I bought three mugs online to test and use. Two of those were Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loops, and one was a Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA. I gifted the two Contigos and kept the Zojirushi. Here’s my review of the Zojirushi.
(Want to know which of the two is best? Read my Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA VS Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop article.)
It’s called a travel mug because man should travel. Else they’d call it a go-nowhere mug.
And with travelling comes man’s duty to enjoy coffee.
But drinking cold coffee is akin to snowboarding inside an active volcano. Not gonna happen.
Coffee needs to be warm, even hot, but not cold, cool or lukewarm.
Granted, cold brew coffee is another thing. A good cold brew goes a long way towards satisfying caffeine cravings.
But cold brew is synonymous with a long wait, not with hitting the road. Cold brew is the single malt whiskey of coffee; hot coffee is a good beer.
When you hit the road, you want a comfortable mug of warm coffee perched on your lap or sitting in the cup holder.
What better way to spend a long drive than with a good companion (my wife), Morrissey’s ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’ oozing from the CD player and a warm mug of caffeine to snuggle up to?
I can’t write a review of my wife or describe how beautiful Morrissey’s haunting song is, but let me tell you about the Zojirushi…
In this review I pit the Zojirushi against a cheap plastic mug my wife bought me some years ago. I followed the same route with the Contigo West Loop mug (read my Contigo review). In another post I compare the Zojirushi to the Contigo. Better sign up to receive more of this sort of thing.
Here’s why you’ll want to buy the Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA travel mug.
Good heat retention
The plastic mug showed a drop in temperature of 45 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) over a five-hour period.
The Zojirushi showed a drop of 32 degrees Celsius (57.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over five hours.
The Zojirushi—because of its double wall stainless steel construction—does a far better job of retaining heat than a plastic mug.
Plastic is a great option for container products. It makes a tough travel mug too.
The problem is, plastic doesn’t retain heat as well as metal.
So you can have your tougher plastic mug, but if you want warm coffee, you need double wall stainless steel insulation.
The Zojirushi gives you double wall insulation.
So it’s as tough as a metal mug can be.
If you drop it, it will dent or bend. The lid won’t last either.
So, even though it’s tough, you need to handle the Zojirushi with care.
Doesn’t spill or leak
The Zojirushi’s lid clips into place when you close it. It also features a lid cover gasket, made from silicon, that seals into the sip area when you clip the lid cover into place.
The lid set screws onto the main body with a stopper gasket—also made from silicon—that keeps your Zojirushi’s contents inside.
The Zojirushi doesn’t leak even a little bit.
The Zojirushi’s lid set contains a safety lock. This is next to the lid set’s button.
Why is this important?
Let’s say you decide to buy a travel mug; a cheap one, cos buying a Zojirushi is a waste of money.
You make coffee and fill your cheap new travel mug. You’re proud of having saved money by not buying the Zojirushi. The coffee tastes the same in the cheap mug, after all.
Your cheap mug doesn’t lock, but that doesn’t bother you. You told yourself to be more careful when you use it; you won’t allow your little one near it.
You grab your mug of delicious coffee and head for the porch, where you ease into a hammock chair. You place the mug next to you on the tiled floor.
Your little one’s waddling around in the lounge. She’s in a good mood, but driving you nuts with her incessant humming and singing.
You lay back your head and close your eyes. You could do with a quick snooze.
Something’s up. Your little one’s gone quiet.
You hear a muted plonk, followed by a, “Whoopsy!” next to you.
You turn to see your new mug lying on its side, bleeding coffee, your little one squatting next to the accident, covering her mouth in mock shock.
You’ll have to make another cup and you can’t set it on the floor, but you’re thankful, because it could have been worse.
What if she’d tried drinking the hot coffee? You don’t want to think about the consequences.
The Zojirushi’s lock adds another layer of security to your travel mug. A little one will have a difficult time opening it.
I found the following on a Zojirushi product page…
5 year warranty on heat retention
That doesn’t say much, so I emailed Zojirushi USA for more info.
Jacqueline kindly replied with the following email:
Thank you for contacting Zojirushi America.
The vacuum mugs are non-Electrical products that come with a 5 year heat retention warranty.
Parts however, such as the lid, are not covered under this 5 year warranty.
You have up to five years to exchange the main body, but not the lid set, if I understand their warranty.
In the box
The Zojirushi came in a neat box, along with usage pamphlets in various languages.
