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Zojirushi Coffee Maker Review

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Last updated: April 11, 2023

Quick Answer: I would not recommend buying a Zojirushi coffee maker. Instead, I’d opt for the slightly more expensive Bonavita 5-Cup as this machine will make you much better-tasting coffee than a Zojirushi machine.

This is my Zojirushi coffee maker review.

I have never owned a Zojirushi coffee maker. I have, however, spent a whole day researching this machine, as well as users’ experiences with it, online to put together this review.

Let’s get started.

Should I Buy a Zojirushi Coffee Maker (Quick Verdict)? 

I would not recommend buying a Zojirushi coffee maker.

Drip coffee makers fall into one of two categories. They are:

  • Premium coffee makers: These are higher-end machines whose goal is to make the best possible coffee. They live or die on the quality of coffee.
  • Value coffee makers: These are more affordable machines whose goal is to offer as much reliability as possible. They are best judged on their durability and consistency, rather than the quality of their coffee outright.

Zojirushi have (unwisely, in my opinion) made a machine that tries to find a middle ground between value and premium coffee makers. 

The machine neither makes excellent coffee nor is particularly reliable. I’m just not sure who this machine is for.

I’d instead recommend deciding whether you value coffee quality above everything else, or getting as many good enough cups of coffee out of your machine as possible, and then just buy a machine that best meets your needs. 

The Zojirushi won’t meet either of these needs particularly well.

If you are looking to maximise coffee quality, then I’d recommend the Bonavita 5 Cup.

If you are looking for a machine that will offer you the most longevity, then I’d recommend the Mr Coffee 5 Cup Mini Brew.

Product Overview

Zojirushi Zutto 5-Cup Drip Coffee Maker

Quality of Coffee
Ease of Use
Design and Build Quality
Value For Money

The Zojirushi coffee maker is a drip coffee machine that can make between 2 cups (10 oz) and 5 cups (25 oz) of coffee in one go.

Zojirushi have opted for simplicity with their coffee machine’s workflow. The machine just has one button, and this tells the machine to both brew and to turn its hotplate on.

Zojirushi’s manual warns users to turn the machine off 15 mins after brewing so that their hot plate does not cook their coffee. Failure to turn the machine’s hotplate off will make your coffee very bitter. 

I think it’s a bit of an oversight that the Zojirushi does not automatically turn off 15 mins after it finishes brewing. 

Surely no one wants to cook their coffee in this way, so Zojirushi could have just made it impossible for you to do this with an auto-off function (loads of coffee machines have this).

The table below shows the basic features of the Zojirushi coffee maker:

FeatureZojirushi Coffee Maker
Dimensions (width x depth x height, in inches)8.9″ x 6.0″ x 7.8″
Maximum serving size5 cups (25 oz)
Automatic bloom functionalityYes
Brewing time (for 5 cups)6 mins 30 seconds
Type of carafeGlass
Auto-on functionalityNo
Auto-off functionalityNo
Measuring spoon includedYes

Zojirushi Coffee Maker Pros

It makes better than average coffee (still not among the best coffee makers for quality of coffee, however).

It is very easy to use and clean.

Zojirushi Coffee Maker Cons

The machine is cheaply built and uses a lot of low-quality plastic which can give your coffee a plasticky smell and taste.

The machine’s carafe is really fragile and can crack with even the slightest bump.

Zojirushi’s customer support does not seem to be the best when it comes to getting replacements under warranty.

Quality of Coffee

The Zojirushi coffee maker makes decent, if unremarkable, coffee. It’s not a machine that you would buy if you want the best possible drip coffee at home, but it still makes better coffee than machines towards the bottom end of the market.

There are three variables that go into making good quality drip coffee. They are:

  • Brewing temperature: Drip coffee should be brewed at 185-195 degrees Fahrenheit and this temperature should be kept consistent throughout the brewing process.
  • Brewing time: Drip coffee should be brewed for 4-7 minutes (depending on the volume of coffee being brewed).
  • Brew ratio: Drip coffee should be brewed at a 1:16 ground coffee to water ratio.
  • Coverage of coffee grounds: Coffee grounds should be evenly covered with water to avoid over-extraction.

The Zojirushi nails two of these four variables: brew ratio and brewing time.

The machine has a large enough brew basket to allow you to brew to its maximum capacity (25 oz) and still remain at a 1:16 brewing ratio. 

It also brews your coffee in between 5 minutes and 6 minutes and 30 seconds, depending on the size of coffee that you make (larger coffees take longer to brew). 

The machine does fall slightly short on brewing temperature and coverage of coffee grounds, however.

While it does heat your brewing water to 190 Fahrenheit, the machine does not insulate its brewing chamber at all. 

This means that there will be enough of a loss of heat during brewing that your coffee will be brewed below its ideal brewing temperature for a large part of the brewing process.

The evenness of coverage of coffee grounds with your brewing water is pretty terrible with this machine. All your water goes straight onto the centre of the bed of coffee, with the outer edges barely seeing any water at all.

