The Jura E8 review, shortened version: all in all, narrowly the best bean to cup coffee machine currently available without spending an awful lot of money. Oh, and as if to prove it, we have chosen to give it a T3 Award as the best coffee maker of the year!
It seems like the best bean-to-cup coffee makers are getting better! We've tried a few recently that actually deliver on the promise of this type of coffee machine, giving barista-grade results on espresso to cappuccino and everything else in between, with convenience comparable to the best Nespresso machines. Admittedly, the pricing and size involved is a tad greater than with pod coffee makers, but there we go: quality costs.
The Jura E8 holds a number of Aces and very few Jokers. It makes excellent, strong espresso and has a milk frother than can convert that base liquid gold into café-standard cappuccinos and lattes. It's hard to underestimate the importance of that, because while espresso may rightly be the purist's choice, milk-based drinks make up overwhelmingly the largest chunk of the UK's burgeoning coffee market.
The Sage Oracle Touch remains the gold standard for bean to cup machines, but that is huge, very expensive indeed, and requires a lot of quite fiddly maintenance. The Jura E8 is relatively affordable, light and compact and once setup, it more or less looks after itself.
I'd say that for most coffee drinkers, there's currently no better bean-to-cup option than the Jura E8. Why not read on to find out why? It'll be a fun and interesting ride.
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Jura E8 review: price and availability
In the UK, the Jura E8 should cost £1,145 in black and £1,245 in chrome. You may be better off going for the cheaper and slightly less sexy black model, for reasons we'll come to. Look out for deals via our self-updating pricing widgets.
Similarly, in America you're looking at $2,099 and $2,199 respectively. In Australia, the only price we could find was AUS$2299 for the black model.
Jura E8 review: initial set up
I got a brand new, chrome version of the E8 and it did not come with a manual. Wa-hey! Straight away, you're thinking, 'Oh my god Duncan, you poor man, what did you do?!' But relax everyone: I was able to set everything up in good time, with minimal hassle. To be truthful, I sometimes think using the manuals for coffee machine setup can actually make it more complicated, as they tend to be terribly written and badly illustrated.
I just filled the water tank and bean hopper and screwed in the supplied water filter. It gurgled away to itself for a bit and then was ready to go.
Admittedly some time was then lost prodding the 2.8-inch screen, until I realised it wasn't a touchscreen, and I had to use the little buttons either side of it. Once I had worked that little detail out, it was easy to get a very decent espresso out of the machine.
What was more impressive about the Jura E8 was how straightforward it was to customise drinks so they were 'just so'. In most of Europe, people drink coffee in considerably smaller cups than we do in the UK. I use a Le Creuset mug (opens in new tab) because I am a big ponce, and it has a capacity of 350ml.
This size issue can cause big problems for bean to cup coffee machines. As you increase the amount of coffee poured, the extraction gets weaker and you end up with something rather pissy. Not so the Jura E8. I don't fully understand what extraction method it uses, but it is able to muster up a full 90ml of espresso without losing flavour.
With a bit of trial and error, I found that this amount of coffee with 17 seconds of frothed milk filled my mug with a very tasty cappuccino. The other popular beverage in my household is a large Americano – a 400ml blend of espresso and hot water. It's actually described as a 'Lungo Barista' on this machine, but whatever you call it, the Jura E8 serves up a very pleasant one indeed.
Another handy feature became apparent after using the Jura E8 for a few days. Once it had established that we were mainly drinking the aforesaid cappuccinos and Americanos, all the other drink options vanished from page one of the menu. Take it from me, that's dead handy on a bleary-eyed morning.
Jura E8 review: design
As bean-to-cup machines go, the Jura E8 is almost petite at 30cm (W) x 35cm (D) x 33cm (H). That's notably smaller than our other favourite bean to cup machine in this price range, De’Longhi's PrimaDonna Soul.
It's also rather attractive, particularly in its chrome finish, as shown in the main image up top. However, as soon as I clapped eyes on it, I thought, 'that'll get grubby fast' and oh boy was I right. The best thing you can say about the Jura E8 chrome is it's very easy to spray n' wipe clean. However, the not-so-good thing you have to say about it, is that it's an absolute magnet for finger marks, coffee smears and – worst of all, as it seems like a design flaw – milk residue sprayed out of the edge of the frother. Keep a tea towel handy, is my advice.
