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Ascaso Steel Duo (V2): Best Espresso Machine For The Money?

Ascaso steel duo pid (v2) in black, ascaso usa discount code

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ICYMI, Ascaso quietly revamped its Steel Duo PID recently. And we couldn’t wait to get our hands on one.

You haven’t heard of Ascaso and have no idea what we’re talking about? You’re not alone. 

While Ascaso hasn’t (yet) gained the popularity of some of the major Italian espresso machine brands, here we’ll show you why Ascaso espresso machines should be at the top of your list when considering a new machine.

It’s been a few months since our highly anticipated Ascaso Steel Duo PID V2 arrived, and we’ve enjoyed putting it to the test. Here we’ll go over the pros and cons, our experience with this machine, and how it compares to others at a similar price point. 

Spoiler alert: We love the Ascaso Steel Duo. So let’s get to it.

Ascaso Steel Duo PID Review

Regarding espresso machines, it’s not just about the taste of the espresso but the entire experience of brewing it. That’s why we’re beyond excited to introduce you to this Ascaso espresso machine.

(And thrilled to pass on a 10% sitewide savings to you – use coupon code SHEDLIGHT10 at checkout at Ascaso USA)

But before we get to our findings after a month of testing the Ascaso Steel Duo, let’s back it up for a minute and properly introduce you to Ascaso, the brand.

night time shot of ascaso steel duo in black with glass cups on trey beside grinder with plants in background
Image by Ascaso USA

Who Is Ascaso?

Ascaso is a Barcelona-based manufacturer that has been handcrafting specialty espresso machines since 1962. With espresso machines for home and commercial use, their attention to detail and commitment to innovation have made them a trusted brand among coffee enthusiasts.

Yet despite this, they haven’t gained the recognition or popularity of some Italian espresso machine brands like La Marzocco, De’Longhi, Gaggia, or Rancilio. They’ve remained slightly under the radar for years yet produce some of the best espresso machines today. 

With various models, Ascaso offers something for every coffee lover. Each machine is designed with precision and care, from the compact Dream to the versatile Baby T or professional-grade Barista T model. 

With features like PID temperature control and volumetric shot lengths, you can dial in your espresso and brew to perfection every time.

Overview of Ascaso Espresso Machines

There are many factors to consider when choosing an espresso machine, including price, heating element, design, and features. Here’s what we love about the Ascaso espresso machines, in general.

double spout portafilter on ascaso steel duo pid brewing espresso into clear glass mugs
Image by Ascaso USA


Ascaso espresso machines boast a sleek and modern design that will look great in any kitchen. They offer a variety of colors and finishes, so you can choose the one that best fits your style.

We are particularly fond of the aesthetic of the Steel Duo PID. This Ascaso espresso machine comes in black, white, or stainless and features a wood portafilter handle and wood steam knob. The result is an elegant and classy machine that we feel rivals the most attractive on the market (we’re looking at you, La Marzocco).

One of the standout features of the Ascaso Steel Duo is its compact size. It is ideal for anyone who wants to save counter space. But despite its small size, it is built to last and is made with high-quality materials.

1zpresso jx pro s with foldable handle
1Zpresso JX S Manual Coffee Grinder


Ascaso espresso machines have several features that make them a great choice for home or cafe use. Here are some of the key features:

  • Thermoblock technology: Ascaso espresso machines use thermoblock technology to heat water quickly and efficiently. This dramatically reduces warm-up time and ensures you can quickly make coffee on busy mornings.
  • Steam wand: The steam wand on Ascaso espresso machines is designed to create a rich and creamy froth, making it easy to create latte art or add a touch of milk to your coffee. As we’ll review, this was one improved component for the new Steel Duo PID (v2).
  • Easy to use: Ascaso espresso machines are designed to be easy to use, even for beginners. They come with simple controls and clear instructions, so you can start making great coffee immediately.
  • Energy efficient: Ascaso espresso machines are designed to be energy efficient, so you can enjoy great coffee without worrying about your electricity bill.

Overall, Ascaso espresso machines are a great choice for espresso fans who want a high-quality machine that is easy to use and looks great on their kitchen countertop or center stage at a cafe.

Their compact size and broad range of features make them perfect for anyone who wants to make great espresso at home or in a commercial environment. Now that we’ve built the intrigue, let’s review the newly improved Ascaso Steel Duo.

