The Zojirushi Fresh Brew Plus creates a fresh, smooth tasting pot of coffee thanks to the precisely heated water temperature of 200°F.
But unlike models that use a warmer plate, coffee will stay smooth-tasting and hot for up to two hours after being made.
Thanks to the excellent heat retention of the custom designed thermal carafe, your second and third cup of joe will taste as fresh as the first. Made of durable stainless steel, its vacuum construction provides outstanding insulation.
Zojirushi EC-YSC100 Fresh Brew Plus Thermal Carafe Coffee Maker, available on Amazon
The Fresh Brew Plus also offers convenience and ease of use in its features. However, some persistent design problems need to be addressed before it can be considered a top contender in the thermal carafe niche – particularly at the manufacturer’s high-end suggested retail price.
At a Glance
- A brewing temperature of at least 200°F is guaranteed to extract the maximum aromatic flavor from the grounds.
- The removable water reservoir makes filling easy.
- Custom designed vacuum-insulated carafe keeps java warm and fresh tasting for up to two hours.
- The lid of the thermal carafe also features a thumb-activated valve that provides a clean pour, and keeps the flavor and heat locked in when on the base.
- 24-hour programmable timer can be set for auto start.
- Makes up to 10 cups of coffee.
A large majority of verified purchasers at Amazon give the Zoji top marks for the well-built thermal carafe. It keeps contents piping hot well after being made – at or above 158°F for two hours, according to Zojirushi.
And because a warmer plate isn’t used, there’s no external heat source to scorch or burn the joe, so the flavor stays fresh.
The advanced heating system ensures water temperatures reach 200°F – right in the middle of the perfect temperature range of 195-205°F. This is important to ensure optimal flavor extraction without over-brewing, which is a primary cause of bitterness.
The high quality Japanese engineering is also apparent in the attention to detail and the user-friendly features. Like the thumb-activated, heat-trapping valve that seals the lid, the removable water reservoir and swing out basket also help to make the brewing process simple, easy, and enjoyable.
Plus, the sturdy stainless steel construction ensures a long life for the carafe, with no worries about breakage if accidentally dropped.
The automated cleaning program makes descaling simple, and the spray head also disassembles for easy cleaning.
A soft-touch control pad is comfortable to operate, with a large digital clock display that can be programmed for an automatic start.
All plastic components that contact the foodstuffs are BPA free, and the lid, carafe, water reservoir, spray head, and basket are removable for cleaning, and dishwasher safe.
Descaling with citric acid on a regular basis is recommended for the best flavor and trouble-free operation.
Designed in Japan, manufactured in China.
Dimensions and Specs
The Zojirushi Fresh Brew measures approximately 10 5/8 x 8 x 15 inches, and weighs 9 pounds.
It holds 1.5 liters of water, and will make 2 to 10 cups.
It’s UL/CUL listed, comes with an attached cord with a 2-prong, polarized plug, and is rated at 120 volts and 1200 watts.
- The thermal carafe keeps coffee clean-tasting and hot for two hours after being turned on.
- A thumb-activated pouring valve in the lid provides a clean, smooth pour and traps heat in the carafe.
- Both the basket and basket filter swing out for easy access, and are removable for cleaning.
- A “Clean” light illuminates when it’s time to descale.
- The automated cleaning cycle makes descaling easy.
- When the carafe is removed from the base, a drip prevention valve activates to prevent basket dribbles.
- All surfaces that contact the water, grounds, or java are BPA-free.
- The spray head is removable for quick and easy cleaning.
- Measuring lines in two-cup increments are conveniently marked on the exterior of the tank.
- Comes with a comprehensive Operating Instructions manual.
… And Cons
Leaking from the basket and/or the base is a common issue noted by several of the above-mentioned reviewers.
And an overflowing filter basket is another oft-reported problem. This is addressed on the Zojirushi FAQs page, and reasons seem to fluctuate between a faulty rubber gasket in the basket, the lid closure valve, or the drip prevention valve.
Plus, the 1-year warranty is a bit skimpy compared to other models in the same price range.
Care and Cleaning
The basket, lid, and carafe should be washed after each use. Run them through a dishwasher cycle, or wash by hand using warm soapy water.
Zojirushi recommends regular descaling using citric acid, which can be purchased in the canning section of your grocery store or online – like this food grade product from Pure Organic shown above and available in a variety of sizes at Amazon.
Comparison to Similar Products
In the realm of thermal carafe models, important comparison points are water temperature, and the carafe’s ability to retain heat.
The Bonavita 1900TS has a 1500-watt heater that easily reaches the desired temps needed for the best tasting java, and the thermal carafe keeps your brew hot. It also has a pre-infusion bloom setting to de-gas the grounds before processing – an important step if you like to grind your own beans. A little higher on the price ladder, the Bonavita is also SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) certified, denoting a top-end machine.
The Behmor Brazen Plus also offers outstanding temperature control with custom settings, altitude calibration, and a bloom setting – everything you need to control the brewing process for your personal satisfaction. And the thermal carafe does a good job of keeping contents hot.
At the same suggested retail price as the Zoji, its advanced features and reliability give the Behmor the advantage in value.
And both comparison models offer a 2-year warranty over Zoji’s 1-year guarantee.
Techniques, Tips, and Tricks
To get the best thermal performance out of your carafe, pre-heating it with hot water will help to keep temperatures hot after brewing.
Descale on a regular basis for the best tasting coffee, and to keep your machine free of mineral deposits.
- Build Quality
- Temperature Control / 200 Degree Brewing
- Water Dispersion
- Advance Features
A decent model but not anything special at its price point. Too many reported maintenance issues to highly recommend. Read more customer reviews on Amazon now and see if you agree.
The Bottom Line
The Zojirushi Fresh Brew Coffee Maker has a superb thermal carafe made of sleek, strong stainless steel.
Coffee is brewed at optimal temperatures for a full-bodied taste, and the insulated carafe keeps the contents hot and full-flavored for up to two hours after processing.
However, the Fresh Brew has some design flaws that prevent it from being a top contender in the thermal carafe niche. Leaks and overflowing baskets should not be a regular part of the coffee experience!
It does seem to make a good-tasting cup of joe that stays fresh and hot. However, the no-frills package and somewhat unreliable performance doesn’t jive with the high price tag – there are machines the provide better value for your dollar. (See the comparisons above.)
Zojirushi seems to have a common trend these days. For their primary market, Japan, they keep manufacturing in-house and in Japan. Sometimes we are lucky enough to receive 115-volt versions of these in the West.
For products that are designed exclusively for the Western markets, they tend to outsource manufacturing to plants in China while still charging made-in-Japan prices.
These are usually decent products, but better products from other manufacturers are available at better price points, and that seems to be the case with Zojirushi’s Fresh Brew Coffee Maker.
If you are looking for a comparable product at half the cost, we’d recommend taking a hard look at the Cuisinart DCC-3400 12-Cup Programmable Thermal Coffeemaker. It does everything that the Zojirushi does, with significantly fewer reported issues.
About Lorna Kring
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.