You know me, I'm a bit of a bulldog. Once I've sunk my teeth into a manufacturer, I don't let go -- for better or worse. Jura hasn't had an easy time of it so far. That's because my first experience with the Swiss brand's super automatic espresso machines was pretty meh.
You know me, I’m a bit of a bulldog. Once I’ve sunk my teeth into a manufacturer, I don’t let go — for better or worse. Jura hasn’t had an easy time of it so far. That’s because my first experience with the Swiss brand’s super automatic espresso machines was pretty meh.
No matter how much you love Jura — and I’m definitely warming to the brand — you have to admit that these are pretentious machines with a pretentious price tag. Tell me $4,050 (April 2021) is not OTT for an automatic coffee machine, no matter how many bells and whistles the Jura Z8 has?
Even their stripped-down, entry-level Jura A1, which doesn’t even have a milk system, commands a sizable chunk of change. This is what I call Jura’s theory of relativity. The $3,500 Jura Z6 is comparatively more affordable relative to the Z8, while the A1 is the cheapest of all, but when it comes to coffee machines in the real world, Jura’s prices mess with your head.
In that vein, the Jura Z8 is slightly less expensive — assuming you can get your hands on the machine. That’s because the Swiss have discontinued this model and are launching the Z10 instead. The upgrade is said to bump up the drinks count even further to include cold brewed beverages. In contrast, the Jura A1 is wildly more expensive. Go figure.
Whichever Jura machine you choose, the biggest drawback is the fixed (i.e. non-removable) brew group. The Swiss manufacturer can try as much as they like to spin me their yarns about sophisticated hygiene systems that make this key component practically self-cleaning. I say, tell me another one. If you can’t remove it, it stays dirty. Period.
I don’t know what possessed me despite that to shell out all that cash so that I could review the Jura Z8 for you. Still, I’m glad I did.
I think that the Jura Z6 is better value for money. Aside from the small differences in operating interfaces and the number of coffee specialties available, the real reason for the roughly $500 difference is that the Z8 has dual heating systems — two thermoblocks and pumps.
In theory, two is better than one because when making milky beverages the drink components are simultaneously heated to their respective temperatures. This can translate into better quality and temperature milk froth. Truth be told, for most coffee drinkers that’s splitting hairs. A Latte from the Jura Z6 tasted just as good to me as one from the Z8.
That being said, if the soundtrack to your life is “I Want It All and I Want It Now” by Queen, you’ll love this machine.
In a Nutshell: You’ve Got to be Kidding?!
Before I bombard you with all of the Jura Z8’s undeniable advantages, let’s briefly address the elephant in the room:
This MORE THAN FOUR-THOUSAND-DOLLAR coffee machine only has a pathetic hose system for frothing milk.
For the most part, I’m a fan of cappucinatore systems because you can pop the milk hose into any container you choose and ideally, there’s less to clean up afterwards.
Super automatic espresso machine
|Removable brew group
Touch screen with buttons and dials
Memo function only
|Removable water reservoir
|Water reservoir capacity
81.2 fl oz / 2.4 l
|Number of boilers
|Maximum cup height
6.0 in / 15.2 cm
|Minimum cup height
3.2 in / 8.1 cm
Stainless steel conical burr grinder
|Grind adjustment levels
|Bean hopper capacity
9.9 oz / 280.0 g
|Pre-ground coffee bypass
|Grounds discard container capacity
|Adjustable coffee temperature
|Adjustable milk foam temperature
|Adjustable milk temperature
Yes (non-milk drinks only)
|Hot water function
|Hot milk function
|Milk foam only option
29.5 lb / 13.4 kg
15.0 x 12.6 x 17.7 in
Included Accessories: Instruction booklet, Milk system cleaning container, Measuring spoon, Filler funnel for ground coffee.
|Current price on Amazon
You’d think that if every bargain basement automatic coffee machine for well under $1,000 comes with some kind of milk jug thrown in, the princely Z8 could match that three times over?
What was the development team even thinking? Jura are often known to tout their automatic espresso machines in testosterone-fueled tones à la sports car marketing. Maybe the hose is supposed to awaken your inner MacGyver. The coffee machine for the survivalist, perhaps?
Of course, you can also blow roughly $300 to get the Jura “Cool Control” jug. Jura definitely missed the memo on that one.
All that aside, my model with the aluminum-chrome look seriously delivers. Of all its many advantages, these are the ones I consider the most decisive:
21 coffee drinks, including coffee pot function
Fully operable via app or the colorful touch display
All options are very finely calibrated
Adjustable spout height and width (!)
In the video review, I only used the app and I’d say you should get by just fine with that on a daily basis. It’s very clear, idiot-proof and always lets you know exactly what your super-automatic Tamagotchi needs: “Clean me!” “Empty me!” “Fill me up!” While it’s not slick, it’s also no mere gimmick.
To get to 21 “specialties,” Jura counts double shots and varying water temperatures for tea as separate options. Other notable items on the list are the coffee pot function for the “quick cup” devotees, hip drinks like the Flat White and various “barista” creations. No idea what those are supposed to be, but they sound super-impressive and feed into the more-is-more advertising logic.
My advice to Jura: rather talk up the range of settings for the various drinks. After, that’s where the Swiss brand has really gone all out:
Milk froth portion — ten levels
Milk froth temperature — ten levels
Coffee strength — ten levels
Brew quantity — stepless
Brew quantity — stepless
Grinder — stepless
Each of these points clearly justifies the price of the Jura Z8. Three to five levels for each of these settings are standard. And on top of that there’s that rare treasure — a stepless grinder.
