Pseudo Review Of Jura's Impressa J85 And Its Passage To India

Jura Impressa J85

Here are five ways, according to worstwriter, how one can make coffee. Of course there are other ways but these are the only ones that matter.

  1. Moka Pot (the only alternative to a high pressure machine for espresso)
  2. French Press (great for breakfast or afternoon quickie)
  3. Espresso (number one but also expensive)
  4. Instant (seriously, I drink it every once-a-once to keep me grounded and prefer it over filter coffee; I’ve always got a supply somewhere)

We bought a new Jura J85 to replace our ageing Jura S7. Reason? We wanted a new & youthful machine to accompany us on our passage to India. Although the S7 was still in good working condition, we figured it was probably better to replace it with a new one instead of having to face the reality of parts and maintenance in India. Luckily I got my lovely sister to buy the S7 off us cheap–so it’s still kind of in the family. Since she lives in Frankfurt, she’ll always have access to maintaining it. Gee, I wonder if she still has it or if she turned around a sold it for more? Nomatter.

In our household a proper espresso dispenser is an absolute must. Since this is our third Jura, it’s obvious that we know what we want–and what we’re willing to pay to have it. Jura is supposed to be the Mercedes of Kaffeevolautomaten aka fully automatic coffee/espresso machines. At the least, Jura seems to charge more than any other maker. If pushed in the corner about comparing it to other brands, I’d probably always go with the Jura. If you’re addicted to espresso based beverages and can afford the addiction, these machines take on a meaning of their own, a meaning that transcends gimmicks or brands, perhaps even life itself.

Getting rid of the old.

We bought the S7 at a discount from a dealer in Wiesbaden almost ten years ago. It was a model at the end of its life-cycle and the dealer needed to get rid of inventory. For the price we paid, it was a good deal. Eventually we even added one of those fancy external milk coolers from Jura but that thing went bust after only two years of use. Something about the refrigerator mechanism going bad and it wasn’t worth replacing. After the experience with S7, though, which followed a lower-end model, I’ve concluded that these machines–from Jura!–only last about five years in a condition that does not warrant a lot of nickels and dimes to keep it going. That said, compared to other brands, I’d still go with the Jura as I don’t think those other brands are worth what they cost.

After five years the S7 required yearly expensive “tune-ups” that often took months to complete. With that in mind, here’s your warning: Jura customer service and maintenance sucks! At least it did with our S7. My better half’s sister has the S9 model and she got much better service. Eventually, especially after warranty, you’re on your own with these highly complex über-plastic machines. I say “plastic” because I took apart our first Jura to see if I could fix it (I couldn’t) and was astonished at how the Jura people built these things. Other than the the place where the water is heated, everything, including where the water is pushed through the coffee, is f’n lego-quality plastic. I just didn’t expect that. But I digress. These machines are not all-weather machines. For example. After five years, the steamer gets harder and harder to unclog and the grinder seems to get louder and louder with every brew. All of that was a signal to not trust our ageing S7 for a move to India. It took us some time to warm up to the fact of having to replace it with a lower-end model. We were also shocked at current Jura pricing. Talk about stupid money! Luckily buying the new one online saved us a few bucks.

Coffee machine facet 1.

I will not forget the first espresso I drank out of the J85. It wasn’t as hot as what came out of the S7–and at the time I could compare them directly. But the low noise level of the grinder of the J85 made up for everything. Compared to the S7, the J85 is practically silent. After a few more coffees everything was as hot as it should be. Obviously the J85 needs to warm-up.

The screen on the J85 takes a bit of getting used to. It allows one to control all aspects of coffee delivery albeit with a not very intuitive button layout. There are buttons on the top of the machine that coincide with buttons on the side of the TFT screen which are on the front of the machine. Jura didn’t quite get it right with the mix of buttons and screen–but that’s neither here nor there. They all work as they should–once you get used to them.

The most important buttons are the ones on the top of the machine. At least one of these buttons is used most by me. It is the button in the middle of the flywheel which lights up red when the machine thinks the milk dispenser should be washed through. Since this machine makes at least six lattes every morning, that button is very useful.

