A morning with the Decent Espresso machines

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TomC
Team HB

#1: Post by TomC » Nov 09, 2016, 3:46 pm

I was very fortunate to host both Dan (HB) and John of Decent Espresso on a trifecta of chance that had all of us here in the bay area yesterday. John brought two of his machines and his barista kit as well as plenty of toys and tools. It was nice to get to run them thru their paces in the flesh and learn more about the features and options. After they left, I had a far greater positive impression of the DE line than I did initially. It's not that I thought of them as vaporware or over-promising and under-delivering, it's just that it didn't seem like so much could come from something so compact and actually work well. But it did. And it made excellent shots. I took a few pictures and filmed a few short videos on my Instagram.

Seeing the details of the extraction in real time is quite impressive. It's not confusing or "too busy" when you're looking at the screen once you become familiar with what's what. Dan and John agreed that it's a very good idea to have a simple screen with nothing more than buttons that say "espresso" "hot water" and "steam" to keep it easy for those who don't geek out on our level.

Image

I wasn't strongly considering buying one beforehand, but that's probably not the case any longer. It looks and feels well built, not a toy by any means. Little details matter and it appears that the entire thing was carefully thought out. I wasn't a huge fan of the shape and look of the portafilter handles, but that's rather subjective. I liked seeing things like very small suction cups on the feet that help anchor it very well to a smooth countertop. The pump makes much less noise in person than it does in videos. The sound is softer mainly. The screen is bright and nice to watch things develop. Its more configurable than anything on the market and it appears those changes can be made in a matter of seconds.

I had several coffees ready as well as some that John brought. We were bouncing back and forth from classic Italian style espresso/cappuccino to light roasted single origin coffees. Seeing the flow thru the group is really a useful feature. On one of the Ethiopians I pulled, I was dismayed that my flow was too fast, but the shot was sparkling and impressive. Sweet, floral and bright.

It's definitely slow to steam milk compared to any commercial boiler, but no slouch in the quality. There's plenty of time for someone to get the whirlpool action right, and honestly, it wasn't that long, I'm guessing about 35-40 seconds to 150°F. The whirlpool came on quickly and easily. I really wouldn't mind owning either one, but since the machine can apparently monitor the shot extraction and reduce pressure automatically if a channel occurs, there's not really any babysitting needed to watch the shot, so I'd lean towards wanting to have the 220V version that lets me do both at the same time.

There's a lot of convenience in that little package. I'd like to have a counter friendly machine that can be programmed to wake up on a timer. I imagine if I dialed in a killer extraction, being able to save it to reproduce later is rather nice. I'd still rather have an enclosed water reservoir, but the machine apparently heats the water tray up to 50°C every hour to prevent biofilm and keep it sanitary. This would definitely be a nice machine to be able to pick up and go when visiting friends and family.

John and the machines are on a big tour of west coast and I believe Canada, so I'd stay tuned to how those folks receive the machines on those stops. All in all, I'd have very little hesitation in buying one. I'll definite be paying closer attention to how things develop for them.

mauijer

#2: Post by mauijer » Nov 09, 2016, 3:58 pm

Thanks for sharing and great to hear the positive review. Im guessing you were using the DE1+ version? Did you compare the machine to any other machines or try any pressure profiles you had experience with on the coffees you know well?
Thanks

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canuckcoffeeguy

#3: Post by canuckcoffeeguy » Nov 09, 2016, 3:59 pm

Thanks Tom. Great to see these machines finally in the wild. Was it a DE1 or DE1+? And did you try the pressure or flow profiling feature?

And curious what grinder(s) were you pairing it with?

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TomC
Team HB

#4: Post by TomC » Nov 09, 2016, 4:05 pm

This was done with my Major with new burrs, broken in with 10 pounds of coffee.

It was the DE1+ for sure. Moving the pre infusion and all the variable around was really cool.

I had the Leva on and we compared steam in terms of milk quality. The Leva retained a slight bit more sweetness, but his milk looked nicer. I'm no latte art master and the Leva really needs a big jug of milk in order to get enough time to carefully work the milk. The Leva can be done in under 8 seconds, but can also end up with coarse bubbles and uneven texture.

We blindly tasted the milk and the conclusion from our very small sample set was that the milk chosen matters more than the machine chosen.

IUespresso

#5: Post by IUespresso » Nov 09, 2016, 4:28 pm

Thanks Tom!

If you look at the product page for the DE1+, they mention that this machine can produce "Slayer Shots" and also mimic other technologies offered by other high end machines. Is that really the case?

Looks like a great machine and thanks again for taking the time to post on here and on your instagram page.

-Michael

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redbone

#6: Post by redbone » Nov 09, 2016, 4:37 pm

Nice to hear a write up, thanks Tom.

"I imagine if I dialed in a killer extraction, being able to save it to reproduce later is rather nice"

This is where a machine like the DE machines shines for me. I understand beans age and other variables happen but lessening the variables does make it easier to produce ideal likeable consecutive shots. Ideal for multiple shots when entertaining or dialing in a bean.
Between order and chaos there is espresso.
Semper discens.


Rob
LMWDP #549

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danetrainer

#7: Post by danetrainer » Nov 09, 2016, 6:18 pm

TomC wrote: Its more configurable than anything on the market and it appears those changes can be made in a matter of seconds.
Tom, we need to take care in making such emphatic statements and I understand you had allot to report on here...and I have no intention of bringing a negative view to this new product.

I had the great opportunity last Saturday to spend 2 hours with the technical representative of Dalla Corte with the new Mina and walked away with a "sense" that it may be the most configurable espresso machine on the market, and with Bluetooth interface. I will have more understanding when I accept the offer from Mark at Clive Coffee to bring it home for a week and really delve into what the Italian engineers have created.

Another statement that Decent is advertising is "The most advanced espresso machine ever built, with five major innovations." again needing substantiation, outside testing and peer review at the very least.

Let's not go down the trail of LWW and "more precise than anything on the market."

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TomC
Team HB

#8: Post by TomC » Nov 09, 2016, 9:08 pm

IUespresso wrote:Thanks Tom!

If you look at the product page for the DE1+, they mention that this machine can produce "Slayer Shots" and also mimic other technologies offered by other high end machines. Is that really the case?

Looks like a great machine and thanks again for taking the time to post on here and on your instagram page.

-Michael

Yeah, the + model has flow profiling. It appears the sub menus lets you lock in certain constraints that will apply to the main control menu. What I should have asked him was whether someone could lock in a set flow of 1ml/sec after pre-infusion (pressure be damned) and let it run. I get the impression it can, but not 100% certain.
danetrainer wrote:Tom, we need to take care in making such emphatic statements...
We'll just have to wait and see I suppose. The DE1+ does do more than anything currently on the market. Maybe by the time they're on the counters of various owners, folks can do a heads up on both.

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aecletec

#9: Post by aecletec » Nov 10, 2016, 12:55 am

danetrainer wrote:again needing substantiation, outside testing and peer review at the very least.
I feel like holding marketing to the standards of science may lead to boring and and needlessly bland product pitches... but it sure was nice to see the videos of performance thus far and encourage more of the like... might temp me to add to my counter!

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FotonDrv

#10: Post by FotonDrv » Nov 10, 2016, 10:38 am

Interesting machine! Certainly worth trying one :D
That Light at the End of the Tunnel is actually a train