Decent Espresso 1.3/4 vs. La Marzocco Linea Mini

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
Sgoldberg89
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#1: Post by Sgoldberg89 »

I'm not sure I'm in a place to afford either yet, but I'm not sure how to make a decision once I'm there. I really love the learning that would take place with a DE machine and the ability to modulate the experience but also love the tank-like build quality of LM and the feeling of an authentic Italian espresso routine. Anyone have experience in this decision care to share how they decided which path to take? I don't really want to mod a LMLM to get flow control but wonder how happy I'd be with the variable pre infusion available on newer machines. It's a tough call!

R@f@el A.

#2: Post by R@f@el A. »

Hi, I recently went through the same decision and opted for the LMLM. Although I continue to be amazed by the technology behind the Decent machine and find the "coffee science" learning potential of the Decent (and the Diaspora community) very appealing, I ultimately settled for the Linea Mini for the following reasons:

1. Amazing and arguably class-leading steaming power for a home machine (I am currently partial to milk drinks rather than straight espresso)
2. Very high build quality and beautiful aesthetics
3. Tactile feedback when pulling shots and steaming milk
4. Preference for simple workflow and feeling that, as interesting as it is to me, I do not have time to fully take advantage of the limitless profiling capabilities of the Decent
5. LM's reputation for great customer service and the ability to have the machine repaired locally, if necessary

It was a very tough decision for me but feel that ultimately I chose the right machine for my needs.

Good luck!

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N6GQ
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#3: Post by N6GQ »

While I didn't have the direct comparison on OP's two machines, I am in a similar boat.

I've had a Londinium R for a couple years. The epitome of "built like a tank" and makes excellent espresso. Easy to work on, parts available, fantastic support, and beautiful to look at. I absolutely love the machine. I think in my situation you can think of it as my LMLM.

As good as the espresso was from the LR, and as much as I loved the machine, I wanted the option to fully maximize the beans that I'm roasting beyond what I think of as "traditional". So the DE was something that when I saw v1.3 announced I thought that the machine was to a point now where its able to hold its own against the other higher end machines in the market. I liked the ability to have visibility and control over pretty much every parameter that is important in the shot. So I ordered a v1.3 as soon as they were announced.

I've had the DE now for a while and while I started out on the fence, I'm a very happy DE user now. The DE has proven to me it can hang with the big boys, and I can meet and exceed the best shots I've had before not only on my LR but numerous other high end machines.

I know a lot of folks were not too happy with the steam power of the DE, but DE released a new firmware update a couple weeks ago that brings steam power up to the level of what you expect from a DB machine. The bigger benefit though besides steam POWER, is steam QUALITY. The steam is dry, and you can make it more dry or more wet, you can adjust steam pressure, and you can adjust steam temperature, all easily.

Now, the downsides may be that the DE doesn't look like a traditional Italian machine sitting on the counter. It also doesn't feel or sound like one. To me, those were minor and I put the in-the-cup results as the most important - and there it delivers.

You may want to do like I did - get your LMLM, get used to it, get to know it, and then if you still feel the urge to have that extra control and visibility, get a DE too. Put them side by side and compare shots. Then start trying different profiles (its simple and fast to switch profiles) and see how the espresso changes when you use a Cremina profile, or a "Blooming Espresso" profile. Better yet, get a pour over basket and try making a V60 pour over with the DE, it surpasses what you can do with a kettle (if you like pour overs).

As always, make sure you pair both machines with a competent grinder and fresh beans for that maximal experience.

I still have my LR, and I'm using the DE as my daily machine. Support for DE is excellent, the community is excellent, and the machine makes superb espresso. I'll likely keep them both.
LMWDP #614

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Randy G.

