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Thread: Decent Espresso Machines (DE1) - Any thoughts?

  1. #1251
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    I am not in the market for a new machine but I must say if I was then Decent Espresso would be a the top of my list.

    The level of ownership and responsibility John takes for his machines and the teething problems to date is second to none. So often in today’s world people look for some one or something else to blame so it is a refreshing change to see a company put their hand up and own the issue without trying to Duck for cover and shirk responsibility.

    I take my hat off to you and all you have managed to achiveve... an exceptional bit of kit and with the business morals you have displayed in these pages I am sure that you and your company will go a long way.

    Good luck and I will certainly ntinue to enjoy reading your informative posts.

    Cheers,

    Alastair
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  2. #1252
    Senior Member JMcCee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by decentespresso View Post
    Attachment 19140

    So far, of the 45 machines we've sent out, we've been able to guide people with a problem back to a machine in good working condition without needing to send them a replacement machine.

    Except in three cases.

    Today, all three of these customers are getting free replacement machines from us. We'll pay to get those machines back to us and study them to figure out why they are anomalies.

    The 3 different causes of failure are interesting stories, though.

    - Michael's machine makes espresso about 5C hotter than the goal setting. We can't figure out why, but it's probably a defective temperature sensor (or bad connection) causing the control system to get confused. We thought that Michael must be "doing something weird" but have crossed out all the possibilities and now think "something is weird with his machine".

    - Jack was using the "calibrate" page when he accidentally didn't enter a decimal point, thus entering a huge number in by accident (ie, 300 ml/second flow rate, instead of 3.00). This caused the firmware to crash whenever the DE1+ was booted. Whoops: we hadn't thought to create an emergency mechanism for clearing the calibration settings. The DIP switch settings should have put Jack into "safe mode" so he could upgrade his firmware, but didn't do their job right.

    - Christian's machine had a retaining clip fall out during transport, so that steam was leaking. We resolved that with a video chat, but when he put the case back on, a pump wire wasn't tucked in enough, and the case scraped the insulation off as he closed it. This caused a short and blew a safety triac on one of our PC boards.

    Each new type of failure teaches us something.

    There is a positive side to our slowly ramping up our manufacturing speed: most of the big problems will have been solved by the time we can manage to ship machines at a reasonable pace.
    Just curious but what's the workaround with import taxes when machines are replaced?

  3. #1253
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    Initial thoughts - DE1+

    Sorry for the delay in posting some thoughts - bit swamped with work.

    With one weekend of tinkering under my belt, below are my initial thoughts on the DE1+. Please don't take this as a final view - both as I'm still exploring and learning the machine, and because Decent are still continuing to upgrade the hardware, software and firmware.


    tl;dr - This thing is awesome for coffee geeks, despite some early adopter niggles. No regrets so far.


    Equipment, for context:
    • My (home) grinder is a Kafatek Monolith Conical.
    • My other espresso machine is a Portaspresso Rossa PG Air. For those not aware of it, it can produce some seriously good coffee - assuming you can manage the poor temperature consistency and live with the significant time it takes to make a single shot.



    Making coffee thoughts - overall:
    • Like with any new machine, there is a learning curve. Given the plethora of options, my biggest problem is I keep trying new things rather than just focusing on optimising one coffee!
    • While I have made some very good coffee so far, I haven't yet managed to deliver something "top 10 cafe" quality. I believe this is just a matter of time - remember, I'm only 1 week in.
    • Initially, I ignored most of the data on the screen until after the shot has completed, and instead focused on the basics - initial drop pattern through the portafilter, then flow into and weight in the cup. Now that I'm fairly comfortable with the basics, I'm starting to spend more time watching the live data, however, my gut says the real value will continue to be in post-shot analysis when you can correlate with taste as well.
    • My hypothesis is that flow is more closely related to the final outcome in the cup than pressure - prior to the DE1+, I found I was intuitively managing pressure on the fly to achieve my desired flow anyway. This is something I'm keen to investigate with the DE1+.



