that is possible). The new group should make that process easy. A side note - the DE1 can do 8mls/sec at 12 bar pressure - it is incredibly powerful yet highly sensitive using flow control. The water tank could be a lot taller and not as shallow (major redesign of the internals - don't hold your breath!). It should be able to shoot and froth at the same time. That is probably the end of my "improvement list". On the plus side, the DE1 keeps itself cleaner than any other machine I know - and by a wide margin. Living with the DE1 for me is the easiest machine to have in a domestic setting over nearly 50 years of espresso.
    3) "Has the quality of your espresso been consistent throughout?" Yes, 100%. I would add that I have been using a naked p/f for decades without having spraying issues after the first year or so, so my technique is pretty consistent. VST 7g single baskets baskets do not allow much margin for error and they do not tolerate rubbish roast or technique either. The Vario is also 100% consistent - most grinders aren't. The DE1 is ruthless in revealing differences in technique or gear, however a few newbies in my near circle of friends have had no issues with my whole current setup. IMO using traditional (poorer particle spread) grinders with the DE1 reveals their inadequacies all too clearly.
    4. "Ultimately whether you still highly recommend the machine?". I would recommend it unreservedly to those who love balanced cuppas using light to medium roasts - they have / will become instant fanboys as long as they are willing to tinker (or await the new group which will save them a lot of grief). Those who prefer dark roasts and use traditional grinders - I would suggest they "try before they buy" as their setup is not really good enough to access the DE1 strengths. It is also probably overkill for them.

    FYI the DE1 is a continuous development product. Currently there is a lot of tinkering into mouthfeel / group height adjustment which (IMO only as an outsider) is likely to delay the V1.3 group for another month or two. If they can also work out the dynamics of mouthfeel as well (I suspect they will succeed) the DE1 will be smashing down yet another issue that most other machines have not even begun to address. I have noticed that the level of dosing / height of showerscreens in the DE1 affects the mouthfeel - for better or worse. I then went to a few of my other "pet machines" (mainly Linea, GS3 and La Pavoni 2 group) and I could duplicate the type of change in mouthfeel in them as well. I have never even suspected that before!

    So yep, I also reckon the DE1 is starting to revolutionise a lot of other factors involved in getting a better cuppa.

    The other thing I love about the DE1 is pretty basic - after I have set up a roast anyone can just repeat my last setting by pressing "start" under the "default espresso tab". Literally as one button process. Want to do a pre or post flush? Change to the flush tab and press "start flush" - i.e. it is two buttons away. Stopping the flush is a one button operation. Feel like tinkering - that is where I found 16 pages was not enough to outline the "almost infinite" options properly. See Scott Rao's attempt on https://www.scottrao.com/blog/2018/7...ode-on-the-de1 to describe advanced mode and multiply the options by a factor of ten.

    One other point - John does not always agree with my viewpoint, however he is 100% fine with me expressing it. Not a hint of suppression from his direction. If you go through the main DE1 thread you will find a few occasions where we disagree, however we both keep it civil. I also stand by my post about outstanding service from Decent - other manufacturers and coffee wholesalers / retailers are nowhere near that impressive in general - even those who handle my favourite commercial machines and grinders.

    I hope this helps a little


    TampIt
    Awesome detailed response. Thank you very much, so informative.
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  11. #11
    338
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    Faatshank, I was going to suggest you go back through the Decent thread and pick the mini reviews out of there. Tamp it's is the most comprehensive and is a page or so back , user GC has one and others I can't remember, but gives you something to search on. Even my posts in that thread probably 20% will be asking 'what do you think of it' so you could search on that. Depending on your hourly rate it may be cheaper to buy a Decent than read the whole thread!



    PS Faatshank, your PM box is full
    Last edited by 338; 4 Weeks Ago at 06:01 AM. Reason: add pm
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    Quote Originally Posted by 338 View Post
    Faatshank, I was going to suggest you go back through the Decent thread and pick the mini reviews out of there. Tamp it's is the most comprehensive and is a page or so back , user GC has one and others I can't remember, but gives you something to search on. Even my posts in that thread probably 20% will be asking 'what do you think of it' so you could search on that. Depending on your hourly rate it may be cheaper to buy a Decent than read the whole thread!



