So what can it do and how is it to use? The good…
John’s goal in the build brief of this machine was to make one machine emulate all and in this sense, huge progress has been made. Want a hand operated piston leva? Yes. Slayer emulator? Yes. Flat 9Bar? Yes. Spring leva? Yes. Flow profiled to your spec? Yes. Pressure profile? Yes.
These are just some of the capabilities in an espresso sense and the machine comes well loaded with lots of profiles to get you started. There is little that the machine cannot do with espresso and the possibilities are really only limited by your imagination. There are so many YouTube clips out there, that there is not much value in repeating them. Do a search, watch some and then come to your own conclusions.
I got great espresso out of the box with very little adjustment: So, it pretty much does what it promises for espresso. I played more and produced many other great but different espressos as well as pretty much everything else on the black and milky coffee menu.
The not so good…
Mindful of the fact that the DE1+ represents almost $5k if you’d like to own one in Australia, what do you have to live with?
- The finish needs more work. I just can’t get beyond the fact that when I look at it, I can’t see $5k. I actually struggle to see $2.5k. At this point, it’s taking many hands 20+ hours to construct one of these and I suspect that much of the cost of purchase is labour coupled with R&D. If I didn’t know what I was looking at, I’m seeing an appliance store machine with an android tablet attached. I doubt that someone who doesn’t know what s/he’s looking at would walk into your kitchen and say “WOW!”
- It’s noisy. How noisy? Not Sunbeam jackhammer, but it grunts, vibrates and groans. This makes is hard to close your eyes and imagine a $5k machine. It sounds like $500.
- Steam? Well, plenty of it and it will texture milk adequately. Steam quality? Decidedly average. The steam is a lot damper than I’d expect. At this stage, this is the item that needs the most work. Nitpicking? Probably- but it should be far, far better…
- Service? No surprise that it takes 20 hours to build one. Other than replacing a pump, I wouldn’t want to repair one! At the moment, if something goes wrong, Decent will send bits if required and then try to help you fix the issue. In many states of Australia, it’s illegal for you to do that without formal electrickery qualifications. What will happen if/when someone is injured? If you can’t fix it, you send it back and it’s either repaired, or replaced. Discounted factory refurb. anyone?
For me, the biggest frustration is that no matter when you received your Decent Espresso machine, you scored a superseeded one. Decent are continually involved in the R&D process. The next build of DE1+ machines will have revisions to the group and also to the heaters. Sadly, it seems that for the moment, you will never have the thrill of the latest and greatest as that will be the next machine built, not the one shipped to you.
Will it be replacing the machine at home? Sorry, but not at this point. In my home, great coffee is a given. It’s served with the wow factor that comes with a beautifully designed, high performance and pretty expensive machine and I am happy with that. My traveller is and will remain an Olympia Cremina. It’s simple, superbly built, produces amazing espresso and will last forever.
Whilst the Decent software interface is brilliant and I have no doubt that other manufacturers will be watching closely and may well be already looking to emulate it, you don’t need all of this technology to achieve brilliant coffee and I suspect that for many owners, the novelty will wear off and it will be set pretty much to each owner’s preferred default and stay that way. Many of us just want fantastic coffee before we head out the door and all of this technology will still not cover for poor skills. If anything, it highlights poor skills.
The DE1+ will appeal to a very small percentage of coffee geeks who have the time and means to play with coffee and do so extensively. Sadly, there are not many with that luxury on a day to day basis. I can taste $5k in the cup, but I need to feel and touch it. Aspects of the machine are brilliant, but it’s just not the right machine for me…Where’s the romance?
Our DE1+ was offered for sale and was sold late in August 2018. The purchaser of the machine played with it for a few weeks and has also offered it for sale. He’s decided to purchase a La Marzocco GS3.