Jura S8 Review: Compact Automatic Coffee Machine
Swiss brand Jura is never one to rest on its laurels. Jura adds new technology and expands its product lines in new directions each year.
A recent addition to the roster is the Jura S8, a mid-premium super-automatic espresso machine. With a compact footprint and advanced colour touchscreen, it's designed to fill the gap between large and expensive premium machines and smaller, more affordable mid-level models.
Does it achieve this task? Is it a best of both worlds situation or something less than the sum of its parts? How does it compare to the best-selling Jura E8? We'll answer those questions and more in this detailed Jura S8 review.
Summary : The Jura S8 Automatic Coffee Machine
- Swiss-made fully automatic coffee and espresso machine with milk frothing system
- 15 pre-programmed speciality drinks plus endless customisation options
- 11-cm full colour touchscreen display makes it intuitive to use
Love the level of customization available and the ease of the touch screen display…overall very satisfied with this machine and would recommend without hesitation.– Jennifer B
The Full Jura S8 Review
The Jura S8 is a relatively new addition to the brand's line of super-automatic coffee machines (1). It is designed to fill the space (both in terms of price and performance) between the very popular mid-level Jura E8 and the upper-end Jura Giga and Z lines. Jura calls this new market segment “mid-premium,” and the S8 is its flagship coffee machine.
So without further ado, let’s get going on this Jura S8 review and see if it deserves a place among the best Jura coffee machine models.
Design – 4.5/5
Swiss-made Jura machines are considered some of the top automatic espresso machines. They are well known for their design, both for their quality and aesthetics. The S8 delivers on this reputation. It's a beautiful machine, and it keeps the clean lines and modern look the brand is known for. Jura S8 is available in three different finishes, priced about $100 apart: piano black (the cheapest), midnight silver, and chrome (the most expensive).
The Jura S8 coffee machine has a few high-quality accents that you might overlook in photos, but that will strike you once you get this machine up and running. The chrome-plated cup grill on the drip tray and subtle grooved lines on the water tank are stylish additions. But it's the details that add to the quality that we appreciate more.
The handle of the water reservoir is metal, not plastic – a common breaking point in cheaper machines. The lid of the bean hopper is made from heavy die-cast zinc. This makes it durable, but the added weight means you get an excellent seal for keeping your beans fresh, and the volume of the grinder is muffled.
This coffee machine has a compact design, part of its appeal. The concept of the S line is to offer the key features of the larger models but in the smaller footprint of the E line. It measures 28 cm wide by 34.5 cm high by 44.5 cm deep, making it easy to keep under upper cupboards. The 1.9-L water reservoir is removable via the front or the side in a particularly nice touch. So even if you are keeping this machine under upper cupboards, there's no need to slide it out to remove the water tank from the top like most other espresso machines.
Jura S8 Display
Let's get to the best part: the display! The 11 cm full-colour touchscreen display is the “premium” part of this mid-premium coffee machine, making this model a joy to use. There's just no comparison versus the smaller and more basic T.F.T. display on the E8.
If you’re used to using a smartphone, operating the Jura S8 will be completely intuitive.
Swipe through to see colour images of all available drinks, and customize each using sliders. Fun graphics and animations guide you through brewing and maintenance tasks. You can also optionally connect to this machine using Bluetooth and run it via Jura's J.O.E. app on your phone. Preparing a great-tasting coffee or milky drink can be as simple as saying, “Siri, make me a flat white.”
All these design features make the Jura S8 a Red Dot Design Award winner in 2018, with the jury stating that it “gains merit with a contrasting, high-value design and a very self-explanatory user interface (2).”
Brewing System – 4/5
Every drink prepared by the Jura S8 uses freshly ground coffee beans, thanks to the integrated burr grinder. This prominent feature distinguishes fully automatic espresso machines from capsule brewers like Nespresso, making a huge difference. You can't compete with the coffee flavour of freshly ground beans. Ask Ken Selby, former U.S. Cup Tasters Competition winner (3).
“The experiential difference that you’re going to find [using pre-ground coffee] is two things. Aroma and acidity will be very minimized compared to if it was ground fresh”
The Jura S8 uses the AromaG3 grinder. This is the brand's latest generation of coffee grinders, and it improves on previous versions by being both quieter and twice as fast. The bean hopper can hold up to 11 ounces, and as I already mentioned, the hefty lid and quality gasket mean that you can keep it topped up without worrying about your beans going stale.