#4: Post by Randy G. »

The last three chapters in the blog section of my website document how I made my choice. I have yet to make an actual purchase, but the info there might help you make your decision.
Espresso! My Espresso! - http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
LMWDP #644

Nimitzg

#5: Post by Nimitzg »

The decent was never an option for me.
Although it can possibly produce a better espresso due to its preasure profile capabilities.
I decided to go with the LMLM bacause:
1.Build quality,reliability.
2.Brew parameters consistancy- after 3 month of use this point came out really important as my entire espresso brewing flow got better due to the machine consistancy.
All changes done today are in the amout of coffee I grind to the PF and grinder settings.
The rest is stable and consistent as a rock.
3.Steam power.

If you are looking for preasure profiling...than the LMLM is not for you.
However I did managed to pull some great light norwegian roasts espresso shots from it.
As long as you get the right brew ratio and temprature

Sgoldberg89
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#6: Post by Sgoldberg89 »

So many great points, thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts. It seems like people are [unsurprisingly] happy with either direction.

IMO the LMLM would be the perfect home espresso machine if that lever was a mechanical needle valve as opposed to an electronic switch, but then there'd be no reason to buy the GS3 MP, so I can't see them making that, despite my daily prayers. (But seriously, LM, if you're reading this, please please make it.)
As good as the espresso was from the LR, and as much as I loved the machine, I wanted the option to fully maximize the beans that I'm roasting beyond what I think of as "traditional". So the DE was something that when I saw v1.3 announced I thought that the machine was to a point now where its able to hold its own against the other higher end machines in the market. I liked the ability to have visibility and control over pretty much every parameter that is important in the shot. So I ordered a v1.3 as soon as they were announced.
I've really wanted to purchase a Londinium but the counter space I have "available" (i.e. can get away with taking without losing my head) couldn't accommodate a lever. I am excited to see that you feel the DE can replicate a lever's profile well enough to approximate a delicious lever extraction. That was one of my big questions, because having that option in my toolkit is exciting.
You may want to do like I did - get your LMLM, get used to it, get to know it, and then if you still feel the urge to have that extra control and visibility, get a DE too.
I think I may approach the purchase from the opposite direction. I think I can learn a lot with the DE (trick will be not getting overwhelmed with information and feedback) and it may guide my future purchase decisions. If, for example, I find myself gravitating to longer, lower pressure extractions, maybe a lever machine would suit me better as my next purchase. Or visa-versa. But I could never disagree with "get both!" Hopefully, someday.

The portability, learning opportunities, size, and relative price difference is definitely pushing me in the DE direction. I pulled the trigger on a Niche Zero last night so there's only one sensible thing left to do...

Thanks again to this awesome community and feel free to keep the discussion going!

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N6GQ
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#7: Post by N6GQ »

I think I may approach the purchase from the opposite direction. I think I can learn a lot with the DE (trick will be not getting overwhelmed with information and feedback) and it may guide my future purchase decisions. If, for example, I find myself gravitating to longer, lower pressure extractions, maybe a lever machine would suit me better as my next purchase. Or visa-versa. But I could never disagree with "get both!" Hopefully, someday.
I might urge you to go the other way. Here's why. Lets say you get the DE. You start making profiles to manage all sorts of various scenarios. At some point you feel the desire for something different, either a manual lever, spring lever, or a more traditional E61, or a saturated group LM, or whatever. At that point of transition you'd be going from a machine with tons of flexibility to a machine with a lot less flexibility. I'm not arguing the merits of build quality, curb appeal, use satisfaction, or any other human factor parameter. Just that you'd always want to adjust the brew slightly in some way, and likely wouldn't be able to. Then you might think "I spent $5k on this machine and I can't even flow profile?!".

I don't know if it would actually turn out that way. But I imagine for some it might.

