Owner experience with Dalla Corte Mini

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Martin

#1: Post by Martin »

Well, I've used the DC Mini for 20 months, and it has been 3+ months since hearing from other DC users. Since there may be people still coming to this thread to read about the DC, I'll add some perspective to 3 main criticisms. No pretense to being a review; and I have no quarrel with what others have to say, but perhaps a longer view.

Taste The chief ding here is what Marshall calls "muddy taste." Prior to the DC I owned the La Spaziale Vivaldi II for a couple of years. This adds up to a long time spent with similar (I'd say identical) 53mm baskets/pf. IMO, there is indeed a distinctive flavor profile I'd associate with these baskets. I'd say, on average, they (at least the DC) work better with lighter roasts than darker roasts, often benefit from a degree or two cooler temps, work best with the as-shipped thicker dispersion block, and require particular dosing care (under-dosing might be interesting, over-dosing, not.) Under best conditions, there is considerable "movement" to the shot--something I interpret as flavors that appear and recede with the aftertaste and as the shot cools. This is something different from the homogenized and boring quality that is implied in the notion of "muddy." I do concede that the other side of this movement--and something missing--is a sharp flavor focus on the most notable characteristics of SOs. These flavors are present, but don't grab all the attention.

Components I have no quarrel with the discussions regarding the OPV or other design defects. A bad OPV is what it is, and there are no excuses. OTOH, I can't ascribe to these components any particular shot defects. Taking off the cover, the machine is in as-new condition, immaculate, no evidence of spray or drip, or any degrading of hoses or connectors. Something that surprises me given the tight space; and something I could not say about my Viv II.

Cost It cost too much, and value comparisons with the cheaper La Spaziale and $3K machines might not persuade toward the DC. But I wonder if there's a reasonable upgrade that's short of the GS/3.

In sum it's a fine machine, and more satisfying than my previous very fine La Spaziale. There's a learning curve not only for one's barista practices but for appreciating the particular characteristics of the flavor tendencies. It is incomparable when considering quality in a small footprint (if that's important,) even when factoring in the cost. Besides, as the poet sings, "Love the one you're with." :)


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winboot

#2: Post by winboot »

I've now owned the Dalla Corte Super Mini for a few months and must say i personally think it's hard to setup and find good parameters. Unlike others i am willing to modify it.

What is a point for improvement is at least a digital temperature meter/modifier for the group and shots measured by volume rather then time.
If anyone has some ideas on how to do this, or knows where i can find some more information, i'd love to hear it!

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Martin (original poster)

#3: Post by Martin (original poster) »

Winboot- -
I'd say you raise some micro- and macro-issues in your post. "Hard to setup and find good parameters" doesn't seem to require mods of any sort. For example, volumetric controls are there, and pretty much repeatable (I don't use them.) I can't speak to the accuracy of the simple dial on my Mini for absolute temp control, but it is highly reliable on a relative basis, so if, by taste, you require hotter or cooler temp, you can get it.

I'd say if you are after "optimal" control--the sort suitable for laboratory-level cupping, there's probably a case to be made for mods (I'd also like to hear about them.) But if you want to turn out really excellent shots, reliably, day-after-day, the DC Mini does that. And if that's not the case, there might be room to address your dissatisfaction with technique or coffee sourcing, although I suppose that the "deficiency" is more a matter of expectations for the machine than your barista practices .

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Carneiro

#4: Post by Carneiro »

There is a flow meter on the Dalla Corte (Super) Mini. But when you try to program the dose, if the light starts to blink, the flow is too slow and it can't be measured.

If I had one, I would first try to make a pre-heat mod. Maybe a copper tube around the steam boiler. On the Super there plenty of room to have a good volume - just be careful to not overheat the water.

The probe of the DC is too close to the water inlet. I don't know if one could improve the temp control just putting a PID. I would try to measure the temp of the group metal - it's massive and rules the water temp on the puck.

The measures I did on the Mini showed around 2°C to 3°C less on the puck than on the dial. But it's a linear delta, one more reason to set the group temperature.

Márcio.

hperry

#5: Post by hperry »

Martin wrote:Winboot- -
But if you want to turn out really excellent shots, reliably, day-after-day, the DC Mini does that. And if that's not the case, there might be room to address your dissatisfaction with technique or coffee sourcing, although I suppose that the "deficiency" is more a matter of expectations for the machine than your barista practices .
My experience with the Super Mini was that there was no option for updosing. Anything over 16 grams made it impossible to insert the portafilter (I did not try the thinner dispersion screen). It did very well with certain blends (such as Caffe Fresco's Brown Brindle Ethopia). It was not as good with coffees that like to be updosed, for obvious reasons. Within a somewhat narrow range of coffees I was able to get a consistently good cup so I concentrated on those coffees. Because I like to experiment that made the Dalla Corte somewhat limiting. The Speedster has allowed considerably more flexibility and ease of adjustment and a much wider range of coffees brewed successfully. One outstanding feature of the Super Mini was its steaming. In that respect it is the best machine I have ever used.
Hal Perry

