Buy Buy, Baby: The $3,000 Coffee Maker

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Americans have a tendency to evolve from Neanderthal to gourmet almost overnight.

Jug wine gave way to California cabernet. Meat loaf and mashed potatoes ceded its dominance to steak frites. Even kitchen counters must be granite, and all food must be kept in a Sub-Zero refrigerator.
The $3,000 Impressa Z5 is popular in Europe because it's like having a barista in your kitchen.

Coffee too. Dunkin' Donuts ( YUM) brew, while at the low end, at least tastes good, something you couldn't have said about your parents' Chock full o' Nuts. While Starbucks ( SBUX) sets the standard for coffee snobs, the latest thing is high-end coffee makers for the home and office. Even Italian supercar maker Lamborghini ( VLKAY) has made a model.

That being the case, consider the Jura-Capresso Impressa Z5, which sounds like a combination between the Subaru ( FUJHY) Impreza rally car and the BMW Z-series roadsters. The Swiss-designed coffee maker costs $3,000, 150 times more than the standard Mr. Coffee drip.

Thing is, you shouldn't have to compromise, especially before facing the world. Plus, the drinks it makes "satisfy all your coffee fantasies," the company promises. Mr. Coffee probably would never say that.

"It's like having a little barista in your kitchen," Matthew Hott, manager at The Cook's Warehouse in midtown Atlanta, says of the Z5.

For $300 more, the Impressa Z6 offers the same features with a shiny finish instead of the Z5's understated brushed alloy metal-and-black veneer.

As for the machine, there are buttons to prepare one-stop espressos, lattes and six other coffee drinks. Place a cup under the espresso or milk-added drink spouts and press a button. (Or program the night before; an insulated unit keeps milk cold up to eight hours.) Milk-added drinks can be prepared without moving the cup, something of a revolution in cappuccino makers, made possible by espresso and steaming nozzles placed next to each other.

The Cook's Warehouse has sold a handful of Jura-Capresso's top-of-the-line Z5 "coffee centers" in the past year. Most go to residences, often to people buying a second machine for a second home.

"They're huge in Europe," says Scott Love, a Georgia sales representative for the brand. Jura was founded in Switzerland in 1931.

"One customer bought one for their bedroom. They had one in the kitchen but decided they needed another. I think it was for their Italian villa," recalls Christopher Ramsey, manager at Sur la Table, a luxury kitchen purveyor in Newton, Mass.

As even the well-to-do are downscaling -- putting that Lexus on hold for the time being -- the Z5 actually makes some sense.

"If you drink a $4 coffee twice a day, five times a week, it doesn't take long to actually pay for one," Love says.

A "cappuccino calculator" on the Web site for Long Island, N.Y.-based Zaccardi's estimates an individual spending $4.50 five days a week on a coffee-shop latte could save more than $1,000 a year with homebrew.

Perhaps just as important to some, the Z5's brewing instructions can be programmed in five languages.

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