    PS Faatshank, your PM box is full
    Thanks 338 - good advice. Have cleaned my inbox and got your PM. Many thanks, very useful.
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    Tampit has given you the views of an experienced, expert user. I'll give you the views of an inexperienced (5 years serious coffee), inexpert user.

    First, I'd ignore some of the posts earlier in this thread, which seem to be an attempt to spread F.U.D. But they have served some purpose as they provoked me into replying.

    Next, owners don't discuss the machine here because there's no need - there's an owners forum. I agree, it's a pain for prospective purchasers that they can't read this forum, but that's the reason why you don't see the discussion here.

    If you want a comprehensive review in addition to Tampit's, then read the Home Barista one. I think it's mostly fair, although a little dated as they had a V1.0 machine. Also John Weiss is one of two prominent owners who think that Decent shots lack "mouthfeel". Most of the rest of us don't, and those of us who have had the recent opportunity to try a "spacer" above the shower screen definitely don't (more on this below). To your questions:

    1. Are the owners sticking with the machine? Or is there temptation to revert to a more traditional machine?

    Yes. No. That's speaking for myself. I haven't seen many for sale. The other prominent user who felt the machine lacked mouthfeel had his DE for sale at one stage, but that seems to be an exception. John Buckman recently announced that they've shipped 1,000 machines. The absence of for-sale ads suggests most owners are keeping theirs.

    I'd be the first to admit that the DE is overkill for me, even though I don't drink dark roasts myself (wife does) and I don't have a traditional grinder. (c.f Tampit's comment about overkill.) I jumped because of what I perceived as the inflexibility of E61 machines, esp HX. Slow to warm up and to change brew temp and not easy to pressure profile. Some of these things can be had in a PID DB E61 with a flow control knob, but they're still slow to warm up and temp changes still take time. If I have a roast where I'm struggling to get the same out of it that others say they're getting, there aren't many levers to pull on an E61, so to speak.

    There are incidental side-benefits to the DE. It takes up less space, and you can take it travelling with you (by car) more easily than the average E61.

    However the flexibility of the DE comes at a $ cost - they ain't cheap. I don't regret buying the machine. Would I do it again? Yes, I think so. But it's not every day you drop > $4K on a machine, so it takes some thought and you have to be in an adventurous mood. You also need a good quality single dosing grinder to get the most out of the flexibility that the DE offers, so that you can quickly change bean and grind as needed. The Niche seems to be the grinder of choice for many DE users.

    2. Any issues or things that could be improved?

    At one level, I'm sure there is. This is a V1.x machine. There will no doubt be a V2 and V3 etc. On the software side, improvements are ongoing. The app is being updated all the time. The firmware for the machine happens less often, and at the moment is in a holding pattern while they get it ready for the forthcoming V1.3 machine, but there will be further releases. You upgrade these over wi-fi.

    What are the niggles? I guess the main one for me is the spacer issue. This story is too long to tell here, but in short, there's a body of evidence that suggests that shots can be improved if the shower screen is lowered by a few mm. The Decent techs are exploring this. Owners have taken matters into their own hands, and two of them (in the US) are fabricating brass / stainless spacers. John recently referred to this in his long thread. IMHO the shots are improved with a spacer by more than he seemed to suggest. I'd rather than the Decent techs moved more quickly on this issue, but it's a small company, and finalising the V1.3 machine seems to be the priority.

    You have to be careful with water quality. In order to get the control over flow and pressure and temp, the DE seems to have narrow diameter plumbing (I'm sure I saw John say something to this effect somewhere in a post.) I think it's more susceptible to scale than the average E61 machine. The good news is that it's easier to descale the DE - use citric acid and the built-in descale routine - but with hard water you'd be doing it more often with the DE. Easier to use the right water.

    The tablet that controls the DE is a fairly basic Android tablet running Android 5. Its bluetooth connection to the tablet can be flakey and may need to be reset from time to time. There is an upgraded tablet coming running V8. Not sure whether it's now shipping with new machines. Apple users aren't wild about Android, but it works. Decent, and a number of tech-savvy users, are working on broadening the range of devices that can control the DE, so this will be less a constraint in the future, and from V1.3 the tablet will only control configuration and profile selection - starting and stopping the machine will be controlled from the top of the group head.

