A massive machine filled with features you’ll love, but also with a fearsome learning curve.
Recommended for: Large households with heavy coffee drinkers, busy offices or small businesses whose primary product is not specialty coffee.
Table of Contents
- 1 An Overview of the Jura XS90 Review
- 2 Notes on Espresso
- 3 Notes on the Milk Frother
- 4 Cup Warming Tray
- 5 Not Easy to Use, Fairly Easy to Clean
- 6 Pros & Cons for the Jura Impressa XS90
- 7 Impressa XS90 One Touch Conclusion
An Overview of the Jura XS90 Review
Do you love coffee? No, seriously, do you really love coffee, as in, you’re a power drinker with a cup in your hand all day?
If you do, or if you are looking for a machine that can keep up with the pace at a busy office or small business, then you’re going to love our detailed review of the Jura Impressa XS90 One Touch Automatic Espresso Machine.
It’s not quite commercial grade, so it’s not the right machine if you run a coffee shop, but if you have a big household with lots of power drinkers, or work in a busy real estate or similar office, then this machine is more than up to the task of keeping pace.
As you’ll see in the sections below, it’s not without its flaws and issues, but if what you want is a big, burly coffee machine that can handle pretty much any quantity you can throw at it, then you’ll find a lot to like here. Let’s dive right in and see what this monster can do!
Form Factor and Footprint
The first thing to say about the Jura XS90 is that this is a big machine. Not only does it measure an impressive 15.5”x16”x18.5”, but that’s before you count the optional 10-ounce “extra” bean hopper you can affix to the top of the unit, doubling the bean capacity the machine will hold!
In addition to that, it weighs in at a hefty 34 pounds. While it’s certainly possible to move it about, it’s designed to find it a home and leave it there.
It’s not an unattractive machine, mostly black, with silver highlights and a vaguely industrial feel to it, but you can tell that aesthetic was not first and foremost on the designers’ minds. What they wanted was an all business, high capacity machine. While it would be unfair to say that aesthetics weren’t considered at all, form clearly played second fiddle to function in this case.
Our Jura XS90 review wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t call particular attention to this feature. We’re biased toward machines with big, expansive water reservoirs, and this model delivers in style, featuring a side-loading tank that holds a gallon and a half of water.
Note that the reservoir comes with a water filter built into the tank. We’re torn about the presence of the water filter, but Jura and many the other main players in the market frequently use them.
On the one hand, we get it. We understand why they’re included. When you use them, you cut down dramatically on how often you have to descale your machine, and that’s a good thing.
On the other hand, though, it puts you on the hook for having to buy new filters for as long as you own it, which increases your total cost of ownership. We’re not fond of that, especially given that you can use distilled water to cut down your descaling needs, but we can’t very well fault the company for its inclusion.
Also note that when you get your machine, your starter kit will come with both a spare filter and a couple of descaling tablets.
The XS90 uses a six-setting ceramic, conical burr grinder, which is nice as far as it goes, but for a machine designed to cater to lots of different tastes and preferences, we were underwhelmed by the relatively few number of grind settings.
After all, finding the right grind that both matches your tastes and preferences and aligns with the particular drink you’re making is a very big deal, and will dramatically impact the final flavor of your output. More grind settings are always better, and we feel this was a missed opportunity on Jura’s part.
The bean hopper attached to it is fairly impressive with a 10-ounce capacity, but you can double this if you opt to use the attachment that sits atop the unit.
This will, of course, add several inches of height to the machine, which means you’ll probably struggle to fit it under a cabinet, but being able to load up to twenty ounces of beans at a time is a boon, and meshes well with the large-capacity water reservoir.
We always prefer it when a machine features a well-matched bean hopper and water tank. The
problem you run into with machines that are mismatched in this regard (small tank paired with large bean hopper, or large tank paired with a small bean hopper) is that you’re constantly having to stop what you’re doing and fill one or the other.
With this beast, you’ll have to stop now and again for a refill, but not very often!
Finally, as is the case with most other semi and super-automatic coffee machines, the Jura XS90’s grinder doesn’t do well with oily beans. For best results, find a nice Medium Roast you enjoy and stick with that!
Note that if you want to use pre-ground coffee, that option is also available. The machine features a large bypass doser that will accept up to two scoops of grounds.
The Jura XS90 One Touch features two independent, stainless steel boilers, both utilizing Thermoblock technology, which allows for fast heating, consistent temperature, and the simultaneous brewing of coffee and steaming milk. Without this, you’d have to wait while the boiler adjusted the temperature to switch from one to the other.
We’ll talk more about the brew unit and the control system in a later section.
For now, suffice it to say that you can fine-tune your temperature setting. And on the maximum temperature setting, your coffee output is nearly as hot as what you’d get from a conventional gravity, drip-brew coffee maker. The milk, though, isn’t quite that hot, so if you make a milk-based drink, just understand that it will come in a bit cooler.
Telescoping Coffee Spigot
The telescoping coffee spigot can dispense up to two shots at a time and will move to accommodate a cup up to six inches in height. Also, note that the auto frother (milk frother) has a tertiary coffee spigot that dispenses coffee for milk-based drinks.
The Brew Unit and Control System
The brew unit and its control system are the heart and soul of any specialty coffee machine, and the Impressa XS90 One Touch is no difference.
