-adequate as it comes; a winner with the brew head upgrade
Positive Product Points
Looks,build and parts quality for the price, compact design, easy to fill with water , push down on end of grill for easy access to drip tray
Negative Product Points
no OPV, temp gauge is pretty much for cosmetic purposes, small drip tray
I have had my Ascaso for about a year and there doesn't seem to be a lot of info about them in circulation. I think it's a good $400-$500 machine. In my opinion its pros out of the box are: doesn't take up much space;is really easy to fill for a pour over as the reservoir slides out from the side; drip tray is easy to get at; heats up quickly-both for brewing and steaming; good quality but non standard size porta filter (57mm), makes a decent shot but on the thin side (if your grind is fine enuf) using the non-pressurized basket, pressurized is a no brainer. Cons: fairly small drip tray, no pressure relief valve, cup warming essentially doesn't happen, steam wand could be longer. My brewing routine: for cappa's preheat 10-15 minutes then hit steam switch until the light goes out; steam your milk; turn steam switch off; open steam valve and hit pump switch until uninterrupted stream of water is discharged, close valve, wait for puff of steam from porta filter and at first sign of water turn pump off. The water in the boiler is still hot enough that the boiler light does not come back on at this point. The thermometer is too slow to respond to be of much use but will be slightly above 200. Those of you who are aware of the laws of diminishing returns know that there is usually only so much you can do before you MUST upgrade. At this point I'm in denial and tried the brew head upgrade as a form of stalling. However, I have some good news. The brew head kit is a really good thing. I think it slows down the build up of water pressure in the basket as well as improving dispersion. A kind of pre-infusion may be happening judging by flow rate and how it builds up. In the past I up dosed and ground very fine. I now find that a level dose with a fairly hard tamp(30-35 lb. pressure) and a slightly coarser grind yields a shot with more body, a nicely mottled crema and more complexity in the flavours that are released. All in all a nice return on an investment of $24 Canadian from Morala.com. My only gripe is it cost $20 for shipping. Ascaso would be doing itself a favour by dropping the pod and pressurized basket options and including the better dispersion kit....it's that much of an improvement.