Ascaso Steel Duo Review 2024: My New Favorite Espresso Machine?

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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I have to say I'm super excited about this Ascaso Steel Duo review. In fact, I think this thing might just be one of the best prosumer espresso machines out there.

I have to say I’m super excited about this Ascaso Steel Duo review. In fact, I think this thing might just be one of the best prosumer espresso machines out there.

Why? Because its $1,895.00 asking price represents incredible value for money considering what you get. Sure, that’s a lot of money to spend on an espresso machine. Still, for those of you looking to delve deeper into the world of high-quality espresso preparation, the Ascaso Steel Duo could be what you’ve been waiting for.

The manufacturer has packed a ton of exciting features into the Steel Duo, making it one of the best-performing machines in its price range. So, if my introduction to this Spanish beauty has piqued your interest, join me as I take a closer look!

A wonderful espresso machine

Ascaso Steel DUO PID

So many awesome features!

Impressive build quality

Packed with awesome features

Beautiful to behold

Makes superb espresso

Heats up quickly

Limited steam wand pressure

Ascaso Steel Duo Review Overview

Ascaso is a Spanish manufacturer known for producing outstanding home espresso machines as well as a couple of commercial models.

The Ascaso Steel Duo doesn’t exactly fly under the radar; you’ll find dozens of YouTube reviewers drooling over the thing. Still, I feel like it’s somewhat overshadowed by more high-profile machines like the Rocket Appartamento and the Nuova Simonelli Musica.

That’s a pity, because the Steel Duo is packed with features not usually found on machines in this price range. I’m talking about adjustable PID temperature control, volumetric shot programming and even an easily adjustable OPV (Over-Pressure Valve). There’s loads more to discuss, and I’ll go into more detail later in this Ascaso Steel Duo review. Still, you should be starting to see why this machine has me so excited.

Oh, and just look at the thing – ain’t it just a stunner! Personally, I absolutely love the Steel Duo’s boxy, vintage look, and the rugged stainless steel housing shows the manufacturer’s dedication to high-quality design.

At this point I should mention that the Steel Duo is neither a heat exchanger nor a dual boiler machine. Instead, it’s equipped with a pair of stainless steel thermoblock heaters.

Listen, I’m well aware that espresso snobs will be rolling their eyes upon hearing that. After all, thermoblocks are regarded as being less desirable in terms of power and thermal stability. However, I can tell you right now that the Ascaso’s thermoblock design doesn’t compromise its performance one bit.

Plus, seeing as there are two independent heating systems, you’ll be able to pull espresso shots and steam milk at the same time. Just sayin’!

Ascaso Steel Duo Features

Now that we’ve established how cool and exciting this machine is, let’s continue my Ascaso espresso machine review by taking a closer look at all the features you can expect.

Size and Design

I already gushed about how lovely the Steel Duo is to behold, so I’ll try to keep myself in check as I describe its size and design. Suffice to say, it never hurts to have a beautifully designed espresso machine sitting on your kitchen counter. I mean, you’re going to be looking at it way more than you’ll ever be using it!

Ascaso Steel Duo Size and Design
Ascaso Steel Duo Size and Design

As the name suggests, the machine is constructed from top-notch stainless steel, which makes it both rugged and durable. There’s a huge actively heated cup warmer up top and a generous drip tray underneath.

I’m really happy to see a dedicated hot water outlet as well as a commercial-style steam wand. Also, I love how the 70-ounce (1.8-liter) water tank slides out from the side of the machine rather than pulling out from the top.

I should make special mention of the fact that the Steel Duo features lights above the drip tray that illuminate your espresso as it’s extracting. That’s such a nice touch, and I’m surprised more manufacturers don’t follow suit.

Thanks to those thermoblocks, this Ascaso espresso machine is nice and compact. Let’s just say you won’t need to completely rearrange your kitchen to accommodate the Steel Duo!

User Interface

OK, now we’re starting to get into the really good stuff! The main section of the Ascaso Steel Duo’s user interface comprises four retro-industrial-style toggle switches above white indicator lights. There’s one to activate the hot water function, two for starting espresso extraction and one for activating the steam wand. Personally, I’d prefer a dial for the steam wand, but that’s not a dealbreaker.

I’m not done, though! Located at the bottom-right corner of the main panel, there’s a small digital screen which you can use to program shot times, shot volumes and brewing temperature. It also doubles as a shot timer during extraction.

