Ascaso Steel Duo PID Spotlight

Written by
Chris Caruso
(we're on a mission)

Ascaso Steel Duo PID Espresso Machine


The Ascaso Steel Duo PID may be one of the most beautiful espresso machines on the market. With an innovative pair of dual thermoblocks, the Steel Duo is capable of functioning similarly to a more premium dual boiler. It's no wonder that the Ascaso Steel Duo is a top seller when it comes to fast-heating, sub-$2000 espresso machines.

In this machine spotlight, we'll overview the primary features of the Ascaso Steel Duo, highlight what makes the Steel Duo so unique, and compare the Ascaso Steel Duo to the similarly priced Breville Dual Boiler.

Let's get brewing!

Table of Contents

Machine Overview

Ascaso Steel Duo PID Features 2024

Compact Thermoblocks

The heart of the Ascaso Steel Duo is a pair of compact thermoblocks. While the majority of thermoblock machines either use a single thermoblock or a single thermoblock plus a dedicated single boiler, the Steel Duo combines two thermoblocks to balance rapid heat up and the ability to brew and steam concurrently.

Modern Spanish Design

In 1962, Gaggia assembly line employee Jesus Ascaso launched his own espresso company out of his home in Barcelona, Spain. To this day, Ascaso Espresso remains in Spain, and the unique and modern Spanish design is shown through the Steel Duo. With sharp angles and clean lines, the Ascaso Steel Duo blends classic traditional features with modern and elegant design.

Tactile Toggle Switch Interface

The face of the Ascaso Steel Duo is as beautiful as the rest of the machine. With a simple 4-toggle switch control cluster, an intuitive PID display, and a crystal clear pressure gauge, the Steel Duo provides all the control you need and none that you don't.

The flip switch control cluster toggles machine power, brew, steam, and hot water, while the PID display controls the temperature for the brew and steam thermoblocks. The pressure gauge measures group head brew pressure for accurate extractions.

What makes the Ascaso Steel Duo PID Special?

Dual PID Thermoblocks

Of course, the most unique feature of the Ascaso Steel Duo PID is the origin of its name. Powered with two individual thermoblocks, the Ascaso Steel Duo is capable of concurrent brew and steam. A feature usually reserved for classic heat exchangers and dual boilers, the Steel Duo is capable of serving up a latte or cappuccino in no time.

In addition, the dual PID control allows for fine-tuning over temperature for both brew and steam. When a shot is activated, the PID control turns into a real-time shot timer for a heads-up of the overall extraction time.

Rapid Heat Up

While heat exchangers and dual boilers are famous for their same-time brew and steam, they are also famous for their longer heat-up times. The Ascaso Steel Duo cuts the traditional 10-20 minute heat-up to a mere 3 minutes.

Whether you're a seasoned espresso pro who has become tired of long warm-ups on E61 machines or a budding home barista who is used to the rapid heat-up of Breville products, the Ascaso Steel Duo's speed-to-brew won't disappoint.

Volumetric Shot Programming

If the rapid heat-up and concurrent brew-steam weren't enough, the Ascaso Steel Duo has one more incredible feature up its sleeve. The Ascaso Steel Duo has volumetric shot programming, that is, the ability to program and save espresso shot yields for subsequent shots. Breville is often known for the feature on their Bambino and Barista line of machines, and the Ascaso is one of the few other brands that offers this convenience technology.

What is missing on the Ascaso Steel Duo PID?

Ascaso Steel Duo PID Missing Features 2024

Standard Power Draw

While the Ascaso is packed full of features, one of the biggest limitations is in the physics of thermoblock steam. Thermoblock machines generate steam by vaporizing small amounts of water at a time in a pulsing pattern. To compensate for the generally weaker steam, the Steel Duo V2 uses a 20-amp circuit to boost the overall power draw.

Ensure your home uses a 20-amp outlet, as many homes in the United States have a 15-amp system. While the Ascaso can be used with a 15amp converter plug, the 30% increase in steam power will be lost.

Thermal Stability

Rapid Heat Up is the game with the Steel Duo PID. But while the Ascaso has the technological prowess to heat up quickly, it does not have the ability to circumvent physics. The best espresso requires temperature stability - that is, a similar temperature all the way from the heating element, through the group, to the espresso.

While the thermoblock of the Ascaso can rapidly heat, a 3-minute warm-up means that the rest of the machine will not reach optimal brewing temperatures. E61 machines, famous for their long heat-ups, use the time to radiate heat through the entire machine to ensure great thermal stability. Compared to an E61 machine, the Ascaso Steel Duo will likely suffer in consistency and repeatability when making many back-to-back shots.

Comparison: Ascaso Steel Duo PID vs. Breville Dual Boiler

When looking for the perfect machine in the $1500-$2000 price range, the Ascaso Steel Duo PID is always a top choice. The Breville Dual Boiler, however, with an MSRP $150 less than the Steel Duo, offers a significant value and is often the number one competitor to the Ascaso thermoblock option.

Ascaso Steel Duo PID vs. Breville Dual Boiler

Heating Element

These two machines immediately diverge when examining their heating elements. While the Ascaso Steel Duo uses the compact pair of thermoblocks, the Breville option uses dual boilers. The Breville Dual Boiler packs a 0.3-liter brew and a 0.9-liter steam boiler that enables it to pull more concurrent shots with less temperature loss. The dual boilers also take up a large footprint, giving the Breville a larger overall footprint.

Both machines use a compact vibratory pump that is easy to replace should it malfunction. Even though vibratory pumps are less quiet and long-lasting than their more expensive rotary counterparts, they are more than capable of day-to-day home usage.

Design & Build

These two products continue to differ when looking at their overall design and build. The Breville Dual Boiler uses a classic Breville Design with a brushed steel finish and a set of three primary buttons for power, single shot, and double shot. In addition, the Dual Boiler has an integrated display with four small buttons to control the machine settings.

The Ascaso uses a much more modern design with simple angles and a clean interface. Instead of press-buttons, the Steel Dup uses toggle switches. In addition, it has a simple two-button PID interface and an offset pressure gauge.


Normally, the Breville Dual Boiler starts to pull away with its unique volumetric shot option. In this case, the Ascaso Steel Duo PID matches the Breville with the volumetric programming. Both machines also offer dual brew and steam PID temperature control, concurrent brew and steam, and a host of other features. In this case, the two options are relatively matched.

Which To Buy

If you index on pure espresso output or are familiar with the Breville ecosystem, then the Breville Dual Boiler is a hard-to-beat option. But, if you have a discerning eye, love a modern design and simple interface, and appreciate the rapid heat-up, the Ascaso Steel Duo wins every time.

Pricing and Availability

Price In 2024, the Ascaso Steel Duo PID retails for $1725 and is offered in a matte black, white, and brushed steel color deemed 'Inox.' Given the popularity of the Ascaso Steel Duo, it is widely available in the United States, including through Clive Coffee , Seattle Coffee Gear, and Amazon (via the Seattle Coffee Gear Store)

The Final Sip

If you are looking for a stunning espresso machine that is ready to go as soon as you are, the Ascaso Steel Duo is hard to beat. While some other espresso machines may index on stability, features, or durability, the Steel Duo is one of the few that is able to excel in them all. If you are able to handle the unique power draw and don't need to handle large volumes in a cafe setting, the Ascaso Steel Duo is an incredible home espresso option.

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