Looking for input if my decision making process on espresso machine choice is sound

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
ffiorentino
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Joined: 3 months ago

#1: Post by ffiorentino »

Hello all. First post here but I have been lurking for quite some time and finally registered today. I live in Northern Italy where there are multiple bars on every street. I work from home so I cannot always go out for a coffee so a year ago I decided to buy an automatic machine thinking this would help me. I purchased the Sage Oracle Touch. I could not foreshadow what would happen in the months following. I quickly became obsessed with trying to make a great cup of espresso and started making modifications to the workflow with the Oracle Touch. I did the best I could to dial in the dosage with the integrated grinder and tamper but was not getting consistent output. I purchased a single dose hopper to replace the stock hopper and this helped me get closer to the output I desired. The retention was bad and coffee was always getting stuck on the tamper fan resulting in me weighing out more coffee than I needed in hopes of netting my desired output. I also bought a naked portafilter so I could see what was happening with my extraction. I was not satisfied and I got frustrated and decided to invest in a grinder. I decided that I wanted a manual grinder to be more engaged with the process. I bought a Kinu Simplicity and I love it. I also purchased a tamper and WDT tool. I am now at the point where my puck preparation is pretty good for my skill level. I am not getting any spraying and my extraction is a nice steady flow.

So, here I am thinking that I have this machine that is meant to be press the button and go but I know there is more I can do to experiment with the right machine. I have been reading a lot of blogs, forums and watching videos. I am ready to sell the Oracle Touch and buy a machine that I can grow with. Counter space is an issue so I need a small footprint. We have a large kitchen with a lot of counter space but our home has a small room off the kitchen which we decided will be the coffee bar. We are getting a work space built but limited on the size of the counter. So, I have landed on wanting to buy a Decent DE1Pro. I like to experiment and I enjoy analyzing data and this feels like a machine that offers the features for me to grow with in the right footprint. I really thought I wanted an Italian made machine like a LM but they are pricey and the mini takes up more counter top space than I want to give. The Micra looks nice but is not really comparable to the Decent and I am apprehensive about the low clearance and not being able to use a scale comfortably. It also does not offer me the room to grow and learn.

I know the discussion on the Decent has been and can be polarizing so I am not looking to get into that here. If you feel inclined to respond to me, I would like to know if my journey and thought process to arrive at the Decent is sound.

Thank in advance.

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MNate
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#2: Post by MNate »

Well, you can't get better than the Decent if you want good coffee and if you like playing with all the variables it's definitely great at that. If the other bits about it don't bother you (tablet and its interface, maybe the look or sound) or even are positives than it should be a very nice fit for you.

Of course there are other options in the world. Don't overlook even the simple lever machines (even the Robot or Flair or there much nicer lever counterparts) that also let you play with many aspects of a shot, albeit with less data and more feel. The American impression is that in Italy there are half-broken lever machines in half the homes and 12 in every second-hand store.

But yeah! I think you'll enjoy whatever your next step is! Don't worry about it too much!

BrendaninBrooklyn
Posts: 62
Joined: 4 years ago

#3: Post by BrendaninBrooklyn »

If you enjoy data analysis as much as coffee, there is no better choice than a Decent. Plus the firm has outstanding service policies, and the machine will only improve as software development continues. I'm firmly in favor of levers, and Decent is the only product available right now that would get me to switch. Good luck with this and have fun.

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RTOBarista
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#4: Post by RTOBarista »

Also, consider the Unica Pro. There should be a review coming from Lance Hedrick after a software update coming after Christmas

ffiorentino (original poster)
Posts: 15
Joined: 3 months ago

#5: Post by ffiorentino (original poster) »

Thanks for the replies. The Unica Pro looks to be more than I want to spend. The Decent is at the top end of my range and seems to be a good option for me.

Now I am trying to decide if I should buy the Decent V5 tamper or a Force Tamper. My current tamper is 58.35 and leaves a bit to be desired around the edges.

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Jeff
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#6: Post by Jeff »

Force, without a doubt.