    You'll need to allow for a few accessories. The one accessory I'd strongly advise is a bluetooth scale, which enables you to chart the shot weight in real time, and to stop on weight. At present your only real option is the Skale 2, although the Decent scale is coming (it's been coming for a while). The question is where to put it? The Skale isn't all that water-proof, and so on the drip tray isn't ideal. Under the drip tray is better, but you need a scale stand for that. Whatever you do, do NOT buy the one on the Decent website. All their accessories are excellent, except this one. Wait until you have access to the Decent forum and get a 3D printed Skale stand.

    3. Has the quality of your espresso been consistent throughout?

    I'm not the best person person to answer. Not skilled enough, and I can sometimes struggle to get the best out of a bean, on both E61 and DE. That said, I think the shots are consistently better with the DE. (At present I think I'm getting the best shots out of Andy's Espresso Wow that I've ever had - balance of sweetness and body - so perhaps it wasn't overkill after all.) When they're not, it's not the machine's fault. The DE gives you more options to get things right, and also to get things wrong. Many users posting on the Decent forum say that they've learnt much more, more quickly, on the DE, and I think that even Tampit was saying something along those lines.

    There is a temptation to tinker with profiles, esp as a new user. There is a danger of disappearing down the rabbit hole. If you eventually decide to get one, resist this temptation, stick to the basic profiles, at least initially, and you'll be a whole lot happier. The time to experiment will come, don't be impatient. This advice probably doesn't apply to more experienced users.

    4. Ultimately whether you still highly recommend the machine?

    Yes, I'd recommend it highly, for the right person, but it's probably not a machine for everyone. As I said, I'd buy it again, although it would still take a very deep breath. The V1.3 is going to jump in price by over AUD400, so your pain threshold will need to be that much higher. I've made a number of comments about niggles, but these are minor things and not a comment on the overall quality of the machine, which shows a lot of thought and ingenuity. Mine has been very reliable in six months of ownership.

    5. Support.

    You didn't ask about this, but I'll mention it. Given the newness of the machine and that Decent is in HK with no local representative (although one tech lives in QLD), pre-purchase I was worried about support. I haven't had any problems with the DE, other than having to reset the bluetooth connection occasionally, so I haven't had to test it out. But I have seen the support provided to other users via the Decent forum, and I'd say that it's exemplary. John is very supportive of users. There's very good hardware upgrade support, and you have direct access to the techs. You just don't see this level of support and a desire to do the right thing by customers anywhere near often enough in the world of commerce.

    Now please excuse me while I go and pull another shot.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Then we have this from Talk Coffee, an interesting, informative and well thought out perspective.

    Yes I spoke to Chris and asked if he had any objection before posting it.

    Playtime with Decent Espresso DE1+

    So what can it do and how is it to use? The good… John’s goal in the build brief of this machine was to make one machine emulate all and in this sense, huge progress has been made. Want a hand operated piston leva? Yes. Slayer emulator? Yes. Flat 9Bar? Yes. Spring leva? Yes. Flow profiled to your spec? Yes. Pressure profile? Yes. These are just some of the capabilities in an espresso sense and the machine comes well loaded with lots of profiles to get you started. There is little that the machine cannot do with espresso and the possibilities are really only limited by your imagination. There are so many YouTube clips out there, that there is not much value in repeating them. Do a search, watch some and then come to your own conclusions. I got great espresso out of the box with very little adjustment: So, it pretty much does what it promises for espresso. I played more and produced many other great but different espressos as well as pretty much everything else on the black and milky coffee menu. The not so good… Mindful of the fact that the DE1+ represents almost $5k if you’d like to own one in Australia, what do you have to live with?
    • The finish needs more work. I just can’t get beyond the fact that when I look at it, I can’t see $5k. I actually struggle to see $2.5k. At this point, it’s taking many hands 20+ hours to construct one of these and I suspect that much of the cost of purchase is labour coupled with R&D. If I didn’t know what I was looking at, I’m seeing an appliance store machine with an android tablet attached. I doubt that someone who doesn’t know what s/he’s looking at would walk into your kitchen and say “WOW!”
    • It’s noisy. How noisy? Not Sunbeam jackhammer, but it grunts, vibrates and groans. This makes is hard to close your eyes and imagine a $5k machine.
    • Steam? Well, plenty of it and it will texture milk adequately. Steam quality? Decidedly average. The steam is a lot damper than I’d expect. At this stage, this is the item that needs the most work. Nitpicking? Probably- but it should be better…
    • Service? No surprise that it takes 20 hours to build one. Other than replacing a pump, I wouldn’t want to repair one! At the moment, if something goes wrong, Decent will send bits if required and then try to help you fix the issue. In many states of Australia, it’s illegal for you to do that without formal electrickery qualifications. What will happen if/when someone is injured? If you can’t fix it, you send it back and it’s either repaired, or replaced. Discounted factory refurb. anyone?

