December 15, 2008

Jura ENA-5 Super Automatic Espresso Machine Review

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The Jura Capresso ENA 5 is a super automatic coffee center that is big on performance with a smaller footprint both physically and energy-wise. The compact unit offers you the capabilities of the typical super auto in a smaller package giving you back a significant chunk of counter space. The ENA5 also has a zero energy switch that takes it down to a no power draw state. In am era when households have more and more appliances taking a trickle flow of electricity adding up to hundreds of kilowatt hours a year the zero energy state is a nice step in the other direction.

Like most people though I want pretty comparable performance out of this little wonder making few tradeoffs for the green advances and smaller footprint.

Jura ENA-5 Overview

The Jura ENA-5 at it's core offers a simple grind and brew espresso center that takes your whole bean of choice and creates a customized shot for you. Want a latte? That's just a couple of steps away with the express FrothXpress system. The small ena5 offers some big size benefits too with highly adjustable settings a bypass doser for using an alternate preground coffee ( think decaf ).

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The size difference of the ENA5 comes through a narrower and slight more shallow footprint. There are some design trade offs that make the narrow 9-inch footprint possible like a slightly smaller reservoir and a smaller grounds bin than I have seen on other units. In practice this amounts to some more frequent refills and empties but I think that the tradeoff is worth it. The 37- ounce capacity is reasonably large and took me through a few days between refills. Likewise the grounds bin was about equally matched and seemed to fill about the time the reservoir needs filling. If you have all the space I the world and hate regular maintenance like this go for a larger unit. I will say that they only downside here is that the reservoir is on the back of the machine making the refilling a bit harder if your unit is houses under a cabinet. Anyway, I think that Jura made some good design choices here giving the convenience of the smaller foot print while not sacrificing functionality. The overall dimensions are 17 x 9 x 14 (DxWxH).

Jura ENA 5 Functionality and Brewing

The controls for the ENA5 are centered in the one dial features prominently on the top of the unit. A quick turn allows you to dial strength differences into the unit if they deviate from your default settings. I left the default "Normal" and dialed it up to "Strong" before pushing the dial down to activate the brewing process. Grinder settings can be made in three settings while water adjustments can be made in half ounce increments from 1 to 16 ounces. I tend to keep the shots short so in practice the water refills ate days apart but recognize that if you are doing 16 ounce pours you will burn through that 37 ounce reservoir in no time.

If you want to dial up the size of the pour it's just a matter of turning the dial while the unit is dispensing your shot to get the different pour. I set the default to one ounce and on occasion dialed it up a bit depending on who I was making the latte or shot for.

The Dial controls take a bit to get used to , and it wasn't fun for the first few days. I dispensed more than one espresso on my way to adjusting something on the dial. After a couple of days though, the dial control was very easy to use and convenient.


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Steaming milk requires that you dial over to "Steam" on the unit, and let the heater come up to steaming temps before proceeding. After about 30 minutes, the ENA5 is ready, flip the front switch to the steaming position at "9 o'clock" and the FrothXPress siphons the milk out of a container/glass, and injects it right into your cup. I dial in the steam milk function for the first 2/3rds, then flip the adjustment switch up to froth the milk. Fairly easy and will steam/froth a good sized latte in about 30 seconds. I then dial up a strong espresso shot (actually two) and then hit the dial to dispense. The longest wait is for the unit to come up to temperature before steaming; the rest takes no time. The wait for steaming can take you a while if you are steaming then pulling shots and going back to steaming for a second latte. I would recommend steaming milk for two lattes then flip to the shots instead. Less waiting.


Cleaning and More

I am never the most diligent on cleaning these things, but the Jura ENA-5 makes things easy. The tray and grounds bin slide out to make the components there relatively easy to deal with, and rinse off. The outside wipes down with a damp cloth, and that's about it... except for the frother. I always run water through the frother before shutting down, to rinse the milk, and then once a week I pulled the whole apparatus off and let it soak in hot soapy water for a while before rinsing the heck out of it. It would sit in a soup bowl for a while to clean. Easy to do, not a bad thing once a week.


Grinder Adjustments

The bezel around the whole bean bin is actually the three position adjustment for the Jura ENA-5 grinder. For this review of the ENA-5, I started with not reading of the manual, and got the thing working pretty quickly. The icons showed a lighter bean for one setting and a darker bean for another setting at the end of the scale - I took this as the settings for strength of the brew, not the roast color of the bean. Jura's thoughts here is to grind darker roasted beans more coarsely, and lighter roasted beans more finely. I was originally disappointed in the body of the espresso shots I was getting, and when I figured out that I was grinding the coffee too coarsely, I set the unit to grind finely and was all set.

The logic here is that the dark roasted oily beans, don't need to be ground so finely to deliver the strength and that the oily grounds may hang up in the machine. I didn't see issues when I ground Italian Roast in the ENA5, but maybe Jura knows something I don't. I liked the added strength.

Jura ENA-3 vs. ENA-4 vs. ENA-5

The ENA-5 is the unit I have in for this review, and is the top of the ENA line; but the step down to the ENA-4 and ENA-3 are not big ones in terms of features. The ENA-5 comes with the FrothXpress system for automatic frothing. The ENA-5 also has a standard steaming nozzle that allows you to froth a pitcher of milk directly..... that configuration is the ENA-4 and ENA-3. The ENA-3/4 do not have the FrothXPress and come in different finishes. The other (minor) change is that the ENA-5 has the ability to have a single or double shot output, with an adjustable, rotating dispensing head. The ENA-3/4 are available in a dual spout set-up. Not a big deal in my mind. So, if you can handle the colors that the ENA-3 come in, don't mind frothing milk by hand, you can save about $300. For that perfect Ristretto Black look (that I really love) and the ability to froth directly to the cup, you will need to just on the ENA-5.

Review Summary

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The Jura Capresso ENA-5 is a big step forward in design for the Super Automatic category of espresso makers, and comes with a lot of features available to bigger brawnier units. The compression of the unit still delivers big machine results. There are a couple of hang-ups that pull the unit down in my mind; the dial controller takes a bit to get used to, making people second guess their purchase out of the box, something that a regular user will get over. It may impede infrequent users, but a little programming of the household's favorite drink makes this easy to overcome. The heating time, only about 30 seconds, from brew temperature to steaming temps seems to take longer, but a svelte machine may not fit the second boiler to dedicate to the steaming function.

On balance, the Jura ENA-5 is a great way to bring super automatic capabilities into your space starved kitchen, or just a smart way to save space and save money with it's innovative zero energy state feature.


More Information at the Jura Capresso Website

At Amazon - The Jura Capresso ENA-5 with FrothXPress, ENA-4, or the ENA-3






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Posted by Scott Martin at December 15, 2008 8:11 AM
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