Getting good coffee with personality out in your own home can need some complicated contraptions, but what if you could get seriously good coffee without needing to buy into a capsule system? Jura might have the answer.
Features and performance
It’s not hard to find decent coffee anymore, and living in the espresso-based coffee society that is Australia, you can even buy machines that do this for you with capsules, bringing a sense of simplicity to the kitchen that appliances don’t always have.
But as good as the instant espresso is — what we refer to as “inspresso” — it doesn’t always have the aroma or personality of that cup you purchase from your local coffee shop. Sure, it works to give you a decently caffeinated experience with enough crema to let you know the differences between store bought instant and the real thing, but it doesn’t have the roasting personality your barista knows you’re after.
If you don’t mind spending a good $2500 for a machine, Jura’s answer to this dilemma comes in the form of an automated machine capable of taking whole beans or ground coffee and turning it into espresso without you needing to do anything.
That’s what you get in the Impressa F9, a relatively large machine from the Swiss engineers at Jura, providing a 1.9 litre water tank removable by a handle and featuring a water filter, a bean container capable of holding a little over 300 grams of beans, a 15 bar pump, and an LCD screen to let you see what sort of drink you want to prepare.
The screen is the part that will really draw people in, with a small display flanked by two push buttons on either side, as well as a scroll wheel sitting up top to take you through the menus quickly.
When you first turn the machine on, you’ll need to go through setup procedures, but after the five or ten minutes that takes, the Impress F9 will be ready to go, good to take your beans or ground coffee and make your breakfast beverages without too much of a broken sweat.
In fact, there really shouldn’t be any, as in a way, using this is about as easy as the coffee pod systems out there, except with your own choice of coffee beans, allowing you to either roast your own or buy them from your local barista.
Loading the beans is easy, with the top transparent lid removed and beans just poured in.
From there, you merely need to select the drink you’re after and let the machine go to work, the beans being ground and pressed, with the beverage emerging in a silky brown stream not long there after.
Alternatively, you can grab the ground coffee scoop located under the right flap (opposite from the water tank founder under the left flap) and scoop in one or two scoops of pre-ground coffee into the secondary section when you want pre-ground instead of something taken from the beans.
Options for two cups are also possible, with two espressos or ristrettos, and even the option for two regular coffees, with espresso-based drinks switching on an orange light almost to make you believe there’s a piping hot drop of coffee warming under the spout.
Four of your favourite settings sit on the main screen, allowing you to pick either an espresso, coffee, cappuccino, or a flat white from the beginning with each of those four corresponding buttons, while the scroll wheel up top will let you jump between all the coffee beverages that you can make.
Milk-based coffee is also possible from this machine, with texturising — what most of us call “froth” — relying not on a wand, though one exists on the head.
This part on the side is actually a hot water spout, used for pushing out hot water when you decide it’s time to make a cup of tea instead. Because sometimes you might want tea instead of coffee, or a very long drawn out hot water bottle (seriously, use a kettle for this, as it would take less time).
Instead of the wand on the side, you actually need to use a tube with some valves and plugs to get the milk from one part of the setup to your cup.
To do this, you can grab a milk jug, pour the milk in, and then leave the plug inside, which the machine will draw from, heat up, and then push out all nice and steamed for the cup you’re after.
Alternatively, you can grab Jura’s special metal thermos-like vacuum milk jug, which keeps the milk sealed if you want to throw it back into a refrigerator, and includes an internal metal tube to draw the milk in before sending it to the machine.
Once this has been set up, you’ll find that textured milk is fairly easy to make, utilising Jura’s fine foam technology for what it says is “feather-light milk foam”.
That may as well be marketing speak, because while Jura’s F9 is certainly capable of delivering lovely foam, we’re not sure we could tell a difference between the foamy milk being delivered from a conventional milk frother and the one this model is equipped with.
Sufficed to say, if you like frothed milk, you’ll be happy.
You will want to make sure this component has been properly cleaned, though, otherwise the milk frother may not function, pushing out milk-flavoured water instead, also known as the weakest skim milk that has ever been created.
Fortunately, manual cleaning of the head is a fairly easy process, and consists of a rubber section that can be depressed and detached quite easily, with each of these sections easily rinsed and washed under the tap.
Not a problem there, and you simply need to reassemble and plug back into the unit when you’re done.
Automatic cleaning cycles are, however, a bit of a hassle with the F9, and that’s because they happen so often that you need to remember the machine is doing it.
We’re talking water being pushed out through both the coffee and milk systems, and then landing in the drip tray frequently, so much that it’s actually easier to keep a jug or a glass under the head all the times when you’re not using it.
Turn the F9 on, and if you haven’t used it in a few hours, it’ll undergo a cleaning cycle. Rinse, wash, empty out, and voila it’s clean. Leave it on, and it might do the same.
Turn it on and it might not run the cycle immediately, and then it might do it ten minutes later.
“Unpredictable” is the word we’d go with.
So you make a coffee and it might do the clean again afterwards, and it also might not. Essentially, cleaning isn’t a foregone conclusion on the Jura F9. It is in the knowledge that it will happen, but not in regards to timing, which is all over the place.
We found that leaving a milk jug or a large cup under the F9 was just something you had to do when you were done making a coffee, because if you didn’t, the machine would inadvertently leave you with a full drip tray very shortly thereafter.
It’s just easier this way, trust us.
That lack of timing also extends to another issue on the F9, and that’s grind control.
Say you want to make a slightly stronger cup of coffee this morning than your regular. No worries, because the Jura F9 supports impromptu coffee grind changes that— oh, and now you can’t, because you waited too long.
That’s that whole timing thing coming back into play, because the moment you hit grind, you have about one second to decide how dense a grind you want to produce, dialling it in with the scroll wheel found on the very front of the coffee machine.
Wait any longer than that one second and you’ll lose your window of opportunity, going with whatever grind the machine has programmed in before the grind of beans actually occurs.
When that does, your windows is totally gone, and the only control you’ll have left is for coffee and milk length.
As a complete reversal, this is an option you’re given quite a bit of time with, and once the machine has started running water or milk, you can extend or limit the length by dialling it either right or left, increasing the amount of liquid that comes out of the F9’s spouts.
But the grind decision time is very small, so make sure you know what you want the moment you decide on the style of coffee, because if you’re not fine with the regular strength you’ve been having on a regular basis, you only have blinking time to change it.
If that doesn’t suit you and you prefer a drop of coffee to be stronger or lighter, or with more or less liquid, you’ll want to hit up the expert mode which allows you to change the recipe settings for volume, grind, and temperature, and then change the names and position on the favourites menu, if the latter even is needed.
It’s a handy inclusion, and great if you find yourself disagreeing with the settings Jura has set out.
When it comes to coffee, there are lots of different preferences.
You might think that the ease and simplicity of a pod machine — encapsulated coffee, it’s called — is perfect, and it’s small footprint and “just drop it in and watch it work” method is ideal, or you might think that no machine could ever do what your local barista can and so it’s just easier to pay them a visit with a fiver in hand.
Jura’s F9 fits somewhere in between these two, however, providing what the barista can do with the beans or ground coffee of your choice in a box that like the pod machine is meant to be simple.
There is a caveat: at $2499 this is not a cheap box, and for an extra point, there’s a little amount of hand washing maintenance if you like milk-based coffee, which can get a little annoying.
But overall, the quality able to be had from this machine is stellar, and provided you don’t mind having coffee the way Jura’s experts in Switzerland think you should or otherwise reprogramming bits, you might even find that over the next few years this machine could even save you money, although it will probably happens at the risk of ruining your relationship with that barista. We hope you didn’t fancy them.