Jura’s top-of-the-line offering is a masterwork, and custom made for large quantity brewing.
Recommended for: Power coffee drinkers and large households, primarily, but this machine can even stand up to the rigors of being used in a busy office setting. Not recommended for casual users or hobbyists.
Table of Contents
- 1 An Overview of the Jura GIGA 5 Espresso Brewer
- 2 Surprisingly Easy to Use and Clean
- 3 Pros & Cons of the Jura GIGA 5 Coffee Maker
- 4 Jura GIGA 5 Review Conclusion
An Overview of the Jura GIGA 5 Espresso Brewer
Are you a power coffee drinker? The kind of person who can be spotted throughout the course of any given day with a cup-in-hand, like Gibbs on NCIS? Are you a member of a large household, or a member of a busy, high-traffic office?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you’re going to love our extended Jura Giga 5 review. This super automatic espresso maker does it all.
It’s expensive, so its high price tag will put it out of the reach of a big segment of the market, and it offers such a high capacity that it’s excessive for casual drinkers. For the right person though, this machine is a dream come true.
It’s not perfect, and we do have a few issues with it, but we think you’ll agree if you’re looking for a high-volume machine with all the bells and whistles, this one’s hard to beat!
We’ll go over everything this machine can do, and point out its (very few) limitations, so you’ll have all the information you need to decide if it’s a good fit for your home and your lifestyle, and having said that, let’s get right to it!
Form Factor, Footprint, and Aesthetic
The first thing you’ll notice about this machine is its sheer size. It’s a monster, measuring 20” x 17” x13” and weighing in at 40 pounds. This isn’t a machine designed for families who have limited countertop space, or low clearance between their counters and cabinets.
The second thing you’ll notice is its vaguely industrial appearance. This looks a lot like the kind of machine you’d see in a coffee shop. It’s not quite industrial grade, but it comes close, and with its rugged, all-business appearance, you know just by looking at it that this machine can take nearly anything you can dish out.
Dressed in silver, owing to its mixed stainless steel and ABS plastic construction, and featuring black highlights, the machine is certainly not unattractive, but its industrial appearance may not work in every home kitchen. It’s not unattractive, it’s just all business, and if your kitchen décor is fun and playful, it will look a bit out of place.
The first question we tend to ask about any new machine we review is “how big is the water tank?” That matters a great deal to us, because we’re power drinkers, and tend to be biased in favor of machines with high capacity tanks.
The Giga 5 does not disappoint, featuring a top-loading, side-mounted tank that holds a whopping 87 ounces! Needless to say, this got two thumbs way up from us, right off the bat. We love it.
When you buy your machine, you’ll also get a filter for the tank. Using the filter is optional, and has some advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, using it means that you’ll have less periodic maintenance to attend to, as it virtually eliminates the need for descaling.
That’s certainly a plus because few people enjoy performing routine maintenance, but the big downside is that the filters are quite expensive, and over time, the $20-$25 a month you spend on replacements will add up, and significantly increase your total cost of ownership.
Plus, there are other ways you can get around the need to descale. You may, for instance, already have a filter on the tap at your kitchen sink, in which case, using a second one in the machine is redundant. Even if you don’t, using distilled water will accomplish the same goal for less money.
Whichever way you decide to go, the machine will function just fine, so ultimately it comes down to personal preference and whatever’s most convenient for you.
Two Integrated Grinders!
A lot of other Jura Giga 5 coffee machine reviews you’ll see online make a big deal of this, and rightly so. It has not one, but two top-loading bean hoppers which look a bit like a pair of glass bowls sitting atop the machine.
These hoppers hold 9.8 ounces of beans each, which gives you a total capacity of 19.6 ounces. More than a pound. That’s huge, both literally and figuratively, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a super-automatic espresso machine designed for home use that can match the Giga 5 on capacity.
The two hoppers open the door to all sorts of exciting possibilities which we’ll talk about in detail in a later section. For the moment though, we just want to draw your attention to their overall capacity.
In addition to being generously-sized, we’re also quite pleased with the synergy between the bean hoppers and the size of the water tank.
One problem we’ve seen on some machines is the fact that there’s often a size mismatch, where a model will offer a large water reservoir, paired with a small bean hopper, or vice versa. This invariably forces you to stop what you’re doing at regular intervals to refill one or the other, which gets annoying quickly. Thankfully, that’s not a problem the Giga 5 suffers from!
Moving on from here, the hoppers are connected to not one, but two independently operated conical ceramic burr grinders, both with five grind settings. There are things we love about this, and things we’re less than impressed about.
On the plus side, having two grinders is amazing, and again, opens up to all sorts of crazy possibilities we’ll talk about in detail later here in our Jura Giga 5 review. The fact that they are both ceramic is another big win, because stainless steel burrs heat up when they’re used, and can sometimes burn your grounds. If that happens, good luck trying to choke down the coffee you made with burnt grounds. It’s going to taste nasty, and then some.
