First Impressions of Decent Espresso DE1+PRO

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?
wgmcg

#1: Post by wgmcg » Mar 08, 2019, 3:24 pm

Moderator Note:
This discussion was split from Review of the Decent Espresso DE1+PRO


I'm 2-3 weeks into my DE1Pro. I'm also a software "coder" ( I refuse to use the un-earned moniker "engineer" for this field). The pull of software defined espresso was hard to resist for me too, and yet right now, I wish I had.

This morning I printed a return label for an amazon order. The label printed on the first sheet of paper, and 2 lines of scrap text spilled over onto a second sheet that I had to throw away. The promise of the laser printer was that you could typeset on the fly! And yet 30 years later this stupid, dysfunctional occurrence still happens routinely for most people. Nearly every software project in existence is riddled with long standing bugs like this. Never fixed, never finished, never stabilized, never genuinely reliable.

This morning I also pulled at least 10 shots through my DE1PRO, as I have every morning since I got it. Of these I drank three, and of those three I wouldn't describe any of them as particularly satisfying. I'm still "tuning" apparently. Out of the 10 shots I pulled yesterday, one was promising- just enough to keep me from giving up. I felt like I was closer to being dialed in yesterday. Not so much today. This is the reality of "software defined espresso". All of your tunable parameters- pressure, flow, temp, grind, dose- are expanded into a matrix by the software. This matrix holds the promise of the perfect shot, and yet the reality is that there are simply thousands more ways to pull a disgusting one.

I'm growing weary of this machine. I used to look forward to my wakeup shot, now I have another god damn job, tuning the DE1PRO. Like all software that is eating the world, the promise is that it's going to make your life better, but the reality is that you end up serving the software more than it serves you.

RyanP

#2: Post by RyanP » Mar 08, 2019, 3:32 pm

wgmcg wrote:I'm 2-3 weeks into my DE1Pro. I'm also a software "coder" ( I refuse to use the un-earned moniker "engineer" for this field). The pull of software defined espresso was hard to resist for me too, and yet right now, I wish I had.

This morning I printed a return label for an amazon order. The label printed on the first sheet of paper, and 2 lines of scrap text spilled over onto a second sheet that I had to throw away. The promise of the laser printer was that you could typeset on the fly! And yet 30 years later this stupid, dysfunctional occurrence still happens routinely for most people. Nearly every software project in existence is riddled with long standing bugs like this. Never fixed, never finished, never stabilized, never genuinely reliable.

This morning I also pulled at least 10 shots through my DE1PRO, as I have every morning since I got it. Of these I drank three, and of those three I wouldn't describe any of them as particularly satisfying. I'm still "tuning" apparently. Out of the 10 shots I pulled yesterday, one was promising- just enough to keep me from giving up. I felt like I was closer to being dialed in yesterday. Not so much today. This is the reality of "software defined espresso". All of your tunable parameters- pressure, flow, temp, grind, dose- are expanded into a matrix which holds the promise of the perfect shot, and yet the reality is that there are simply a thousand more ways to pull a disgusting one.

I'm growing weary of this machine. I dread waking up each morning and addressing it. I just want three good shots to start my day, but this is turning into a god damn job. Like all software that is eating the world, the promise is that it's going to make your life better, but the reality is that you end up serving the machine more than it serves you.
If you can't dial in a shot using an advanced profile, perhaps start with a basic profile. I don't think what you are describing is necessarily the reality of "software defined espresso", but the reality of a user who can't resist tweaking all the variables and that reality is true for almost all of us, myself included. I was talking to jaybeck about this, saying that the DE1 is totally capable of being a machine that "just works". Much like a commercial spring or an lmlm, but it requires the user to settle into one profile, get it dialed in and stop messing with all the variables.

