Names like Jura and Nespresso are spoken with awe in the world of espresso lovers, as these two companies make some of the best single-cup coffee machines in the world. Who wouldn’t want a good espresso machine in their kitchen? Let’s have a look at these two types of machines – that have one thing in common, great espresso, but also many differences, so you can decide which is better for you.
Jura AG is a Swiss-based company established back in 1931, with a long tradition in the home appliances business. The company was famous for clothes irons and toasters before launching in the coffee machines industry in the mid-1980s when it presented its first fully-automated espresso makers. Jura espresso machines use the best technology available, good materials, which makes them reliable and long-lasting.
At the same time, the company is known for its attention to detail and the style of their machines. When you buy a Jura, you don’t only get the guarantee of a great espresso every day, but also a sleek and sophisticated machine which looks impressive on your kitchen counter.
Nespresso is also a Swiss-based company, part of the Nestle food group. The Nespresso system was invented in 1976, but the company only filed for a patent for its coffee capsules, known as pods, in 1996.
If you’re a fan of the pod, you should know who you need to thank for this marvelous invention, a former Nespresso employee called Eric Favre who was married to an Italian woman, Anna-Maria. It was she who constantly teased her husband that the company he was working for in the 1970s knew nothing about coffee making. These taunts drove Favre to spy on Italian baristas to discover their secrets and came up with the capsule. According to Favre, the secret of the perfect espresso is repeated aeration while hot water is being pumped through the coffee grinds.
The main difference between Jura and Nespresso is that the former manufactures beans-to-cup machines, while the latter has a pod-based brewing system. With a Jura machine, you get to grind the coffee beans on the spot, while for a Nespresso you just put a pod in and press Start. Both methods have their pros and cons.
With most espresso makers from Nespresso, you get to choose between a regular shot of espresso, an espresso lungo, and a ristretto. Some of their best-sold models, Mini, Citiz, Pixie, and Expert only make espresso, but The VertuoPlus models come with an added function allowing you to prepare regular drip coffee if you’re tired of espresso.
Jura machines can be used to prepare espresso, lungo, or ristretto, and some of them also make regular coffee, so there’s not much of a difference here.
One of the advantages a Jura coffee maker has to offer is that you can choose the desired strength for every cup of coffee you brew. Depending on the model, you choose between three to eight strength settings.
For both companies, this depends on the model you choose. Many of the basic Nespresso machines do not come with a milk frother, although you can order one of their Aeroccino models.
For instance, the Nespresso Vertuo Machine Bundle includes a frother than can be used with hot or cold milk. Or you can look for one of the models in the Lattissima range, manufactured for Nespresso by DeLonghi. The Lattissima Pro has a 44 oz water tank and a 17 oz milk reservoir, which will allow you to quickly prepare cappuccinos or lattes when you have some friends over.
As for Jura, the more affordable models don’t have a frother, but those that do are capable of making amazing espresso-based drinks. The latest Jura machines use the Fine Foam technology which creates a rich foam for your favorite drinks.
The high-end models offer up to 17 programmable drink settings.
This is the most important question when you compare the two brewing methods. For coffee purists, there’s no doubt that using freshly-ground coffee beans is the only way to make a proper coffee, including espresso. Some experts say that coffee grounds lose much of their flavor within 30 minutes of coming into contact with the oxygen in the air, so using pods is blasphemy to them.
However, pod manufacturers insist they take every step possible to ensure their grounds preserve freshness over a long period. The grounds in the pods are flushed with nitrogen before an aluminum seal is applied. Some use a double seal system! If the seal is not punctured or depressed in any way, this means the grounds in the pod are as fresh as can be, pod makers insist. Not fresh enough, critics complain!
Another common complaint about Nespresso machines is that the pods have too little coffee so the espresso you get is rather weak. Indeed, a typical Nespresso pod contains 5g of coffee, less than 0.2 oz, whereas for a true espresso you should use at least 7g or 0.25 oz. It might not seem much, but it does make a lot of difference.
On the other hand, Nespresso maintains that the Nespresso Vertuo line comes with a bar-code system, which the machine can read and adjust the cycle to create the perfect drink.
With a Jura machine, you have much more control over the settings so you can get an espresso tailored to your taste. Many experts believe Jura espresso has a richer, more intense flavor, mostly due to its innovative Intelligent Pre-Brew Systems (IPBS). The machines with IPBS technology quickly wet the grounds before the actual brewing starts, which allows the consistent extraction of every ounce of flavor in your coffee grounds.
Some of the newer models like Jura A1 come with another innovation, the Pulse Extraction Process (PEP) which works together with the IPBS feature to create a barista style espresso.
This is a trick coffee maniacs rave about. When the brew starts flowing into your cup you will notice that the liquid has a reddish-brown color, that’s typical for a ristretto. A little later it turns golden-brown, which is the color of espresso, and finally becomes yellowish, which means the extraction has basically ended. If you’re extremely tired and in need of a quick caffeine jolt you can stop the program before the machine starts delivering watery coffee or simply take the cup away and let the rest of the liquid go into the drip tray.
Espresso makers are generally fast so you won’t have much to wait for your coffee in the morning.
Obviously, using a pod in a Nespresso means your espresso will be ready in no time, well, less than a minute anyway.
With Jura you have to keep in mind the machine needs some time to grind the beans. On the other hand, most of the latest Jura models feature the pulse extraction process, which cuts the extraction time by half.
All in all, the time needed to brew doesn’t really matter when you have to decide which is better.
Automatic or semi-automatic coffee machines are generally easy to clean, and Jura or Nespresso are no exception.
The latest Jura espresso makers do not require much user intervention from the user. You only need to press a button as the process is fully automated, with three separate functions self-rinsing, cleaning, and descaling. You won’t have to bother with the non-removable water reservoir, the machine cleans that, too.
As for Nespresso, things are pretty much the same. The espresso maker can be cleaned by flushing it with clean water and this should be enough for day to day use. Nespresso offers special descaling pods, an operation you should perform at least once a month if you want your machine to function properly.
Both Jura and Nespresso will deliver good strong espresso every day. Aside from that, the choice will be dictated by your preferences.
If your main concern is the budget, no doubt you should choose a Nespresso coffee maker, which will be only a couple hundred dollars. But you should keep in mind that using pods will be a serious expense every month, especially if you have a large family with more coffee drinkers.
As far as taste is concerned, Jura is the best choice and every cup of espresso will come with a thick layer of crema on top of it. With a Jura, you have more settings to choose from and you are free to experiment with your coffee by using many different brands. With respect to this, with Nespresso machines, your choices are limited by the pods, which do come in various flavors, but not that many.
Nespresso machines are best for people with little skills or interest in coffee making. Many people just want coffee in the morning. And fast.
Jura coffee makers are for people who have strong preferences about their espresso.
Finally, if you want a full coffee-shop experience in your kitchen every single day, you should definitely choose a Jura machine, especially those that allow you to prepare all-sorts of espresso-based drinks. It will cost more, that’s for sure, but, on the other hand, you won’t have to set foot in a coffee-shop again!
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