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I can achieve something like ‘blooming’ with a Vesuvius. (I use a Ceado E92 conical grinder.)

 

I use a 15 second 2 bar preinfusion then drop the lever half way, which keeps the pressure in the group without building on it. After 20 or so seconds I start the pump again on a declining pressure profile. My distribution is good enough not to show any obvious uneven pour or channeling defects with a naked PF and VST basket.

 

My result is not measured with refractometry yet but it is a higher than normal yield which in the past I’ve measured at between 19 and 22%. I definitely start to get flavours that are not so good: roasty, old musty leather, sweaty....

 

I’m not sure what to make of this. Is Rasmus’ experience further proof of the superiority of very large flat burrs?

Imho EKs are going to extract differently for whatever reason and higher EYs with EKs still taste good, whereas this is not necessarily true for conicals. Perhaps if you were to compare both with darker roasts conics might be better, but for lighter stuff I think anything above 22% on the conic is not going to be uber tasty.

 

We are probably getting slightly out of topic here, but I'll just quickly add that if you want to bump EY even more you can single dose the E92 and very very slowly feed beans which will allow you to grind way finer.

 

T.


Espresso: Londinium L1, ZR-71 grinder

Photography: Flickr

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Imho EKs are going to extract differently for whatever reason and higher EYs with EKs still taste good, whereas this is not necessarily true for conicals. Perhaps if you were to compare both with darker roasts conics might be better, but for lighter stuff I think anything above 22% on the conic is not going to be uber tasty.

 

We are probably getting slightly out of topic here, but I'll just quickly add that if you want to bump EY even more you can single dose the E92 and very very slowly feed beans which will allow you to grind way finer.

 

T.

 

That certainly resonates with my recent attempts.

 

 

Need someone with a monolith and a DE1 Pro to run some tests


Espresso: Ceado E92 (modified for single dose); Vesuvius; VST baskets and refractometer.

Other: Aeropress, Sowden and Alessi Moka Pot; Mazzer Robur doser with Auber timer; Mazzer Mini E; Expobar Leva Dual Boiler

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leak_2.jpg

Decent customer Brandon posted a message a few days ago that the GFI interrupter on his electric plug was tripping. He noticed a little bit of water coming out the left side of the espresso machine.

I'm glad the GFI was tripping, because that's exactly what the safety systems are supposed to do when there is a leak.

Brandon then opened up the espresso machine, saw that the water drip was due to a small leak when the machine was under pressure, and he followed the water trail through a hole on the bottom of the chassis. That hole is there as part of UL safety compliance.

We specifically made the machine drip water out the sides, instead of on the bottom, so that any water leak like this would be very noticeable by customers. When something fails, a good design is one where it fails extremely visibly.

At any rate, we know what the cause of the problem is. The majority of the machines we have shipped include a 3D printed 180° bend reinforcement. However, I had argued that this was no longer needed because the Teflon tubes, once they have been bent for a long time, stay in shape. My engineer Johnny was not in agreement. A few machines went out without this reinforcement, and one has leaked now. So, Johnny was right.

We are sending Brandon a free replacement assembly, complete with tube, reinforcement and O-rings (photo of care package below). My engineers also extracted the relevant sections from our in-house assembly manual and I posted that to the discussion.

FYI All this discussion happened publicly on our owner's forum, with all 300 other decent espresso customers being able to read everything. The hope is that by being transparent about problems and how we deal with them, that people will have greater trust in us.

-john

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portafilter_placing copy.jpg

 

Because our espresso machine design has an extra handle on the group head, for me it’s really important that the portafilter lines juuuuuust right on the group head, once it’s locked in.

 

I’m obviously not the only one who notices this, as photos of this alignment appear frequently on social media (two examples below).

 

Getting this fit right is really finicky, because it’s down to tenths-of-a-millimeter tolerances, as you’re slowly tightening something against a rubber gasket.

 

The way we accomplish this perfect alignment is by using precision cut fiberglass insulators. We order them in a variety of thicknesses, and then we figure out—by actually assembling them— which works best. A computer CAD model can’t do the job.

 

Our v1.1 group head parts have changed, because we removed 4mm of headspace above the basket in an effort to dry the puck to help make it easy to knock out, after an espresso.

 

So…. in the photo below, you can see the steps my engineers have taken over the past week, to get the alignment just right, again, with this latest espresso machine version that we’re about to ship.

 

-john

 

screen 2018-10-09 at 11.45.03 AM.jpg

screen 2018-10-09 at 11.45.28 AM.jpg

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Hmm. I bought alle basket sizes Descent offers (2 sets, 1 for myself, 1 for my daughter) with some analog thermometers.

