Jura Capresso Impressa Z5

You’ve seen it from afar. You’ve ogled it, you’ve drooled over it, you’ve heard the cute little "making cappuccino into a ’just press one button’ affair" tag line, and now you’ve decided to learn more about it. You’re reading the right article. Allow us to introduce the Jura Capresso Impressa Z5.

The Z5 isn’t your run of the mill super automatic espresso machine. It goes one step further than the standard one-touch grind, tamp, and brew system and adds the essential step of steaming and frothing milk into the mix. And Capresso didn’t just keep the long list of features that have made their name synonymous with luxury; they added a few more. Features like being able to program the display name for each brewing button and a laser beam that acts as a low level bean sensor are, for lack of a better phrase, super cool. Folks, this is one of those gadgets you’re going to want to do full infomercial-style demos on when your friends come over.

It Slices, it Dices, it Juliennes Fries…

Okay, so here’s the short version. The Jura Capresso Impressa Z5 has: a wavy silver front panel with chrome and black accents, 2 stainless-steel lined thermoblock boilers; a bypass doser; 2 brewing centers; 5 brewing buttons that can be programmed for liquid volume, strength, and temperature in 2 different ways; an auto frother; a 32 oz. thermal milk container; the ability to brew a cappuccino from start to finish after pressing only one button and never moving your cup; one touch menu access; a central illuminated brewing area; a red-on-black digital display; the Clearyl Water Filtration system; the ability to rename the on and off messages as well as the display name for any brewing button; 5 display languages; a super-quiet, insulated conical burr grinder; a laser beam bean level sensor; 6 grind settings; a rotary dial that allows you to override any programmable brewing options during brewing; a 96 oz water reservoir; a 10 oz bean hopper; auto on; auto shut off; a battery back up that will keep the Z5’s clock running for up to 8 weeks; and a preset memory that saves all of your programming options in case the machine loses power. Ahem. And that’s just a quick look at all the things this machine can do - we didn’t even touch on any of the preprogrammed cleaning cycles, the smart dump box, or the hosts of other features you get with an Impressa Z5. Now let’s have a look at the nitty-gritty.

O Cappuccino, My Cappuccino

We’ll start by going through the process of making a cappuccino, which is quite arguably the Z5’s main attraction. Before you start, you’ll obviously need to fill the water reservoir and bean hopper, but you’ll also need to fill the included thermal milk container and attach the tubing that runs out of it to the left-mounted auto frother. Then make sure that the dial on the auto frother is turned to the correct selection - upright for cappuccinos (frothing and steaming) or center for lattes (steaming only). The auto frother, which has a separate coffee dispensing nozzle connected to it in the rear, comes with two different dispensing attachments - one long and one short - to accommodate almost any size mug or cup. Just attach the dispensing nozzle you’ve selected (a pretty much plug-n-play process), place your cup under it, and you’re ready to go.

Out of the 8 buttons on the control panel - 4 to the left of the digital display and 4 to the right - the cappuccino button is the second from the left side of the machine. Simply press the button and the machine will draw milk from the thermal container, froth and/or steam it, and dispense it into your cup while the machine goes to work grinding beans for the espresso portion of your drink. After the steamed or frothed milk is finished dispensing into your cup, freshly brewed espresso is added to the mix and a few seconds later, your cappuccino is complete.

The cappuccino button is programmable for the amount of milk that is added (by the number of seconds you want the machine to perform this operation) as well as the amount of espresso (by ounces) that is dispensed, and the strength and temperature of the brew. You program these options by entering the menu through the rotary dial on the top of the machine. If you decide to change the amount of milk and volume of espresso on the fly (which you can do simply by turning the rotary dial during these processes), you don’t even have to worry about losing your presets - the machine will default to the programmed values for this button after that cycle is complete. And no matter if you decide to program the button or change things mid-cycle, the Jura Capresso Z5’s snappy red-on-black LCD display shows you exactly what amounts you’re changing from and to.

Some Like it Hot

Okay, so the cappuccino feature is pretty spiffy, but sometimes the simplicity of espresso is what you crave. Luckily, the Z5 is well equipped for this task. There are actually 5 different buttons on the Z5’s control panel that allow you to brew without automatically adding steamed or frothed milk: the 4 buttons on the right side of the LCD display (1 cup espresso, 2 cups espresso, 1 cup coffee, and 2 cups coffee) and the special coffee button, which sits to the right of the cappuccino button. The 4 buttons on the right will cause espresso to be dispensed from the central brewing station on the machine, whereas pressing the special coffee button results in espresso being dispensed from the cappuccino brewing station. When you’re using either of the 2-cup buttons, the display shows how much liquid volume will be dispensed per cup, so keep in mind that what is dispensed from the machine will actually be twice the amount that is displayed.

