Most coffee drinkers in America start their day with drip coffee at home, or with a morning pit stop at the nearest Starbucks on their way to work. Ninja Coffee Bar does what it’s name states. What if you had one machine that could do it all – full pots of drip coffee for breakfast with your family, a single serve for when you’re on your way out the door, and specialty espresso-based drinks at a lower cost than at your local coffee shop?
Ninja Coffee Bar Brewer – A Coffee Shop At Home
The Ninja Coffee Bar Brewer aims to fulfill all of these requirements, and to do so without taking up half of your kitchen counter and costing several hundreds of dollars. We were so happy and excited to review this Ninja Brewer. With a single machine and a few small accessories, you can make most of your favorite styles of coffee without leaving home. If you’re going to coffee shops on a regular basis, you know how quickly the cost of your daily brew can add up. If you make these drinks at home, the Ninja will quickly pay for itself.
How well does the Ninja Coffee Bar live up to its promises? First, let’s take a detailed look at what it has to offer.
Features and Specifications
- Choice of brew size: carafe, half carafe, travel mug or cup
- Choice of brew strength: Classic, Rich, Over Ice or Specialty
- Thermal Flavor Extraction technology
- Glass carafe holds 43 ounces
- Warming plate with 2-hour automatic shut-off
- Auto IQ takes just enough water from the reservoir for your chosen brewing method
- Comes with reusable mesh filter, milk frother, hot/cold tumbler, coffee scoop, carafe, and 40-recipe cookbook
- Programmable timer to delay brewing
- Something for Everyone
The Ninja Coffee Bar really is like having a coffee shop right in your home. You can use it to brew a pot of coffee, or a single serving, or even an espresso-based drink, and it’s about the same size as a normal coffee machine. These are pretty impressive functions even for a best drip coffee makers.
The Ninja CF097 comes with a milk frother, thermal carafe and a book of recipes for 40 different espresso-based drinks. If you want to make frappuccinos you will need a blender that can crush ice; otherwise everything you need is included. If there are a lot of coffee drinkers with different preferences in your house, this is a great way to keep everyone happy without having to buy a lot of expensive equipment that takes up space in your kitchen.
How Ninja Coffee Bar Works
This machine has a water reservoir that you can remove for refilling. Whatever brewing method you choose, the machine automatically draws just enough water for your coffee.
The Ninja comes with a reusable mesh filter, or if you prefer you can use a #4 cone paper filter as well. At the bottom of the filter basket is a switch you can use to stop the brewing if you want to pour a cup before it is finished.
This model uses Thermal Flavor Extraction, which is a combination of pre-infusion, temperature calibration and coffee saturation, to get the optimal brew no matter which type of coffee you are making.
The carafe sits on a warming plate that has an automatic 2-hour shut-off time. If you want to brew into a cup or mug, you place it on a little tray that folds down, bringing it up closer to the basket to reduce splashing.
This machine also has a programmable delay in case you want to wake up to freshly made coffee.
Regular Drip Coffee
You can brew coffee in 4 different sizes: full carafe, half carafe, travel mug or individual cup. You can also choose whether you want classic or rich brew. Of course, with any auto drip coffee maker you can make the coffee stronger by adding more grounds, but the Ninja is designed to optimize the brewing process for the strength you choose.
This coffee maker also gives you the single serving option in a format that will cost you much less than machines such as Keurig or Tassimo. You simply put your own ground coffee into the reusable filter and press the appropriate button. It’s better for the environment than all of those disposable K-cups, too.
Coffee On The Rocks
The Ninja Coffee Bar has an Over Ice feature that allows you to brew at the right strength for iced coffee. To use this feature, fill a glass with ice cubes, put the specified amount of ground coffee in the filter basket, and brew at the press of a button. The extra-strong hot coffee combined with the ice produces a final product at exactly the right strength and temperature for iced coffee.
The best way to sweeten iced coffee is with syrups that will mix easily with cold liquids. Alternatively, you could brew into an ordinary mug, dissolve sugar into the hot coffee, and then pour it over the ice.
To make frappuccinos, you will need a blender that has the ability to crush ice. The Ninja Coffee Bar comes with a recipe book that gives you complete instructions on how to make a variety of hot and frozen drinks.
“Espresso” Based Drinks
The Ninja doesn’t pretend to be a true espresso machine. Real espresso is made by forcing hot water under pressure through a compacted puck of finely ground coffee. This process produces a flavor and crema that are characteristic of espresso and can’t be reproduced with an auto-drip machine.
This model instead has a “Specialty” brew setting that will brew shots of very strong coffee for making lattes and other espresso-based drinks. The result is similar to what you might get from an Italian stove-top moka pot. The Ninja optimizes this brew setting with a pre-infusion in order to get the best possible extraction with a small amount of water. Trying to get the same effect with a regular auto-drip machine will result in under-extracted grounds and wasted coffee.
The Ninja comes with a milk frother that looks a lot like a French press pot. You can microwave milk directly in the frother or heat it by another method in a separate vessel if you prefer. Pumping the plunger produces a good amount of fine foam for your cappuccino or latte. The instructions recommend that you microwave the milk again after frothing; this is largely a matter of personal preference.
The book of recipes contains all of your favorite coffee shop specialties, as well as many that you’ve never heard of before. You could be making your favorite flat white, caramel macchiato and pumpkin spiced lattes without even leaving the house!
Pros and Cons
This machine is aimed at a “typical” American coffee lover. Someone who drinks auto-drip coffee, but also stops at Starbucks on a regular basis for their range of espresso-based drinks. In a sense, it addresses a similar demand to a super-automatic espresso machine but at a much lower cost. It’s not going to keep a true barista or espresso lover happy, but for most coffee drinkers, it will do the trick.
Although it doesn’t have a big footprint on your counter, the Ninja is a bit on the tall side. So, you will need 15 inches of clearance if you want to put it under a cupboard. Furthermore, the good news is that you can remove the water tank by moving it sideways rather than lifting it.
- Wide variety of brewing styles and options
- Low cost
- Low maintenance
- No disposable pods or filters needed
- Relatively small size
- Comes with all the accessories needed
- The model discussed above comes with thermal carafe
- Doesn’t makes true espresso
- Brewing temperature may not be hot enough for everybody
- Sometimes messy with cup brew setting
A few customers have complained about a plastic taste that will not go away. This seems to have been a problem with a very few machines and customer service is aware of the problem and will address it if necessary.
Not everybody loves the milk frother that comes with the machine. The plunger-style frother takes a bit of getting used to in order to get the temperature and quantity of the milk right for foaming. But it’s one of the most effective ways to get good quality foam without a steam wand. What’s more, it doesn’t require electricity to do the good work.
The vast majority of customers are very happy with the Ninja Coffee Bar. They say, “It’s not just about making a cup of coffee, we rather love to play with this machine” . In addition with a few extra ingredients like syrups and spices, you can recreate your favorite coffee shop drinks at home using the same machine you use to brew a regular pot of coffee. You can easily make single servings without buying expensive K-cups. Also, you don’t have to worry about whether or not cheaper brands are compatible with your machine. It can’t make real barista-style espresso, but for most other types of coffee it does extremely well.
Overall the Ninja Coffee Bar offers great value for money and a lot of versatility. We are happy to give it our highest recommendation.
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