    What else? For me, the biggest frustration is that no matter when you received your Decent Espresso machine, you scored a superseeded one. Decent are continually involved in the R&D process. The next build of DE1+ machines will have revisions to the group and also to the heaters. Sadly, it seems that for the moment, you will never have the thrill of the latest and greatest as that will be the next machine built, not the one shipped to you. In conclusion: Will it be replacing the machine at home? Sorry, but not at this point. In my home, great coffee is a given. It’s served with the wow factor that comes with a beautifully designed, high performance and pretty expensive machine and I am happy with that. My traveller is and will remain an Olympia Cremina. It’s simple, superbly built, produces amazing espresso and will last forever. Whilst the Decent software interface is brilliant and I have no doubt that other manufacturers will be watching closely and may well be already looking to emulate it, you don’t need all of this technology to achieve brilliant coffee and I suspect that for many owners, the novelty will wear off and it will be set pretty much to each owner’s preferred default and stay that way. Many of us just want fantastic coffee before we head out the door and all of this technology will still not cover for poor skills. If anything, it highlights poor skills. The DE1+ will appeal to a very small percentage of coffee geeks who have the time and means to play with coffee and do so extensively. Sadly, there are not many with that luxury on a day to day basis. I can taste $5k in the cup, but I need to feel and touch it. Aspects of the machine are brilliant, but it’s just not the right machine for me…Where’s the romance? Postscript: Our DE1+ was offered for sale and was sold late in August. The purchaser of the machine played with it for a few weeks and has also offered it for sale. He’s decided to purchase a La Marzocco GS3.
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  15. #15
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    I invite readers, and especially those considering the DE, to compare the review of current sponsor John Buckman's Decent espresso machines by former sponsor Chris of Talk Coffee commercial link removed as per Site Posting Policy (and part 2 commercial link removed as per Site Posting Policy which is where the quotes above were sourced), with the review by the Home Barista team here. [I trust these links are ok - IMHO they're reviews, not commercial.] I've posted links to both parts of Chris's review, because there is some important context missing. Note in particular:

    "Talk Coffee expressed interest in possibly ranging some Decent models early in the process and early discussions with John looked promising. Whilst margins were really tight, it looked as if it might be possible to have a bricks and mortar outlet in Australia where those who were interested in a machine that they could see, touch and sample. Sadly, between discussion and delivery, there was a change of heart and anyone who wants a Decent will be purchasing from Hong Kong in Aussie dollars. Support and service also currently reside in Hong Kong (Though there are talks of one day having a service facility somewhere in Australia)."

    I agonised long and hard about my Decent purchase and read everything I could find. I came across Chris's review fairly early on, it's not hard to find (should the links be deleted), but it played no part in my decision. It read to me like the writings of a jilted suitor. Do the comparison with the HB review and make up your own mind. See also the video review by James Hoffman.

    I'm not saying that the machine is perfect or is for everyone. No machine is. But I think it's pretty darn good and it suits me. For balance, here is the summary of the HB review:

    "Simply stated, the Decent Espresso DE1 is an espresso machine for the 21st century. After 6 months with the DE1, I'm hooked. The DE1 pulls great shots of espresso, offers unparalleled extraction control and feedback, and makes other espresso machines feel, well, primitive by comparison. Moreover, it's put a lot of the excitement and fun back into espresso for me. Highly recommended."