No dents, unlike the Contigo
The Zojirushi had no dents when it arrived. That’s because Zojirushi ships their product in a box. It handles a journey better.
Both the Contigos I ordered came with minor dents, because Contigo doesn’t package their products in a box.
Before using it
Take these steps before using the Zojirushi:
- Unscrew the lid from the body.
- Remove the pamphlet from the tumbler.
- Wash the lid & tumbler.
- See cleaning instructions below.
- Dry with a cloth, or place on a rack to dry.
Maximum beverage temperature
Unless you drink molten lead, metal, lava or something similar, the Zojirushi will handle what you fill it with.
Use it for coffee, tea or a similar beverage and it won’t give you trouble.
Heat retention tests
I ran two tests to compare the Zojirushi’s heat retention to the plastic mug’s. (The plastic travel mug can’t compare to the Zojirushi.)
For both tests I made coffee in the AeroPress coffee maker. I measured the contents immediately after filling the mugs.
I boiled the water for the coffee to 100 degrees Celsius, but by the time I was done with the AeroPress, the coffee’s temperature had plummeted.
For testing the Zojirushi, I compared data collected from testing the Zojirushi, to data collected from testing the plastic travel mug for the Contigo article. There’s no need to duplicate the plastic travel mug test.
For the first test, I poured coffee with a temperature of 66 degrees Celsius (150,8 degrees Fahrenheit) into the Zojirushi and the plastic travel mug.
In both cases I measured the coffee’s temperature every half an hour, for five hours.
For me, 66 degrees Celsius is warm enough, but some might find it too cold. I wasn’t concerned with the drinking temperature; I wanted to test the Zojirushi’s heat retention capability.
The temperature of the coffee in the Zojirushi dropped 32 degrees Celsius (57.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over a five hour period.
The temperature of the coffee in the plastic travel mug dropped 45 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) over a five hour period.
Here’s a table showing the difference in temperature over a five-hour period, measured every half an hour.This table shows the drop in temperature of coffee in a Zojirushi and a cheap plastic travel mug, measured every half an hour, for five hours.
|Timeframe||Zojirushi (Celsius)||Cheap plastic travel mug (Celsius)||Zojirushi (Fahrenheit)||Cheap plastic travel mug (Fahrenheit)|
|30 minutes later||58||51||136.4||123.8|
|60 minutes later||53||40||127.4||104|
|90 minutes later||49||31||120.2||87.8|
|120 minutes later||46||30||114.8||86|
|150 minutes later||44||29||111.2||84.2|
|180 minutes later||41||25||105.8||77|
|210 minutes later||40||23||104||73.4|
|240 minutes later||37||23||98.6||73.4|
|270 minutes later||35||21||95||69.8|
|300 minutes later||34||21||93.2||69.8|
These pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the Zojirushi…
…and these pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the cheap plastic travel mug…
For the second test I poured coffee into the Zojirushi at 10:42 am in the morning. It measured 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit). I measured it again at 17:08 pm. That’s six hours and 26 minutes later. It measured 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).
That’s a drop of 35 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit). The second test showed similar results to the first.
Note: These tests were done in a normal home in a normal suburb of a normal little town on a spectacular coast.
Ideal coffee temperature
The Coffee Detective says that the ideal temperature range for coffee is between 155ºF to 175ºF (70ºC to 80ºC)
Driftaway Coffee‘s Scott says coffee should be between 120°F and 140°F (48.88°C to 60°C).
It’s down to personal preference.
How to use it
Unscrew the Zojirushi’s lid, pour your beverage into the tumbler and screw the lid back on.
If you don’t want to scorch your lips, wait a few minutes before you screw the lid onto the main body after having filled it.
How to drink from it
To drink from the Zojirushi:
- Press the release button at the front of the mug.
- This releases the lid cover and it pops open.
- Don’t do this close to your face. The mug can build up pressure when sealed.
- Make sure the lid cover is flipped open all the way.
- If it’s not, it’ll touch your forehead when you drink from the mug.
- Put your lips to the Zojirushi’s sip area.
- Tilt back your head and sip.
How not to use it
The Zojirushi comes with a booklet chock full of warnings. Here’s what they say you shouldn’t do with it:
- Don’t allow small kids or babies to use it.
- Before using it, ensure that the lid cover gasket and stopper gasket are attached.
- Don’t fill it while the lid is attached to the main body.
- Make sure the lid cover is clipped into place after taking a sip.
