The best home appliances take complicated things and make them simple. And creating espresso can be pretty complex indeed- the best machines simplify the process of getting water to a perfect temperature and extracting the fairly delicate flavors using high pressure. But even commercial expensive machines require a separate and expensive coffee grinder, and you need to tamp each pull, and on top of it all are fairly difficult to clean. After experimenting at home with multiple different kinds of coffee units over the years, we were very excited to try out the latest in small, automatic all-in-one machines.
The Jura ENA Micro 9 One-Touch coffee center is the newest countertop model from this renowned Swiss manufacturer. This is a cute, sleek, modern and adjustable machine that can quickly brew up your choice of hot caffeinated beverage: espresso, cappuccinos, macchiatos, or coffee. In addition, it can also dispense hot water for tea or hot chocolate.We can see why the design won awards as well.
Out of the box, and despite the complicated mechanisms at work inside the unit, the ENA Micro 9 was easy to set up and relatively simple to use. The machine is ready to use almost as soon as it is plugged in; initially it takes only a few minutes minutes to heat the water. The water reservoir is easily accessible and holds more than enough water for five or six espressos without having to refill- comparable to most countertop machines. It also comes with a optional water filter that fits snugly into the water reservoir. However, we found that the filter sacrificed some of the water storage capacity and we preferred to use the also-included water testing strip to test our home water quality and then adjust the machine settings for hardness.
We liked the compact size, though it didn’t fit under all of the counters we tested. You might want to carefully measure yours, and keep in mind that you’ll need either quite a bit of clearance above it to add coffee and water, or be able to pull it out safely when it’s time to refill. We’d suggest that this model is a great choice for customers who want an easy way to make cafe-quality espresso at home at the press of a button, and who want to use whole beans of their own choice. One big advantage of this unit is the automatic coffee grinder that delivers freshly-ground flavor in every cup- coffee loses strength quickly after being ground, so keeping beans whole until right before use is a key factor in better results. After use, the grounds fall automatically into a removable tray that can be pulled out easily between uses, and the machine warns you when you need to empty the grounds.
For those who prefer to use pre-ground coffee, there is also a small compartment that circumvents the grinder. However, we found that this compartment was just a bit too small and awkward to fill to be used with any regularity, and it doesn’t work for every beverage. Also, while we’re discussing the grinder, even the finest settings won’t meet those of any serious espresso aficionado- we compared against our sturdy Baratza and it was no contest (though they were nicely consistent). The grinder also isn’t really adjustable between cups, so if you alternating between coffee and espresso, you’ll have to settle on using one setting or the other for grinding (out of three total options). Also, you should definitely read the instruction manual: it wouldn’t otherwise be obvious that you’re supposed to adjust the grinder only *during* grinding.
The unit is truly configurable though, allowing the customer to adjust the size and temperature of an espresso shot. The coffee spout is pretty maneuverable as well, allowing the user to lift it up to accommodate a thermos or travel coffee mug or lower it back down for shorter espresso glasses. Unfortunately, the ENA Micro 9 does not include a steam wand to properly steam milk. While the machine allowed for superbly frothed milk through a small hose attachment, the milk was never heated. In addition, the hose was difficult to clean. The lack of steam was a disappointment in such a high-priced machine since we were initially intrigued by the cappuccino and macchiato feature. After two lukewarm cappuccinos and wrestling the remaining milk out of the frothing hose, we were not nearly as excited about the ENA Micro 9. Further, the coffee feature was a bit annoying as well- you’ll end up pressing the button twice or more and waiting in between and possibly rinsing as well, simply to get a reasonable amount of coffee to fill a mug. The results are good, but not significantly better and less convenient than a well-configured Keurig machine.
Though we did face some downsides in use, we loved the configurability of the Jura ENA Micro 9 One-Touch coffee center, and were quite happy with the sleek and compact design. The machine would look great on any counter top. We were able to make a wonderful espresso shot quickly and without any work, and the machine isn’t too noisy, plus everything else is easy to clean and most operations are automatic. However, if you want to make cappuccinos or macchiatos at home, we would suggest spending a bit more money to buy a Jura that comes equipped with a steam wand. And java addicts who prefer good, old-fashioned coffee should also look elsewhere, since there are many other options that are more affordable and simpler as well. The ENA Micro 9 is available now, online and in stores, for around $1400.