A serious espresso grinder for demanding home use at an attractive price.
Positive Product Points
A sturdy machine with a very consistent grind, a good doser and an extremely accurate stepless adjustment.
Negative Product Points
The machine grinds slowly and coffee does hang up in the chute going into the doser
I decided I needed a quality grinder to match my new Expobar. I started looking in the $200-300 price range figuring I'd go with a Rocky if nothing else popped up that offered more. I read about the Ascaso on CG Reviews and decided it sounded like a lot for the money (i.e. at least arguably in the same league as the Mazzers and Macaps but at significantly lower cost). Right away I found a demo of the I-1d model with the flat burrs and doser.
After about two weeks of use, I am very pleased with the machine. It has a rugged build and stays put nicely on the counter. The plastic hopper and doser seem quite sturdy. Ascaso (Innova) switched over to polycarbonate parts about 3 years ago so I understand that the criticisms about the plastic parts of older machines being prone to breakage no longer applies. This is a big machine but fits under my kitchen cabinents and is about the same height as my Expobar.
The machine turns at about 700 rpm and produces an extremely even and consistent grind with no problems with static or heat that I can see. It does grind slowly but this is hardly a problem for home use. It fills the doser in about a minute and I'm set for the morning. Coffee certainly hangs up in the chute into the doser and a little encourgement with a popsicle stick is needed after a grinding session to move the rest of the coffee down into the doser.
The worm geared stepless adjustment works really great. Adjustments are extremely fine and stay put once you get what you want. Probably the only criticism here is that the adjustment is very fine and moves very slowly as you rotate the knob. You would certainly not want to use this grinder also for FP or drip as adjusting back and forth to the espresso setting would be awkward and time consuming.
The doser seems sturdy and works well. At first I had a little trouble with grounds getting tossed onto the counter. I learned to hold the portafilter out a bit instead of pushing it all the way in on the fork. Now I am able to use the doser pretty much no mess. The newer machines like this one do have a removeable tray below the fork for catching stray grounds but I hardly ever spill any.
I am very pleased with this machine and the results with the grinder dialed in for my Expobar have been great. I strongly recommend the Ascaso as a heck of a value in the $300 price range. Just remember, I am describing the flat burred model I-1. The CG reviews indicate that the model I-2 uses a different conical burr set and turns at a higher speed.
Purchased a demo unit from the Coffee Barn. They were a pleasure to deal with and are very knowledgeable about the Ascaso
Three Month Followup
Well, three months later. The Ascaso is still giving journeyman performance, consistent grind, and no problems. I remain pleased.
One Year Followup
Well, a year has past and the Ascaso I-1d is still doing a great job for me and has proved to be an excellent match for my Expobar Pulsar. I recently had an opportunity to try an Ascaso I-mini grinder which uses the Ascaso conical burr set. Side by side, it was not nearly as consistent as the flat burr set in the I-1. I did make an interesting discovery though. The smaller hopper on the I-mini will also fit the larger I-1 and I-2 grinders.