Once you get the hang of using this machine, you’ll find that you can navigate through the options quickly and easily, but be warned – there is a significant learning curve here (which we’ll talk about more in the “ease of use” section).
For the moment, the key things to point out are these:
The control system is located on the front face of the machine and features a LED panel and several buttons, including one-touch buttons for ordering a variety of drinks, which include:
And the fact that you can dive deep into the various menus and sub-menus and set the start and auto-shutoff time, change the default language, adjust and fine-tune any of the drinks the machine is capable of making, and perform routine maintenance.
Again, once you get the hang of it, none of these operations is particularly challenging, but getting to that level of comfort can prove challenging.
Notes on Espresso
At this point, we need to spend a few minutes talking about Espresso, because it lies at the heart and soul of most specialty coffee drinks.
To make a good espresso, you need tightly packed grounds and pressure. Super-automatics aren’t like drip-brew machines which rely on gravity to do the work – these machines rely on a pump and pressure. The pump measures its pressure in terms of “Bars,” with one bar being equal to atmospheric pressure at sea level.
It takes nine bars of pressure to make a good espresso. The Jura XS90’s pump is rated at fifteen bars, which is more than enough to deliver consistently high-quality results.
Notes on the Milk Frother
The milk frothing system is one of the more intriguing features of this model, because it offers you the best of both worlds, appealing to both coffee purists and people new to the world of specialty coffee drinks.
Unfortunately, the execution of the feature leaves a bit to be desired. Here’s how it works:
Primarily, the machine uses an auto-frother for milk. You provide a container of milk, place a clear plastic tube into it, and it will suck the milk into the boiler, heat it and dispense foam and/or steamed milk.
There’s a control dial on the frothing unit that allows you to set the level of foam you want for fairly fine-grained control.
The company also sells (separately) a refrigerated companion unit with a stainless-steel milk container that the hose fits nicely into. If you buy this add-on, you’ll have a more cohesive system and a dedicated, guaranteed-to-stay-cold container.
In addition to that, the auto-frother spigot is removable, and you can attach a frothing wand in its place.
The frothing wand does not move or bend, so you’re limited to sticking your cup directly beneath it and tweaking the height (and thus the depth the want penetrates the cup) by hand. So, the functionality could be better, but it’s not bad and does the job of giving you the best of both worlds. A good thing if there are purists in your office who just don’t want to use the auto-frother.
Of course, the other problem is this: Given that this machine was designed with high traffic offices in mind, how long do you think it will be before someone either misplaces the frothing want, or the auto frothing spigot as the two get swapped out?
That’s probably going to lead to lost components and multiple calls to Jura’s excellent customer support. Less than optimal, but that’s just the reality of using the model in the setting it was intended for.
Cup Warming Tray
This will be a short section because the XS90 doesn’t have one. Ostensibly, this is because if you crank the temperature up all the way, the coffee output is on par with what you get from a gravity fed, drip coffee maker.
While that’s true, it’s also true that the milk temperature isn’t (and can’t be) as high, which means that your milk-based drinks won’t be as hot. A cup-warming tray would go a long way toward fixing this, and we regard its absence as a missed opportunity.
Not Easy to Use, Fairly Easy to Clean
We’ve mentioned this before, and it bears repeating here. The Jura Impressa XS90 is not an easy machine to use! Partly, that’s due to the limitation of the LED display. The company would have been extremely well-served to charge a bit more and install a more intuitive TFT (Thin Film Transistor) screen. That, coupled with a better overall layout and design, would make it worlds easier to navigate.
It's true, once you get the machine set up after you unbox it, you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of one-touch drinks, but you’ll probably give yourself a headache getting to that point. And another when you try to change a setting, and still another when you try to clean the unit for the first time.
Again, all of these things are relatively easy once you master the machine, but when you’re first starting out with it, you’ll get the distinct impression that it’s actively working against you, trying to ensure that its secrets remain secret. This is highlighted by the sometimes cryptic language Jura uses.
Pro Tip: Stronger coffee isn’t just called “stronger coffee.” It’s called “Aroma,” and you can change it via five settings from the menu.
Where the manual cleanup aspects are concerned, you’ll find that you won’t have to deal with them often. The drip tray is oversized and will take forever to fill up, and the dregs hopper has a 40-puck capacity!
As to the automated cleaning routines, once you get used to the menu navigation, they’re quite easy to perform.
Pros & Cons for the Jura Impressa XS90
As you can see at this point in our Jura Impressa XS90 review, there are a lot of things we like about the model and a few things we don’t.
In our view, its biggest strengths are:
And its biggest shortcomings are:
Impressa XS90 One Touch Conclusion
On balance, we both like and recommend the Jura Impressa XS90 One Touch Automatic Espresso Machine, but we did want to warn our readers about its shortcomings.
If you’re pretty tech savvy, you won’t have any particular difficulty mastering the machine, but you’ll notice that it does try to fight you some. If you’re not very tech savvy, you’ll face an uphill climb at the beginning that gets easier the more you play with it.
In any case, there are quite a few things the machine gets right, and if you’re looking for a high capacity specialty coffee maker that verges on being commercial grade but is still designed for home or office use, then this one belongs on your short list!