    I also think that current sponsors are entitled to more respect than to have the mean-spirited comments of former sponsors posted on CS.
    Last edited by Javaphile; 4 Weeks Ago at 02:19 PM. Reason: Commercial links removed

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    Gunda I think free speech is/was/should be part and parcel of CoffeeSnobs.

    The Niche was in the same category until it jumped in price by 30% to $1299 and is now available locally. We should probably expect the same if Decent scales up their production capacity enough to supply retailers, they would have to increase their margins to allow for retailers to make some many and cover stocking parts etc.

    I think one difference with Decent is they are the manufacturer and distributor. This is not a conflict of interest but it is a fact. But even if they weren't the Decent is so unique you can't compare it to anything. It's not like E61 machines where 10+ brands are selling very similar machines.

    Decent's direct to consumer model is much like Tesla or Apple, if it wasn't then IMHO a 4k machine becomes a 5-6k machine which is not good for us snobs and brings it into Linea Mini / GS3 territory. At that price level I would rather bank on a machine I know will last 20-30 years.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by roosterben View Post
    Decent's direct to consumer model is much like Tesla or Apple, if it wasn't then IMHO a 4k machine becomes a 5-6k machine which is not good for us snobs and brings it into Linea Mini / GS3 territory. At that price level I would rather bank on a machine I know will last 20-30 years.
    after reading through threads like this, https://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-e...ea-mini-4.html, i would definitely trust john over LM to support me if the machine had issues.
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    John Buckman did once mention on the Decent forum the problems he encountered in getting his machine into espresso machine retailers. No Australian retailers were mentioned, but one high-profile US one was. The problematic issue was how they would position it in their range and market it, rather than how they price it. This is an important decision for a new manufacturer of a machine unlike any other on the market trying to demonstrate progress and establish brand reputation. You want the retailer to understand it and position & sell it on its merits, and it wasn't clear to him that was going to happen. So he stuck to direct sales. Perhaps that might change once the brand is better established, but as you say, would put upwards pressure on price.

  19. #19
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    There has recently been mention of about 1000 Decent machines having been sold so far.

    Would be interesting to know how many of these have come to Australia.

    For obvious reasons I suspect the main thrust has been directed at the U.S. market.

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    I can't recall a vendor that displays the same level of transparency.

    This coupled with rapid development and release iterations seems much more suited to a direct sales model than trying to manage via a third party.

    Full credit to the team, I don't have one, probably won't buy one but am always fascinated to read the posts

    Cheers

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    That is true about LMs terrible service and the fact they took their premium home machines away from retailers is poor business.

    Also I think John is a pioneer who is innovating in a space where there hasn't been a lot going on.

    If I had 4k to spend I would prob buy a dual boiler E61 machine with pressure profiling. But early on I never thought I would buy a Niche so who knows in a few years time.

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    I can see that of the last 40 machines shipped, 15 were non-US, and of those, 6 were to Australia. I'm not sure that figure is representative. I haven't bothered to look at the queue for some time - the proportion of sales to the US didn't seem as high as 62.5% in the past, and sales to Australia have always been a decent number. The impression you get from the forum is of a reasonable geographic spread.

  23. #23
    338
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    Gunda, thank you for the review. Yours and tamp its now rate as the two longest user reviews i have seen, even including user reviews on HB.

    Out of interest, will you get the new head upgrade (assuming you know more through the users forum)? Do you think a potential purchaser should wait as it isn't far away? Will it include the mouthfeel upgrade?

    It sounds like there is a large number of machines in Australia now, which is good news. Was that 6 shipping in the last week, month or what timeframe?

    Ps Forgot to add Luca to the review list, he also wrote a tremendous review, well woth searching for Faatshank
    Last edited by 338; 4 Weeks Ago at 10:31 PM.
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    No, I haven't decided about the V1.3 group head upgrade. I'm still thinking .... I feel like I've spent one heck of lot of money on gear in the last 12 months. I'm not sure I'd use it, but it may make it easier to sell if ever I should decide to (absolutely no plans). It may make it easier to instruct others to use the machine, not that it's hard, but a couple of buttons is simpler than a tablet interface.