    Making coffee thoughts - pros:

    • The ability to view precisely what's happening/just happened in the shot is incredible. Absolutely necessary? No, but very sexy, and really helps you quickly understand what impact any change you've made in the coffee, grinder, routine or profile has had. I've been able to perform better quality experiments, as I can directly compare the shot data (e.g. with and without WDT, grind setting x to grind setting y).
    • I suspect that the quality that's come from years of experience on my other espresso machine could've been achieved in under a year if I'd had this level of feedback - but your mileage may vary.
    • From my limited sample size, the DE1+ can repeatably deliver the same profile each time, if you keep things constant. The machine learning algorithms mean that you will sometimes see an improvement from the first time you run a changed profile to the second, but even the first is usually very close to target.
    • The ability for the DE1+ to hit a target temperature in the basketis incredible. Obviously it can't bend Newton's law of cooling/heating, but I normally have less than +-1degC in the basket through the whole shot. You can watch the algorithms try to compensate for the cooling effects of the coffee on the fly! I believe Decent are also working on a revised temperature model to help the DE1+ improve its' accuracy further, particularly where you've gotten aggressive with your profiling.



    Making coffee thoughts - cons:
    • There are some weaknesses in the Flow measurements received. Although I've found that the error between similar shots is immaterial, the overall calibration can vary. This is because there are a lot of factors that can affect the real flow rate, and the various measurement methods employed in the DE1+ all have their pros and cons. In their defence, Decent have a new model for measuring flow that they've started testing internally. They expect this will significantly improve the measurement and calibration accuracy.



    Non-coffee thoughts - pros:

    • Decent have a dedicated, private forum for owners, and they are very active in supporting everyone with their successes, failures and crazy ideas. I've had plenty of each! This might also be why there hasn't been as much chatter in the public forums.
    • You can log into your wifi and google (etc) on the tablet to easily and automatically share screen captures of your espresso charts and profile settings. Makes helping or being helped over a forum much easier.
    • The machine looks better in the flesh than in photos, and is certainly very inoffensive, although not personally my style (in context, my favorite looking one group is the KvDW Speedster which is in a very different price league).
    • Although gimmicky, the suitcase does hold everything nicely. I can see myself using it to cart the machine to events every couple of months.
    • I quite like the group-head handle.
    • The ceramic tank and trays are really nice and very practical, but I'll have to see whether there are any long-term issues with bugs or dust with the not-quite-sealed tank. John has mentioned he's working on an optional stainless cover which I think I will invest in.
    • Although the machine has schedule (time-based on/off) functionality, I've not yet found it to be required. The machine heats up in around 5 minutes, so I switch it on and then start prepping the basket. Similary, at the end of a session, I just switch it off again rather than leave it on. The benefits of not having a boiler!



    Non-coffee thoughts - cons:
    • There have been a few manufacturing issues with the early models (John has posted here about this), which is to be expected for a new company making a new, complex and innovative product. I've certainly got a couple of minor issues. However, Decent have been top notch to date in their customer service, so I don't expect any of the owners will have a long term problem.
    • The machine firmware and software have a few minor bugs and shortcomings at the moment than can occasionally be annoying (e.g. electronics cooling fan runs for too long). However, these are being rapidly addressed as they come up, so again I don't see a long term problem.
    • The tablet stand is OK, but it doesn't quite hold the tablet as stable as I'd expected.
    • No user manual / user wiki as such. The user forum (see pros above) is actually better at this stage, given how rapidly things are changing, but I'd prefer to see something formalised in a year's time. Mostly it's highly intuitive, but there are a few advanced settings and obscure features that would benefit from formal documentation.
    • No simple way to level the machine (e.g. to allow for a sloped bench), although it can be done.



    Please let me know if you have any specific questions/requests and I'll do my best to answer.

