An espresso machine is a machine designed to brew coffee by forcing boiling water through fine coffee powder. An espresso coffee is usually taken with rich, creamy foam. Very often the espresso coffee is the base for many different types of coffee such as macchiato, café latte, café Americano, etc. Compared to all the different kinds of coffee, the espresso coffee has more caffeine as it is served in small quantities.
You can also make milky or foamed coffees, thanks to a tube that can be placed in a milk jug (or Panasonic’s own optional “Milktank” accessory). Or just have the machine squirt out hot water for tea-making. You can also tweak the amount of coffee, water and milk, and the temperature before a drink is made, and save up to four of these combinations on the machine as personal favourites.
These machines and their respective technologies will serve you well, no matter what it is you are looking for. Keep in mind that with all their features and functionality, more expensive machines are almost always going to fall on the side of excessive for casual users. Because of this and their high cost, you may want to pick a few features that stand out to you and forgo the unnecessary frills.
“My wife and I love this espresso maker. It makes a wonderful and hot espresso, cappuccino and coffee. It is easy to use as well as maintain daily and seems fairly foolproof for me. Love that Jura has added so many automated reminders and safety features to keep it easily running in tip-top shape. My only knock on it is that the milk frother does not get the milk foam quite hot enough. Drinks requiring a bit more milk (e.g., latte macchiato) tend to cool the overall drink down a bit too much for our tastes.” - Edmond, Amazon User
Aside from the display, another feature of the Jura Impressa F8 that is worth mentioning is the Expert Mode. As the name suggests, this feature is ideal for coffee connoisseurs as it allows changing or adjusting the settings for all drinks programmed on the machine. It also gives users the option of adjusting the volume of the shot once it starts to brew.
Edit - 01/15/2015: Eight and a half years later, this gem is still cranking out great coffee. I had it serviced by the wonderful folks at CoffeeBoss in Cornelius, NC last year, and it's still going strong with a cup count of 9,922. The brew group is not user serviceable, so occasional maintenance should be expected. I use distilled water (at the cost of flavor, I know) now that I'm back in the city on municipal water, so I don't need or use the Clearyl filter (I recommend it for tap/well water, though), and I do use a cleaning tablet within 5-10 cups of when it starts asking for it on the LED display.
The large water tank and grounds container allow you to produce large quantities of coffee at a time, making this system ideal for office settings or large gatherings. Two thermo-block heating systems ensure temperature control, while a precision burr grinder with 6 settings allows you ultimate control over your the coarseness of your coffee grounds.
Let’s take making a cappuccino with the Jura, for example. Instead of having to froth your milk manually, the Jura will froth the milk for you and layer it into your cappuccino perfectly. Forget having to clean a separate canister and frother; it’s all done for you right within the machine. The Jura can even tackle more complicated drinks such as a latte macchiato. The Jura will lay down a layer of foam on the bottom of your cup, add coffee, and finish it off with a perfect layer of foam on top creating a truly authentic latte macchiato.
The first thing you’ll probably notice when making your coffee is just how quiet the Giga 5 is. This is thanks to the two ceramic disk grinders that occupy each side of the unit and operate just above a whisper. These discs will probably never wear our and the grind on them is extremely precise and always consistent. It offers 18 completely customizable specialty drinks through the intuitive and easy to navigate display which provide enough variety to satisfy everyone’s tastes.
From the outside, the Giga 5 looks attractive. It has a color TFT (thin film transistor) LCD screen display on the top front and center, with a stylish aluminum chassis with black plastic sides. This unit will definitely enhance the look of any kitchen. There’s a dedicated hot water spout at the front of the machine plus a couple of adjustable spouts for making coffee. Located on top of the unit you will find on/off buttons, a program button, and a rotary switch that is key to navigating the Giga’s menu.