Ascaso l-1 Coffee Grinder

A burr grinder with 54mm flat burrs. Heavy, cast-aluminium body, powder-coated in a variety of colours – mine’s matt black.

First impression – broken. Damaged in transit, the top cover rear locating lug was broken off. Vendor Another Coffee replaced the cover immediately, which threw up another glitch – intact, the new cover didn’t actually fit, so I put the broken one back and called it done.

Does it work? Brilliantly. Before letting coffee beans anywhere near it I wound the setting right up against the fine stop** – then backed off about a fifth of a rotation of the toothed collar. Dialled in on the second attempt.

**The manual says there is a built-in physical stop – there isn’t, but you can feel when the burrs touch – for this reason, unless you want to crash and wreck your burrs, I strongly advise against the oft-repeated advice to adjust the fine setting with the motor running.

Snags? Just one – with room-temperature beans it generates a surprising amount of heat in the grounds, which are perceptibly warm to the touch. Solution – keep the beans in the fridge until you need them. That way, once ground, the temperature is close to ambient.

The grind is consistent, with little or no dust in the bottom of the cup.

It will happily grind enough beans for a double shot. 14g go in, and, with a little poking with a chopstick and blowing with a camera blower – I’m talking seconds, not minutes – 13.7g are recovered. Remarkably low retention compared to my Iberital MC2 which retained about a third of everything it swallowed.

I removed the portafilter holder as it didn’t fit mine. I also use a dosing funnel – less mess – which needed more room than the holder permitted.

I subsequently switched to collecting the grounds in a jar, in which a brisk shake breaks up any tendency to clump (Bonne Maman conserve jars are the perfect shape – no shoulder).

Bean storage. I store all my beans in the fridge. The opened bag is decanted into a thick, zip-sealed, freezer bag designed for soup storage. Before the seal is closed completely, I inject a squirt of CO2 using a keyboard blower (250g lasts a little over a week at 2 doubles a day). Once a day seems to be enough, the idea being to prevent oxidation.

Next?

Well, I’ve resurrected my La Pavoni Europiccola lever machine, scrubbed and polished off years worth of dust and crap, inside and out, until it gleams like new. Multi-surface Pledge is the perfect crap solvent – just don’t let any get inside the machine or you might never get the smell out. Wipe the outside down with a damp cloth once clean, polish it dry, and the smell will quickly disperse.

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I’ve given it another going-over since taking the pic as I’d missed a few bits, like the S-shaped smear you can see on the group head, which the flash high-lighted.

I’d have liked the polished brass version with wood fittings,

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but it’s a lot more expensive and, as it’s essentially the same machine (just a bigger boiler and pressure gauge), I couldn’t justify it even if I could have afforded it. Nice, though. Orphan Espresso used to do a pressure gauge kit for the Euro, which would be useful, but they don’t any longer. Pity. I seem to recall they did a wood kit too, but if so, they don’t now.

Anyway, later today – it’s gone midnight – I’m going to try to make coffee with it. I stopped using it as results were so unpredictable, which I’m hoping the new grinder will improve. I’ve already fired it up to test the seals under pressure, and everything is fine and tight. no leaks anywhere

And that loaf you can just see behind it, in the plastic bag? That’s my rye bloomer, and it’s in the running for best bread I’ve ever made – it’s superb.

I’ve read that you can tell the difference between pre and post Millennium machines by taking the base plate off (you need T20 anti-vandal Torx key), and looking for a Millennium sticker. If my experience is typical, what you’ll actually find in there is a sticker giving the date of manufacture.

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