On the flip side though, we’re mystified that Jura only opted to put five grind settings on a machine like this. The industry standard is six, and you can find machines that cost a fraction of what the Giga 5 does that offer 12, 13, or even 18 different grind settings.
The reason the number of grind settings matters is that even small changes in the way you grind your beans can lead to surprising and dramatic variations in the flavor of the coffee you brew with them. The more settings you’ve got available to you, the more you can zero in on your precise flavor preferences.
Five is a reasonably good number, but everyone’s tastes and preferences are different, and that’s just not enough options and flexibility to allow you to really dial your preferred flavor in. We were underwhelmed.
Two Final Notes:
- First, the Giga 5 does come with a one-scoop bypass doser for those times when you just don’t want the whole “beans to brew” experience, which is a great convenience feature.
- Second, and this isn’t something that’s particular to the Jura Giga 5 espresso brewer, but holds true for super-automatics in general. They don’t play well together with oily beans, which tend to clog the grinders. Not good. For best results, find a nice Medium Roast you enjoy.
The Boiler System
As you might expect on a machine that has two bean hoppers and two grinders, the Giga 5 also comes with two aluminum boilers lined with stainless steel. Both boilers feature Thermoblock technology for rapid heating, which cuts down on the time it takes for the boilers to get up to operating temperature.
The primary benefit of a double boiler system is speed. In machines with a single boiler, you’ve got to wait for the unit to adjust the temperature when it switches from steaming milk to brewing coffee.
If you’re only a casual drinker, that wait time’s not so bad, but if you’re making drinks throughout the day, then it can add up quickly. Sure, you pay a premium for the added speed, but the ability to simultaneously brew coffee and steam milk is outstanding.
Telescoping Coffee Spigots
Most (but not all) super-automatic espresso makers feature telescoping spigots that move up and down to accommodate a variety of cup sizes, but even on a small feature like this, the Giga 5 takes it to the next level.
Not only do the coffee spigots slide up and down in a range that will accommodate cups from 2.5” to 6” tall, but they also have a butterfly action that gives them more separation to account for wide-mouthed cups, which is fantastic.
In addition to that, on the left-hand side of the machine, the dedicated hot water spigot moves up and down in a similar range and extends the functionality of the machine to hot chocolate, tea, and other specialty drinks. Kudos to Jura for an exceptional feature implementation here!
The Brew Unit and Control System
This is the heart and soul of all super-automatic machines, and the Giga 5 is no exception. It is exceptional, however, utilizing cutting edge technology and organizing the controls in such a way that the whole system is quite intuitive.
The center of the control system is a TFT (Thin Film Transistor) display, which Jura makes good use of.
The key advantage to this and LCD technology is that it makes it possible to create more complex menus and make them easy to navigate. One thing you’ll find on older models that rely on a simple LED display is that it can feel as though the technology is actively working against you, and navigating is much harder than it needs to be. That’s certainly not the case here!
Make no mistake, given how many features this machine offers, and how many elements you can adjust and change, there is a learning curve here, but if you can master the use of your smartphone, then the Giga 5 won’t present any particular challenge.
To start with, you can access all the usual system options: change language, restore to factory defaults, access the automated cleaning menu to run periodic rinse cycles, set the date and time, and adjust the auto-shutoff timer to taste.
In addition to that though, you can do something that not many machines allow. For each day of the week, you can program a custom auto-start time so that the machine turns itself on and is heated up and ready to go when you stumble to it first thing in the morning looking for your coffee fix. We love this feature!
Second, the main screen can be customized, and you can put the six drinks you order most frequently on the front panel, where they can be made with one-touch simplicity, but the Giga 5 offers much more than just six drinks.
There’s a control dial on the top of the device, and turning it will cycle you through all 29 of the drinks this model can produce. Granted, some of these are merely double shots of the more popular drinks, so you get things like:
And the like, but you also get access to more exotic creations like a “Pepresso” (espresso made with chocolate and black pepper as garnishes), Irish coffee, and so on. In other words, it’s like having your very own world-class Barista living in your kitchen and ready to serve you any specialty coffee drink you can imagine, any time, day or night!
Regarding customization, you can tweak:
It gets even better though. Remember earlier, when we mentioned that the two bean hoppers and two grinders opened up all sorts of crazy possibilities? Well, here’s where we explain that.
You can order your coffee from either grinder, or you can create a split shot, ordering your drink using 25% beans from one grinder, 75% from the other, or 50% from each, allowing you to create custom blends to try out.
Load one side with decaf and create a “Half Caf” drink at the touch of a button. Or half Kona, half something else. They sky’s the limit here. Anything you can imagine, you can test in combination. It’s a thing of beauty, and it’s our favorite aspect of the Giga 5 because it gives you customization options that other machines just can’t match.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Giga 5 also comes with two separate brewing chambers, so you can order and brew two different drinks at the same time! While it’s true that this isn’t (quite) an industrial grade machine, this feature certainly makes it feel like it is.
