Help me sort my life out: manual or decent

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
TheFury

#1: Post by TheFury »

Home barista having an identity crisis, requesting emotional support.

I've been perfectly happy with my Expobar Office Lever and Baratza Vario for about 8 years now but they're starting to bug me. Never suffered from upgrade-itis before today and now I've got a bad case. Here's what I don't like about my current gear:
  • I love my machine but it takes forever to heat up. And I brew 2 shots at a time, maximum. Feels like a waste to heat up 40 lbs of brass and steel just for 4 oz of coffee.
  • My Vario performs fine but the adjustment is finicky and inconsistent. Plus I have to hold the adjustment levers in place while I grind otherwise they'll wander all over the place
  • While I can get some great shots out of my machine, it''s boring. It has one gauge: boiler pressure. No brew pressure gauge. No flow control. No PID. Nothing to fiddle with at all.
Here are my use cases:
  • I drink a brewed coffee through my hario switch + comandante C40 + stagg EKG kettle every morning
    After that, i usually make a cappuccino
  • Later in the day i'll have a shot of straight espresso
  • My wife doesn't drink coffee and my kid is young enough that if he did drink coffee my wife would kill me for it
  • I rarely entertain guests (1-3x per year owing to my young kid and small apartment) and when I do it's maybe 3-4 other coffee drinkers in the crowd
What I'm looking for in my next setup:
  • Control over brew temperature and pressure profiles
  • Fast warm-up
  • Some way to froth milk (doesn't have to be part of the same machine that makes coffee
This has led me to two very different options:
  • Cafelat Robot + some milk frothing solution... perhaps one of those electric frothing pitchers or maybe a standalone Bambino just for steam?
  • Decent DE1--that's it
FWIW, regardless of what I choose for my machine, at some point I'm probably going to upgrade my Vario to a Lagom P64 (thought about the Niche but I don't think it's a big enough upgrade).

I'm looking for thoughts from the good folks on this forum--have you faced a similar choice? Have you made the switch from one setup to the other? Am I a genius or crazy for considering two such wildly different setups?

Thanks in advance!

NicoNYC

#2: Post by NicoNYC »

This is purely anecdotal, but it seems like a disproportionately large number of Decent users also use some sort of lever machine; Robots, Creminas, and Flairs in particular seem to crop up in the photos on this site. Maybe it's the abundance of control from both, maybe it's to provide a mental break from the data and charts of the Decent. I know that if I were to get another pump machine I'd start and probably end my research with the Decent.

Is there any reason you couldn't get both? The Robot is comparatively inexpensive and looks fantastic perched on a shelf above a coffee bar. It's the perfect thing to pull out when you want a quiet morning without a pump, screen, or gauge, and as close to maintenance-free as possible.
LMWDP #718

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Brewzologist
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#3: Post by Brewzologist »

Not crazy at all. I have a similar use-case but the kids are in college. I went from a manual lever to a DE1 and back to a manual lever again (Flair 58) because the DE1 was overkill for my needs. But both are great machines and will address your listed requirements. Just depends how far down the rabbit hole you want to go! :D

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Jeff
Team HB

#4: Post by Jeff »

Both my Robot and my VAM pull better shots of classic espresso than my DE1. My DE1 pulls light-roast espresso better than my Robot.
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TenLayers
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#5: Post by TenLayers » replying to Jeff »

Hmmmm. What is VAM? Not placing that machine.

Amberale

#6: Post by Amberale »

If you can wait until the end of the year the Odyessy Argos might fit your bill nicely.

My Bianca is great for flow control profiling but still a big chunk of metal to heat for a couple of shots.
My Faema baby (original Robot style machine) makes great espresso and is my camping/power failure back up.
Just boil water on a gas burner. :)

The P64 is great and I love mine but I am still hankering for a conical somewhere between the Niche and the P64 price wise.

Amberale

#7: Post by Amberale »

TenLayers wrote:Hmmmm. What is VAM? Not placing that machine.
VAM Caravel?
Open boiler, 1960-70s.

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Jeff
Team HB

#8: Post by Jeff »

Yes, Italian domestic machine, scaled for the sensibilities of the time (about a 43 mm basket).

http://www.francescoceccarelli.eu/m_arrarex_eng.htm

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MNate
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#9: Post by MNate »

I went from large impractical machine to Robot to DE1 and still use the Robot for travel. They are both great and practical for home use. The Robot is more practical from an ownership standpoint (No maintenance) but the DE1 is actually more convenient because of the fast warm up and quick transition to steam. The Robot, with milk, workflow requires some timing to for the hot water, etc. and can get cluttered with parts all around (some sort of water heater, etc).

Yeah, I like them both. But why not try out the Robot for awhile and see how it goes?

We're glad to answer any more questions!

baldheadracing
Team HB

#10: Post by baldheadracing »

TheFury wrote:
  • My Vario performs fine but the adjustment is finicky and inconsistent. Plus I have to hold the adjustment levers in place while I grind otherwise they'll wander all over the place
While you ponder machines, a quick trick to stop wandering adjustment levers:
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada
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