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#861: Post by Decent Paul »

Hi Chert,
Is there a zoom or video covering best practices among persons running decent in cafe or cart?
Unfortunately not but I think that would be a great video to do for the future.
What kind of hiccups occur with intense frequent use and how are they avoided?
The main hiccups I have experienced are at the puck preparation phase. As the main thing to practice and hone is what to do when your shot is extracting. Having a second portafilter definitely helps as you can prepare the next shot while extraction is occurring and keep up with the pace of service. The next issue to overcome is the weighing of the beans, which can ruin your flow and throw you off. Having a cache of beans pre weighed can help or a small compromise and have a timed dosing grinder with a large hopper.

After that it is all about refining and making your work station efficient to use and how it works with your work flow. i.e. Your accessories have their own home/place on the workstation, You are tamping from the same position etc. This builds muscle memory to where things are placed and you will naturally get faster with time while reducing small mistakes via familiarity.

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#862: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »




Brian C, a Decent portafilter stand customer, reported the the vibrations from his Niche grinder with our portafilter stand https://decentespresso.com/portafilter_stand mounted to it, were causing loud rattling between the portafilter basket and funnel. Also, a groove was appearing in the paint of the handle, from the rubbing, where the stand meets the wood.

I suggested to Brian that he buy a bit of rubber tubing, as another customer had previously posted that mod. He did it, found it solved his problem, and then posted to Decent Diaspora about it. The two photos on the top right of the collage show Brians' own mod.

Quite a few people chimed in, indicating that more folks than I thought, were concerned about this, especially the part about a groove forming in the portafilter paint.

So, Decent engineer Alex has been working on implementing this improvement in our product, for the past month. Alex has been trying different types of tubing (different densities, thicknesses, and materials), and we think we finally have figure out the right tube, that can optionally be placed on the portafilter stand "fork" to prevent scratching and dampen vibrations.

The tube does slightly elevate the handle, and thus change the level of the basket, but the effect is not too great. If your grinder doesn't vibrate much, it's unlikely you'll have the groove form on your portafilter, so

We're ordering 2000pcs, enough to include with all future portafilter stands, for those that'd like it on.

And, we'll send one for free, upon request, to any existing Decent portafilter stand owner, as part of any other order they make with us.

I'll post here when they are available.

Many thanks to customer Brian C. for pushing this issue forward, so that it ends with this happy conclusion.

Note that the tube we settled on is thinner than Brian's, and likely thus more flexible. That thin-ness raises the portafilter less, and also means the center-cut isn't needed to hold it in place around the bend.

-john

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#863: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »

Decent Transparent Cases

Years ago, we made a one-off transparent acrylic case for use at trade shows. It was very popular:




We later made the cover available as an optional thing people can buy:
https://decentespresso.com/c?s=310+1

but few people buy it, because:
  • it's hard to find on our website
  • we don't have any good photos of it
  • most people probably would prefer that their espresso machine came built like this, so they didn't have to do the assembly themselves.
In an effort to resolve those issues, we've taken clean, light-box photos of a real machine with the transparent case:






and then applied those 2D images as textures on our 3D renders.






In a few weeks, I'll be updating the https://decentespresso.com/model page so that there's a "clear" color option on the DE1PRO, with images, and a price. We'll then start shipping machines pre-built this way.

At the moment, this case works best on the DE1PRO model, which is 4cm shorter than the DE1XL. If this extra work we're doing increases interest in this clear case option, I'll have some DE1XL versions of this case made too.

I'll post more info about this once we're ready. In the meantime, if you're already a DE1PRO owner and like the way it looks, you can buy it now https://decentespresso.com/c?s=310+1 but be sure you also get the matching 3-screw tablet stand for it (the render above shows the incorrect stand type).

-john

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#864: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »





From Render, to real

I mentioned that we recently bought a laser etching machine, and we're trying out various art concepts on the Decent with it.

As it happens, Decent customer Jeremy Clark posted monochromatic art for the de1app, and I thought it'd work well with the laser etching. Jeremy sent me the line-art (Adobe Illustrator) source to this latte art stripe, which was one of my favorites.

Decent engineer Alex has been trying different laser power, laser speed, and.... angles of etching. This was not something I expected but the angle of the etch has a huge effect on the resulting color. Makes sense, since color is reflected light, but still...

It turns out that etching at 45º angle, at high power, causes aluminum to go light brown, quite close to the color of a latte. And this color persists at various viewing angles. All the powder coating is burned off, giving it a crisp edge.

On the right is my photoshop mockup of the idea. On the top is our most successful laser etch on a real chassis.

This week we're going to make a full scale etch of this design.

