Help me choose an espresso machine - Decent or Dalla Corte Mina or ? - Page 2

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
BVLDARI (original poster)
Supporter ♡

#11: Post by BVLDARI (original poster) »

HH wrote:I have a DE1 and really like it.

There were several reasons it stood out as the right machine for me.

1. It's small and energy efficient
I tend to travel a fair bit and like the fact I can take it with me on holiday.

2. It's very flexible
I can't think of another machine that has the capabilities or flexibility that the DE1 has. It has the ability to both follow a multi-step pre-set profile and adjust pressure, flow and temperature at multiple points throughout the shot. It can also be used fully manually. You can even intervene with overriding manual control part-way through an automated profile to tweak pressure and flow if wished. The level of control it gives you is astounding.

3. It's simple
I really wanted a machine my wife would use. Originally I was set on getting a lever machine, however I knew that my wife would never want to use a lever. With the Decent, my wife happily makes espresso and microfoam at the touch of a button. She doesn't need to do any adjusting of profiles or monitoring flow rates. She couldn't care less about doing that - she just wants a delicious cup of coffee.

4. Their customer service is amazing
The last thing I wanted was a machine I had to get serviced by a tech every year. I really like the fact that the overwhelming majority of repairs can be done by the end user, and Decent will ship you the parts (in my experience for free). They will then guide you through any necessary repairs by video call. If it is something you can't fix (or would rather not do yourself) they will courier it back to Hong Kong (again, for free), fix whatever the problem is and send your machine back to you in a matter of days.
Everyone I have spoken to or dealt with at Decent has been a genuinely lovely person. I particularly like the fact John and Bugs pay their staff well, and seem to care for every member of their team, ensuring they have good holiday provision. It feels good to support a company which values and supports its staff. It may seem like a little or inconsequential thing but it means a lot to me.

5. It makes lovely coffee!
This should probably have been first on the list. I would hope however that it's pretty much a given when you're spending money at this level that the coffee is good. With the Decent I can get the best out of any roast level from ultra-light to dark, just by changing the profile. As a plus with the DE1, it also makes excellent filter coffee and tea.

6. The microfoam is the best I have ever made
The milk steaming on the DE1 is something which people tend to criticise. I think this is because it can take longer to steam milk on the DE1Pro and XL than comparable dual-boiler machines. As I don't work in a commercial environment, I have to say I prefer being able to set the steam level a bit lower in order to give me time to incorporate the bubbles properly. I can happily make much better microfoam on the DE1 than on other machines I have used, which includes the Linea Mini. I will be the first to say though that this is due to my technique not yet being good enough to handle the power of the steam on the Linea, not through any deficiencies of the Linea itself!

7. It's always getting better
A huge plus for me with the DE1 over any other machine out there is that it is constantly evolving and being improved. Future updates to the DE1 are able to be retrofitted to almost any prior machine (possibly excluding some of the v1.1 models without the GHC). Software updates are free, and hardware upgrades like the upcoming shower block are available at cost. As a guide John has said the new internal block will be available to purchase for $99, which seems a very good deal to me given the multiple years of R&D which have gone into it, and the fact it will improve the in the cup really. It's nice to know that my machine will be even better in a year's time than it is now. It pretty much stops FOMO in its tracks.

Things I don't like:
It's only fair after the rather gushing list above that I also go over some of the things I don't like so much about the DE1.

1. The vibe pumps
The DE1 uses vine pumps by design, as they allow very accurate mixing of hot and cold water to ensure temperature accuracy and flow profiling. They don't sound as nice as a gear or rotary pump, however they are generally petty quite when compared to other espresso machines I have used. They certainly sound better in person than they do on video.

2. The visual design
The stock design of the DE1 is very much a function over form, Bauhaus approach. Everything is considered in order to optimise function, even down to the ceramic drip tray and group head handle. This does mean it is not a particularly 'flashy' machine. Its looks will not wow people or give any idea of how much it costs. Some people will want a machine that visually makes a statement, whereas the DE1 makes a statement with the coffee it puts out.

