Yep, the Barista Express isn’t just an elegant, well-built espresso machine – it also features a built-in grinder, allowing you to make coffee with beans you’ve smashed into dust literally seconds earlier. Freshness means a lot in the coffee world, so this is a Big Deal – as is the low-pressure pre-infusion of the grounds before the water is forced through them at higher 50 bar pressure.
As a home barista, you need to master all the above techniques to get the right espresso. If you make a little mistake you compromise your shot. As a result, you’ll get an average shot. Even if you know what it takes to get your shot right, there is very little room for error. Failed shots are pretty common with beginner baristas. You probably noticed in coffee shops that the shot differs from barista to barista.
That’s a pity because as auto-frothers go, it’s a very good one. The one thing we’re not so crazy about is the fact that you’ve got to run plastic tubing from your milk source (you have to provide your own, by the way – you do not get one when you purchase the machine) to the frothing arm, which makes your very expensive coffee machine look like a high school science project.
When the milk is finally steamed on the dual element system, the machine is ready to continue making more espresso shots. Keep in mind that if you choose to get a single element machine, you’ll need to wait five minutes so that the boiler can cool off naturally and then run hot water through the steam wand for ten seconds in order to purge the boiler of steam.
The machine is very nice looking in person, very sleek. The instruction manual is pretty sparse on details. It has enough, but it's a little intimidating for a first time user. I took my time and found out that the programming is very user friendly and easy to use. I have ours on our counter with a cabinet overhead. When I fill water reservoir I do pull the machine a bit forward because the reservoir is deep and you have to lift it straight up. It's easy to do but you need a bit of clearance. The bean hopper is in the back, so I pull the machine forward a bit to fill that, as well. Very easy to do. One thing I wanted in the J9 was the option to use a water filter. I have hard water from our tap, and had been filling our DeLonghi from our filtered refrigerator dispenser, but that was cumbersome. With the Jura filter I can fill the deep reservoir right in the little bar sink I have next to the machine. I tested the water before and after, and the Jura filter definitely works to reduce hardness, which is important in keeping the machine free from mineral scale buildup. I think it will be well worth the expense of replacing the filters. It came with one filter and a couple of descaling tabs, which I have not had to use yet.
You don’t really need to be a coffee connoisseur to be able to prepare your own drinks with this coffee machine. There are recipes for 12 coffee creations which you can select with the rotary switch. The machine uses images and texts to guide users through the preparation stages. You can prepare coffee choices such as Irish coffee, flavored latte macchiato, Viennese coffee, and Café Melange, amongst others. In addition, this coffee machine is also self cleaning to eliminate any excuses when it comes to making speciality coffee at home.