Edit - 01/15/2015: Eight and a half years later, this gem is still cranking out great coffee. I had it serviced by the wonderful folks at CoffeeBoss in Cornelius, NC last year, and it's still going strong with a cup count of 9,922. The brew group is not user serviceable, so occasional maintenance should be expected. I use distilled water (at the cost of flavor, I know) now that I'm back in the city on municipal water, so I don't need or use the Clearyl filter (I recommend it for tap/well water, though), and I do use a cleaning tablet within 5-10 cups of when it starts asking for it on the LED display.
The very first espresso machines worked on a steam-pressure basis, and they’re still in use today. With this type of machine, steam or steam pressure is used to force water through the coffee grounds and produce espresso. Some steam-driven machines can produce a measure of foam “crema.” But they can’t generate enough pressure or provide the precise temperature control necessary to produce true espresso: They simply make a very strong cup of coffee. However, they cost considerably less than pump-driven machines. Our verdict is that if you’re a true espresso lover and seeking to make a good shot at home, we recommend you steer clear of steam-driven machines. They’ll likely disappoint you.
I'm coming up on a year with this machine in December. It can be a little picky about the beans (not oily). But with lavazza super crema beans, it performs quite well. I very seldom get a shot that I don't like. I vary my drinks day to day, and enjoy straight espresso, cortados, lattes, and occasionally coffee. It doesn't disappoint in either of the modes. I don't like that if I program my drink (2 shot espresso) and double tap the start button, it will simply pull double the volume, and not do a full 2 cycles of the double shot. There is a noticeable difference in the quality of the shots when I do this.
Thinking that I must have received a defective unit, I requested an exchange from Amazon. I had a replacement unit the next day!! Amazon is amazing in this regard. The second unit worked well for the first week and then the same issue with the espresso not coming out and having to press the button to refill the pump started occurring again. More wasted espresso!!
It might seem like a trivial point, but not all machines have thought about this. The Jura’s power cable emerges at the bottom of the rear of the machine, making it very easy to plug it in and neatly arrange any excess cable out of sight. There’s also a ‘master’ power switch in the same location – worth noting as we discovered, having thought the machine was dead on arrival after pressing the power button on top and nothing happening!
With the look of a shrink-rayed professional espresso machine, the grinning fizzog of shaven-headed culinary chemist Heston Blumenthal on the box and a price tag that puts it out of reach of all but the most well-heeled caffeine fiend, the Barista Express (branded as Breville in the US and Sage in the UK) is clearly aimed at those seeking a major step up in their home-brewed coffee.
The new Gaggia Brera is a very impressive super automatic espresso machine that has a small form factor, making it perfect for use on small kitchen countertops. Not only that, but it seems that the company has focused, among other things, to ensure that the Brera fully maximizes user convenience. For instance, the water tank, drop tray and the dregs drawer are all within reach and can be easily accessed from the machine for simple, swift maintenance and regular cleaning. With this model, beverage selection and machine programming has been greatly simplified, allowing users to easily navigate through the options which are certainly more than you’d expect from such a small machine.
The Impressa Z6 employs Jura’s innovative Pulse Extraction Process brewing system. As opposed to a constant flow, water is instead pulsed through the grounds in short intervals that extract greater intensity and aroma while shortening the overall brew time. With P.E.P., espresso and ristretto can be prepared with greater clarity and flavor than ever before.
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The Jura A9 truly shines in the milk drinks department. It features 2 height adjustable spouts that go anywhere from two point two and up to five point four inches if you plan on using taller However, when it comes to the milk, the machine uses a pick-up tube system. What this means is that now you can just place the tube into the milk container and prepare delicious milk based drinks. For better results though, it’s best that you either get Jura’s cool control milk cooler or their optional thermal milk container. That’s because not only is it better to keep milk chilled for sanitary reasons, but chilled milk also produces better froth.
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