3. It's very digital!
I don't mind this, but do occasionally feel like it would be nice to have a classic lever for the old school analogue connection to the shot. For my set of needs however as mentioned above, the DE1 is a much better fit. A nice thing about having an external android tablet is it can be replaced/upgraded in future for something like $99 if it fails (or you could use one you have at home if you have a spare), as opposed to having to junk the whole machine or send it in for a costly repair.

4. The learning curve
Again, I probably should have led with this. If you decide to get a Decent, I can guarantee it will be different to any machine you have used before. There is a fairly steep learning curve to using the DE1, or at least there was for me. Having so many variables to play with means that inevitably you are going to make some mistakes when you first use it and make some dishearteningly dreadful coffee. I know I did! I feel like I know so much more now though about why a coffee tastes bad when dialling in a bean and, more importantly, how to fix it!

Hopefully this is of some use, please feel free to shout off you had any other questions about the Decent. I might not know the answers but I'll do my best to help.

Thank you Henry - very informative. I really appreciate the thorough answer.

- How has the reliability of the Decent been?
- Support appears amazing and especially since so many people are doing experiments on it and that they can share amongst each other.
- Is there a new version coming soon?
- What do you do for grinding when you are traveling and bring the Decent with you?
- If I wanted to use a "standard" 9 bar profile, would this be easy?


#12: Post by Bizmark »

Closing in on 4 years of using a Decent, I would add to Henry's excellent and thorough evaluation of the Decent that (1) other than needing to replace the tablet once ($100 from Decent), I have had zero problems with a DE Pro v1.1, (2) the evolution of the control software reflects the continuous improvement philosophy of Decent, (3) you will most likely need to improve puck preparation, (4) it does take some time to learn learn the interaction of the machine with the puck but this is the power of the Decent (pressure, flow, pressure/flow profiles, precision dynamic temperature control, precision Brew Ratio control via stop at weight). It is possible to work with ANY coffee and get some if not all of the roaster's flavor notes (from dark roasts to Wendleboa lights), though aging beans are a moving target. Yes, a standard 9 bar is easy. Need to add some PI or a slight decline in pressure-no problem. Have a chocolaty/fruity/winey medium roast that extracts better with the PI and declining pressure of a lever profile- no problem. Have medium light that boasts of fruit and aromatics- add in some bloom time and lower the pressure. Have a flowery light roast- use a profile that increases the flow and shortens the extraction time.

You can do a lot with a Niche, but the lighter roasts do benefit from a good flat.


#13: Post by HH »

BVLDARI wrote:Thank you Henry - very informative. I really appreciate the thorough answer.

- How has the reliability of the Decent been?
- Support appears amazing and especially since so many people are doing experiments on it and that they can share amongst each other.
- Is there a new version coming soon?
- What do you do for grinding when you are traveling and bring the Decent with you?
- If I wanted to use a "standard" 9 bar profile, would this be easy?
A pleasure! One of the difficult things about the Decent is that it's tricky to 'try before you buy'.

The reliability on mine has been great. It has never had any problems making coffee or steaming. I have a unit with a clear Perspex case, and found it can have condensation from the open water tank inside the case at times during winter. The unit was fully tested by Decent who ruled out any problems, and sent it back with a multi-page document of the tests and checks they had performed, including photo documentation at every stage. They're great, and I can't fault the level of service they provide.

There is a V1.45 coming out in 2023. It has very minimal upgrades from the current model, I believe just a new shower block made of ?Ultem. This can be purchased as a separate upgrade to all current machines for - I believe - $99. John has stated that there is no difference in price between buying a current model and then buying the upgraded part when it is released, and buying the v1.45.

For travel I use my Kinu M47, which works really well. If I'm going somewhere for a few days I'll just take my Niche.

Standard 9 bar profile it's easy to set up.