Duo thermoblock, large water tank, good drip tray, heated top, heavy portafilter nice look. Hot water feature.
Negative Product Points
Frothing tip and other options -- none of them make acceptable foam. Design of how to access the water tank could be better. Have to manually watch the coffee vs. automatic dial of the portion of coffee you want
I upgraded to this machine after doing a ton of research from my Briel Semi-automatic pro. This machine, packaged with an Ascaso grinder came to $834 from JL Hufford--more than double what I had paid for the Briel so I had high expectations. Aside from the positives I noted, I am disappointed the most with the frothing wand and tips. It came with three--the one that was factory installed and two other choices. The two other choices were useless-made for soup, no foam. The one it came with did the best job on creating foam but it was not thick foam--more like bubbles. My Briel Pro did better foam than this and this is my biggest complaint. I use Lactaid, low fat and I know it is a function of the milk but why did the Briel do so much better?
Next big complaint is that the unit is about 14-1/2" High and the distance between my counter and the bottom of my cabinet is 18" so in order to open the lid at the back of the machine to fill water, it is not enough clearance to stick your hand and fill the water. I wish they had this so that you can pull it out from the side like my Briel did. I know that the Ascaso Office version has this but it is a much more expensive price. In order to fill the tank, I have to pull the entire unit out from under my counter which is a pain.
As for the coffee shot--it is OK--not great. Here again, I am experimenting with the grind, the coffee, etc. Not unhappy about it and understand that there is a learning curve with each machine. The crema is decent.
I do, however, like the dual thermoblock and this is the reason I searched for this type of machine so that I can foam and pull the shot at the same time.
Overall, I think for the money I spent, I expected alot more and a leap better than my old Briel--and unfortunately, this machine has me missing my Briel somewhat.
I bought this unit from JL Hufford and recommended the same to my friend and the buying experience for me was fine but for my friend, not so much. They really pissed him off but luckily Ascaso USA had better customer service and saved the sale.