I'm quite pleased that Alex managaged to get something with a nice color, and high contrast, as most of our experiments have come out grey, like the test you can see above the middle stripe.

More tests to follow...

-john

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#865: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »

For how long will a specific Decent model be in stock?

For the first time in our history, we're managing to build machines faster than we can sell them, which is great.

This is mostly because I handed over factory management to Nicole a few months ago, and she's doing a better job at it that I did. I was managing to get 200 to 250 Decents made per month, but she's cranked it up to 250 to 300 per month. You can see real monthly numbers of factory here: https://decentespresso.com/batch_chart

Because we're now in stock for all machines, I've rewritten the "Queue" page to focus on what we have, instead of .... what we don't have! You can see it here:
https://decentespresso.com/queue

it also displays what machines we sent sent out, and which machines are just about to go out. A happy face will appear next to your machine on the queue page (on the "about to go out" or "just shipped") once you buy from us.

For each v1.43 model we make, you can see how many we have, and an estimate of how many days of inventory that represents. I'm extrapolating based on the past 30 days of sales, which is also there.





Note that v1.42 machine inventory and sales are not included, as they used a now-obsoleted tracking mechanism, which assumed "we build them as fast as we sell them", and thus didn't worry about tracking inventory.

I've also obsoleted the "Showroom" concept for v1.43 machines, where each buyer would get invited to Basecamp, and then browse 360º videos and still photos of our inventory, and pick one. As virtually all our machines are the same now, this just introduced an extra (and confusing for many) step.

Machines that do have a cosmetic defect, or are just plain different in some way, will continue to get listed in the Bazaar (email me if you want an invite to that)

Next week, I'll finish programming a replacement for the Showroom. If you want to, you'll be able to browse 360º videos at 4k resolution, of every v1.43 machine in stock. And, you can tell us you want a specific serial #. You will NOT need to have purchased from us to browse all this detailed info.

But, crucially, you won't be required to browse videos of our machines any longer. We'll send a machine automatically, the next working day after your order comes in. More about that new process soon.

-john

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#866: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »




HELP ME ANSWER: "Why did (or would) you buy a DE1?"

My friend Stephen Barnes is the "Hong Kong Visa Geeza" and has a strategy very similar to Decent: sharing information freely, transparency, and a focus on customer happiness. He's sharing his marketing wisdom and I'm trying to learn from him.

In his "how to build a monopoly" video: https://intelligentcontent.marketing/ he says that first do some deep thinking about what people are really buying from you. For Stephen's visa business, he realized it was "peace of mind" and he then re-oriented his business to provide that.

I don't have a clear idea, at all, of why people buy Decent. It feels like there are lots of disparate reasons.

We made the v1.0 DE1 as the machine I personally wanted, heavily educated by Scott Rao and Home Barista. But after we shipped v1.0, everything that followed for the past 5 years, has been guided by you.


If you own a Decent or want to, can you do me a favor?

Write below, very, very succinctly (one sentence is best) why you (would) chose to buy a Decent.

I think that some of the common ones are:
- High tech: I wanted a high tech espresso machine
- Best espresso: I thought Decent would make the best espresso possible
- Frustrated: I was frustrated by my existing machine and wanted something better
- Trust: I trusted John to guide me to making good coffee
- Business practices: I just liked the way Decent conducted business
- Software: I like software-based approaches and love the idea of a tablet
- Profiling: I heard that profiling was essential and Decent seems to do it best
- Wanted a hobby: I was always interested in making espresso at home, but it seemed a hard hobby to pick up. The videos and social media made me comfortable that Decent could get me there.
- Size: I have a small kitchen

I'm not doing a poll as I am not at all sure that the list above encompasses the majority reasons.

If one of the above matches your reason, just write those few words. If you have another reason, please tell me.

This exercise is happening on the 3 different owner's forums, but I'm reproducing it here too, both to cast a wide net for responses and to share the conversation with those who have not bought a Decent, but are considering.

-john

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#867: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »




360º video of all Decent in stock

On the Decent Queue page https://decentespresso.com/queue every model has a link to a page of videos for every machine in stock.
  • Click on a model https://decentespresso.com/snview?sku=D ... 20V5-00471 and you'll get a still image of every machine in stock, from the 360º video we took.
  • Click on the serial number https://decentespresso.com/sn360?sn=4875 of a machine and you get a 4k quality video of that machine, shot in a light box. You can even download the 4k video and keep it as a record.
  • If there's a machine that you would particularly like to have, mention it in your notes when you buy and we'll send you that one.
The goal here is real transparency. You get to see precisely the machine you'd receive if you bought.
  • At 4k resolution, using a good Sony camera on a tripod and good lighting, you can really see a lot.
  • Previously, these videos were only available to those who had paid, as part of the "choose your machine" process.
Also, the video is permanently linked to your online invoice at https://decentespresso.com/support/orders so you can--at any time in the lifetime ownership of your machine--view this video.