As always, I’d be happy to skip the dumb distractions — such as light shows, powder chutes for ground coffee and pointless marketing waffle. None of which detracts from what’s good, solid functionality wrapped up in exceptionally high-quality packaging, or, as Jura puts it:
The grooved water tank and the chrome-plated coffee spout accentuate the sculptural design.
Programming the Jura Z8: Do It Your Way
Whether the sexy app, sexy touch display or a sexy old-school rotary switch is more your style, the choice really is yours when it comes to operating the Z8. Each of these options works intuitively with no “huh?” moments.
Sure, it’s worth looking through the user manual when taking the first steps with your new machine. From there on out, anyone who has ever used an app or a computer before will be right at home with this coffee machine virtually from the get-go.
A puzzling feature of the Z8: milk froth volumes are measured in seconds. Why? Maybe because seconds are just more refined than boring old ounces. That, or a programmer was asleep at the keyboard.
As for the grinder, a hunt for information about its materials only turned up this in German:
The JURA GIGA is equipped with ceramic grinders. The grinders on all other JURA automatic coffee machines are made of hardened steel. Heating system parts that come into contact with water are made of stainless steel.
Whatever the case may be, the thing works quietly and consistently. As always, set it finer from the start. And if your coffee doesn’t seem quite right, make sure it’s the first thing (!) you adjust.
And that’s about all there is to say about the settings. Which tells you just how easy working this coffee machine is.
Coffee Drinks From the Z8: Now, You’ve Got My Attention
In reviewing the Jura Z8, I took the unusual step of running through the menu options and preparing practically all the main types of drinks. That’s because I’d already figured out in my own advance testing that the Z8 makes coffee to die for.
According to Jura, part of the secret to achieving this coffee cloud nine is their pulse extraction process (P.E.P), which forces water through the grounds in several short (audible) bursts rather than in one shot.
As bit of an old grump, I can’t help myself when it comes to faultfinding. So, here goes:
(1) In my opinion, the Ristretto is a better choice than espresso (if you want espresso)
The whopping crema on the espresso looks suspiciously like the fudged results you get from entry-level espresso machines. There, double-walled baskets are a cheat for producing a fat layer of crema. All because for years, the industry’s coffee experts have preached that this is the hallmark of quality espresso.
The crema on the Ristretto is far more realistic — especially considering that an automatic coffee machine can’t actually produce the genuine article. Overall, the Ristretto feels more balanced and the extraction cleaner.
(2) The perfect pot, not.
Drumroll please: the “ordinary” coffee from the Z8 is probably the best I’ve ever had from an automatic coffee machine! Seriously.
Even though it’s still a far cry from the sophistication of pour-over coffee, it’s surprisingly delicate. Body, character and flavor are off the charts in their own right. Although in the final analysis, this is simply indicative of great beans. Either way, I’m more than content with flavor like that.
The pot function brings you back down to earth. This is despite the fact that the Z8 not only does a commendable job of sending more water through a single puck but also repeatedly starts over with fresh coffee grounds.
Somehow the pot’s brew still tastes rather thin. Admittedly, I’d have been very surprised if a super automatic had succeeded in delivering both volume and full flavor. After all, that might spell the demise of drip coffee makers. Looks like that’s still a way off.
Looking at the big picture, from temperature, to setting options and all the rest, the Jura Z8 is a great machine that gets an A+ for its coffee drinks.
Preparing Milk Froth the Smart Way
What’s more, that goes for the temperature and consistency of all the specialties with milk or froth, too.
What I especially like is that the Z8 tweaks the automated processes behind each drink so as to better reproduce its key characteristics.
To make a Latte, for instance, coffee and a light froth are poured into the glass at the same time. For a latte macchiato, however, there is a deliberate pause between dispensing the milk that allows the froth to settle and form a clear layer.
It’s time to dish the dirt (literally) on my biggest scruple over buying a Jura: the brand’s brew groups are still not removable, so thorough cleaning is impossible.
I know, I know, Jura repeatedly flushes the thing with water heated to 176 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s all good and well, but how do you get that water into all of the components’ nooks and crannies without flooding the machine?
On the other hand, Jura’s sporty accessories bag comes with everything you need for machine maintenance — including a microfiber cloth for buffing up the chrome surfaces.
As with preparing drinks, the appliance’s various displays walk you through exactly what to do to clean the milk system or descale, for example.
I really can’t fault the automated cleaning — especially as many important parts can only be removed from the front. Obstacles to my usual list of hands-on checks — e.g. removing the brew group — are still a (small) negative.
By the way: With a capacity of over 81 fluid ounces, the water tank is almost oversized. Unless you make a lot of coffee, as in an office situation. Then, you’ll get through that pretty quick.
Those who drink less should be careful not to fill the tank, empty it at the end of each (!) day of use and let it dry out. Otherwise, you’re creating a lovely moist environment for all kinds of stuff to grow.
Verdict on Jura Z8: Is it the Best?
I think there’s little point trying to compare the Jura Z8 to other coffee makers. This high-priced Rolls Royce is in a class of its own and really surprised me in the best possible way.
The Jura simply has an extreme number of settings, a huge swank factor and user friendliness by the truckload. Plus, I generally prefer the taste of its coffee over other fully automatic espresso machines in this price range.
The takeaway is that this Jura machine is aimed at a different target group: quality lovers who don’t look at the price. Then you’ll get an awesome machine with the Z8!
I’d love to hear what you think of my super automatic espresso machine review. Please be sure to leave a comment!