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Marshall

#6: Post by Marshall »

winboot wrote:What is a point for improvement is atleast a digital temperature meter/modifier for the group and shots measured by volume rather then time.
The shots are not measured by time; they are measured by volume. The problem is the flowmeter is upstream from the pressure relief valve, so some of what it measures is bypassing the brewhead. I just set my buttons for a very high volume and then manually stopped the pump when I saw it was time to do so.
Marshall
Los Angeles

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Marshall

#7: Post by Marshall »

hperry wrote:My experience with the Super Mini was that there was no option for updosing. Anything over 16 grams made it impossible to insert the portafilter (I did not try the thinner dispersion screen).
The thinner dispersion disc is the "option for updosing." Swapping the discs is a no-brainer, since removing them is part of the cleaning ritual. I swapped them all the time. I also had a triple basket I sometimes used.
Marshall
Los Angeles

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Martin (original poster)

#8: Post by Martin (original poster) »

hperry wrote:My experience with the Super Mini was that there was no option for updosing. Anything over 16 grams made it impossible to insert the portafilter
Agreed about 16g max, and I keep all shots at just under 16. The thinner dispersion block does allow a larger dose and so does a triple basket. IMO, neither produces better shots regardless of the coffee used. Which raises the question as to whether updosing benefits are a function of volume of coffee or compression with the shower screen. Whatever, this is probably not a machine for lots of wide-ranging experimentation.
Marshall wrote: I just set my buttons for a very high volume and then manually stopped the pump when I saw it was time to do so.
I take a similar low-tech approach. I also gave up on auto-dosing on the La Spazialle, which seems useful for a busy cafe but less so for a home barista. I use a bottomless pf and a small mirror propped on the water tray that gives me a good view of the pour without twisting my neck. And on that matter, these taller 53mm baskets seem to have a smoother transition when blonding. Degree of blonding becomes a shot variable worth working with instead of waiting for a more abrupt color shift (which doesn't happen as readily) and then snapping shut the flow.

Worth noting that at least a couple of people who have "moved on" from the DC Mini are using GS/3 or Speedster. Which they like better. OK. If wanting to get the DC's better features (ex., build, temp stability, DB, maybe kitchen-sized footprint,) what machines might browsers here consider without doubling+ the price?

slash

#9: Post by slash »

New to the board. Be gentle.

I use a DC Mini and a Rancilio grinder. The mini needs a good grinder and a steady method to make a good shot. The DC always makes a good shot and every other day I actually nail the god shot.

Steamer is excellent.
Brew Temp is steady.

Probably like most machines, once you know it, you will get good consistent results.

I recommend the machine for steam and shot performance in addition to its compact size. It easily does what is required in my realm giving a latte / cappuccino in the morning and americanos and espresso shots until late afternoon. The steamer is used for hot water production. I shut the DC off in the summer and September until June it remains on. It now gets cleaned every 7 days or so which is 30 to 40 shots. Almost all shots are a double that is filled to the top and leveled.

Hope this helps those looking at the DC from a 15 month user.

nobbi4711

#10: Post by nobbi4711 »

Just wanted to tell that there can be used San Marco baskets, available in 12, 16 or 21 grams. Overdosing should not be a problem anymore.

My personal Mini runs with the thin 11mm dispersion block and an EX4 pump instead of the EX5 series type. I've been using several Minis from the second generation on (silver brew boiler cover), the actual Mini is the best one, technically sophisticated. The silver model and the first model (no cover at all) had the flowmeter in front of the pump, all black models have a metal flowmeter after the opv.

I've been owning a GS3 (automatic model, no paddle) for about a year and a good friend has been owning a La Spaziale Vivaldi (1. and then 2. generation) for more than 3 years now. The paddle GS3 is better than a Mini, the automatic GS3 isn't. I sold it.

There's surely a difference in taste between the 54mm baskets of a Mini and the 41mm basket of a single LM basket. That can be corrected by choosing a slightly different temperature (lower for the LM basket). I have a "DC LM single basket" here that a friend of mine built from a DC blindfilter and a La Marzocco single basket. That tested, I can say that much of the difference in taste between the Mini and the GS3 depends on the baskets.

The OPV tends to loose a little pressure in the first months, so it should be controlled after a time. During the shots, I couldn't find it being a problem. Measurements with a pf manometer didn't show any abnormalities. But there's room in the machine (although it's so small), a better OPV can be put in.

To keep up with the paddle GS3, I put a second pump into my Mini, an EP8 type running on 2 bar. Connected to a toggle switch, I can set the coffee under 2bar pressure for up to a minute, then change to 9bar. Runs good ;).

Greetings \\//

Marcus