The Ascaso Dream is one of the best looking home espresso machines out there. With it’s retro styling and solid build it is a good blend of style and functionality. In this post I’ll write about my experiences with the Ascaso, sharing a few tips and provide as honest review of the device as possible.
Feel free to ask any questions or leave your own tips at the bottom of this post.
Using the Ascaso Dream
The manual I got with my espresso machine was not really that clear – the translation from Spanish (where the machine is produced) is a bit hit and miss. After some research online and some experimentation here are the procedures I follow to pull a shot of espresso:
1. Switch on the machine (ideally 30 minutes prior to pulling the shot)
2. Run a little water through the empty filter to warm the pipes
3. Load the filter with coffee
4. Turn on the coffee switch for 25 seconds exactly
It is generally excepted that 25 seconds is the perfect time to brew an espresso, which is generally accepted as being 1 fluid oz (30 ml) in volume. As a general rule you’ll need about 8-10grams of coffee for a single shot.
Of course all machines (even of the same model) are different so you’ll have to experiment with different beans, grinds and amounts until you find what works with your particular setup.
Ascaso Dream Review
The first thing you’ll notice about the Ascaso is it’s great build quality. The aluminum casing feel solid and strong compared to many other consumer level espresso machines that are often cased in plastic.
The styling hasn’t been neglected in favour of build quality and alongside the Francis Francis this if probably the most stylish espresso machine out there with it’s retro look and curved lines. I particularly like the metal switches…
image by maybe missions
The machine is easy to use and comes with just the core features (no pointless bells and whistles) required to pull good quality espresso and make good cappuccinos.
After switching on the Dream is ready to go after about 1.5 minutes, though it’s best t give it 15 minutes to warm up if possible. The pump provides 16 bar of pressure, more than adequate to pull a good espresso with every grind you can throw at it.
The steam wand works very well and after a little practice i was able to produce good micro foam. I’m not yet able to do latte art but now i have a tool that will enable me to try…
Here’s a great video review I found from Seattle Coffee Gear which is worth a look:
Priming the Ascaso Dream
This is the process of filling the boiler . Heating up an empty boiler can seriously damage your machine so it is an important procedure to do. Ideally you should prime your espresso machine….
- After using the machines steam function
- If the machine has not been used for some time
- If you’ve just refilled the water reservoir
Here is the procedure I use to prime my Ascaso Dream espresso machine:
1. Turn on the machine
2. Turn the steam tap on
3. Turn on the coffee switch
4. Allow water to run from steam wand for 5 seconds)
5. Turn off the coffee switch
6. Turn the steam tap off
Ascaso Dream Tips
- If possible always switch the machine on 30 minutes before use in order to warm not just the boiler but parts like the portafilter
- After pulling a shot of espresso run a little water through in order to clean the pipe from the boiler to filter
- If possible use mineral or filtered water at all times. This will reduce the build up up of minerals, reducing the need to descale as regularly
- Always descale the machine a minimum of quarterly, more regularly if you use it multiple times per day
image by zikje
Getting Hotter Espresso from the Dream Machine
Sometimes I’ve noticed that the espresso produced by the Ascaso is not as hot as I’d like. After doing a bit of research it seems this can be a fairly common problem with the Dream machine.
The main reason is that the boilers cycle operates between a set range. This means it heats the water to a pre-determined temperature then shuts down and the water is allowed to cool until it reaches a lower limit before it kicks in again. If you’re pulling a shot in between you’ll probably get a slightly cooler shot than the machine is capable of.
The first thing to do to get a hotter shot is to listen to the boiler. When you switch on the machine, or if you’ve left it on for a while (aim for 30 minutes) you should hear the boiler click on. Listen carefully and after a short time you’ll hear the boiler click off when the temperature reaches the thermostat’s higher limit. Try pulling a shot straight away and you should get improved results.
I saw another great tip on the excellent website coffee geek to try and get the boiler a bit hotter. Again wait for the boiler to switch off (when the water is at it’s hottest) then flick on the steam switch for a few seconds. This will add quite a bit of extra heat to the boiler which will enable the Ascaso to produce a much hotter shot. You may need to play around with the amount of time you put the steam switch on for as you may find the water is too hot.
How to Descale an Espresso Machine
Descaling an espresso machine is essential in order to keep it in great shape. I use Dezcal, a detergent free, citric acid based descaler, commonly available over the internet. If your machine has light use aim to do this at least every 3 months, more if you use your machine regularly or live in an area with soft water.
When descaling your machine always start with a cold machine. In total allow about 90 minutes to thoroughly descale the machine. Here are the exact steps i follow:
1. Fill the water reservoir 3/4 full of warm water (this helps dissolve the descaler faster)
2. Empty the descaler into the water reservoir and stir until fully dissolved
3. Switch on the machine
4. Turn on the coffee switch and run about 1/4 of a cup of water through the filter
5. Open up the steam knob, allowing 1/4 of a cup of water to run through the steam wand too
6. Turn off the coffee switch then switch off the machine and close the steam knob
7. You have now replaced the water in the boiler and pipes with the descaler water
8. Allow to sit for 20 minutes
9. Repeat the above process twice more until the water reservoir is almost empty.
10. Remove the water reservoir, rinse out and fill with clean water
11. Proceed to run the whole reservoir through both the filter and steam wand as before to clean the tank.
12. Refill the reservoir with water and repeat to ensure all of the descaler is removed from the boiler and pipes.
As you run water through the filter and steam wand while cleaning it is normal to see a bit of sludge and deposits come through into the cup. This is normal and shows the descaler is working well. Assuming you descale regularly you shouldn’t see any big deposits get flushed out.
If the machine has not been descaled regularly descaling might dislodge larger bits of scale which can occasionally block pipes when flushing through. If this does happen you may need to take the machine apart to try and find the blockage or take it to a repair center. In the [unlikely] scenario that this does happen don’t keep running the machine if it appears blocked as this can damage the pump.
Ascaso Dream Summary
- Great consistent crema
- Ease of Use
- Retro design
- Full metal casing
- Basic temperature gauge
- Not always hot espresso (see above workaround)
- Temperature gauge is not very accurate/appropriately scaled
- Supplied instructions are poorly translated to English!
- Cost – it’s not the cheapest on the market!
All in all I am very pleased with the Ascaso Dream. It looks great in the kitchen (so the wife likes it!) and produces consistently good espresso. As with all espresso machines it takes a while to ‘learn’ your machine and perfect the results you get out. If you not interested in this element then you’re probably best off buying an automatic machine like a Nespresso.
If however you are interesting in becoming a home barista and learning to pull good espresso then I’d definitely recommend the Ascaso Dream.