There is also a bypass chute that skips the grinder if you want to use pre-ground coffee beans. This is nice if you like to brew an occasional cup of decaf, sample a different roast, or enjoy a flavoured coffee.
The Jura S8 is also equipped with the patented Pulse Extraction Process coffee brewing system, followed by the clever acronym P.E.P. The P.E.P. uses pulses of hot water, rather than a steady stream, to optimize extraction in the shorter drinks (espresso, ristretto) and create barista-quality coffee (4). When Jura first introduced the Pulse Extraction Process, you'd find it only on the top-end models, but it proved so popular that Jura has found a way to make it available in all their coffee machines.
The Jura S8 has some excellent environmentally friendly features, including an auto-off mode and a Zero-Energy Switch. The former is programmable from 30 minutes to 9 hours, and the latter means that the machine draws zero power when not in use. And, of course, opting for freshly ground coffee rather than coffee pods keeps the used capsules out of landfills.
Coffee Quality and Versatility – 4/5
Super-automatic coffee machines aren't generally known for their coffee quality. Coffee geeks will be quick to point out that they can't match the skills of a trained professional barista, and that is undeniably true. But with technology like automatic pre-infusion and the Pulse Extraction Process, Jura does better than most in achieving barista-quality drinks, with no training required (5).
Another reason Jura coffee quality tends to exceed that of the other brands is that it allows for higher dosing. You can brew with up to 16 grams of coffee at a time, a difference in the cup. This is especially valuable if you enjoy milky drinks, as lower-dose espresso shots can get lost in all that dairy.
The Jura S8 has 15 pre-programmed speciality coffees of the sort you find at coffee shops, all available at the touch of a button.
There are the black drinks, each of which can be made in duplicate: Ristretto, Espresso, Coffee. Then there are the milk-based drinks: Cappuccino, Caffè Latte, Espresso Macchiato, Latte Macchiato, and Flat White. And finally, the non-coffee drinks: Milk Foam, Warm Milk, Hot Water, and Hot Water for Green Tea.
However, what is even more exciting than the pre-programmed options is the degree to which each is customizable. You can change the coffee volume for every drink, choose between ten coffee strength settings, and adjust between 3 brewing temperatures. You can also control the milk volume and texture. You can create, name, and save up to 15 custom coffee recipes using these options.
Want a strong, extra-hot caffe latte with a bit of extra milk froth? With the easy-to-use touch screen, you're just a few swipes away!
The Jura S8 coffee maker uses the HP3 professional fine foam frother for milk texturing, found only on the brand's higher-end models. This milk system uses Fine Foam Technology to produce silky smooth, frothed milk, but it also includes a manual adjustment lever that lets you control the hot milk texture from creamy milk foam to airy froth (6).
Depending on what drink you're making, the Jura S8 has two different coffee spout systems. The middle of the machine sports a double spout for preparing espresso, ristretto, and coffee. So for these three drinks, you can prepare either one or two at a time. Milk-based drinks are prepared on the machine's right using a single spout, so you can only make one at a time. But the same spout does produce both coffee and frothed milk, so there is no need to move your cup.
You can quickly move the milk spouts up and down to accommodate different mug sizes in both cases. The milk spout can go higher, up to 15 cm, making sense for fitting taller latte glasses.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 3/5
There are pros and cons to owning and maintaining a Jura coffee machine. On the pro side, these coffee makers are virtually foolproof. As you might expect from such a high-tech, fully automatic coffee machine, the colour display alerts you to all necessary upkeep. It tells you when the water tank is empty, when the coffee grounds bin is full, when the hopper is out of beans, and when cleaning cycles are required.
The Jura S8 coffee maker also uses the Jura CLEARYL smart filters equipped with RFID tags. This intelligent water system allows the machine to monitor the status of both the filters and the water itself. It will let you know when the water filter needs replacement, and provided you perform this upkeep as required; you should never need to descale – a big win.
So what's the downside? The cost. Jura coffee machines don't come apart for easy cleaning.
In many more affordable brands, the brew group is removable so that you can give it a quick rinse with water after the brewing process. Not the Jura. To clean the brew group, you need to purchase Jura cleaning tablets and run a cleaning cycle. Likewise, many espresso machines run an automatic jet of hot steam through the milk system after frothing to sterilize it. Not the Jura. You need to perform a nightly rinse with a Jura cleaning solution. These tasks aren't complex because they're all automated, but they can become tiresome and add product costs.