Sounds like you need a user reset. There shouldn't be any "tuning" necessary. Start from the beginning. Set a standard profile. No flow priority extractions. Basic ramp up to 8 or 9 bar and just hold it. Get your extraction on point the same way you would with any other machine, by dialing in the grind. You don't have to make it more complicated than it is. You can, of course, make it more complicated (and that is the allure of the de1) but you probably shouldn't until you are consistently making good espresso with a basic profile.

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#3: Post by RapidCoffee » Mar 08, 2019, 4:08 pm

@wgmcg (Bill)
Sorry to hear you're struggling with the DE1. There's definitely a learning curve, and it's easy to get frustrated by all the options. But there's no need for that.

Since you have not provided any specifics about your experience, I will give general guidelines:
As Ryan suggests, start with a simple pressure profile. The "gentle and sweet" preset is particularly forgiving. Get a medium roast espresso blend from an established roaster, pick a dose that matches your basket (18g?), pull your shot at a 1:2 brew ratio for ~30s (pour time, not preinfusion). If you extract more than 36g (assuming 18g dose), make the grind finer. If you extract less than 36g, make it coarser. Iterate until you get the grind dialed in, just like any other espresso machine. This approach will get you in the right ballpark, and make further exploration fun rather than a chore.

Have you posted on the Decent fora? Participants are exceptionally friendly and helpful. Highly recommended.
John

myso

#4: Post by myso » Mar 08, 2019, 4:29 pm

wgmcg wrote:I'm 2-3 weeks into my DE1Pro. I'm also a software "coder" ( I refuse to use the un-earned moniker "engineer" for this field). The pull of software defined espresso was hard to resist for me too, and yet right now, I wish I had.

This morning I printed a return label for an amazon order. The label printed on the first sheet of paper, and 2 lines of scrap text spilled over onto a second sheet that I had to throw away. The promise of the laser printer was that you could typeset on the fly! And yet 30 years later this stupid, dysfunctional occurrence still happens routinely for most people. Nearly every software project in existence is riddled with long standing bugs like this. Never fixed, never finished, never stabilized, never genuinely reliable.

This morning I also pulled at least 10 shots through my DE1PRO, as I have every morning since I got it. Of these I drank three, and of those three I wouldn't describe any of them as particularly satisfying. I'm still "tuning" apparently. Out of the 10 shots I pulled yesterday, one was promising- just enough to keep me from giving up. I felt like I was closer to being dialed in yesterday. Not so much today. This is the reality of "software defined espresso". All of your tunable parameters- pressure, flow, temp, grind, dose- are expanded into a matrix by the software. This matrix holds the promise of the perfect shot, and yet the reality is that there are simply thousands more ways to pull a disgusting one.

I'm growing weary of this machine. I used to look forward to my wakeup shot, now I have another god damn job, tuning the DE1PRO. Like all software that is eating the world, the promise is that it's going to make your life better, but the reality is that you end up serving the software more than it serves you.
Your insights would be much more helpful if you also share what kind of coffees do you prefer? (Espresso roast comfort blends or light roast fruity/floral/bright coffees etc.) and which grinder did you pair the machine with.

Hope you overcome struggles and start enjoying your drinks.

I admit I would fall deep in the "Analysis paralysis" trap of DE1+.

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Peppersass
Supporter ♡

#5: Post by Peppersass » Mar 08, 2019, 4:46 pm

The advice from Ryan and John is spot-on, but I can empathize with you Bill, on a number of fronts.

First, I've never been comfortable with the title software engineer. Not so much that it hasn't been earned, but that the term engineer implies using physical principles to work on material things. Programmer or coder are closer to the truth, though I've sometimes performed as a software designer because the work involved designing of software solutions for certain tasks, and while that usually requires a deep understanding of programming, someone else did that part.

As for your experience with the Decent DE1+PRO, I'm surprised that you've grown weary in only 2-3 weeks. It took me much longer than that, years actually, to come to a similar feeling about my souped-up, modified GS/3 that can do pressure and flow profiling (replaced the stock pump/motor with a gear pump driven by an Arduino microprocessor integrated with the GS/3 electronics, with the interface on an Android tablet or phone.)