The button to the left of the flywheel is labelled “P”. P stands for program–I guess. When you activate P the screen corresponds as the machine goes into a kind of maintenance mode. It’s here, for example, where you adjust how much water is used in the espresso. It’s also here that one can determine ONLY three levels of heat of the water. The old S7 allowed you determine the exact temperature of the water. You have to switch from using the top buttons to the small buttons on each side of the screen once maintenance mode is activated. Again, it takes a bit of getting used to.

Once you do get used to it, though, you can set how long milk is foamed. I think it’s cool that Jura decided to go with the amount of time and not volume when it comes to foaming milk. A thirty-second draw of milk makes more sense than 60ml. And get this, you can set a pause after foam delivery and before espresso delivery. This allows the foam to settle a bit, it actually thickens up in the pause, which means it absorbs the espresso better. Very cool.

I have to admit that when we packed everything in Germany for the big move, I was a bit nervous about our new coffee machine. I made sure to prep it for long storage, which is explained in the user manual. This basically just empties the machine of any excess water. I then repackaged it in its original box, styrofoam n’all. The device made the two month container trip without a scratch. I can’t tell you how relieved my better half was when she could finally make her first latte. Seriously! For the amount of coffee she drinks, making it out of pouches in hotels with powdered milk or via cheap French presses in furnished apartments–or even trekking to Starbucks–doesn’t quite cut it after two months of withdrawls.

Coffee machine facet 2.

We’ve owned three Juras so far. I’d buy the J85 twice more. Alone the way it rinses the milk foamer mechanism is brilliant. What this saves me on cleaning time compared to the Jura S7 is immeasurable. At first I thought the TFT screen to be overkill but I’ve since gotten used to it. After every third (or so) latte the J85 tells me, via the TFT screen and the lighting of buttons, to run water through the milk dispenser. I can’t say enough how cool this is. Even though I don’t drink milk based espresso beverages, I do have to maintain the machine for my better half. Milk is a mess to clean once it dries and cakes up. The S7 was a nightmare to clean. The J85 sets the bar high when it comes to raising my hopes that Jura is nearing some kind of self cleaning coffee machine utopia. My only wish is that in the future it makes a machine that will also automatically iron my shirts.

Relocating to India with a coffee machine? Seriously?

First. India is not a coffee country–at least not like #eurowasteland. Second, relocating means that you are dependent on the kindness of third world strangers when it comes to getting a coffee fix. This part of the developing world has yet to understand/grasp why the West was able to be so productive in the industrial age. Even trying an India-based competitor to Starbucks proved without a doubt that India has a way to go when it comes to coffee. In reality, when it comes to moving up the world status ladder, it’s all about booze AND f’n coffee, man! Seriously.

But why lug an overly expensive coffee machine to the third world?

The question is mute. As you may or may not know, India is somewhat extreme when it comes to centralised governance and state control. There is a nationalist slash protectionist thirty-percent-rule in India. The rule is thus: so that India can protect itself from being overwhelmed by outsiders, i.e. non Indian interests, thirty-percent of what a foreign business does here has to come from within India. Not a bad way to govern on the whole. Yet if you’re hooked on coffee like socialites are hooked on opiate pharmaceuticals, you may be in a pickle. So the big question we have to deal with soon is where do we get coffee beans? We brought with us a five month supply of Italian beans but what do we do after that? Yes, there is Starbucks, and I’m sure we’ll buy beans from them, but how long will our fix get fixed on krappy #americant influenced beans? Come on India, get yourself some fine roasting coffee beans. Quickly!

Coffee machine facet 3.

We’ve owned our new J85 for about five months now. Two of those months the device was stuck in a forty foot container that travelled from Köln>Maastricht>Singapore>Bangelore. Luckily it came through with flying colours and we’re enjoying life as much as anyone needing their/a fix. Although this is supposed to be a step down from the previous Jura model we owned–even though it was much more expensive than that model–Jura obviously put a lot of improvements into their new machines. I no longer regret not spending more money on a higher-end device. The most important thing about owning an espresso maker like this is that it must deliver great coffee with as little maintenance as possible. The J85 delivers on both so far. We’ll see how things go once we start nearing that five year mark. (Btw, we’re only supposed to be in India for three years.)

Rant on.

-Tommi

PS this is the second post initially written in mark-up. Cool.

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Tom

Just another expat blogger.