This means that the centre of the coffee bed will be really over-extracted, resulting in a harsh, bitter-tasting drink. This is a problem that plagues many cheaper drip coffee makers that have poor-quality shower heads.

All this means that the Zojirushi coffee maker makes decent, but not great coffee. Its coffee will lack the depth of flavor that is made by the best pour-over coffee makers due to this lower-than-ideal brewing temperature and poor showerhead coverage.

It pretty much makes coffee that reflects its mid-market price tag, not brilliant but not terrible either.

Quality of Coffee Rating: 6/10

Ease of Use and Cleaning

The Zojirushi coffee maker is very easy to use, although it does have a slight issue with its carafe lid sliding off when you pour from its carafe.

Simple Workflow

The Zojirushi coffee maker is very easy to use on a day-to-day basis.

Simply fill the machine up with ground coffee – the machine has a handy measuring spoon that can scoop 10 grams of coffee. This is enough to brew 1 cup at the recommended 1:16 coffee-to-water ratio. 

You therefore just need to put in one measuring spoon’s worth of ground coffee for every cup of coffee that you brew.

Easy to Carry and Clean Water Tank

The machine has a removable water tank. I particularly like the fact that this water tank has a lip that is deep enough for you to use as a handle when removing it from the machine. 

None of this awkward sliding the water tank out of the machine that you find with so many coffee makers (even expensive ones).

I also really like that Zojirushi’s water tank is wide, rather than flat (it is closer to the shape of a loaf of bread than to the shape of a closed laptop).

This makes it much easier to clean as you can easily get a sponge into the corners of the water tank (the places where grime generally builds up).

Many coffee machines have very flat water tanks, in a bid to make the machine as compact as possible. 

While this does take up less space, it does make these water tanks harder to clean – as you just cannot fit your hand (or a sponge for that matter) into their corners.

Zojirushi does not have this problem.

Its Carafe’s Lid Does Not Attach Directly to the Carafe (Negative)

The only problem with the Zojirushi coffee maker, as far as its user-friendliness is concerned, is a technical issue with its carafe’s lid.

The machine’s carafe’s lid attaches to its brew basket (where the ground coffee is held during brewing) rather than to the body of the carafe itself.

Generally, you want to remove the brew basket from the carafe after brewing, as any drips from the brew basket will be horribly over-extracted and can taint your coffee with harsh, bitter flavors.

However, if you remove the brew basket from the carafe, then the carafe’s lid is just sitting on top of the carafe’s body, rather than being attached to it. This means that when you pour the lid can easily slide off the carafe, resulting in potential spills and (if you’re really unlucky) burns to your hand.

You can find a video of someone demonstrating this problem below (watch for 30 seconds):

This problem aside, the Zojirushi is really user-friendly, with its ease of use and cleaning being one of the machine’s main strengths.

Ease of Use Rating: 8/10

Design and Build Quality

The Zojirushi coffee maker is cheaply built and therefore lacks durability. This is disappointing, particularly given the durability of cheaper coffee machines such as those made by Mr Coffee.

The Zojirushi does not seem to be built to last, with many reviews of the machine pointing to two ways that Zojirushi have clearly cut corners when building this machine. 

I’ll go through each of these in turn, and will give examples of how they lower either the quality of coffee that the machine makes or the machine’s durability.

Zojirushi Uses Cheap Plastics in the Machine’s Brew Basket

The most common complaint that I found online about this machine is that it smells strongly of plastic and that this smell and flavor often leeches into the coffee it makes (so your coffee will also smell and taste of plastic).

I found this complaint from four separate users of the machine online (mainly on Amazon). 

This is a very high volume of complaints, leading me to believe that it is true for at least some Zojirushi models.

The fact that the machine can, in some instances at least, make coffee with a plasticky smell and flavor, leads me to believe that the big culprit here is the material used in its brew basket.

Brew baskets come into direct contact with nearly boiling water, making them a prime candidate for flavor leeching. If you have this problem then you can maybe try and replace the machine’s brew basket. 

However, considering the machine’s price tag, you really shouldn’t have to be forking out again for replacement parts.

I don’t think that the machine’s water tank will likely be the problem here. The machine uses all the water you put in its water tank in every coffee that you make. 

For plasticky flavors to leech into cold (or room temperature) water, they would have to come into contact with that plastic for a long time. This does not happen with the Zojirushi.

Zojirushi Coffee Makers Have Very Fragile Carafes

Zojirushi coffee makers have very thin glass carafes that, according to one reviewer on Amazon, “can crack with the slightest nudge”.

From videos of the machine in action, I can see that this complaint is plainly true. Its carafe looks super thin and flimsy.

Since a coffee maker’s carafe is likely to move around if you ever store it under your cabinets, having such a fragile carafe gives you just one more thing to worry about when finding a home for your machine.

Some users’ of the machine even worry that its carafe is so thin that fairly moderate changes in temperature might cause it to crack. 

One reviewer on Amazon claims that she always waits for her carafe to cool down before rinsing it to avoid potential cracking caused by temperature changes.

While I cannot verify whether or not the Zojirushi’s carafe will indeed break just due to a temperature change, the fact that users worry about this just highlights how fragile feeling its carafe is.