    John posts occasional updates with progress pictures and videos about the new group head from the Decent Forum, but he usually posts them here as well, so I don't think we know a lot more than you'd read here. I don't recall a definite date. I wouldn't start holding my breath just yet. My understanding is that the group head is the only difference to the V1.1. So if you want it now and are prepared to do the upgrade with supplied parts, buy now. If you can wait and don't want to do the upgrade, then wait. The upgrade is the same price as the price differential for the machine. FYI, once a machine has the upgrade, shots / steam / hot water can only be started and stopped from the group head. Apparently this is required by some compliance regime that I don't understand.

    No idea about the time frame for those shipments. When I bought mine six months ago, they were still cranking up the supply chain and there was a genuine queue. So you knew the rough time frame for the last 40 shipments because you knew (from forum reports) how fast they were making them. But the supply capacity is now much faster, there's virtually no queue, and so there's no way of knowing the speed of orders. John is pretty transparent, but some information must be some commercial-in-confidence.

    Quote Originally Posted by woodhouse View Post
    after reading through threads like this, https://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-e...ea-mini-4.html, i would definitely trust john over LM to support me if the machine had issues.
    Not familiar with the LM issue, but I think that's an accurate assessment of John. A scholar and a gentleman.
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  25. #25
    338
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    Gunda, thanks for the update, that is the first time I had seen mentioned that the new grouphead is mandatory to use once installed. It seemed a good upgrade, but now can see why you would want to consider how it worked with everything else. Very hard for a non Decent user to tell.


    Apologies to you if you think my posts were to spread FUD, I actually wanted to remove it at my end. The reality is the average Aus user posts one or two lines on their Decent experience, if at all. For a machine which is a total change of pace, from the outside you would think it warrants more.
    Last edited by 338; 4 Weeks Ago at 07:37 AM.

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    Also very hard for a Decent owner to tell, unless they've come from a lever machine and are used to making on-the-fly flow adjustments. One advantage of buying a V1.1 now is you then have the option of whether to move to a V1.3, whereas once the V1.3 starts shipping, I assume (but don't know for sure) that you won't then be able to buy a V1.1. You could ask John that question in the long thread, since he may not see this one or may decide not to join in. The other assumption I'm making is that the upgrade option will always be available, since it uses the exact same parts as will be fitted to the V1.3.

    I was not concerned about your posts. Your questions are entirely understandable, and I had a pre-purchase grumble of my own on some forum or other about the inability to read the Decent forum. I was more concerned about the reliability issue of a new, sophisticated machine, and not being able to see the sorts of issues that owners have had. To answer your next question, there have been a smattering of issues. Occasionally a part here or there fails, or a connection works loose, but Decent quickly pull out all stops to get that machine fixed asap. Water quality issues are another theme. The only recent systemic issue has been the (custom) short USB charging cable not connecting properly and the tablet going flat. Not a problem I've had, but a number of owners have. It's not hard to work around this - just use a longer standard cable and normal charger. Another new cable is currently being tested by those who've had problems, shipped to them for free. You get the idea.

  27. #27
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    I'm pretty sure John mentioned another difference between 1.1 and 1.3 that was not upgradeable like the group will be. I think it was internal hardware.

    Edit: found it. Post #2058 on this page https://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-e...oughts-42.html

    Quote Originally Posted by decentespresso View Post
    The v1.3 machines will be about A$440 more expensive, as they also have the new real-time group head controller on them. The current v1.1 machines are upgradable to this controller, at the same price.

    But the bump up in steam speed is not something you can upgrade.

    -john

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    Well spotted / recalled. Now that you mention it, I did see that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunda View Post
    Tampit has given you the views of an experienced, expert user. I'll give you the views of an inexperienced (5 years serious coffee), inexpert user.

    First, I'd ignore some of the posts earlier in this thread, which seem to be an attempt to spread F.U.D. But they have served some purpose as they provoked me into replying.

    Next, owners don't discuss the machine here because there's no need - there's an owners forum. I agree, it's a pain for prospective purchasers that they can't read this forum, but that's the reason why you don't see the discussion here.