Ascaso steel duo in white with white background
Image by Ascaso USA

Ascaso Steel Duo V2 Review

(Note: We were not compensated for this review nor received any products from Ascaso in exchange for the review. If you are intrigued after reading our thoughts, use discount code SHEDLIGHT10 for 10% off your entire order with Ascaso

Like many of you, we pre-ordered our Ascaso Steel Duo and (im)patiently awaited its arrival for approximately two months. We couldn’t wait to try the newly improved version of this already stellar machine. 

We unboxed the Duo immediately upon receiving it and jumped right in. We noticed a few pros and cons right out of the box.

Here’s what we like about the Ascaso Steel Duo V2:

  • A modern, sleek aesthetic
  • Compact design
  • Wooden handle portafilter feels sturdy and heavy in the hand
  • Wooden steam knob looks attractive
  • Very little plastic used
  • Solid, sturdy, high-quality construction
  • Intuitive controls and easy-to-read digital display
  • Large cup warming area
  • Fast heat-up time
  • Energy efficient
coffee scale, timemore coffee scale
Timemore Coffee Scale

Here’s what we don’t love:

  • Small, plastic water reservoir 
  • 20-amp outlet required; adapter provided is bulky
  • Steaming function is slower than competitors
  • Largest filter basket provided is only 14 grams
close up shot of espresso brewing through bottomless portafilter on ascaso steel duo espresso machine

Steel Duo PID (v2) Strengths

Dual Thermoblocks

First things first: if you’re wondering what the difference is between the Ascaso Uno vs Duo, these delineations refer to the number of thermoblocks. As you might expect, the Uno features one thermoblock heating element for both the espresso and the steam.

This means that you can only perform one function or the other at a time and cannot steam milk while brewing espresso.

The Duo features a dedicated thermoblock for coffee and one for steam for dual performance capabilities. When preparing multiple drinks at a time, the additional thermoblock is invaluable.

The Duo heats up quickly in under 3 minutes, meaning you won’t have to wait to brew as you would with a dual boiler system. If you want to heat the group head properly and the cups on top of the machine, you will need to wait about 10-15 minutes before brewing.

If you’re in a rush, like we are practically every morning, run a few blank shots through the group head to heat it before brewing. 

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Solid Construction

The Ascaso Steel Duo is a super solid machine. It weighs about 33 lbs, and all control switches, portafilter, group head, and drip tray feel sturdy and well-built.

The only exception to this is the water reservoir, which is made of plastic. We feared this would be a deterrent when ordering the machine, as the reservoir is located on the right side of the machine and could be visually unappealing.

But our fears were immediately dispelled once we unboxed the Duo. The water tank is barely noticeable, and we’ve come to love the ease of its design. It’s not a very large tank but a breeze to fill, so it’s not an issue.

milk steaming on black ascaso steel duo close up

Improved Steaming

We love the improved steam wand with its no-burn grip, stainless steel construction, and new wooden adjustment knob. The new steam wand steams milk at a rate about 30% faster than the original Steel Duo, so this is a big plus.

The improved steaming function on the Steel Duo also allows the user to set the temperature of the steam circuit independently from the brewing circuit.

Intuitive Controls

We found the Steel Duo incredibly simple to set up. The toggle switches initially threw us off, but once we made a few adjustments and pulled a few shots, we realized how straightforward they were.

With so many adjustments possible, the Duo makes dialing in your perfect espresso shot fun and easy.

Normcore walnut wood tamping station
NEW!! Normcore Walnut Tamping Station

Steel Duo PID (v2) Shortcomings

Outlet Requirements

One of the first things you might notice when unboxing the Ascaso Steel Duo is its funky plug and relatively short cord. This machine requires a 20-amp circuit and comes with an adapter. You’ll need to check your breaker to ensure you have the proper voltage to support this machine.

The adapter provided by Ascaso is bulky and clunky, which didn’t work for us. We immediately ordered a replacement on Amazon. The adapter adds considerable bulk to the plug, making it nearly impossible to plug in the machine behind another appliance.

It also looks unsightly for those with an exposed plug above their counter. We recommend swapping out the adapter for one with a sleeker finish. Easy enough.

close up of bottomless portafilter in group head of Asacaso steel duo in black

Filter Baskets

The second thing you might notice, as we did, is the bevy of filter baskets provided by Ascaso. The Steel Duo has four filter baskets, yet none is larger than 14 grams.

This isn’t entirely shocking because Ascaso is a Spanish company, and smaller, single shots are far more common in Spain. But for those of us who prefer a more modern 18-21-gram shot, these baskets won’t cut it. We prefer a 21-gram basket, which is easy to find online.