I’m still not done! To top it all off, the Ascaso Steel Duo is equipped with a manometer – a gauge that displays pressure in bars at the group head. And as I mentioned earlier, you can easily adjust the OPV valve to make subtle changes to brewing pressure. Trust me, this awesome feature will prove invaluable as you’re dialing in your espresso shots!

Portafilter

As with all prosumer espresso machines, the Ascaso Steel Duo comes with a commercial-style 58mm portafilter. You’ll also get both single-wall and double wall (pressurized) filter baskets.

If anything encapsulates the Spanish manufacturer’s dedication to quality materials and design its the portafilter handle. Made from solid walnut, the handle is both ergonomic and beautiful.

To be honest, I was quite taken aback to see a feature like this on an espresso machine at this price point. I can’t tell you how many fantastic espresso machines I’ve reviewed that come with flimsy plastic portafilter handles. So, way to go Ascaso!

Dual Thermoblocks

Let’s circle back to those thermoblock heating elements I mentioned earlier in this Ascaso Steel Duo review. While thermoblocks are regarded as being inferior to real boilers, they offer plenty of significant advantages.

Apart from being more cost-effective, thermoblocks are smaller and more energy-efficient. Plus, they cut down on heat-up time and pull water straight from the reservoir, heating it instantly.

The Ascaso Steel Duo heats up really quickly – it’ll be ready to go in around three minutes. However, bear in mind that your portafilter will still be cold. In reality, I’d recommend turning on the machine about half an hour before you plan on making espresso. Oh, and don’t worry – there’s a programmable auto-start feature to help you out!

PID Temperature Control

So how does this Ascaso espresso machine compensate for the fact that thermoblocks offer less reliable thermal stability? The answer lies in their PID controllers.

Each thermoblock circuit is equipped with a PID, which ensures precise and consistent temperature control. Best of all, the PID for espresso is mounted in the brew group, resulting in outstanding temperature stability while you’re brewing.

Oh, and the icing on the cake? Both the brewing and steaming PID is adjustable in one-degree increments, displayed on the machine’s digital display.

Volumetric Programming

Both the single and double shot functions can be programmed volumetrically, meaning you can set the amount of espresso dispensed each time.

That’s a very impressive feature to have on an espresso maker at this price point, especially given you’ll also be able to monitor your shots using the digital timer and pressure gauge.

Alternatively, you can use the Ascaso Steel Duo in manual mode, making this an extremely versatile machine.

Adjustable Pre-Infusion

Ascaso Steel Duo Espresso

There’s just no getting around it: a pre-infusion function is vital if you want to prepare the very best espresso.

Seeing as pre-infusion gently soaks the bed of ground coffee under low pressure, aromas can fully develop and carbon dioxide from the roasting process can escape. Plus, pre-infusion helps even out any tamping or leveling inconsistencies, resulting in a much more even extraction.

As you’ve probably guessed, the Ascaso Steel Duo has a pre-infusion function. Even better, you can program your preferred pre-infusion and wait times using the machine’s intuitive controls.

Steam Wand

While this Ascaso espresso machine is equipped with a pretty impressive commercial steam wand, you’ll find the limitations of thermoblock heating in evidence when using the milk frothing function.

The steam wand takes a while to ramp up and doesn’t offer the kind of pressure you’ll find on heat exchanger or dual boiler machines. Plus, thermoblock steam is notorious for being on the wetter side.

With all that said, the Steel Duo is more than capable of producing silky microfoam for your morning Spanish latte or espresso macchiato. And as an added bonus, the steam wand stays cool to the touch, thanks to its double wall construction.

Drip Tray

I don’t often spend long on an espresso machine drip tray. However, I feel like what we’ve got here merits a dedicated section.

You see, the Ascaso drip tray is just so well designed. There’s a metal grille, beneath which you’ll find a large plastic tray for excess spills or drips. So far, so normal.

What’s so clever about this particular drip tray is that the plastic section slides out from the front of the machine, leaving the grille in place. That just makes so much sense!

Finally, the drip tray has fins inside which prevent sloshes of dirty water as you’re removing it.

Again, this is further evidence of how much care and attention goes into every aspect of an Ascaso Espresso machine’s design.

How to use the Ascaso Steel Duo

Thanks to its intuitive controls and fast heat-up time, using the Ascaso Steel Duo is a fairly straightforward affair. Still, you’ll need a burr coffee grinder that’s up to the task if you really want to get to grips with this machine. And if you want to get really serious, consider investing in a single dose grinder.

