The debate raged a year ago; which espresso machine to choose? And my narrowed-down choices couldn’t be more different; the Rancilio Silvia is a fully manual machine that relies heavily on the skill of the operator to make a great cup. The Jura Impressa E80 is fully automatic, and there’s little you need to or can do to alter your espresso in this machine.
Both get very positive reviews online in their respective classes. My decision was basically a simple one; did I want to work for my espresso each morning, or did I want is handed to me on a silver… shot glass?
The Rancilio costs about $700 new. It also, however, requires an expensive burr grinder to be able to finesse just the right coffee coarseness. I went with the very well-rated Baratza Vario, which itself retails for about $400. By comparison the Jura retails for about $1700 new (and up from there, and requires no special grinder, as it’s built right in.
In the end I went manual. Mainly because I want to learn how to make a great cup of coffee, and all the intricacies and factors that go into making it properly. I’m no coffee expert; save for knowing what I like and what I don’t, and occasionally being known to import coffee from my favourite California coffee house, Urth Caffe. Even being a novice, the Rancilio has been fantastic. While it’s a wee bit on the noisy side when pulling a shot, they’re always piping hot, and with the right bean and the right grind, the shots are always delicious with just the right amount of creamy crema. The water tank hold plenty for my needs, and the machine is easy to clean. The only downside if it can be considered one is that the machine is fincky. Many online reviews told me this and they’re correct. Heat, humidity, beans (roast, grind), tamping pressure and even time of year make figuring out what grind setting to use to get the beans just right a challenge. Once you’ve got it, you’re usually good; unless the weather changes drastically, then it’s back to the grinding board.
Now I didn’t mind this process so much because as I say I want to learn. But I have gone through a good amount of (fine, pricey) beans to get things just right.
So when I was able to pick up a used Jura Impresa E80 for a song, I snapped it up, figuring now would be the time to see if I was missing anything. If I elected not to keep it, I could always put it back on the block.
The Jura, as I say takes the human factor out of the espresso. While some things (grind, shot size, auto-off) are all somewhat adjustable, the Jura leaves little for the operator to do. At the push of a single button I get a fresh espresso, with beautiful crema.
The machine heats up quickly; within a minute it’s ready to go. With the hopper loaded with beans, there’s nothing to do but press a button for your mild/regular/strong espresso. The shots are pulled in seconds. This machine will be a major advantage when we’re having dinner parties. My biggest complaint about the Jura is I feel the water is not as hot as the Rancilio. With the Rancilio I’d need to leave the shot for a moment to cool before I could take that first sip. With the Jura, it’s at a drinkable temperature right away. This is where i find pre-heating the cups is very important or it cools off much too quickly.
On a bleary-eyed morning, there is some definite advantage to poking a button and ending up caffeinated quickly. But I do miss the process and the love-labour of the Rancillio. As a result, both are currently snuggling on my kitchen counter, much to my husband’s dismay. I’m still deciding who stays and who goes.
if you have any insight.. please post below. I could use some help!