Here's a case in point. Today I was feeling like I wanted to have an espresso, but I also wanted to do a little testing again. So I warmed up the Londinium, and dialed in my grinder on some beans I roasted about 5 days ago. They're in their prime. I pulled a shot in the LR that I thought was quite good, mouthfeel was there, crema was fantastic, taste was good, flavor separation was "ok", not great, but not horrible. After all, this is a decaf bean so I have some less expectations from it. Then I took that same bean, same input weight, same grind, and ran two profiles on the DE. The first was "Blooming Espresso", the second was "Damian's Londinium V2 profile". Now granted, I've modified both those profiles a bit for my own preferences but that doesn't matter for this exercise. So I had 3 espressos brewed within about 2 minutes of each other. How did they taste? Well, all 3 were different. I'm hard pressed to pick which one I'd say was "best". The LR probably filled the niche as the most "traditional" tasting/feeling espresso. The two from the DE were also right up there however the LR had a touch more acidity. No doubt this is different because on the two DE profiles I modified them specifically for a touch LESS acidity, so check. The two DE shots though were both very pleasing and while both different in their own way, it was much more difficult to quantitatively describe. Qualitatively I could say I liked the "Damian's LRv2" shot the best of all 3, but that's just me.

All the above to say that with the DE I just chose two of my more favorite profiles and managed to draw two shots that were different in their own way by literally choosing a different profile, which took all of about 2-3 seconds. The LR shot was very good, no question, but at the end of the day it's all I get. Yes, I can preinfuse longer, I can grind coarser/finer, I can tamp harder, etc. but those things may or may not make the shot tolerable because I'm getting away from the basics of the shot (19.5g in, 38g out, in ~25s on the LR, a little longer in the DE due to longer preinfusion and/or lower extraction flow rate, etc.).

Will the average person want all those parameters to mess with? They can equally screw up the shot as much as they can improve it. Personally, I like it because I roast my own beans and I roast them exactly how I like them, and this gives me a chance to extract my espresso exactly how I like it, and greater exploit the bean that I roasted to my whim.

Its just a hobby and for some this is too much work. For me, I enjoy the learning and making progress. Lord knows I have a ton to learn yet but every day I learn something new. I'm just not sure how much of that new knowledge translates back to the LR because I don't have the level of tweaks available that I do with the DE.

But there's also something to be said for the simplicity and beauty of the LR. I appreciate its engineering and build. Its fun to use. It makes fantastic espresso and it just works. I know that as long as I get the grind within the ballpark my shot will 99 times out of 100 be pretty close to "really good".

Your mileage will certainly vary. The hunt is part of the game...
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Mountain

#8: Post by Mountain »

I have a DE and was optioned a LM from a dealer/friend. For me, the extra $$ even at discount were not worth it for what I was looking for. Considerations:
1. You entertain a lot and being able to steam and pull shots simultaneously is very important. +LM
2. You don't have the time or inclination to experiment and just want to pull very good shots all the time +LM
3. You want the driest steam on the market +Decent
4. You want to experiment with lots of profiles and beans +Decent
5. Italian espresso machine looks is very important +LM
6. You want Godshots. This is probably a tossup but if using a wide range of beans, the Decent might have an edge.
7. You are a data driven person +Decent
8. You want a set routine and don't want coffee-making complicated +LM

When I read through the forums at Decent, if people have a 2nd machine it is usually a lever and probably Londinium predominates. That seems to be the machine farthest away from the Decent experience that does amazing coffee.

I have been around LM's but don't have one so my experience is mostly 2nd hand or drinking others results. It seems like a great machine. My assessment is that the LM is a workhorse, looks beautiful, will probably last long enough to be passed on to your heirs, and produces very good and repeatable espresso and frothed milk. The Decent is a tinkerers delight and will challenge you a lot in the beginning and force you out of your comfort zone. The Decent will reward your time and effort but you need to commit to that up front.

Ask yourself what your personality is up for.

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N6GQ
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#9: Post by N6GQ »

Very good post, Mountain, you nailed it.
LMWDP #614

Dpablo

#10: Post by Dpablo »

As a Decent owner, I think it's absurd to say you must jump through hoops to make a shot. To make a shot on the Decent, you can stick with the default profile and just press a button. The fact that you have the unlimited ability to tinker doesn't mean every nook and cranny need be explored. While I would gladly invite a Linea Mini into my home, there's no way it would function better at its intended purpose - to make espresso - than a DE1.3.