I hate to break it to you, but the espresso tamper included with the Steel Duo is a plastic thing that belongs in the trash. Fortunately, you won’t have to spend much for a decent metal tamper. Oh, and you’ll have to shell out a small amount for a stainless steel milk pitcher, too.

Before using the machine for the first time, rinse all removable parts then fill the reservoir with filtered water. Next, hit the power button and wait until the Steel Duo is ready.

As I already mentioned, you can program this Ascaso espresso machine to your heart’s content. Still, I’d recommend studying the user manual for detailed instructions on how to adjust shot volumes, pre-infusion time and brewing temperature.

I will say that a good coffee scale will come in really handy as you’re dialing in your shots. You can use it to measure your dose of ground coffee as well as weigh your extraction as you’re programming shot volumes.

Once you’ve programmed your desired shot volume, the machine will dispense the exact same amount each time then stop the extraction automatically. You’ll likely be aiming for roughly 2 ounces (59 milliliters) of espresso in around 25-30 seconds. Oh, and keep an eye on the pressure gauge, which should register around 9 bars of pressure during extraction.

Ascaso Espresso Machine Cleaning

If you take good care of your Ascaso espresso machine it’s going to last for a very long time. Fortunately, all it takes is a little care and attention to keep the thing functioning properly.

You should thoroughly rinse the portafilter and filter baskets after each day’s use, and it doesn’t hurt to rinse the shower screen while you’re at it. As for the steam wand, make sure to wipe it off with a damp cloth after every cappuccino. That way, you’ll prevent yucky buildup on the steaming tip.

Other than that, make sure to keep your Steel Duo looking its best by wiping down the exterior with a damp cloth.

As for deeper cleaning, I’ll leave it to the user manual to explain the ins and outs of descaling and backflushing the machine.

Ascaso Steel Duo Specifications

Ascaso Steel DUO PID
Manufacturer

Ascaso

Model number

Steel DUO PID

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Color options

Black, Stainless Steel, White

Milk frother

Steam wand

User interface

Text display with buttons

App

User profiles

1

Portafilter size

58 mm

Tamping

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

60.9 fl oz / 1.8 l

Number of boilers

2

Pump pressure

9 bar

Maximum cup height

3.5 in / 8.9 cm

Grinder

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

Specialty drinks

0

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

2100 W

Weight

33.1 lb / 15.0 kg

Dimensions

15.0 x 10.5 x 17.0 in
38.1 x 26.7 x 43.2 cm

Warranty

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, tamper, coffee scoop, 4 x filter baskets, blind basket

Current price on Amazon

$1,895.00

All specifications

Ascaso Steel Duo vs Other Espresso Machines

As I mentioned earlier, the Spanish manufacturer produces a range of home espresso machines, including the Ascaso Steel Uno. However, for the purposes of this review, let’s see how the Ascaso Steel Duo measures up in comparison with a couple of machines from rival manufacturers.

Steel Duo vs Rancilio Silvia

Rancilio Silvia Pulling Espresso

While the Rancilio Silvia isn’t in the same league as the Steel Duo in terms of functionality, it’s definitely worth considering. And not least because it costs a lot less at $900.00.

Miss Silvia is a single boiler machine, so you’ll have to wait between pulling a shot and steaming milk. However, this classic espresso maker comes with commercial components like a 58mm portafilter, as well as a real tamper.

As an alternative, the Rancilio Silvia Pro X can easily compete with the Ascaso. Still, you’ll have to shell out even more – the Pro X currently costs $1,990.00 on Amazon.

See Also: Rancilio Silvia Review 2024

Steel Duo vs Breville Dual Boiler

Breville Dual Boiler Overview Kitchen

If you aren’t convinced by the Ascaso Steel Duo’s thermoblock heating system, the Breville Dual Boiler might be worth checking out.

As its name suggests, this espresso machine has two powerful boilers and can perform to the very highest standards of espresso preparation.

As with many Breville espresso machines, the Dual Boiler offers a staggering amount of versatility and functionality. Essentially, you’re able to make a whole host of adjustments to just about any brewing parameter you can imagine.

As an added bonus, the Breville Dual Boiler comes with an impressive collection of accessories including a decent tamper, stainless steel milk frothing pitcher and a bunch of cleaning products. All that for an entirely reasonable $1,599.95.