Two caveats:
  • we're currently uploading all the v1.43 videos we've made, both of machines in stock and all the v1.43 we've made and sold. That's about 1000 videos, and will take us another week or two to complete.
  • it turns out that new versions of Google Chrome won't play .mp4 videos any more, because they're promoting their .webm video format. Firefox and Safari play them just fine. So, I'm making an OGV video file of every video, just for Chrome. This takes about 10 minutes per video (!) so Chrome users will wait a week for all videos to work.

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#868: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »




5000 Decents birthday!

We had a big celebration today for our 5000th Decent Espresso Machine, which happened to be a few days from the 50th birthday of Bugs Harpley: CEO, co-founder of all this, and my partner.

In the bottom right I'm holding a photo of us, just 2.5 years ago, when there were 8 of us in the photo, but we'd somehow managed to build 500 machines at that point. It felt like success at the time https://www.instagram.com/p/Bvd7eD7hMLn/ - Miraculously, 6 of the 8 people in that photo are still with Decent, though Simon (center) no longer solders every heater together (he's our head repairer), Hannifa no longer builds group heads (she's coffee R&D with Paul), and Alex no longer does anything and everything (he's was employee #1, and now is a product designer).

When I was 11 years old, my grandmother asked me what I wanted for my 12th birthday. "Homemade lasagna!" I said. "Too much work!" was her reply... and we had steak instead.

When Bugs asked me to make lasagna (which in our 13 years together I never have made, and it turns out to be one of her favorites) I could not say no.

Michael and I started at 9am with whole tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, pasta sheets, ground pork and dill see(to make Italian sausages), and beef cheeks.

4 hours later, we'd produced 4 huge lasagnas! The beef cheeks turned out to be overly ambitious, and didn't make it into the lasagna, served on the size instead. Mohammed is giving a big thumbs up in the photo as he got his own pork-free lasagna, that everyone agreed was the best looking of all (extra cheese and sauce!).

A BIG HUGE THANKS to the 4500 great people, all over the world, who have bought one of our hand-built espresso machines in the past 2 1/2 years.

Thank you Thank you Thank you

You can see Bugs getting quite emotional in the middle photo. We've always wanted to make a contribution in the world of food, but didn't see how to do so (don't want to open a restaurant). Decent manages to allow us to live the life we want, applying the skills we have, in a field that we feel so happy to be able to contribute to. Thank you again.

Let's keep having fun together, and making ever better drinks.

- John & Bugs

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#869: Post by pizzaman383 »

Congratulations on a great milestone! 5000 machines of a brand new, very innovative design is quite an accomplishment.
Curtis
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“Taste every shot before adding milk!”

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#870: Post by decent_espresso (original poster) »




Why do we make these 360º videos?

I was asked by a few people, "why are you putting these 360º videos up? What's the point", for example, this:
"I'm assuming the level of quality control is great enough that there should be no visible defects right? So what would one be looking for when they pick out a machine?"
A good part of it is that forcing transparency on my staff, causes them to be MUCH more attentive to problems.

If they let a machine through that has a scratch and it's visible on the video, they know the customer will either see it before shipping or once they receive it and complain, the 360º video will show the scratch, and it'll be clear that they failed.

It's MUCH more motivating to a staffer here to avoid embarrassing themselves and the company, publicly, than anything I could say as a boss.

Telling someone to "pay attention" and "do better" are fairly empty words.

Knowing that your actions have consequences, and that the transparency in the whole process means you can't hide when you screw up.

Namely, when a mistake has been made, everyone looks at the record and tries to determine if they were the cause. If so, it's common for me to hear "I'm sorry, it was me, and I will try to better."

A little story about Teddy, who does "final assembly" and only he does it. He's kind of the Executive Chef here, in that he reviews every single machine we make, like in a fine dining restaurant where the executive chef reviews every dish before the customer sees it. He's tremendously respected, and when a problem is discovered anywhere, his opinion is always sought.

A few years ago, Teddy made 3 mistakes in a week, that customers saw. I received a signed apology letter from him, telling me that this was not at all acceptable, and that he was embarrassed that he made so many mistakes, and that he had done some soul searching and felt he needed to improve. I don't know that he's made 3 mistakes since then.

I realize it's a bit odd to do something like this. The videos aren't meant to directly sell a machine to someone. Instead, it's part of how we got here, how we even managed to get in running to maybe sell you a machine.

These videos exist because responsibility, motivation, and quality are hard things to do, and this approach works.

-john
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