The water tank is a bit funny. At 1.9 litres it's not small by any means. However, the Jura E8 gets through so much water, via coffee making and regular maintenance rinsing and cleaning, that it could really do with being twice as big. That would rather spoil the compact lines though, so I forgive it.
As well as being a thirsty fish, the Jura E8 also has a powerful hunger for beans. Given that the result os very punchy, flavoursome coffee, this is hard to complain about but we have been easily getting through a bag of beans every week, from making on average two to three – admittedly large – coffees per day. Then again, if the coffee was delicious, I dare say we would consume less.
Jura E8 review: does it make good coffee?
You want the short answer? Yes it does. The espresso, American – sorry, 'lungo barista' – latte macchiato and cappuccino are all excellent. The milk frother only has one setting, so while it creates beautifully textured milk it can't really turn out untextured, steamed milk.
It makes a decent latte macchiato by giving the froth a little time to settle but it can't do standard lattes, while more esoteric drinks that are on the menu, such as cortado and flat white, seemed more like small cappuccinos than they are probably meant to. Realistically, I don't think that is going to concern most potential buyers of the Jura E8 but it's worth noting.
The 'core' beverages are uniformly excellent. Usually, I haven't even been using particularly good beans – yes, yes, I know, sorry – and the results have been excellent. Just for testing purposes, I tried a few Espressos made with some Ethiopian beans with quite a complex flavour profile, with blueberry-like overtones. The E8 did them a decent level of justice but again, I would say this is more a machine for coffee lovers than real coffee connoisseurs.
For those keeping count, the Jura E8 makes 11 drinks in total.
Jura E8 review: milk frother
Jura does two milk frothers with its machines. There's a 'pro' one that has adjustable density settings, from steamed milk to thick froth. Then there's the one that comes with this machine, which will give you anything you like, so long as it's really rather densely textured milk.
It would be nice to have more options from the E8's frothing spout. Personally I have no complaints at all about it, since I don't like lattes, but if you don't like delicious, richly textured milk, you might want to look elsewhere.
Using the frother is very simple. It is actually on a different coffee dispensing spout to the main one. You attach one end of a short plastic tube to the frother and the other end to the supplied milk jug. Jura will also happily sell you a refrigerated milk jug, but that seems a bit excessive to me, unless you are using it all day, with a large number of guests – perhaps you run a B&B or something?
To be honest, I soon tired of using even the supplied milk container, and took to just shoving the other end of the tube directly into the milk bottle. This worked absolutely fine and meant no leftovers or mess.
Jura E8 review: cleaning and maintenance
The Jura E8, like most top bean to cup machines, rinses itself every time you switch it on and off. Jura provides a large receptacle to sit in place and catch the resulting liquid.
The milk frother also requires cleaning, with cleaning tablets, every day. Yes, every single day. This initially struck me as a massive imposition, but Jura, to its credit has made the process as painless as possible.
All you have to do is place a small dose of its tiny cleaning tablets in the rinsing receptacle thing. The E8 then dispenses hot water, which dissolves the tablets into cleaning fluid, that is then sucked up the milk tube and through the frother, cleaning it thoroughly. I've found that I get through a pack of cleaning tablets every two months. New packs can be bought from Jura for £13.50.
The good thing about this is the machine is reset to 'good as new' condition every day. I have used a few machines that were less demanding about being cleaned, and the result was the flavour of the drink gradually deteriorated, until I got the cleaning tablets out and did it properly.
Of course, with all this cleaning, if you like milky coffees, you are going to get through a lot of water.
However if you do not say 'olé' to the 'au lait', cleaning is needed much less frequently. Just a daily rinse of the coffee spouts and a full clean with a tablet once every month or so – the machine tells you when.
Jura E8 review: verdict
The Jura E8 is an absolute whizz at making the types of coffee that most people like ie: espresso, Americano and cappuccino. It also does a very good latte macchiato and ristretto and will turn its hand to flat whites and cortados, albeit with slightly less success.
Its winning blend of coffee-making prowess, relatively compact size and surprisingly affordable price makes it the best bean to cup coffee machine for most people, in my opinion. It's a reliably great start to your day.