See Also: Breville Dual Boiler Review 2024

Ascaso Steel Duo vs Others Comparison Chart

Ascaso Steel DUO PIDBreville Dual BoilerRancilio Silvia
Manufacturer

Ascaso

Breville

Rancilio

Model number

Steel DUO PID

BES920BSXL/BES920XL

HSD-SILVIA

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Color options

Black, Stainless Steel, White

Black Sesame, Brushed Stainless Steel

Matte Black, Matte White, Stainless Steel

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Text display with buttons

Monochromatic LCD with buttons

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

1

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

58 mm

58 mm

58 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

60.9 fl oz / 1.8 l

84.5 fl oz / 2.5 l

67.6 fl oz / 2.0 l

Number of boilers

2

2

1

Pump pressure

9 bar

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

3.5 in / 8.9 cm

4.0 in / 10.2 cm

3.0 in / 7.6 cm

Grinder

N/A

N/A

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

N/A

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

N/A

N/A

Specialty drinks

0

0

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Yes

Yes

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

2100 W

1700 W

1100 W

Weight

33.1 lb / 15.0 kg

30.0 lb / 13.6 kg

30.8 lb / 14.0 kg

Dimensions

15.0 x 10.5 x 17.0 in
38.1 x 26.7 x 43.2 cm

20.1 x 17.4 x 17.4 in
51.1 x 44.2 x 44.2 cm

13.3 x 11.4 x 9.2 in
33.8 x 29.0 x 23.4 cm

Warranty

1 year

2 years

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, tamper, coffee scoop, 4 x filter baskets, blind basket

Included Accessories: Dosing tool, Filter baskets (1 and 2 cups), 16 ounce stainless steel milk jug, Cleaning Kit, Water filter holder, Instruction manual.

Included Accessories: Coffee scoop, tamper, 2 x filter baskets, user manual. Pod adapter available, sold separately.

Current price on Amazon

$1,895.00

$1,599.95

$900.00

Ascaso Steel DUO PIDBreville Dual BoilerRancilio Silvia
Manufacturer

Ascaso

Breville

Rancilio

Model number

Steel DUO PID

BES920BSXL/BES920XL

HSD-SILVIA

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Color options

Black, Stainless Steel, White

Black Sesame, Brushed Stainless Steel

Matte Black, Matte White, Stainless Steel

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Text display with buttons

Monochromatic LCD with buttons

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

1

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

58 mm

58 mm

58 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

60.9 fl oz / 1.8 l

84.5 fl oz / 2.5 l

67.6 fl oz / 2.0 l

Number of boilers

2

2

1

Pump pressure

9 bar

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

3.5 in / 8.9 cm

4.0 in / 10.2 cm

3.0 in / 7.6 cm

Grinder

N/A

N/A

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

N/A

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

N/A

N/A

Specialty drinks

0

0

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Yes

Yes

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

2100 W

1700 W

1100 W

Weight

33.1 lb / 15.0 kg

30.0 lb / 13.6 kg

30.8 lb / 14.0 kg

Dimensions

15.0 x 10.5 x 17.0 in
38.1 x 26.7 x 43.2 cm

20.1 x 17.4 x 17.4 in
51.1 x 44.2 x 44.2 cm

13.3 x 11.4 x 9.2 in
33.8 x 29.0 x 23.4 cm

Warranty

1 year

2 years

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, tamper, coffee scoop, 4 x filter baskets, blind basket

Included Accessories: Dosing tool, Filter baskets (1 and 2 cups), 16 ounce stainless steel milk jug, Cleaning Kit, Water filter holder, Instruction manual.

Included Accessories: Coffee scoop, tamper, 2 x filter baskets, user manual. Pod adapter available, sold separately.

Current price on Amazon

$1,895.00

$1,599.95

$900.00

Verdict: Ascaso Steel Duo Review

A wonderful espresso machine

Ascaso Steel DUO PID

So many awesome features!

Impressive build quality

Packed with awesome features

Beautiful to behold

Makes superb espresso

Heats up quickly

Limited steam wand pressure

As I mentioned at the start of this Ascaso Steel Duo review, the Spanish manufacturer’s espresso machines aren’t as well known in North America as they should be.

Well, I hope that my exploration of this wonderful model will help change that. Seriously, I can’t think of another similarly priced prosumer machine that can compete with the Steel Duo. Especially when you take into account its features, performance and outstanding build quality.

I have to knock off a couple of points for the lack of decent accessories and slightly underwhelming steam power. Otherwise, this Ascaso espresso machine gets full marks in every other category.

What’s your experience with the Ascaso Steel Duo? Do you love it as much as I do? The comments section is all yours!

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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