I did the initial work before machines like the Slayer and DE1 came out, and experimented a lot with pressure profiling. It didn't move the needle all that much, though I do find some benefit to slowly ramping down pressure after the peak in order to keep the flow rate constant (otherwise, it increases.) Later on, I experimented extensively with mimicking the Slayer's long, slow pre-infusion so I could grind very light roasts ultra-fine and get more extraction. It required a lot of tweaking and tuning to get it just right for a particular coffee, and even then it didn't always overcome the inherent limitations of using very light roasts, or filter roasts, for espresso. And mouthfeel was almost always sacrificed.

At the end of the day, I went back to basics. I'm buying more medium-light or medium roasted coffee and, when necessary for the lighter end of that spectrum, I'm pulling longer. That sacrifices mouthfeel, but so does a Slayer shot. I avoid trying to use filter roasts for espresso, and instead I bought a Quest M3 and have spent the last year learning to roast so I can buy greens for coffees that interest me, but that commercial roasters don't roast to my tastes, e.g., not for espresso, too light (or underdeveloped), too dark, etc. That way, I don't have to jump through hoops to extract them.

While the "coffee science" and "great new toy" aspect of the Decent DE1 series are tempting, I put my money into the best grinder I could find for my purposes, a Monolith Flat. Along with the rock-solid temperature stability and gentle preinfusion of my still-modified GS/3, it's hard to make a bad shot if I use good coffee, properly roasted, and just follow the basics.
★ Helpful

wgmcg

#6: Post by wgmcg » Mar 08, 2019, 5:54 pm

The grinder is a ceado e37s. I prefer fruity/floral lighter espresso blends.

I don't feel like I've fallen into analysis/paralysis with the DE. I feel like I know what I want it to do but I don't understand the behavior of the tool enough to make it do it consistently.

I'm trying to develop 2 useful profiles. The first is a 9bar espresso profile with a slight pre-infusion, and a small pressure ramp down to keep flow at the end of the shot under control. The second is a variation on the Rao blooming espresso profile.

I've gotten enough hints from both of these that they might work, I just can't seem to get any of my tweaks moving in one direction (towards a better shot that is). I feel like I make one change, flow from 2.2 ml/s to 2.0 ml/s, or I tweak my grind a 1/32" and the resulting shot isn't incrementally different, its WILDLY different. Either that or there's no change at all no matter how much change I make. I haven't been able to develop a mental model such that I can predict what the machine is going to do for any given change. It's like balancing on a beachball.

As for weariness with the machine, I suppose that has to do with weariness with technology in general. I wouldn't have made this my career if I didn't used to believe, but lately I suspect the only thing silicon valley has really added to our lives is the idea that everything being half-assed and broken all the time is normal.

Pequod

#7: Post by Pequod » Mar 08, 2019, 6:00 pm

I pretty much followed John's advice above and had no problem pulling some excellent shots. Started by dialing in with Sweet and Gentle, then moved to the Milky Drinks profile — modifying slightly per advice of a member at the Basecamp DE forum. Both resulted in success. Then tried Damian's low flow profile and got excellent and intense shots there too. Maybe it's that I've only been pulling a very forgiving Redbird so far, but I've been happy.

pcrussell50

#8: Post by pcrussell50 » Mar 08, 2019, 8:45 pm

@OP/Bill,

I will not tire you with repeating the excellent advice given. I will only add that just because you have cutting edge capability, it does not mean you have to use those tools on every bean. I'm with Dick/Peppersass in that while I have full beginning to end flow control (through a fast acting needle valve that I can actuate on the fly) AND a pump interrupt switch so I can bloom as long as I like, I'm finding that many beans do perfectly fine, or are even better when pulled in a more traditional profile... Though I do not only trail back the pressure in the final third or so to maintain constant flow,I usually also trail back the flow itself, along with pressure. Sometimes these long slow, 30s to first drops type of Slayerlike pulls produce a thinner mouth feel and seem to destratify individual layers of flavor, that you might otherwise have liked. Of course mixing all he distinct layers of flavor into one mashup might be fabulous... depending on the bean.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