 

The thermometers are nice, the shape prevent them from rolling away ;).

 

At present I can get good ristrettos from other baskets (IMS, IMS the Single, IMS precision, VST and La Marzocco) and I find I need to grind way finer for this with the Descent 10gram basket.

Should be no problem ... I have plenty room to go finer at my Macap M4D. But! I'm single dosing the M4D and if I go much finer the beans start backing up in stead of going through. Since I'm also waiting for the Niche Zero I don't want to put the hopper back on.

 

One other thing - is a 58.4mm tamper ideal for these baskets?

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One other thing - is a 58.4mm tamper ideal for these baskets?

For the 10 g basket, I definitely recommend a 58.4 mm tamper, not larger. For 15 g and larger baskets you can get away with a 58.5 mm tamper.

 

Our version two tampers average at ~58.45 mm, and I am measuring samples here as being between 58.42 mm and 58.47 mm.

 

I heard from a client a few days ago that their VST 58.5 mm tamper was jamming in our 10 g basket. The smaller size of that basket means the taper starts earlier and that can cause a problem.

 

– John

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A few weeks ago I put a new system in place for keeping track of each customer who had a problem with one of their espresso machines.

 

Quite a few people at Decent Espresso get involved when a customer has a problem, so I decided to use the basecamp forum software to manage it. We now make each new customer problem into a Basecamp to-do item, which only gets completed once everything is okay with that customer.

 

Two recent events precipitated my formalizing how we handle repairs:

 

1) we now have a special low-cost return rate with UPS, so that we can organize for an espresso machine pick up from the customer's location and send it back to Hong Kong for our cost of only $70. Since we offer a two-year warranty, we pay for this.

 

2) Back in Hong Kong, We keep a stock of refurbished machines and we send one of these to a customer immediately when there is a problem that requires a repair. It usually takes 48 hours for the replacement machine to arrive with the customer. This way, we don't make the customer wait while the repair happens: ideally, they don't go without caffeine for more than a few days. :-)

 

For those that are curious, here is a PDF of the complete conversation about Lars' problem and how we resolved it.

http://magnatune.com/p/lars.pdf

 

In this particular case, a capacitor on the AC power board blew. Ray worried that there might be a design flaw in his schematic, so some extra conversation around that ensued with Parry who had done the repair. In the end, we didn't see a design flaw, and as this is the first time this particular problem has occurred, we will log it and watch to see if it recurs.

 

There are two positive outcomes to this new approach we are taking to repairs:

 

1) no matter where you are in the world, we now have an efficient way to swap the machine out and get you a replacement very quickly. We no longer need you to post your machine to a repairman in your country.

 

2) Each problem that a customer has is now discussed among all of us, including the engineers responsible for the design so that the possibility of improving our design to prevent problems is greatly facilitated. If the same problem occurs several times, that should be very visible to us.

 

-john

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You ended it with a cliffhanger. Did the cleaning cycle sufficiently restore the parts?

The stainless steel comes out perfect, but even with Cafiza, once coffee starts being made using our brass parts, they will always end up being slightly discolored, even after cleaning.

 

Here's what Lars' brass and stainless steel parts look like after 24 hours in Cafiza:

 

preview-full-image-1.jpg

 

Obviously, the brass no longer looks new, but to me this is acceptable as a refurbished machine.

 

We've had long discussions about our brass alloys, including with a metallurgist who is DE1+ customer. Given that we CNC our brass parts, we don't think we can do better with the guaranteed food safety that we require.

 

-john

preview-full-image.jpg

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weighing_under.jpg

 

A few months ago, decent espresso users with a talent for CAD made a replacement stand for the Bluetooth scale we sell, enabling the scale to fit under the drip tray.

 

This has a number of benefits:

– the scale is no longer in the way when you are making an espresso shot

– you don't have to worry about getting water on the scale

– you gain about an extra 2 1/2 cm (1") of cup height clearance by not having the scale on the tray

– you don't have to look at the "not very pretty" Atomax Skale as it is now mostly hidden :-)

– you can plug the scale into USB power and the cable doesn't get in the way. No more (re)pairing with the Bluetooth scale each morning, since you powered it off to save the batteries.

 

I've been working with a friend of Scott Rao named Dan Elis, who owns a small 3D printing business near Scott. Dan has redesigned the scale stand that my customers created so that it is much more economical to produce. It significantly less plastic now. It should also be much less susceptible to warping from heat.

 

Currently, I've been asking people who want to weigh-under-the-drip tray to download the free CAD file and arrange to have it 3D printed locally to them.