    If you want a comprehensive review in addition to Tampit's, then read the Home Barista one. I think it's mostly fair, although a little dated as they had a V1.0 machine. Also John Weiss is one of two prominent owners who think that Decent shots lack "mouthfeel". Most of the rest of us don't, and those of us who have had the recent opportunity to try a "spacer" above the shower screen definitely don't (more on this below). To your questions:

    1. Are the owners sticking with the machine? Or is there temptation to revert to a more traditional machine?

    Yes. No. That's speaking for myself. I haven't seen many for sale. The other prominent user who felt the machine lacked mouthfeel had his DE for sale at one stage, but that seems to be an exception. John Buckman recently announced that they've shipped 1,000 machines. The absence of for-sale ads suggests most owners are keeping theirs.

    I'd be the first to admit that the DE is overkill for me, even though I don't drink dark roasts myself (wife does) and I don't have a traditional grinder. (c.f Tampit's comment about overkill.) I jumped because of what I perceived as the inflexibility of E61 machines, esp HX. Slow to warm up and to change brew temp and not easy to pressure profile. Some of these things can be had in a PID DB E61 with a flow control knob, but they're still slow to warm up and temp changes still take time. If I have a roast where I'm struggling to get the same out of it that others say they're getting, there aren't many levers to pull on an E61, so to speak.

    There are incidental side-benefits to the DE. It takes up less space, and you can take it travelling with you (by car) more easily than the average E61.

    However the flexibility of the DE comes at a $ cost - they ain't cheap. I don't regret buying the machine. Would I do it again? Yes, I think so. But it's not every day you drop > $4K on a machine, so it takes some thought and you have to be in an adventurous mood. You also need a good quality single dosing grinder to get the most out of the flexibility that the DE offers, so that you can quickly change bean and grind as needed. The Niche seems to be the grinder of choice for many DE users.

    2. Any issues or things that could be improved?

    At one level, I'm sure there is. This is a V1.x machine. There will no doubt be a V2 and V3 etc. On the software side, improvements are ongoing. The app is being updated all the time. The firmware for the machine happens less often, and at the moment is in a holding pattern while they get it ready for the forthcoming V1.3 machine, but there will be further releases. You upgrade these over wi-fi.

    What are the niggles? I guess the main one for me is the spacer issue. This story is too long to tell here, but in short, there's a body of evidence that suggests that shots can be improved if the shower screen is lowered by a few mm. The Decent techs are exploring this. Owners have taken matters into their own hands, and two of them (in the US) are fabricating brass / stainless spacers. John recently referred to this in his long thread. IMHO the shots are improved with a spacer by more than he seemed to suggest. I'd rather than the Decent techs moved more quickly on this issue, but it's a small company, and finalising the V1.3 machine seems to be the priority.

    You have to be careful with water quality. In order to get the control over flow and pressure and temp, the DE seems to have narrow diameter plumbing (I'm sure I saw John say something to this effect somewhere in a post.) I think it's more susceptible to scale than the average E61 machine. The good news is that it's easier to descale the DE - use citric acid and the built-in descale routine - but with hard water you'd be doing it more often with the DE. Easier to use the right water.

    The tablet that controls the DE is a fairly basic Android tablet running Android 5. Its bluetooth connection to the tablet can be flakey and may need to be reset from time to time. There is an upgraded tablet coming running V8. Not sure whether it's now shipping with new machines. Apple users aren't wild about Android, but it works. Decent, and a number of tech-savvy users, are working on broadening the range of devices that can control the DE, so this will be less a constraint in the future, and from V1.3 the tablet will only control configuration and profile selection - starting and stopping the machine will be controlled from the top of the group head.

    You'll need to allow for a few accessories. The one accessory I'd strongly advise is a bluetooth scale, which enables you to chart the shot weight in real time, and to stop on weight. At present your only real option is the Skale 2, although the Decent scale is coming (it's been coming for a while). The question is where to put it? The Skale isn't all that water-proof, and so on the drip tray isn't ideal. Under the drip tray is better, but you need a scale stand for that. Whatever you do, do NOT buy the one on the Decent website. All their accessories are excellent, except this one. Wait until you have access to the Decent forum and get a 3D printed Skale stand.