The DE accessories are generally both overpriced and underperforming. Their tamper has gone through revisions that claim to be force indicating, but fail to consider basic mechanics. Their baskets are deemed by advanced users to be inferior to VST in the cup. Buy a Skale II (or Acaia) over any of the DE scales. Remember that Rao is financially involved and take anything he or John says about their custom baskets or profiles being superior (and trashing community contributions, such as those of JoeD, Rohan, Luca, Stephane, ...) with that in mind.

ffiorentino (original poster)
Posts: 15
Joined: 3 months ago

#7: Post by ffiorentino (original poster) »

Thanks. I am now finding myself re-thinking the Decent. The thought of being able to control multiple variables sounds fun but many user reviews I have read say that after a period of time they set to one profile and leave it. I am afraid I may wind up falling into this camp.

Buying an espresso machine is a hard decision when the cost to entry is not insignificant. I am leaning towards keeping it simple now and getting a LM Micra.

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luca
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#8: Post by luca »

ffiorentino wrote:I know the discussion on the Decent has been and can be polarizing so I am not looking to get into that here. If you feel inclined to respond to me, I would like to know if my journey and thought process to arrive at the Decent is sound.

Thank in advance.
I think that what is missing in your post certainly, and perhaps in your thought process, is some consideration about what sort of coffee you drink and what you are hoping to achieve. And the fact that your two considerations are incredibly different machines sort of underscores this. None of this is particularly uncommon for people shopping for relatively expensive espresso machines, and part of it may well be not knowing much about actual coffee.

As far as I can tell, I think most home baristas seem to think that the biggest dollar value purchases are the most important. It's basically the reverse, in coffee. The espresso machine itself is probably one of the least important factors in getting a great result in your cup, the cheaper grinder is more important, the cheaper bag of roasted coffee is even more important, and the even cheaper green coffee is the most important.

In terms of thought process, I think you should be specifying what you want the machine to be able to achieve in the cup (as well as on other factors, such as the space constraints you mention) and then working from that to see which machines best do that.

As far as I know, the Oracle Touch is basically the 820 with a built in grinder. You might find that the Micra doesn't perform much differently from the Oracle Touch. I guess I'd expect the Micra's steam to be awesome, but I don't know if that's important to you or not.

It looks like you are determined to spend a lot of money on an espresso machine and not a grinder. I have no idea how good the kinu is for what you want to achieve, but if you don't see that as your endgame espresso grinder, then maybe it makes sense to upgrade that and use the new grinder with the oracle touch, at least for a bit of time.

I suspect that usually people buy an expensive espresso machine before they have learned about coffee and roasts.

Anyway, hope some of that is helpful.
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Exam, WBrC #3, Aus Cup Tasting #1 | Insta: @lucacoffeenotes

ggcadc
Posts: 66
Joined: 13 years ago

#9: Post by ggcadc »

Reading this thread I identify with your struggle. The decent is a unique machine in its price bracket and well above. I recently moved from an ECM Synchronika with flow control to a Sanremo You. You mention wanting to experiment and use data to improve your results. This is all possible with an E61 with flow control, albeit the data will come from a manometer and you cant easily (push button) repeat a pull.

The LM Micra is an interesting entry and I think something like a ECM Puristika (if you dont plan to steam) or a Profitec Go would meet the same needs at a much better price point. Really any e-61 with flow control (and there is no shortage to choose from) would get you a ton of flexibility that is really beyond what the Micra is designed for.

All that considered, luca in the post above is correct, the machine matters much less than the grinder, and manually grinding for espresso every day is a chore. Definitely consider moving your budget around to accommodate a great grinder if youre considering these machines. An atom 75 and a flow control e-61 machine are well under the price of the LM micra.

ffiorentino (original poster)
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#10: Post by ffiorentino (original poster) »

Thank you Luca and Grant for the thoughtful replies. Maybe I need to take a step back and re-think all of this. I only drink espresso and I buy all my beans locally from roasters to ensure that I am getting fresh beans. I prefer medium roasts and generally drink my espresso normal. Having the option to steam and a good steamer is important since my wife and I enjoy milk based drinks on the weekend. Doing the week I pull 2-3 shots per day. Living in Italy I can walk out my door and get a coffee for €1.20 but the process is fun for me and more rewarding. I want the ability to learn and grow and the more I thought about the Decent, I felt like I was buying a compute to make coffee.

Over the last week my wife and I decided to scrap the coffee bar idea and build a display cabinet for drink ware. This means that space is less of an issue. I still do not want a giant machine but I have more room to play with.

I feel a bit lost about where to turn which is making think that I should not do anything at the moment.