My 6 yr old beloved Krups finally gave up the ghost, shorted out the switch and started brewing into its own chassis, so I read review after review after review. I was not prepared to go into $200 territory for the Technivorm or the Capresso. It was this or the Krups FMF5 that seemed to have replaced the Aroma series. (STILL waiting for the review on that one .. ahem!)
The design is good for my narrow space. My space is not hindered by cabinets, however. The stainless looks good, the plastic looks fine, and I'm not expecting anything to actually touch the plastic to mar the finish. I like that water and brew basket are accessible in one door.
The packaging was wall to wall form fitting Styrofoam, and as such everything was in mint condition. The instructions are not exactly Engrish, but then it's NOT a complicated product, so I really don't think I'm missing out on any nuances. Following the instructions, I first brewed a pot of water (with a filter in place, they recommend) and got a steaming hot pot of... water. It is loud, or as loud as a coffee maker can be without falling into the realm of the absurd. I note that the filter basket lifts out and is sidewall insulated- or at least trimmed in stainless- all the way around. A No. 4 paper filter fits fine, and in fact the instructions call for a No. 4, not a No. 3 as in some reviews I've read. There is a plastic insert for handling the potentially hot and messy grounds. It's aligned so the filter seam goes front to back, not side to side as I'm used to.
I set my Starbuck/Solis grinder for "drip" and ground up some nice StumpTown HairBender, <2 days old. I clicked "on" and some time later, there was coffee! Filled up, the grounds look dangerously close to the top, but it handles the bloom very well, without getting any on the lid or back in the water reservoir. It's good coffee. It doesn't blow my socks off, but then we are talking about drip coffee, here. C'mon. Is this site dedicated to the excellence of BREWED coffee? No, it's all crema this and "God Shot" that.
I did not encounter any difficulty with the lid. Its screws down; it screws up. Line up the little circles-- 1/4 turn counter counterclockwise-- and it pours. The spout does not drip and does not require inhuman amounts of wrist flexibility to pour. I can't imagine why this lid has been complained about, maybe I just have large hands. There's no residual dribbling out of the brew basket when I lift out the pot, and no requirement that the pot be removed from the coffee maker to stay hot. It did come with a supplemental "lid" that pokes down into the hole at the top, like a stopper. I have not needed it, because for me, brewed coffee just doesn't stay yummy that long. There was a sticker on the top warning about bodily injury or death/dismemberment from steam, but I elected to remove it before the heat permanently cooked it on.
Let's see here... keeps coffee hot, brews a nice cuppa, programs for tomorrow, and has a thermal carafe. It fit my bill perfectly, for those days I don't want espresso, moka pot, French press, vac pot or melita filter coffee, all of which I seem to have collected.
****2 month follow up****
After two months with this maker I'm still a fan, though I have some quibbles.
The bad news first. I do like a stronger cup of coffee, and while a No. 4 filter will fit in the brew basket, it doesn't expand completely and it seems there's not quite enough room to get as many grounds in there as I'd like for a full pot. Getting a strong 4 or 6 cup pot isn't much of a problem, it's the 8-10 c pots that come out a little weak. I haven't had the grounds overflow yet, but I've come quite close, and still had a weakish brew. Another thing is that the lid will sometimes get quite tight in the carafe and then it's uncomfortable to loosen it to pour, though I haven't figured out why or how it gets lodged in there. Finally, the brew-through lid never seems to fully empty, it will slosh a little fluid if I shake it long after the coffee's done brewing. I try to rinse it copiously each time to keep things like bacterial and fungal counts low.
The good? As far as I can tell the main thing about this coffee maker was that it makes a HOT cup of coffee. This has certainly turned out to be its strong point. The timer is great, saving quite a bit of time in the morning. I also like that it's a single-cycle button to turn on the timed brew. If you've ever left a Krups' switch turned down to the timer mode, it'll try to brew tomorrow even if there's no water in there. The Zojirushi's coffee is consistently good. Not amazing but good. I don't know if this happens to be a subjective thing as my tastes for plain espresso have grown, but I'm certainly keeping the pot.