    3. Has the quality of your espresso been consistent throughout?

    I'm not the best person person to answer. Not skilled enough, and I can sometimes struggle to get the best out of a bean, on both E61 and DE. That said, I think the shots are consistently better with the DE. (At present I think I'm getting the best shots out of Andy's Espresso Wow that I've ever had - balance of sweetness and body - so perhaps it wasn't overkill after all.) When they're not, it's not the machine's fault. The DE gives you more options to get things right, and also to get things wrong. Many users posting on the Decent forum say that they've learnt much more, more quickly, on the DE, and I think that even Tampit was saying something along those lines.

    There is a temptation to tinker with profiles, esp as a new user. There is a danger of disappearing down the rabbit hole. If you eventually decide to get one, resist this temptation, stick to the basic profiles, at least initially, and you'll be a whole lot happier. The time to experiment will come, don't be impatient. This advice probably doesn't apply to more experienced users.

    4. Ultimately whether you still highly recommend the machine?

    Yes, I'd recommend it highly, for the right person, but it's probably not a machine for everyone. As I said, I'd buy it again, although it would still take a very deep breath. The V1.3 is going to jump in price by over AUD400, so your pain threshold will need to be that much higher. I've made a number of comments about niggles, but these are minor things and not a comment on the overall quality of the machine, which shows a lot of thought and ingenuity. Mine has been very reliable in six months of ownership.

    5. Support.

    You didn't ask about this, but I'll mention it. Given the newness of the machine and that Decent is in HK with no local representative (although one tech lives in QLD), pre-purchase I was worried about support. I haven't had any problems with the DE, other than having to reset the bluetooth connection occasionally, so I haven't had to test it out. But I have seen the support provided to other users via the Decent forum, and I'd say that it's exemplary. John is very supportive of users. There's very good hardware upgrade support, and you have direct access to the techs. You just don't see this level of support and a desire to do the right thing by customers anywhere near often enough in the world of commerce.

    Now please excuse me while I go and pull another shot.
    G'day Gunda

    Great review Gunda. Provides some extra balance.
    "You have to be careful with water quality. In order to get the control over flow and pressure and temp, the DE seems to have narrow diameter plumbing (I'm sure I saw John say something to this effect somewhere in a post.) I think it's more susceptible to scale than the average E61 machine. The good news is that it's easier to descale the DE - use citric acid and the built-in descale routine - but with hard water you'd be doing it more often with the DE. Easier to use the right water."
    I would never have thought of that as I only use double filtered rainwater (Rockingham rainwater on my roof is pretty clean to start with, I also filter it both in and out of the tank). I only descaled my DE1 for the first time about a month ago (i.e. the 7 or 8 month point) as it took that long to develop a faint but perceptible taint. I refuse to feed any espresso machine with poor water.

    FWIW, I always do a "taste test" before setting up any new machine. Put (say) 50ml of water through the group + empty basket into a ceramic cup or glass (I use borosilicate these days). Cover the cup / glass with a tight fitting lid and wait for it to cool down. Compare it to the same water at the same temperature to some that has not gone through the machine. That difference you can taste is exactly the taint that every coffee out of that machine will start with. Most machines are a dismal fail - especially brass boilers which can impart a "fish oil taint".

    Bluetooth frailty: I know gc has had some bluetooth snafus' (V1.0 group), my V1.1 has not missed a beat. Mind you, I suspect the V1.0 does not charge the tablet as well either as gc also has an issue with that. I found out the hard way that leaving the machine on standby does not charge the tablet (only done that once, 5 hours flattened the tablet battery). Considering the Decent takes "forever" to warm up (3 minutes, almost exactly double the 6910 sitting next to it's 75 seconds + 15 second preflush) it is not worth using standby much.

    "The DE gives you more options to get things right, and also to get things wrong. Many users posting on the Decent forum say that they've learnt much more, more quickly, on the DE, and I think that even Tampit was saying something along those lines."
    ...and yes - the DE1 certainly "helps" you learn a lot very quickly. Those real time graphs of pressure, flow and temperature give instant feedback. Invaluable for newbies and experienced users alike.

    Like you, I suspect the DE1 will continue to improve. I still regard it as a late prototype / early beta which is well worth buying as an early adopter.

    I hope this helps.

    TampIt



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