"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2021 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at EspressoMyEspresso@gmail.com
Plumbing the Decent DE1XL
Thursday, May 13, 2021
all text and photos ©2021 - All rights reserved
| I finally received my Decent Espresso machine after a lot of planning and head scratching and relatively short wait once I made the payment. Being that I am on a private well which delivers delicious but untreated, hard water to my home, I needed to install a new water treatment solution. Reverse osmosis would have been the best choice with a post, re-mineralization cartridge, but the wasteful nature of RO is not acceptable to me so I chose to go a route similar to my previous installation of the Chris Coffee two stage softening system in the old house [See my "Coffee College" chapters: Plumbing in an Espresso Machine - Part 1, and Part 2].
The best way to start a project such as this is with a plan. It saves effort as well as expense. As with the above-linked plan from my previous system, I drew out what I had in mind. The following was the final drawing I made after a few preliminary sketches as well as some shopping and inquiries on Home-Barista.com.
Above is my coffee bar while still under construction. I took this photo before the granite counter top was installed. You can see where the two cabinets meet that there is a dead space between them. Looking into the right side cabinet you can see the waste drain exiting the wall along with a round pipe with an "X" piece in it. That it a plug, later to be discarded, in what will be the cold water valve to supply the bar sink.
Yes, that massive hole was cut by the plumber to allow him to move the hot water to a location where it was actually useful (red plastic pipe is the hot water plumbing). Note that the hole I cut shown here was just after using a jig saw and before I squared it up and cleaned up the edges. That hole is where the various plumbing pipes from the Decent exit into the dead space.
Finally, here is the inside of the sink base cabinet. The hole I cut there is, once again, before being cleaned up and hand sanded. This is where the Decent plumbing exits the dead space and enters the sink's base cabinet.
Once the parts were in hand and the tools brought out, a total of an hour or two produced the following:
As you can see, there were a few minor deviations. For example, I found I could connect the water supply to the manifold more efficiently from the bottom due to hose lengths and flexibility, and I added a pressure regulator. The filter head's design was also a bit different from that which I originally envisioned. Here are the details:
The braided hose labeled "source" comes from the cold water shutoff valve which is out of view in this photo.
The non-plumbed ceramic drip tray is very easy to dislodge since the very smooth, high-quality ceramic tray's bottom has nothing to engage into the frame. It is designed to easily slide out, but at times it has the potential to slide out too easily. I applied small, clear vinyl(?) cabinet bumpers to the frame and it makes it nearly impossible to accidentally bump it out of place.
The plumbed drip tray presents a couple of difficulties for home use:
A - The 'nipple' on the center-bottom of the tray is quite short and tapered. The short length give little purchase for the silicone hose included which has a tight, ninety degree angle to direct the flow towards the back of the machine. Unfortunately, the nipple's taper decreases towards the tip instead of getting a bit wider towards the tip. It was a challenge keeping the hose in place on the nipple while I used two tie wraps to secure it. It popped off a couple of times before I was successful. A flare at the tip of the nipple, or maybe just a groove at the point the nipple meets the tray might solve that problem.
B - In a home, custom installation a sanitary installation of the drip tray will be difficult because a sufficient length of drain hose must be left to allow the drip tray to be slide forward. The tray needs to be moved to allow removal of the reservoir for filling or, if the Plumbing Kit is used, for ocassional cleaning. The adhesive nature of silicone tubing makes sliding of the drip tray out without pulling the hose off the fitting difficult. So a bit of excess hose needs to be used to eliminate the need to detach the hose from the other end and to try to avoid dislodging the hose from the tray.
If you are plumbed with a recessed installation with the drain hose going straight down into a cabinet from the exposed bottom of the machine, much of the above may not be a problemat all, and that installation style seems to have been the focus of the overall design of the plumbed drip tray. The solution to run the hose out the rear of the machine under both the drip tray and the reservoir is a bit of a second-best solution, particularly in terms of maintenance convenience.
As you can see above, there is very little room between the bottom of the reservoir (the black ceramic tray above the hose) and the drip tray hose itself. The barbed connection fitting can be see, and it actually is slightly wedged between the counter and the reservoir making it necessary to lift the reservoir slightly to move the hose. The adhesive nature of silicone makes keeping the drain hose clean impossible as you can see from the dust stuck to the tube (and I just cleaned the counter for this photo!).
I do not know if one who is addicted to this culinary hobby can ever justify saying so, but in the photo above
Here is my final coffee setup!Left to right: Behmor Brazen drip brewer, Arzum Okka semi-auto Turkish coffee maker, Kafetek MC3 grinder, (on top level) La Pavoni Europiccola lever, TheForce Tamper, and the Decent DE1XL in white, fully plumbed.
Beyond all that and the two decades it took to get here, the espresso my wife and I have been enjoying the last few weeks has been excellent and the control I have has been quite remarkable. Finally! Genuine control over the process!
What a long strage trip it's been.
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