  4. #1254
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    Bromell, thank you very much for your review. The most detailed non pro review around at the moment and a great help in looking at the machine from an end users perspective.

  5. #1255
    Senior Member JMcCee's Avatar
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    The tablet stand is OK, but it doesn't quite hold the tablet as stable as I'd expected.
    I have heard this mentioned elswhere. One comment was particularly critical. I suspect it may be one of the first major non coffee making things John will change. I hope when it does happen the change can be a retro fit.

  6. #1256
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMcCee View Post
    I have heard this mentioned elswhere. One comment was particularly critical. I suspect it may be one of the first major non coffee making things John will change. I hope when it does happen the change can be a retro fit.
    Some people have been critical, but I personally think they're overplaying the issue. It's an annoyance, but doesn't impact the results or usability of the coffee machine.

    There is apparently a fixed position stand in development for the CAFE model that should be able to be fitted to the non-CAFE versions.

    In reality though, I quite like being able to take the tablet off and go use it on the couch. The answer for me will probably be adding a second stand (so one at each end) which will provide the extra support I'd prefer.
    Last edited by bromell; 1 Week Ago at 12:06 PM. Reason: Grammar

  7. #1257
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMcCee View Post
    If I ever get my DE1 there'll be pics everywhere. Apparently, even though I was one of the first to put money in I will be one of the last to get the thing
    I feel for you. If it's any consolation, remind yourself that the earliest owners have put up with the most issues.

    When you get yours soon, the experience should be much better straight out of the box!

  8. #1258
    Senior Member JMcCee's Avatar
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    I upgraded to the plus so shouldn't be too much longer. I better stop speculating about problems that probably wont even happen

  9. #1259
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    DE1+ reviews are starting to come out.

    Some reviews of the DE1+ came out these past few days:

    Home Barista
    https://www.home-barista.com/espress...ro-t52582.html

    Brian's coffee spot:
    Decent Espresso | Brian's Coffee Spot

    Baristas Quest:
    The DE1+ Pro by Decent- First look

    James Hoffmann
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUb5O7lQKbE&t=5s

    Even Reddit was friendly:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/Coffee/comm...hine_by_james/


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  10. #1260
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMcCee View Post
    Just curious but what's the workaround with import taxes when machines are replaced?
    We always ship our machines duty-and-taxes prepaid, with an express courier such as UPS.

    And so, if we're replacing a customer's machine, we're going to suck up all the costs (new machine, shipping, duty) because it's our fault that the machine needs replacing.

    That being said, starting in August I'll have a "Decent Chap" in Australia (my engineer Ben, is moving back home, working for us remotely), so that repairs in Australia won't necessitate shipping to another country.

    I'm also in discussion with 3 repair shops in Australia, to have them be Authorized Decent Repair Places, so that might be an alternative too.

    At the moment, no machine has broken from use, so there isn't a huge rush for me to scale up the repair infrastructure.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMcCee View Post
    I have heard this mentioned elswhere. One comment was particularly critical. I suspect it may be one of the first major non coffee making things John will change. I hope when it does happen the change can be a retro fit.
    I evaluated tons and tons of tablet stands, with the Steelie Stand being the best solution I could find. However, the evidence that "people have different tastes" when it comes to tablet stands is very strong, since there are thousands of tablet stand models available on Amazon.

    So... if you don't like the included Steelie Stand, I choice to NOT pre-glue the stand to the table, so that you can spend AU$10 and choose whatever model tablet stand you prefer.

    -john

  11. #1261
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    My Morning Espresso

    all.jpg

    My DE1+ wakes up at 6:30am, so that when I stumble in the kitchen at 7:00, the machine and portafilter are nice and hot. Despite the machine being able to pull shots in 4 minutes, I find that if you want absolutely-bang-on temperature from the very first second, it pays to preheat the machine (and especially the portafilter) for a bit longer. In 4 minutes, the first shot on the DE1+ will likely be a few C under, for the first few seconds, as the machine compensates for the cooler portafilter, with warmer water.