 

I am making arrangements with Dan to have him print 20 of these, so that I can simply sell them to people who want to do this.

 

Of course, people who want to do this themselves are welcome to use the free CAD model. As Dan has put a bunch of CAD work into his version, he'd like to charge a little bit for his.

 

More news soon…

 

– John

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Roger's two problems

I've received a few emails from people saying they're "quite interested" to hear "how things go wrong" with an espresso machine, so I'm continuing this series of articles.

---

Decent customer Roger reported he had two problems at once: occasionally out of water and occasional terrible pump noises.

Here's his tech support log:

http://magnatune.com/p/roger.pdf

 

I decided that we should immediately swap his machine.

Parry indicated that we had no machines ready to send, just two machines in our "hospital". I asked him to pull parts from one bad machine to make another whole. One machine only problem is a sheared screw on the front mirror panel, but it's (sadly) impossible to fix without cosmetic damage.

Powering up Roger's machine, the debug logs showed "0" on two different numbers. Parry concluded that two pins on an internal data cable had an intermittent connection. Replaced the cable, all ok.

For all the v1.0 machines, we've hand-made all cables ourselves. With our v1.1 espresso machines, we're switching to a professional cable manufacturer http://www.bma-tech.com - they've got much more advanced tech than we have, and each cable has been CAD drawn, and had its specs scrutinized. More expensive cable ends are being used now for almost all cables.

Coming soon, this debug log feature will be also available inside the DE1+ Android tablet app. At the moment, a special cable is needed. This will help us diagnose problems remotely, more effectively. Customer will then have the choice of receiving just the replacement part, or a swapped machine.

-john

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wow, John

 

while making a decent cup became a totally unexpected experience for me by engaging with your tools, among other things, I just started roasting myself....the whole experience for you must be quite "interesting", as you expand in areas and acquire knowledge in new topics you probably never anticipated. Quite a journey you take and fascinating to watch...

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Coming soon, this debug log feature will be also available inside the DE1+ Android tablet app. At the moment, a special cable is needed. This will help us diagnose problems remotely, more effectively. Customer will then have the choice of receiving just the replacement part, or a swapped machine.

-john

 

Now that is a very good idea!

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preview-lightbox-preview-lightbox-Plumbing Kit  DSC_2762.jpg

 

Long before we started manufacturing, my plan was to diverge the Pro and plus models, so as to achieve cost savings. However, diving into this further I found that the increased complexity of having two models actually cost more than the cost savings of divergence.

 

So, in the end, all the espresso machines that we have made are identical except that the pro models have longer life pumps and valves in them. The functionality is identical.

 

Every machine we have sold is capable of being plumbed in.

 

We are about to take delivery of the catering kits, which will automatically refill the water tank from an unpressurized water source such as a 10 L water jug.

 

We are still working out the exact fittings for a plumbed drip tray, but we have finalized the ceramic design and received samples, so that is going to manufacturing shortly. It will take about two months for us to receive the ceramic drip trays that have the built-in plumbing.

 

The plumbing kits, which will automatically refill the water tank from a pressurized water source, are still being finalized. We are sourcing the correct fittings (photo below)so that they will work both in Europe and America, ideally so that customers will have a quick connect and not need to talk to a plumber at all.

 

These three parts will all be available to plus customers, to purchase if they want. Pro customers will receive these three parts in the mail as soon as we have them in stock. These three parts are what we collectively referred to as the "refill kit"

 

The prices will be (USD$):

- plumbing kit $400

- catering kit $400

- plumbed drip tray and tubing $200

 

as stated above, Pro customers will receive these items at no additional cost soon.

 

The design of all this is such that you can choose to be plumbed in or not and switch back-and-forth at any time.

 

You will have a plumbed drip tray and a normal one. And the refill kits can be attached or not as you wish.

 

You can also do whatever hybrid you prefer, such as having the water tank automatically refill but not plumbing in the drip tray. You might want to do this if you want the scale to sit underneath the drip tray but still get most of the benefits of being plumbed in.

 

-john

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Sounds great John!

I’m thinking of upgrading to one of your lovely machines in the future once my Breville Dual Boiler conks out. Seeing how much innovation is going on behind the scenes, and the regular upgrades to both software and firmware has really impressed me, and makes me confident in my decision that a Decent machine is going to be the right fit for me.

Thanks for bringing such a great machine to fruition.

Henry

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screen 2018-10-15 at 7.57.33 PM.png

With our DE1+/DE1PRO espresso machines, we know precisely how much energy is going into the steam.

So, it should be a straightforward calculation for the tablet app to know when the steam should stop: no thermometer required.

We will need to know:

- the starting temperature (presumably out of the refrigerator, so fairly constant)

- the desired end temperature

- the amount of milk

I made a simple Excel spreadsheet to test this out and found that the numbers it yielded were correct when I actually tried to steam these volumes of milk. http://magnatune.com/p/milk_calcs.xlsx

I also mocked up a GUI with quick buttons for goal temperatures and milk volumes. The idea being that a café would be making a few different kinds of milky drinks in a definite range of temperatures. I would probably need to make these buttons configurable to different volumes and temperatures.

This feature is fairly straightforward for me to implement as a calculator button on the tablet app. Tap it to calculate the steam timeout that is appropriate.

This feature becomes a little bit more complicated in about six months when we start having 8% more powerful steam heaters in our standard machines (1350W vs 1500W), and a lot more complicated in our café model which will have variable power steam.

- The first problem is fairly easily solved with a serial number indicating the power of these steam heater.

- The second problem is solvable if instead of calculating a steam timeout, I tell the espresso machine how many joules of power is desired, and this becomes something the espresso machine calculates and uses to stop the steam as appropriate.

Attached below are two screen mockups I did in Excel.

I very much like the idea of being able to steam to a known goal temperature without needing to use a thermometer.

-john

 

screen 2018-10-15 at 8.05.57 PM.png

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uk.jpg

I have made a world map of half our customers.

You can see that most of our clients are in America, German-speaking Europe, and Australia.

I occasionally get requests from people asking if there is a decent espresso machine at a home near where they live. I'm not willing to disclose anyone's address without their permission. However, we're going to trial an idea I have of emailing the existing customer personally to see if they are interested in making contact with the other person. If it turns out that people find this annoying, we'll stop. :-)

Why only half our customers?

About half the customers would not import, due to https://www.mapcustomizer.com not recognizing the address. I could not figure out what the problem was. Here are two typical addresses that would not import even though they appear perfectly normal and can be read by Google maps, in case you can advise me as to what the problem is.

6205 Martha Oak Lane, Knoxville TN, 37918, US

1030 S Trenton Ave, Pittsburgh PA, 15221

-john

 

world.jpg

eu.jpg

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world.jpg

 

Ben Champion was able to get all our customers imported into Google maps (unlike me, who only managed 50% of them), so these three maps below are an accurate representation of our decent customers worldwide as of today.

uk.jpg

eu.jpg

au_pac.jpg

Edited by decent_espresso

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[ATTACH=CONFIG]36978[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]36979[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]36980[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]36981[/ATTACH]

 

Ben Champion was able to get all our customers imported into Google maps (unlike me, who only managed 50% of them), so these three maps below are an accurate representation of our decent customers worldwide as of today.

 

Noticeable to my eye's is France (Which does not surprise me) and Italy, perhaps a difficult market area to break into, but best of Luck in moving forward.

 

Jon.


One Life this is it, it's not a rehearsal so enjoy it best you can - Have some fun, buy a coffee machine.;)

 

ECM Synchronika - ECM V-Titan 64 Grinder - EXPOBAR MEGGACREM 2 Group - MAZZER Super Jolly grinder with doser -  AMIR Scales and they work fine - 15-18-20-22-25g VST Filter Baskets - Several MOTTA Jugs and a Home Made Knock Box. - Useful contributions from the Family.

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Noticeable to my eye's is France (Which does not surprise me) and Italy, perhaps a difficult market area to break into, but best of Luck in moving forward.

My feeling about Italy is that people there largely go to cafés to get their espresso, they don't make espresso at home unless they just use a moka pot. And because espresso is a high-volume, low margin business in Italy (€1 is the standard shot price), and the public is happy with the current product, there is not much drive for innovation.

 

I am friends with the main players in third wave coffee in France, and it's a difficult slog for them. Bordeaux, Paris and Lyon are the centers of coffee progress in France, but really in Bordeaux and Lyon you're talking about one shop. In Paris there's lots of good coffee, and perhaps next year we'll see some decent espresso machines there. Nonetheless, most French people view coffee as a strong drink that you pound quickly at the end of the meal as a kind of drug.

 

"C'est bon, mais ce n'est pas du café" is something I frequently hear.

 

I've always found the German speaking countries to be focused on quality over quantity, so that the few things they have in their house are quite nice. I've also had a nice reception on the German coffee forum, and quite a few people are very knowledgeable there. It also helps that so many of them have strong English ability and can read forums such as these.

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My feeling about Italy is that people there largely go to cafés to get their espresso, they don't make espresso at home unless they just use a moka pot. And because espresso is a high-volume, low margin business in Italy (€1 is the standard shot price), and the public is happy with the current product, there is not much drive for innovation.

 

I am friends with the main players in third wave coffee in France, and it's a difficult slog for them. Bordeaux, Paris and Lyon are the centers of coffee progress in France, but really in Bordeaux and Lyon you're talking about one shop. In Paris there's lots of good coffee, and perhaps next year we'll see some decent espresso machines there. Nonetheless, most French people view coffee as a strong drink that you pound quickly at the end of the meal as a kind of drug.

 

"C'est bon, mais ce n'est pas du café" is something I frequently hear.

 

I've always found the German speaking countries to be focused on quality over quantity, so that the few things they have in their house are quite nice. I've also had a nice reception on the German coffee forum, and quite a few people are very knowledgeable there. It also helps that so many of them have strong English ability and can read forums such as these.

 

In France the larger supermarkets sell Coffee grains (Beans) the smaller popular super markets are well stocked with a wide choice of 'Dosettes' and no grains. The larger supermarkets also tend to function as wholesalers for individual cafe's and restaurants. Unlike the UK which have a wide range of wholesalers and suppliers specifically for business.

 

Who would have thought years ago that bread machines would be popular in France.

 

Jon.


One Life this is it, it's not a rehearsal so enjoy it best you can - Have some fun, buy a coffee machine.;)

 

ECM Synchronika - ECM V-Titan 64 Grinder - EXPOBAR MEGGACREM 2 Group - MAZZER Super Jolly grinder with doser -  AMIR Scales and they work fine - 15-18-20-22-25g VST Filter Baskets - Several MOTTA Jugs and a Home Made Knock Box. - Useful contributions from the Family.

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compared.jpg

 

We are currently working on the design of the chassis for the café version of our decent espresso machine.

 

We need to make it larger in order to enable steam during brew, as well as twice as powerful steaming. We also want a little bit more space inside to make it easier to repair in commercial environments.

 

The café version will be capable of sitting on a countertop or going into an inset bracket, where it becomes flush with the countertop. I quite like the inset look, but I don't want to require it of people since it requires a much larger cut into their work surface.

 

With the café version, the tubing goes directly downwards in the back has a second panel which hides all electrical and water connections. That way the back can face the public.

 

I'm also moving to a significantly higher-end Android tablet, this one featuring an 11" screen (vs 8") and 2560x1600 resolution (four times the normal tablet we use). The screen is made by Toshiba and is really clear.

 

The steam wand has also been redesigned, specifically to enable faster in/out movements, and also to make steam 1 Liter easier. And this should all support hands-free steaming, too.

 

The cafe model needs to be able to work unplumbed, plumbed to water tanks, or plumbed to a pressurized water source.

 

Our next challenge is trying to suspend the drip tray cover on four load cells so that we can invisibly weigh espresso and not require a scale. I'm not sure yet how to do this in a way that isn't ugly. There might need to be a modification to the aesthetics of the side view.

 

This model will be 220V only.

 

Attached to this message are several renders of the current design in progress, compared to the current DE1 models.

 

-john

Edited by decent_espresso

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v11b.jpg

As (pessimistically) expected, a few of our suppliers have asked for a bit more time. We have not yet restarted our espresso machine production line.

There are 200 components in the machine, and all have to be here in order for us to ship one machine. That's a lot of dependencies!

At the moment, the last parts are expected to arrive by October 30.

However, we've also encountered three issues that we need to solve in order to get our factory shipping completed espresso machines again:

1) the first 200 leg bases arrived with a slight twist in the front (left photos). The company that made them for us says they can be twisted by hand, without damaging the paint. We'll see.

2) On the group head parts made of brass, three small holes that were supposed to be tapped to allow a threaded screw, were instead tapped all the way through to the other side (top right photo). That makes for a very leaky group head! Thankfully, the CNC manufacturer agreed that this is their mistake, because the sample parts they sent us did not have this flaw. They have agreed to remake these at their cost.

3) There is a slight leak in the group brass part when under pressure, around the two water temperature probes (bottom right photo). We're not yet sure why, as this has not appreciably changed since version 1.0 (no leaks there). We think that a slightly thicker silicone O-ring will solve this. We have one group head that is tested and not leaking, and now need to test 30 more to make sure this approach works.

Of course, the 14 people in our little espresso machine factory are busy assembling all the other parts that will go into the espresso machine.

I still expect that we will be able to ship out the 100 already sold Pro machines by the end of December, so that we can start taking orders for the Plus machines in January, and shipping very quickly as the orders come in.

-john

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