While on filter baskets, another optional accessory for the Steel Duo is a bottomless portafilter. We find that using a bottomless (or naked) portafilter is helpful when dialing in a new espresso machine, as it can provide visual clues as to the quality of your puck by allowing you to see how the water is moving through the coffee. 

We ordered the matching Ascaso bottomless portafilter, as other less expensive models won’t fit this machine correctly. The Ascaso bottomless isn’t cheap but is very high-quality and perfectly matches the machine. It comes with a 21-gram filter basket.

We love that all Ascaso portafilters are sturdy, heavy, and have high-quality wooden handles. They not only feel great in hand, but they look fantastic on the machine. 

mans hands steaming milk on ascaso steel duo from above
Image by Ascaso USA

Steaming Functionality

While the Steel Duo’s steaming element was one of the most significantly improved elements in this new version, it still leaves a bit to be desired.

We love the wooden adjustment knob, stainless steel water circuit, and improved steaming power (this is where the 20-amp circuit requirement comes in). But, even with these improvements, it still takes about 30-45 seconds to steam milk.

While that certainly isn’t a deal breaker for most home users, it significantly lags behind the Rancilio Silvia Pro X or the Profitec Pro 300 at a similar price point.

We’ll happily trade aesthetics for steaming power for our kitchen counter, but that’s a personal choice.

Airscape vacuum coffee canister in matte black
Airscape Stainless Steel Coffee Canister

Ascaso Steel Duo Value

The Ascaso Steel Duo is priced at $1895 USD (increased in 2024), comparable to similar machines like the Rancilio Silvia Pro X or the Profitec Pro 300.

While the Rancilio and the Profitec offer faster and more powerful steaming capabilities, we’re not huge fans of either of these machines’ looks. If looks are unimportant to you, then these machines will (slightly) outperform the Steel Duo in milk steaming.

But, to be fair, the Profitec and the Rancilio are traditional dual-boiler machines, so it isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. The slightly slower steaming function on the Ascaso Steel Duo is not a deal breaker for us. For home use, 30-45 seconds is perfectly acceptable. 

Besides, this Ascaso espresso machine is undeniably gorgeous and produces exceptional espresso, so it’s hard to stay mad at it. We realize the physical aspect of the machine is subjective, but we can’t get over how attractive yet powerful it is.

It’s an energy-efficient, well-built machine with a bevy of impressive features. It performs impressively well and produces outstanding espresso.

We wholeheartedly recommend the Ascaso Steel Duo for the money and advise adding it to your list of contenders when considering a new espresso machine for home use.

Ascaso bottomless portafilter with wood handle up close with tamped grounds ready to brew, Ascaso USA coupon code

How to Use An Ascaso Espresso Machine

Here are a few helpful tips to get you started with your new Ascaso espresso machine:

Preparing the Machine

Before you brew, ensure the machine is clean and filled with fresh water. Here’s how to prepare the machine:

  1. Turn on the machine and let it heat up for at least 5-7 minutes to heat the group head and cup warming tray thoroughly. (If you’re in a hurry, run a blank to heat the group head.)
  2. Check the water reservoir and ensure it is filled with fresh, filtered water.
  3. Place the portafilter in the group head and run hot water to preheat it.
  4. Dry the portafilter thoroughly before proceeding.

Preparing the Coffee

To make great espresso, grind the coffee beans to the right consistency, then prepare your puck. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Choose your coffee beans, weigh them, and use a burr espresso grinder to grind them to a fine, consistent texture.
  2. Fill the portafilter basket with the ground coffee (we use a dosing ring to control the mess), then stir with a WDT tool to break up clumps.
  3. Tap the portafilter gently on a tamping mat to settle the grounds, remove the dosing ring, and then use a tamper to press the coffee down firmly and evenly.

Brewing the Espresso

Now it’s time to brew the espresso. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Lock the portafilter into the group head.
  2. Place your cup under the spouts.
  3. Press the switch up or down (single or double shot) to start the flow of espresso and hold until the desired shot is pulled.
  4. Stop the flow when you have the desired amount of espresso. Note: After the first use, the brew time will be recorded and programmed on the Steel Duo. Then, press the switch up or down and release to use the pre-programmed brew time.

That’s it! You can make delicious espresso with your Ascaso machine with these simple steps. The Steel Duo comes with a straightforward yet thorough user manual that can further guide you through fine-tuning your espresso shots.

We’ll save the nitty-gritty for a future post.

Now go and get your hands on one of Ascaso’s gorgeous machines, and enjoy 10% off sitewide on us – use Ascaso discount code SHEDLIGHT10!


Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters