Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ascaso (Innova) i1

I had a chance to play around with this grinder (in this same color, actually) today. It was purchased for possible use on the espresso cart for the shop, but apparently they were having problems with it. I was asked if I would take it home, check it out, dial it in, etc..

Of course, I agreed. I love any opportunity I have to try something new pertaining to coffee.

My first impressions were that it was a glorified home coffee grinder. At first, it was not grinding.. at all. The burr was spinning, coffee was in the hopper, but nothing was coming out. It turns out that the space required for coffee to fit through to get to the burrs was quite small, and it was just jammed up. A quick poke around with a skewer, and it was grinding just fine.

The worm-gear adjustment is nice.. but I was not overly impressed with the construction of the interior. The burr carrier was machined from a block of aluminum.. which is fine.. for a home grinder. This grinder is advertised as a "professional grinder".. implying commercial. Don't be fooled.

The burrs are tiny.. really tiny. As in, smaller than my Gaggia MDF's.

Dialed it in, and the grind consistency left something to be desired from a visual perspective, but from a practical perspective, it wasn't half bad.

The doserless design means clumping.. which means that the distribution will be altered to never ben perfect unless the WDT is used.

After dialing the grinder in for a 30 second, 2oz. double, I timed the grinder as taking roughly 45-50 seconds to grind enough coffee for a double.. on my Gaggia's factory filterbasket (something like 15-16 grams, I believe).

In short, this grinder is going back to the vendor. Quite nice as a home grinder at just over a hundred dollars from certain vendors, but nothing that can hold up in a commercial environment (no big surprises there), and it was interesting to find that the grind quality, and overall utilitarian aspects of the Gaggia MDF are far superior to this doserless piece of espresso machinery eye-candy.

I would put it in the "good enough" category for home use, but the "to be avoided" category for commercial use. Again.. I'm not really surprised. I think the vendor marketed it as a commercial machine, but everything about the statitics, and everything else I've read indicated otherwise.

If you can swing for something better, please do. You won't be sorry.


Luca said...

Hehehe ... interesting. Have you seen Teemu's grinder analysis? Unfortunately, I can't seem to get a direct link to it, but you can find it at his blog, Although the graphs are kinda cool, I can't really make anything useful out of them!

I'm looking at the iberital challenge at the moment, which is a domestic, conical burr grinder that should be similar to the i2. Jim Schulman reckons that it's better than a mazzer when its burrs are new. I'm considering upgrading from a rocky to this grinder - yes, that's an upgrade to something that costs half the price! I've got a thread about it going here:



Jason Haeger said...

Yeah, I did see his grinder analysis. Honestly, I couldn't make anything usable out of his graphs either, but the idea of graphing out the results is certainly intriguing.

My MDF has a similar (if not idential) burr set to your Rocky, and I found the flat-burr Ascaso to be a DOWNgrade. Maybe if I'd had more than an hour to play around with it I'd have changed my mind. Just from a usability and burr size standpoint, I found it to be a lesser quality piece of equipment.

I'm interested to see what people have to say about the K3. Unless it's an entirely different beast than the I1, I don't think I'll care for it.

stshores24 said...

I'm not happy with my burr grinder either--it jams far too often and is impossible to clean. Any suggestions on a better one that's relatively inexpensive?

Jason Haeger said...

What's your budget? What do you have now?