    15g->32g
    I pull a "best for milky drinks" flow profile shot, with 15 grams of coffee grounds, aiming for 32 grams out. My Bluetooth scale stops the shot so I can focus my limited wakefulness on pouring 350ml of milk into the milk jug, as I will be steaming two lattes at once.


    6 BARS
    I aim for 6 bar of pressure because I find that at this lower pressure, channeling completely disappears, and I get a much smoother tasting drink. Also, pressure remains just about constant throughout the shot, probably because the 6 bars are kinder on my imperfect barista skills. At 6 bars, I don't see the typical declining pressure that constant-flow shots usually produce (due to erosion and general puck degradation).


    MY GRINDER
    I use a Decent Pro Grinder, with 2 year old burrs in it. I know that conventional wisdom is that you should have fresh, sharp burrs in your grinder, but these old burrs give me very few clumps and better taste, than the newer burrs at the office.

    flow.jpg

    PREINFUSION
    This DE1+ profile automatically pre-infuses at 4ml/second, until the puck is fully saturated (at 4 bar). 4 ml/s is about the same as a commercial machine's "gicleur" flow rate. Espresso is only pouring into my cup for 15 seconds, while preinfusion took 13 seconds. That's much more preinfusion time, and less pouring time, than convention wisdom would tell you. Also, I tend to prefer the taste of my espressos right around 27 seconds of total shot time.

    Looking at the brown line, which tracks espresso-into-the-cup, I can see that "water in" (blue line) equals "water out", almost immediately after the first drops. That tells me that preinfusion was very even, as any dry spots in the puck would have delayed the brown and blue lines meeting so rapidly. It's also interesting to note how much longer a fully successful preinfusion takes, than "common knowledge" usually states.

    temp.jpg

    TEMPERATURE
    Infusion temperature at the puck is quite stable, within 1C for the entire shot. My 2nd shot usually starts 2C lower for the first five seconds. I believe this is because I rinse my portafilter out with a bit of cold water. I should change my routine to use hot water to rinse the portafilter.

    STEAMING
    I use our 600ml decent milk jug, with a digital thermometer in it, aiming for 60C/140F. However, I know from experience that this takes 81 seconds, and I have the steam timer set to turn off then. When steaming starts, for about 5 seconds I quickly make a head of foam and then sit the milk jug on the drip tray. For 75 seconds, the steaming continues on its own. The milk foam quality is really perfect using this technique, probably because the foam bubbles had so much time to be "fined" by this approach.

    While the milk is foaming, I knock out the puck, clean the portafilter, and turn off the Bluetooth scale.

    Most mornings, I'm lazy and I pour both lattes from the same 600ml milk jug. However, this causes the first latte to be thicker than the 2nd. If I pour half the foamed milk into a 350ml jug, both lattes look good. I'm lazy, though, so I'm practicing various ideas to see if I can get away with making two lattes from one milk jug.

    Then I take two lattes back to bed, while my girlfriend and I read the news, and slowly awake.
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  12. #1262
    gc
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    Oh! If only I had this sort of information to get me started when my machine arrived! After much initial struggle to understand during setup I am discovering things that you mention John, like the 15 second pour time after PI because any longer tastes bitter. Withour having preinfusion as an option on my other machine I had never experienced it's effect before. And having you talking through a few different screenshots of espresso making certainly helps make meaning of the data. I've found there is a big difference between playing with the software on a PC and having it working in front of you.

    Feel free to add lots more John!

    Edit: And for the serious minded, I should point out that my reference above to abandonment and struggle is entirely rhetorical. The assistance from John Buckman and other users at the DecentEspresso user forum has been truly exemplary - I just seem to need a lot!
    Last edited by gc; 2 Days Ago at 04:57 PM.
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