Jura Capresso Impressa superautomatics
are, without a doubt, the most impressive super automatics designed for home use. We at JL Hufford frequently get questions about the differences between the S series and the F series (or, as we call them--for less confusion in pronunciation--Sam and Frank (that's S for Sam, F for Frank)).
The differences can be divided into essential and incidental.
ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCES include:
1. Number of heating systems
. Sam has two heating systems, whereas Frank has one. Frank's 1450 Watt thermal block is fine for most home operations, initially taking a minimum of 50 seconds to heat up. Also ideal for any home application, Sam's two thermal blocks take a combined initial minimum heat up time of 90 seconds. One of Sam's thermal blocks is dedicated solely to the heating of water used in steaming/hot water dispensing. The other heating element is independently dedicated to the heating of water used to brew an espresso shot. Although each block is independent of one another, it is not possible to both steam and brew simultaneously. The one place you might notice Frank's lack of another heating element is in the time it takes between ending a coffee brew cycle and starting a frothing cycle. That is, it takes 15-20 sec to heat up the water in its one thermal block.
2. Brew Temp.
Sam brews at a hotter temp than Frank. Exactly what temp? That's a difficult question to answer, as we base all of our lab "brew temps" on the temperature at the spout. We do this because this is still quite informative (not to mention easier for us to measure!), and because the temperature of the coffee when it hits your cup will significantly affect the life of the crema. That's because the temperature of the water in the heating system may be significantly more than the temperature in the coffee delivery system. For instance, a semi automatic machine with an E61 heated group head will be able to brew your espresso at 198 degrees easily, and you may be able to get espresso out of the spout as hot. However, when your heating system is located in one area of the machine and has a tortuous path to travel to the coffee spout (all the way not being heated), you may be looking at 175-180 degrees out the spout. Bottom line, our tested average: Sam 190 degrees (spout), Frank 182 degrees (spout).
3. Touch Screen.
Frank has the ability to be programmed through and have its drink sizes accessed with its touch screen, whereas Sam requires that you press buttons. Not a big deal? Well, it's one of the reasons you are paying as much for a Frank as you are a Sam, so if you don't care, take a closer look at Sam.
4. Metal vs. Plastic.
Sam, like most of its ancestors and likely most of its predecessors, has virtually no metal in its exterior -- only the spout tips are stainless steel. Frank has a die cast metal spout and a metal-plated exterior (3 mil metallic plating is trimmed into strips and sets into the front of the machine). It's a nice touch for those of us who have been waiting eagerly for a machine with metal in it. The die-cast metal spout is designed to add durability and theoretically more metal means more mass that has good heat retention properties. Actually, the S delivers hotter coffee on its hottest setting.
INCIDENTAL DIFFERENCES include:
1. Heating Platform.
Sam has one, Frank doesn't. Like most mainly plastic machines (except the Nuova Simonelli Oscar
) the heating platform is mediocre. Do yourself a favor and steam or run hot water inside the cup.
Aside from having metal in its exterior, Frank also has a longer digital display on top and only comes in black with chrome(ish) accents. Whereas Sam comes in three different color schemes: bronze(ish) metal(lic), platinum(ish) metal(lic) and black and silver(ish). Repeat: ALMOST NO METAL IN SAM'S EXTERIOR. Also, Sam is about 2 lbs heavier than Frank, is 3 inches wider and 1 inch less long.
3. Thermal Block Material
. Frank's thermoblock is made entirely of stainless steel, whereas each of Sam's is made of aluminum with a stainless lining. What does stainless lining mean? That means that you get all of the heating properties of aluminum yet the water doesn't come into contact directly with aluminum, no corrosion, no aluminum-y taste.
The long and, more importantly, short: Frank can't and Sam can if
what you mean by ristretto is one half ounce of espresso. Frank can only be programmed to brew 1-16 oz of espresso, whereas Sam's number of different espresso volumes is theoretically incrementally infinite. You program Sam's water amount by pushing a button, getting water to come out, then pushing the button again when you see exactly enough water in the cup. Voila, programmed. Make sure to boost the coffee amount to max, and the grind setting to its finest but only change the grind setting while the grinder is running
, of course. Incidentally, it has been our experience that Sam will produce coffee amounts a bit more erratically at this 1/2 ounce setting.5. Programmability.
Sam has some extra programmability features, like amount of ground coffee per programmed drink (17 settings), and infinitely many incremental water amounts for each programmed drink (up to 16 oz).6. Water Tank.
Sam holds up to 96 ounces of water, whereas Frank holds up to 64 ounces.7. Hot Water and Steam.
Sam has a third spout, right next to the dual coffee spout, for water. Frank dispenses hot water out of its steam wand. With regard to steaming/frothing cycles, Frank can be programmed to froth for a preset amount of time (3-60 seconds). Want to steam longer (and you’ll want to), just press the steam button again. Sam does that plus it allows you to use its permanent steam option and press a button once to start steaming, again to quit. 8. Spout Height.
Sam can move its brew head/spout assembly 2 to 5-1/2”, whereas Frank’s spout’s range of motion is restricted from 3” to 4-1/2” (that’s because the entire head moves up and down when you adjust the spout, and in Frank, if that towering head goes up any higher than it is set up to, you would not be able to access the touch screen because the head would be in the way).
That’s it for the most salient essential and incidental differences. For a quick checklist of all similarities and differences, check out our comparison engine on either product detail page and select a Frank and a Sam and compare.
**This article was originally posted on our customer service forum, which this blog is intended to replace**