Each of the brewing buttons is fully programmable for liquid volume (from 1 to 16 oz.), strength (extra mild, mild, normal, strong, and extra strong), and temperature (low, medium, and high). These buttons can be programmed by using either the rotary dial menu or by holding down the button you’d like to program until "Enough?" appears on the display. When the amount you desire has been dispensed, simply press the button again to save your selection. And like the cappuccino button, you can override these settings during the grinding and brewing processes by turning the rotary dial. The fact that you can program these buttons individually is not only revolutionary in the super automatic realm, but is a great feature for households with more than one coffee drinker. And complementing this capability is the ability to reprogram the display name for each button, so when Sally (who likes 4 oz of coffee at mild strength and low temperature) presses Larry’s button (he likes hot, 2 oz strong espressos), she’ll know immediately that she pressed the wrong button when "Larry" pops up on the display screen. And all she’ll need to do is press the rotary button to stop the brewing process (this also works during the steaming and frothing processes) and start again using the correct button.

Things are Getting Hot & Steamy

The Jura Z5 also offers the capability to steam and/or froth milk independently of the cappuccino feature. You can use this to top off multiple espressos, make steamers, or take Capresso’s yummy suggestion and steam chocolate milk with it. Before you start, just make sure the selector knob on the auto frother is in either the steaming or frothing position and then go ahead and press the steam/froth button (the farthest to the left). This button can be programmed as well, but is programmed to continue for a certain amount of time rather than stopping after a certain amount of milk that has been pulled through. This is slightly counterintuitive and it will take a few tries to program the button to the precise amount you’d like, but you can still stop the process at any time by pressing the rotary button.

Unlike the steaming/frothing button, the hot water button is programmable by liquid volume. When the hot water button is pressed, the machine will dispense the programmed amount (from 1 to 16 oz of water) from the dedicated hot water wand located to the right of the central brewing station. This button is programmed the same way as the coffee brewing buttons.

What’s on the Menu Tonight?

In addition to being able to program the liquid volume, temperature, and strength of each of the coffee brewing buttons, the Z5’s menu offers a lot of other options as well. From the menu, you have the fairly standard abilities to set the level of your water hardness or enable the Clearyl Water Filtration System, set the display language, and view how many cups have been brewed with the machine. But this Jura Capresso espresso machine also allows you to set the time and program when the machine will power on, program it to turn off after up to 5 hours, activate energy savings, and change the display to read in either milliliters or ounces. You can also rename any of the display names that appear for the brewing buttons and even change the messages that are displayed on start up and shut down.

Staying Clean

Using the Clearyl Water Filtration System makes light work of cleaning and maintenance. Once you’ve activated the system through the menu, the machine will simply notify you when the filter needs to be changed. If you decide not to use the filtration system, you’ll just need to set the level of your water hardness in the Z5’s menu, so it can calculate how many cups can be brewed before the machine needs to be descaled. And descaling is pretty easy too - just follow the instructions as they’re displayed on the LCD screen and you’ll be fine. The machine will also alert you when cleaning cycles need to be run, which again, simply involves following directions.

As far as day-to-day maintenance is concerned, there are only a few things you’ll need to take care of, and the Z5 reminds you to do most of them. 10 minutes after you use the steam/froth option or use the cappuccino button, the machine will display a message indicating that you should clean the frothing attachment. This involves turning the knob on the auto frother to the cleaning position (down) and pressing the rinse button, which lights up for easy identification. If you’d like, you can activate a cappuccino rinse cycle manually immediately after brewing rather than waiting for the machine to prompt you, but the reminder is nice for us forgetful folk. You’ll also need to empty the dump box of spent grounds and empty the drip tray when it becomes full. Because the dump box slides out when the drip tray is removed, Capresso designed the machine’s internal counter to reset itself when the dump box is removed and replaced. For this reason, you’ll want to empty the dump box every time you remove the drip tray.

The Finale

The Z5 is one of the, if not the, most advanced super automatic espresso machines available for the home user. As if the one-touch cappuccino feature weren’t enough to catapult the Z5 to this status, Capresso added so many other exciting tidbits that the Z5’s standing can hardly be argued. This is truly an exceptional machine and an amazing sign of things to come.

Purchase a Jura Capresso Impressa Z5.

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