I tried this coffee maker with a 'sweet foam' setting and I'm never going back

 Jura J8 espresso machine .
Credit: Future / Millie Fender

After years of reviewing coffee makers, you might think that I'd turn my nose up at milky, syrupy coffees. In fact, while I can appreciate a balanced, full-flavored espresso, I've still got a place in my heart for a sweet vanilla latte from my local coffee shop.

I've you've perused our guide to the best espresso machines, you'll know that I'm a big fan of Swiss-owned luxury coffee brand Jura, so when I spotted the Jura J8 at the London Coffee Festival earlier this year, I immediately asked to try it for myself. The machine infuses your milk with your choice of coffee syrup in a unique 'sweet foam' mode, meaning your latte or cappuccino will have a consistent sweet flavor as opposed to a thick layer of coffee flavoring at the bottom of your cup.

A few months after its launch, I was finally able to try the Jura J8 in our test kitchen to see for myself if it could keep my coffee shop cravings at bay. I tested the J8 Twin, which hasn't launched in the US yet, but the regular J8 is available at major retailers and also features Jura's Sweet Foam tech.

Jura J8 Fully Automatic Espresso Machine: $2,999 at Williams Sonoma
I never said it was cheap! I tested the Jura J8 Twin, which is available in the UK but has yet to launch in the US. Fear not though, because the J8 features the same sweet foam technology but without the double bean hopper.

How does Jura's Sweet Foam setting work?

Jura J8 espresso machine
Jura J8 espresso machine

If you've ordered a flavored coffee from major coffee chains, you may have seen them pumping shot after shot of sugary syrup into the base of your to-go cup. It's not my favorite way of drinking flavored coffee for two reasons.

Firstly, this flavor is rarely integrated fully throughout your drink, meaning you'll take a few flavorless sips before recieving a sugary hit as you hit the dregs of your drink.

The second reason is that I often want a hint of vanilla or caramel, but the drink often ends up being so strong that I can barely taste the coffee. And trust me, when you're drinking espresso that's made in a Jura, you'll want to taste the coffee.

With the J8, Jura provides a removable capsule that you can fill with syrup of your choice. You can also choose the amount you add depending on your desired strength by simply adding more or less of your favorite syrup before you attach it to your milk dispenser.

The machine then channels your freshly steamed milk through the syrup capsule as it dispenses, combining your milk with the syrup as it pours, and leaving an evenly-sweetened drink in your mug.

Does it pass the taste test?

Jura J8 espresso machine
Jura J8 espresso machine

I'd defy you to make a bad coffee in the Jura J8. From its smart and quiet in-built grinder to the strings of perfectly-extracted espresso it dispenses, I've yet to find fault with the flavor offered here.

When it comes to the Sweet Foam settings you'll get with the Jura J8 Twin, I definitely noticed that it was a subtler and more balanced flavor than I'm used to from my coffee shop orders. The dispenser is relatively small, so even if you fill it to the brim you won't be hit with an overwhelming sweetness, and in every drink I made the creamy and rich espresso shone through. This coffee maker could convert even the snobbiest of coffee drinkers to the humble pumpkin spice latte.

What I don't like

Jura J8 espresso machine
Jura J8 espresso machine

First off, you'd have to drink a lot of takeout coffee for this machine to pay off over time. The Jura J8 costs $3,000, and it rarely goes on sale.

The only thing that could've improved my caramel latte was if it were over ice, so I'm hoping that Jura will include the Sweet Foam setting in its next cold brew-capable machine. I recently tested a coffee maker from De'Longhi that makes cold brew, the La Specialista Maestro, and while the J8 doesn't do this, there are a number of Jura machines that do it very well. I'd have liked to see a cold sweet foam function with this coffee maker, because I often struggle to get an even flavor in my iced lattes as my chilled milk solidifies any syrup I add to it.

Finally, while the little capsules that hold your syrup are easy enough to fill up, they're a little fiddly to rinse out. After brewing you'll be left with a milky, slightly sticky empty capsule and I flicked myself with this liquid on a number of occasions when opening up the pod to rinse it out. I'd like to see a slightly less finickity syrup holder with the next evolution of Jura's Sweet Foam setting.

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