Beautiful, solid, well-built machine that brews great espresso.
Positive Product Points
Beautiful machine, solidly built, easy to operate
Negative Product Points
Pump is a bit noisy, cup warmer hardly warms
I basically bought this on looks and after reading some product reviews here on other Ascaso machines. Also purchased the i/1 grinder at the same time, both in polished aluminum. The machine looks absolutely great, I love the retro styling, the three toggle switches feel so solid, the drip tray is large, the reservoir is easy to fill, and everything is very well put together. I haven't noticed anything negative on the fit/finish side of things yet.
Very easy to operate: plug it in, turn it on and let it heat up, lock the portafilter and brew. This is good because the instructions are minimal at best and very poorly translated from Spanish. The pump is a little on the noisy side when run without coffee in the portafilter, but once under pressure, everything quiets right down. The cup warmer on the top barely gets warm though, so look at it as a place to store your cups, not warm them. Use hot water for that.
I need more time to find the sweet spot with the new grinder, but so far, all of the shots have been drinkable, and some have been quite good already. This machine is a huge step forward from a $100 Krups machine I've owned for 15 years, and for me it fits a niche between the + $1000 machines and under $300 dollar machines.
Purchased from Morala Trading in Ottawa via an on-line order from their web site. As I mentioned in my grinder review, the service was competent but nothing great - I've had similar experiences with most of my on-line purchases. They didn't confirm my order or let me know when it was shipped, I had to ask. But the machine was well packed and arrived undamaged. I wouldn't rave about their service (doesn't compare to Alienware (a computer maker) for example, who go out of their way to communicate with customers and make the buying experience something special).
Three Month Followup
After living with this machine for more than 3 months, I'm still quite pleased with it. I haven't had any quality issues to report and the polished aluminum still looks great and has maintained the factory shine. The cup warmer not warming the cups is annoying, but not a deal breaker for me. I don't use the steamer at all, so I can't report on that aspect of the machine.
I've brewed some great shots on this machine, and some not so great shots, mostly from trying to find the right grind for each different bean. Plus, I've had to readjust everything after my Reg Barber tamper arrived. But, when you do find the sweet spot, this machine will consistently deliver top quality shots with a minimum of fuss.