- Stop using the mug if it doesn’t retain heat anymore.
- Don’t open the lid cover with the mug close to your face.
- Don’t heat it in a microwave oven.
- Don’t drink from the mug while driving.
- Drink slowly from it.
- Don’t shake the mug if it contains a beverage.
- Don’t put dry ice into it.
Can you use it for soup?
Zojirushi’s usage pamphlet says to not use it for drinking the following liquids:
- Liquids high in sodium
- Fruit juice
- Fruit pulp
- Tea leaves
I wanted to see whether it would handle soup.
I used the same soup I used for testing in the Contigo. It’s a creamy tomato soup.
I prepared it according to the packet’s instructions and strained it into a jug to remove large lumps. I poured the soup into the Zojirushi.
It wasn’t necessary to strain the soup, since the drinking hole is big enough. But I wanted to emulate the Contigo soup test.
The soup poured from the Zojirushi like a river.
Zojirushi says you can’t use it for soup. I’ve proven that you can use it for soup. But if you use it for soup, you do so at your own risk.
How to clean it
Follow these steps to clean your Zojirushi:
- Fill a sink with warm water and add detergent.
- Place the Zojirushi in the water.
- Remove the lid set from the main body.
- Remove the lid cover gasket from the lid set.
- Remove the stopper gasket from the lid set.
- Clean the lid set.
- Soak in warm water.
- Use a small, soft brush to get to hard-to-reach places.
- Remove the lid set from the soapy water and rinse in clean water.
- Shake a few times to assist in drying.
- Wash the main body.
- Use a soft sponge.
- Remove the main body from the soapy water and rinse in clean water.
- Shake a few times to assist in drying.
- Place the lid set, cover gasket, stopper gasket and main body on a rack to dry or use a cloth to dry.
- Place the stopper gasket and cover gasket back onto the lid set once all parts are dry.
The Zojirushi is not dishwasher safe. Wash it by hand.
Technical detailsTech specs for the Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA. Metric and Imperial.
|Body material||Food-grade stainless steel|
|Height (assembled)||218mm||8.58 inches|
|Height (lid set)||70.6mm||2.78 inches|
|Height (main body / tumbler)||170mm||6.69 inches|
|Maximum diameter (lid)||86.2mm||3.39 inches|
|Maximum diameter (main body / tumbler)||82.1mm||3.23 inches|
|Weight (assembled, dry)||298g||10.51 oz|
|Weight (assembled, filled with water)||760g||26.8 oz|
|Weight (lid)||96g||3.38 oz|
|Weight (main body / tumbler)||203g||7.16 oz|
They make the Zojirushi’s lid from various materials, including polypropylene. They make the gaskets from silicon. The lid set contains small metal parts too.
They make the main body (tumbler) from a food-grade stainless steel.
The Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA comes in one size:
- 16 oz
Zojirushi makes more models in other sizes, including 12 oz and 20 oz.
Does it fit inside a cup holder?
That depends on the cup holder’s diameter.
The Zojirushi tapers up from ~69mm.
Our Mitsubishi Pajero’s cup holders have a diameter of ~76mm. The Zojirushi fits.
My wife owns a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9. The Zojirushi fits the Evo’s cup holders.
Does the AeroPress fit?
The AeroPress fits into the Zojirushi. Can’t say the same for the Contigo West Loop.
Why is this important?
When you make AeroPress coffee in a different container and pour it into your travel mug, you lose heat with the transfer.
I made coffee inside the Zojirushi straight from the AeroPress and the temperature measured 73 degrees Celsius. When I made coffee in a stainless jug and poured it into the Zojirushi, the temperature measured 66 degrees.
The Zojirushi comes in four colours:
- Cherry red
- Dark cocoa
- Lime green
- Stainless (plain silver)
I bought the Zojirushi for under $30.
Size and colour determine the Zojirushi’s cost. The dark cocoa Zojirushi is the cheapest offering, while the cherry red is the most expensive.
The Zojirushi is a good travel mug.
It’s leak- and spill proof. The locking system ensures that your coffee (or tea) goes nowhere when you’re juggling or shaking the Zojirushi.
It keeps your drink hot. The double sealed walls ensures that your Zojirushi’s contents remain hot for long. It retains heat better than the Contigo.
It’s not as easy to use or clean as the Contigo, but if you place a high premium on keeping your drink warm, get the Zojirushi.
Want to know which travel mug is the best between the Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA and the Contigo West Loop? Click here.