RyanP

#9: Post by RyanP » Mar 08, 2019, 8:58 pm

wgmcg wrote: I'm trying to develop 2 useful profiles. The first is a 9bar espresso profile with a slight pre-infusion, and a small pressure ramp down to keep flow at the end of the shot under control. The second is a variation on the Rao blooming espresso profile.
My advice, for whatever it is worth. Stick with the first profile for now. Get that one dialed in right. 9 bar with slight preinfusion. Sounds perfect. For the time being, don't mess with the blooming proifle. It seems to be, what I consider, a mistake that many people getting a DE1 are making. They immediately want to try the blooming profile, blow through a ton of coffee, and then get frustrated. But it's already inherently more challenging being a multi-stage profile and on top of that many people try to dial in the extraction as a flow priority. Without the ability to manually control the flow extraction on the fly the potential for it to go haywire is much higher than other profiles, which is why I instead prefer making the extraction a pressure priority. Either way, I think the blooming profile is a pain in the ass to dial in correctly. It's finicky with most coffees and even once you get it to actually pull the way you want and look the way you expect it to on the graph, it still doesn't always taste great. Often very muddled flavors in the cup. I'd save that one for later. Get the first profile dialed in. Then try dialing in a slayer profile if you want to take a shot at a low flow PI. Then if you like those results and feel like you're getting consistently good extractions see if you can adjust it for a blooming profile.

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#10: Post by RapidCoffee » Mar 08, 2019, 10:44 pm

wgmcg wrote:I just can't seem to get any of my tweaks moving in one direction (towards a better shot that is). I feel like I make one change, flow from 2.2 ml/s to 2.0 ml/s, or I tweak my grind a 1/32" and the resulting shot isn't incrementally different, its WILDLY different.
I don't consider espresso to be a chaotic process. In general, small changes should produce small effects, and large changes should produce large effects. If a minute grind change results in a "wildly" different extraction, something else is going on. Do you weigh your dose? Do you prep your puck consistently? Etc. etc. etc. FWIW, I get very consistent extractions on my DE1+.

Please consider taking the advice that several have offered, and put flow profiles aside for now. For a variety of reasons, flow profiles are trickier than pressure profiles. Get comfortable with a simple pressure profile, and only then start exploring flow profiles and advanced profiles.

Incidentally, once you have dialed in a profile, the DE1 offers several greatly simplified 3-button interfaces:
Image
Doesn't get much easier than this!
This morning I printed a return label for an amazon order. The label printed on the first sheet of paper, and 2 lines of scrap text spilled over onto a second sheet that I had to throw away. The promise of the laser printer was that you could typeset on the fly! And yet 30 years later this stupid, dysfunctional occurrence still happens routinely for most people. Nearly every software project in existence is riddled with long standing bugs like this. Never fixed, never finished, never stabilized, never genuinely reliable.
I'm growing weary of this machine. I used to look forward to my wakeup shot, now I have another god damn job, tuning the DE1PRO. Like all software that is eating the world, the promise is that it's going to make your life better, but the reality is that you end up serving the software more than it serves you.
wgmcg wrote:As for weariness with the machine, I suppose that has to do with weariness with technology in general. I wouldn't have made this my career if I didn't used to believe, but lately I suspect the only thing silicon valley has really added to our lives is the idea that everything being half-assed and broken all the time is normal.
Obvious question: why did you pick this machine? If you truly feel this way, then the DE1 is the worst possible choice you could have made. Why not sell the DE1 to someone who will appreciate it, and move on to a manual/spring lever or Flair/Robot?
John