Value for Money – 2.5/5
How you feel about the value of the Jura S8 super-automatic coffee machine will come down to how you feel about a touch screen. If we consider the Jura E8 vs S8, the S8 is essentially the E8 with the addition of the 11 cm touchscreen display. And some minor features like monitoring the status of the bean hopper.
These two coffee makers are the same size, both use the H3 milk frother, P.E.P. extraction, and AromaG3 grinder, and the E8 has two more pre-programmed speciality drinks. But the Jura S8 is about $500 more expensive. Is it worth it? It's all in the screen.
If a touchscreen doesn't excite you, check out this Jura E8 review.
You also may want to budget for some add-ons. The Jura S8 uses a milk siphon system, which draws frothing from a separate container. In many ways, this is a practical design compared to a built-in milk carafe. For example, it makes it much easier to switch milks in an era when milk can come from a cow, almond, oat, etc. Jura sells a popular refrigerated milk carafe to accompany this system, which you can keep out on the counter without the milk spoiling, but it is pricey. They also offer a more basic milk container designed to be stored in the fridge between uses.
A nice thing about Jura coffee machines, which I would say is true of very few other automatic coffee machines, is that they are so well made you can often find refurbished models at discounted prices. This is an excellent option if you're concerned about budget. The refurbished machines might have some scuffs or scratches, but they're all certified to be in perfect working order, and Juras can easily last upward of a decade when cared for properly.
Don’t Buy the Jura S8 If…
- You’re on a tight budget: Jura is one of the more premium brands in the super automatic espresso machine market. You’re paying for their Swiss manufacture, the fancy patented technology inside, and the sleek exterior.
If you prefer to spend less on a more basic machine that still makes delicious coffee, consider the Italian brand Gaggia. They've been in the game and made some great models. Read our Gaggia Brera review for an entry-level option, or check out the Gaggia Anima Prestige review for something more high-end. Both are less than a third of the Jura S8 price.
- You need a larger capacity: Whether you're looking for an office coffee machine or just have a big family of coffee lovers, if the compact footprint of the S8 doesn't appeal, you're going to want to upgrade to one of Jura's higher-end models.
Take a look at our Jura Giga W3 review. It’s not cheap, but this monster of an espresso machine has 43 pre-programmed drinks and a 169-ounce water reservoir. Guaranteed to do good things for office morale!
- You don’t want a fully automatic espresso machine: If reading this review has left you considering an automatic or semi-automatic espresso machine that lets you showcase your barista skills, there are many great options for about the same price as the Jura S8.
Check out the ever-popular Profitec Pro 600 for a high-end double boiler option. Or consider a more basic double boiler like the Lelit Elizabeth, which will leave enough money in your pocket to invest in a quality grinder.
The Jura S8 is an excellent super-automatic espresso machine. Its performance and coffee quality are on par with the top Jura espresso machines. And thanks to the inclusion of a colour touchscreen display, it's the easiest to use of all the compact Jura coffee machines.
If ease of use is a priority, you'll find great value in this machine. However, if you are willing to forgo the touch screen, the Jura E8 will provide the same espresso and milk-based coffee beverages at a lower price.
- PR Newswire. (2018, July 25). JURA Debuts the Award-Winning S8 – First Premium Mid-Range Automatic Coffee Machine with Touchscreen Technology. Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/jura-debuts-the-award-winning-s8–first-premium-mid-range-automatic-coffee-machine-with-touchscreen-technology-300685793.html
- Red Dot Design Awards. (2018). S8 Fully Automatic Coffee Maker. Retrieved from https://www.red-dot.org/project/s8-22462-22461
- Marulanda, C. (2018, December 17). Is Pre-Ground Coffee Ever Better Than Freshly Ground? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/12/is-pre-ground-coffee-ever-better-than-freshly-ground/
- Aloe, R.M. (2020, March 21). Pressure Pulsing for Better Espresso. Retrieved from https://towardsdatascience.com/pressure-pulsing-for-better-espresso-62f09362211d
- Joseph, H. (2019, December 10). Longtime Espresso Pro Michael Teahan on Pre-Infusion, the Problem with SO, and Much More. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2019/12/10/longtime-espresso-pro-michael-teahan-on-pre-infusion-the-problem-with-so-and-much-more/
- Jayson, C. (2015, July 21). The Science of Steamed Milk: Understanding Your Latte Art. Retrieved from https://www.discovermagazine.com/health/the-science-of-steamed-milk-understanding-your-latte-art