An Expert Guide to Ascaso Espresso Machines
If you're looking for a top-quality espresso machine, Ascaso is a can't-miss brand. Coffee and Espresso Expert Hannah Ramsey walks us through a few of their models below!
From the heart of Spain in Barcelona, the Ascaso family has been dedicated to bringing together technology and espresso culture through their production of high-quality espresso machines. Starting the company in 1962, Jesus Ascaso began selling manufactured spare parts for espresso machines. As his business grew, he eventually produced his own espresso machine and created an espresso machine division within the factory. In more recent years, Jesus’ son, J.L. Ascaso, chose to focus the company and factory efforts on the manufacturing of espresso machines. They currently sell to over 90 countries worldwide and in 2020 were able to break further into the United States market, making it easier for us here on Curated to offer their line of home espresso machines.
Ascaso’s number one focus is quality, whether it be for professionals, prosumers, or beginners. For every machine they create, one in the lab is run through rigorous quality control, testing the durability and improving the development of technology.
One of the biggest boasts of the Ascaso home machines is their energy-saving capability. This is due to the use of thermoblock technology, which has extreme precision and heats water to brew temp in a matter of minutes. Ascaso’s thermoblocks are encased by aluminum and pass water from the internal tank through a system of tubes inside the stainless steel heating element body. This makes it incredibly resistant to scale buildup, preventing any metal transfer into the water, and uses fresh water for every brew cycle. In comparison, a traditional boiler draws the water in, heats, and holds it at a specific temperature using a heating coil. This system can take around 10 minutes to get to the ideal brewing temperature and will use more wattage to maintain the constant temperature.
Ascaso, in particular, has led the way in thermoblock innovation, creating some of the most efficient single-dose heating elements on the market, including temperature control. A PID controller, or proportional integral differential device, is used to control many different elements, such as pressure, flow, speed, and temperature. By incorporating a PID temperature control and thermoblock technology into their espresso machines, Ascaso allows you to control the temperature of the water you use for brewing coffee or steaming milk in one-degree increments.
Every gorgeously designed machine Ascaso has created for household use comes with an accessory kit. The accessory kit includes a standard 58-millimeter professional portafilter with a real walnut wooden handle, multiple portafilter baskets for individual brewing preferences, one blank portafilter basket for cleaning, and a tamper.
The four espresso machine designs below are all rated prosumer or semi-professional and include an internal water tank and a no-burn steam wand. Also included are volumetric controls, which allow you to program a custom preinfusion, single shot and double shot brew time, and an auto-standby or shut-off for energy conservation. Built into each machine is an adjustable OPV (over pressure valve) that regulates the brewing pressure in the machine to manage the bars in the grouphead pressure to extract each shot pulled.
Now that we have learned what all of the Ascaso espresso machines have in common, let's find out what makes each one of these designs so unique!
The retro design of the Dream PID Home Espresso Machine makes it one of the most aesthetically pleasing espresso machines on the market today and is available in classic aluminum along with seven vibrant colors, each with a lasting finish from high-quality varnish.
Not just great to look at, inside this machine there are a few bonuses that make it easy for any level of home barista to operate, including the ability to take ESE pods (easy serving espresso pods). Despite its small footprint, it has a surprisingly large water tank with a 48oz capacity and leaves plenty of room to set coffee mugs on the warmer, located on top of the machine.
The accessory kit includes the walnut wood portafilter handle, one stainless steel tamper, one blank basket for cleaning, two professional baskets, two pressurized baskets, and one monodose ESE. Pressurized baskets are great for beginners who are learning the basics and are recommended for use when paired with a grinder that is not graded specifically for espresso. If you aren’t sure about grinders or need to find a new one, you can check out this gear guide for what to look for in a grinder for your home.
When Ascaso designed the Steel line, they had more than just home use in mind. The sleek industrial look of these machines fits easily into any home and could also be carried into an office setting.
The Steel UNO gets its name because of the single stainless steel thermoblock group that it uses to heat water for brewing and steaming. It comes in three classic color choices: inox, black and white. The digital display makes setting up the single or double-shot programming very easy. Slightly bigger than the Dream, the UNO contains a 60oz water tank. This makes it easy to run multiple brew cycles throughout the day with the same auto-standby option for minimal energy consumption.
With the Steel DUO, we still get the same beautiful design as the UNO but step even closer to professionalism at home. This machine features two thermoblocks that allow you to simultaneously pull an espresso shot and steam milk for a beverage. The separate thermoblock dedication avoids a slow three-minute warmup time while trying to reach steam temp. There is also the addition of a hot water spout, which removes the necessity of the dual-purpose steam wand found in the UNO and the Dream. The DUO could easily be used at home by a beginner or fit into a small retail or catering setting, since making multiple drinks in minutes is no problem for the pair of thermoblocks and the 60oz tank.
The Baby T Plus, aptly named after its big sister unit, the Barista T Plus, is as close to a professional machine as you can get for your home from Ascaso. This baby is big and bad with a commercial-grade construction! Created with the home user and retail professionals in mind, there is a two-liter water tank or the option to use a rotary pump and connect it to your plumbing. The drain tray also has the ability to be plumbed. The Baby T uses a thermoblock for the grouphead, allowing each espresso shot to brew from fresh water, ensuring a superior, clean taste. This machine also uses a boiler for the steam wand’s temperature stability, meaning there is no heat up or cool down time—allowing for unlimited steam. The programmable volumetric controls can be changed manually from the display buttons or through the Bluetooth-connected app, which also contains a temperature control and an automatic on/off setting option.
The accessory kit for Baby T is a little different from the others, as it contains two walnut-handled portafilters, one single basket, one double basket, three portafilter baskets, a walnut-handled tamper, and a walnut joystick for the steam wand. The Baby T is, no doubt, a luxury item that comes in a remarkably compact size and weighing in at 77 pounds. This machine has a durable construction and still has the ability to sit comfortably under a standard 18-inch cabinet height.
Ascaso also ensures every machine purchase with a warranty on all parts, good for a year of domestic use from the date of purchase. They are so confident in their new thermoblock technology, that they guarantee a five-year warranty on all thermoblock boilers in their espresso machines.
The quality of a machine starts with its parts, and that is the calling card of the Barcelona-based factory that Ascaso built. They have raised the bar for machine standards, creating high-end components for an elevated experience. You can find the whole line of Ascaso home espresso machines here on Curated. Reach out to one of our awesome Coffee & Espresso Experts to see if one of these machines is right for you!