As to the brew unit, as with all other Jura machines, it’s fixed. You can’t take it out for a periodic cleaning, so about once a week, you’ll want to pop in a cleansing tab as part of your routine maintenance, which makes this aspect of it hands-free.
The brew unit features a pump rated at fifteen bars, which is excellent, but to explain why it’s good, we need to take a moment to explain how espresso is made.
If you’ve been around the world of specialty coffee drinks for a while, then you probably already know this, so just skip to the next section, but if not, read on:
Unlike drip-brew coffee machines, which rely on gravity to get coffee from the brew chamber to your cup, espresso machines use pressure. Pressure is rated in bars, and one bar is equal to atmospheric pressure at sea level.
It takes at least nine bars of pressure to make a good espresso, and the Giga 5’s pump is capable of producing more than that, which means that you won’t have any trouble pulling exceptional shots with this machine.
The Milk Frothing System
Overall, we’re fans of the Giga 5’s milk frothing system, although we have a few quibbles about it.
Coffee purists may not like it because it uses an auto-frother, rather than a steam wand, and while on paper, at least, that offers somewhat less control over the froth produced, the reality is that the difference between the two is nominal, at best.
There are two reasons for this. First, the Giga 5 uses an advanced two-stage frothing system which produces froth of exceptional quality, but second, from the control panel, you can change the amount of milk and froth you want independently.
This gives you every bit as much control over the froth you produce as using a steam wand. Yes, the methodology is different, but the end-result is the same, or so close to identical that you’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference.
Our two quibbles with the system are these:
First, it doesn’t come with a milk carafe or the fancy Jura refrigeration unit that’s designed to work with their machines. In our view, it should. After all, this is the flagship model of the entire Jura line. The machine costs as much as a good used car. When you buy it, you should get everything you need to make coffee, full stop.
That’s our view, anyway, but sadly, that’s not the case here. You’ll have to buy a stainless-steel frothing pitcher, or a carafe and the refrigeration unit separately if you want to use it.
Second, there are a lot of auto-frothers out there that don’t feature lengths of plastic hose snaking from the milk container into the machine.
We prefer that from a purely aesthetic point of view because let’s face it, you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a top-end machine, only to have it resemble a high school science project, every time you make a milk-based coffee drink. In our view, this could have been done better.
Those quibbles aside, however, the Giga 5 produces nice hot milk and exceptional foam. While you may not like everything about the way the feature was implemented, you’re going to love the results!
Cup Warming Tray
This will be a relatively short section because the Giga 5 doesn’t have a cup warming tray. In our view, it would be well-served by one, but honestly, we have no idea where they’d put it, so we understand why it was left out of the design.
It doesn’t matter as much as it might on other machines because if you set your coffee temperature to max, your drink will probably be hot enough for you. Having said that, if that proves not to be the case, there’s a simple workaround.
Simply fill your cup with hot water and let it sit for a minute or two before you make your drink, or pop it in the microwave filled with water and nuke it for sixty seconds or so. Then, empty the water and make your drink as you normally would.
This will minimize the heat loss you experience by dispensing coffee into a cold cup and will help boost the overall temperature of your finished product.
Surprisingly Easy to Use and Clean
The Jura Giga 5 automatic coffee center makes good use of the TFT display and has a well-organized menu system that’s intuitive and easy to navigate. Your smartphone is almost certainly more complicated, so if you can master that, then you won’t have any difficulty mastering the Giga 5’s interface.
Programming your preferences into each of the drinks on the machine’s extensive menu can be a little daunting, so we recommend eating that elephant one bite at a time. Just accept the factory default settings in the beginning and enjoy the one-touch convenience.
Then, after making your first drink of a given type, if it’s not quite to your liking, tweak from there. That’s much better than trying to slog through them all on your first day with machine and guesstimating at what your optimal settings should be.
Where cleaning is concerned, you can do all your basic rinse cycles from the maintenance menu, but that still leaves several bits of manual maintenance you’ll need to attend to, including:
All of these are relatively straightforward though, and in every case, the components are easy to access, making cleanup a snap. Even the extended rinse on the milk system isn’t bad, and only takes about two minutes of your time!
Pros & Cons of the Jura GIGA 5 Coffee Maker
No matter how you slice it, this is a great machine. As good as it is though, there are a few things we feel could stand improvement. In no particular order, these are:
Jura GIGA 5 Review Conclusion
As you can see, having completed our Jura Giga 5 review, we really like this machine. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most expensive super-automatics on the market today designed for home use. There’s no denying that it’s an incredible design, and the few shortcomings we pointed out certainly are deal breakers.
Having said that, it’s clearly not for everyone. Many people who want one will simply be unable to afford it, and if you’re a casual coffee drinker, then it’s probably a whole lot more machine than you realistically need.
If you can afford it though, and if you drink a lot of coffee, or live in a large household with multiple drinkers, then this machine belongs on your short list, and we highly recommend it!
Sources & Resources
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