There are also a lot of reviews of the machine simply stating that they agree with others’ findings that the machine will not last you more than six months

All of this together makes me think that the machine is really poorly built. This lack of durability is the main reason why I would not recommend people buy this machine.

Design and Build Quality Rating: 3/10

Value For Money

The Zojirushi is a mid-market drip coffee machine. Although the quality of the coffee reflects this price tag, I think that a machine of this price should be more durable. I, therefore, do not think it offers great value for money overall.

Zojirushi’s price tag puts it into the lower mid-tier as far as coffee makers are concerned.

The Zojirushi’s quality of coffee is actually pretty good when you consider its price tag. The machine can make an above-average cup of coffee (assuming that you do not have one of the models that leech plastic flavor into your drink), so this actually overperforms its modest price tag.

I still don’t think that the machine offers great value for money, however.

The reason for this is its lack of durability. Such a flimsy machine means that you are likely going to have to replace it sooner than most coffee makers. 

This is going to cost you more than just buying one good quality coffee maker in the long run.

Value For Money Rating: 5/10

What Users Say

The Zojirushi Zutto 5-Cup coffee maker has been reviewed 2,998 times on Amazon (as of February 2023). It has an average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5.

Positive reviews of the machine tend to praise its compact design and the quality of its coffee.

Amazon review, January 2023: “5 cups are a perfect size, but even a “small” classic 5 cup maker is too big (stands too tall). This coffee maker is perfect as we live full-time in our RV. The fact that the grounds are never in the machine itself is huge. The machine never gets gross with grounds, super easy to clean. Hold the lid when pouring the coffee, or just remove the grounds before pouring. Love that it also keeps the small pot hot.”

Amazon review, January 2023: “I am just starting to drink coffee and didn’t want to spend too much on the coffee maker. I have had good results using Zojirushi products so I tried this one. It makes good coffee if you measure your water and coffee”

Negative reviews of the machine talk about its lack of durability and how it can leech plastic flavors into your coffee.

Amazon review, May 2014: “At six months I broke the rather delicate glass decanter with a gentle bump on the sink. I found the lowest price for a new decanter at the Zorjirush.comi site ($14.50 plus $4.75 shipping). If I had it to do over I would not buy this coffee maker, nor do I recommend it.”

Amazon review, November 2022: “Bitter coffee and strong plastic smell that doesn’t go away. It is easy to clean and easy to use but so what? The flavor is what matters and safety. It is not safe to drink plastic. I had an old model Mr. Coffee and boy do I miss that. I picked it up at a flea market for $4.00. Lasted me quite a few years and never was disappointed with the flavor of the coffee and the smell of fresh brewed coffee through the house. All I smell with this thing is plastic.”

Product Alternatives

Two products that I would recommend instead of the Zojirushi coffee maker are the Bonavita 5 Cup and the Mr Coffee 5 Cup Mini Brew.

Bonavita 5-Cup – About Twice the Price but it Makes Much Better Coffee

Premium Alternative to the Zojirushi Coffee Maker

The Bonavita 5-Cup makes much better coffee than the Zojirushi coffee maker and is still cheap enough to be considered a mid-market machine.

If you are interested in making as good drip coffee at home as possible, then I’d recommend the Bonavita 5 Cup over the Zojirushi coffee maker.

Unlike the Zojirushi, the Bonavita 5-Cup is SCAA-certified. This means that it does not have the brewing temperature and ground coffee coverage issues that Zojirushi has.

The Bonavita 5-Cup makes significantly better-tasting and more complex coffee than the Zojirushi, as a result.

The Bonavita 5-Cup is about twice the price of the Zojirushi coffee maker. While this may seem like a lot, this still puts the Bonavita firmly in the mid-market for coffee makers.

Given the excellent coffee that the Bonavita makes, I’d say it offers much better value for money than the Zojirushi.

Mr Coffee 5-Cup Mini Brew – A More Affordable and Durable Machine than the Zojirushi

Cheaper Alternative to the Zojirushi Coffee Maker

The Mr Coffee 5-Cup Mini Brew is typically half the price of the Zojirushi. For a smaller spend, you get a much more durable machine, saving you even more money in the long run.

This obviously is a contrast to the poorly built Zojirushi. The Mr Coffee’s affordability and durability compared to the Zojirushi mean that the former offers you far, far better value for money.

Although Mr Coffee’s coffee is slightly worse than the Zojirushi, if you are looking for a cheap, reliable machine that will easily earn its keep, I’d recommend Mr Coffee over the Zojirushi every day of the week.

Final Verdict

I do not recommend the Zojirushi coffee maker. The machine is very flimsy, meaning that its chances of breaking before you have reached any real value-for-money threshold with it are high.

Instead, I’d recommend buying the Bonavita 5-Cup. Although the machine is a fair bit more expensive, its superior coffee and build quality mean that it offers much better value for money than the Zojirushi.

Premium Alternative to the Zojirushi Coffee Maker

The Bonavita 5-Cup makes much better coffee than the Zojirushi coffee maker and is still cheap enough to be considered a mid-market machine.

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