Roc1 Junior Member Joined: 7 Jan 2014 Posts: 5 Location: Uk Expertise: Just starting
Posted Fri Jan 10, 2014, 1:39am Subject: Which ascaso steel (new versions)?
Am looking for my first machine and have narrowed it down to these two, but as there are few reviews of these new models and I wanted to get advice on which will be the better choice. I'll be using them for mainly milk based drinks.
The uno has the advantage of pid, whereas the duo has a kind of twin boiler thing. There are both about £600 here in the uk. The duo steam control is a on/off switch it seems, is that an issue when coming to steam milk?
Posted Fri Jan 10, 2014, 8:00am Subject: Re: Which ascaso steel (new versions)?
I've never used either machine; but combined with what I know about machines in general with what I learned online may be able to offer some help.
The UNO PID is an SBDU style machine, which uses the same boiler for brew water and for steam. The user pre-heats the machine (probably a half an hour), pulls the shot, presses a button, waits somewhere around two minutes for the boiler to heat up to steam pressure, and then steams. The UNO has a very small boiler and will probably need quite a bit of recovery time between milk drinks.
The DUO is a "hybrid," using a boiler for brew and a thermal block for heat. Temping the DUO is likely hit or miss, since it requires "temperature surfing" as opposed to the "water dance" like an HX). (Or at least that's how Gail did it on the SCG video, without any apparent reason she couldn't have "water danced" if she'd thought of it.) Unlike most (all?) other hybrids on the market, the DUO has separate pumps for steaming and brewing and can do both at the same time. Normally, that's something crowded, and awkward which requires split focus, and more often said than done by a home user. However, the DUO's thermal block is a VERY weak steamer; so if you EVER want to drink your latte you probably must.
You're not going to find an ideal machine on your budget, so some compromises are going to be necessary. Both Ascasos would allow you to make passable espresso and espresso/milk drinks. And, if you didn't have lattes high on your list, I'd say the UNO PID looked pretty good for the price (at least through the cracked prism which is my understanding of the UK market).
But your primary interest IS milk drinks. So despite their adequacy neither machine is a good choice. Assuming the Sage Double Boiler is wildly out of your price range, I'd be looking at entry-level HXs like a Bezzera, Expobar, Fracino, Isomac, etc., etc.
The Fracino Cherub and Heavenly offer good steam power for the money and a reasonably competent group (E-61 clone), even if their construction is a little lightweight.
Given that you're looking at the Ascaso Duo without visibly wincing, the Sage DB doesn't cost much more and has all the features to make the learning process as painless as possible, and daily use tickety-boo.
And don't forget:
GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER
50 300BGP grinder paired with a 1,000GBP machine, will make much better espresso than a 150GBP grinder paired with a 7,000GBP machine. At the bottom end of pretty good, but better than adequate for espresso onlythe Eureka Mignon is as least as good as the Baratza/Malkonig Vario -- or, maybe, better.
Bottom Line: Using cheap gear, doesn't harden you or give you basic insight into the process. The only thing it teaches is how to use cheap gear.
Let me be clear that I'm not saying you need to clear a specific money threshold in order to make good coffee. You don't. But money will not only raise the level of how good you can make it, it will make the process of doing so considerably easier and more pleasant.
Both Ascasos clear the hurdles of what an espresso machine must do in order to make passable coffee, but barely.
If your budget is a matter of "seemliness," it is a better aesthetic and better value for money to enlarge it to accommodate better equipment. When it's all you can afford, it's all you can afford and that's an end to it.
Sorry about all the inverted commas, underlining, and other caveating... but it's a nuanced subject and the English language, she is a harsh mistress.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 7,312 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Veneziano A1 Grinder: Many different commercial Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Milita, Bunn&Curtis... Roaster: Cast iron pan, gas burner
Posted Fri Jan 10, 2014, 12:18pm Subject: Re: Which ascaso steel (new versions)?
That was a through and spot on post from BDL, I agree 100%.
Getting good espresso on a budget is possible but when milk drinks are the focus, either the budget needs to go up or a lot of compramises need to be made (above those made for getting espresso only on a budget)
It is also possible to get a SBDU that can make reasonable espresso then buy a stand alone milk frother but then more money is also being spent so how much better off are you at all?
In real life, my name is Wayne P. Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
Not just that, don't forget the "You'll have to modify your brand new machine if you plan to use it" direction it will go.
That first Asscaso link, the PID one, is kind enough to show multiple pictures of the inside of the machine. They're making the same mistake as Imat made with their Uno Facile SBDU machine (Much like Cuadra, but that's not SBDU). The relief valve used is a cheap NBR seal. While that should be good on paper to 170C for several hours, several hours isn't an acceptable lifespan for an espresso machine that costs more than $750. The fact that it's an SBDU means that that relief will be sitting there above the boiler inlet at steaming temperature every day. Of course you have to move it, It could go down near the bubbler valve, but for Ascaso to choose to make this mistake ust for the purpose of not having to try very hard to make the machine better is a little sad. It obviously isn't going to be a great machine with any more thought put into it than the Ascaso Dream whish made no improvements over the Inova Dream (Or the Francis Francis) until very recently.
If the relief placement was that obvious, what serious mistakes did I not notice in my 10 second glance at that page? It might be a good idea to buy a machine with a few years of history.
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