Ninja Coffee Bar Review
If you’re anything like I am, your love of coffee is really more of an addiction. And not just any old cup of joe, but something very specific… Like a double caffeinated skinny latte with whole milk with a heart on the froth. We’re the people that other people make fun of at Starbucks.
But I don’t really have the $15 per day that my coffee addiction costs me, so I decided to invest (that is the right word, btw, and I will talk about that later) in a full service coffee machine for my own kitchen. That’s what this Ninja Coffee Bar review is all about!
Things to Consider Before Buying a Full Service Coffee Machine
There are several things to consider before you buy a full-service coffee machine. By full service, I am referring to a coffee machine that does not just produce a single kind of coffee (aka drip, french press, espresso pot), but rather a machine that can make multiple kinds of coffee – drip, espresso, frothed milk drinks, etc…
- The first consideration is… What kind of coffee do you drink? If you only drink french press, drip coffee, or espresso, you have a TON of basic choices, and most of them are relatively cheap. If you prefer fancy coffee drinks, you will need a less basic choice.
- The second consideration is price. Multi-function coffee machines can be break-the-bank expensive, some costing thousands of dollars. Many other machines are more reasonably priced, and a few are actually economical, especially when you realize what you will save every week at your local coffee bar.
- The third consideration is real estate. Yes, real estate. How big is the machine compared with your available counter space.
Presenting the Ninja Coffee Bar (Model CF091)
The Ninja Coffee Bar is a coffee maker that makes either a full carafe of coffee or single servings.
The machine has a built in frother to transform hot or cold milk (or plant based beverages) into a rich, smooth froth ideal for lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, and the lot. This is a podless (thus more economic and environmentally friendly) coffee system that comes with a permanent filter, and also has settings for hot coffee drinks as well as iced coffee drinks.
This is a great machine for people who love coffee drinks that are not just plain-Jane coffee. It is also a great buy for people (like me) who are addicted to Starbucks and don’t have (or don’t want to spend) upwards of $15 per day getting their coffee fix. If drip coffee is your thing, there are many excellent options for much less money.
Ninja Coffee Bar Pros
- The system is pod free and comes with a permanent filter!
- It’s flexible. You can brew a single cup of coffee or an entire carafe.
- There are a variety of brewing modes from plain, rich, iced, specialty, and cafe forte.
- For the amount that it does, the machine’s footprint is comparable to many larger basic drip coffee machines.
Ninja Coffee Bar Cons
- The machine has a tendency to get very hot which can overbrew the coffee (making it bitter).
- The machine incorporates a lot of plastic and feels cheap.
- The design is, shall we say, less than elegant.
- It comes with a lot of accessories, which will take up additional counter (or cabinet) space.
The Ninja Coffee Bar offers exactly the cup of coffee you want, whenever you want! With a myriad of features, this machine offers the most bang for your buck when it comes to multi-function coffee machines.
Out of the Box
When you unpack your Ninja Coffee Bar, you will find:
- The Ninja coffee bar unit
- Hot and cold tumbler (8 oz size)
- Milk frother
- Permanent filter
- Coffee scoop
- Glass carafe
- Instruction manual
The Ninja Coffee Bar can make (almost) limitless coffee drinks. The control panel is a hybrid of digital and analog (buttons and dials) controls that allow you precise control over the drink that you are making. As well, you can brew as much as a 10-cup carafe or a little as a single cup.
The machine offers five different brews:
- Rich (deeper, richer flavor)
- Over-ice (the brew is stronger to account for melting ice cubes)
- Specialty (for cappuccino and cafe lattes)
- Cafe forte (you guessed it! Very strong coffee)
The Ninja Coffee Bar allows you to brew six different sizes:
- Cup (9.5 ounces)
- Travel mug (14 ounces)
- Multi serving mug
- Half carafe (19 ounces)
- Full carafe (38 ounces)
The Ninja Coffee Bar’s Thermal Flavor Extraction Technology is calibrated to get the most flavor out of your chosen coffee. This involves temperature, a pre-wetting cycle where the coffee grounds are moistened, then the machine waits for about half a minute, and then begins brewing.
The machine features a “drip stop” button for when you want to pour a cup from the carafe (without making a mess) before the brew cycle has completed. The Ninja Coffee Bar also features an auto-off function that turns the machine off after two hours of inactivity – not quite enough time to prevent burnt coffee, but enough to prevent completely cooked coffee!
If you’re like me, and you really, REALLY need your first cup of coffee as soon as you get out of bed in the morning, you can set the delay brew button feature to brew the coffee at a specific time (and the timer goes down to the minute).
My favorite feature is the milk frother. It’s easy to use, fairly easy to clean, and makes a rich, creamy froth without the barista (not to mention the cost). The frother is more of a whip than a steamer. If you want hot milk, you heat it first in the microwave. It actually looks like my immersion blender.
Alternative Multi-Function Coffee Machines
If the Ninja Coffee Bar isn’t your (ahem) cup of tea, there are lots of other choices in every price range. Please note that the Ninja Coffee Bar is the only multi-function coffee maker that offers espresso AND drip coffee.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker, Silver
Close in price to the Ninja Coffee Bar system, this Mr. Coffee machine does pretty much everything that the Ninja does with the exception of making a carafe of drip coffee. The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista makes espresso, cappuccino, and latte.
The control panel is easy to navigate, and allows for “one-touch” operation. The automatic milk frother is a really nice feature. It comes with a refillable milk reservoir, which is great if you’re having a dinner party and need to make several cups back-to-back, but for daily, single cup use, it is a pain to keep clean. I would only recommend this machine to consumers who drink a lot of milky coffee drinks all day long.
Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine
This machine is a good step up from the Ninja Coffee Bar. Retailing at $469 on Amazon, this machine is quite a bit more expensive than the Ninja, but it is still relatively inexpensive compared to the really high-end machines on the market. Note that it does not brew drip coffee.
This machine is really beautifully designed in stainless steel. It features a pannarello wand – you insert the wand into a pitcher of milk to heat / froth it – for frothing milk. The wand also dispenses super-hot water for americanos and tea. The machine is relatively easy to care for, with the drip tray, water tank, and the “dregs” drawer on the front of the machine, yet concealed from sight. The machine heats quickly, and grinds coffee immediately before every brew. The hopper holds a generous 250 grams of coffee beans.
An impressive piece of kitchen equipment, I would not recommend this machine to those with little or no kitchen counter space, as it has a large footprint.
Hamilton Beach 40792 Espresso Maker
At $99 on Amazon, this is definitely the bargain machine of the day! This machine makes espresso, cappuccino, and latte. It is the only machine in this Ninja Coffee Bar review that uses capsules as well as espresso grind coffee. It offers 15 bar pressure, high enough to brew a proper espresso, and has a bare bones, straightforward, easy to use design.The drip tray and water reservoir are easily accessible. It has a swiveling steam wand for frothing milk, and it also keeps your cups warm while waiting to brew.
This machine offers a lot for the price, and makes some basic, no nonsense cups of coffee! It also has a small footprint, so it will work in small kitchens.
For a relatively inexpensive coffee machine (currently available on Amazon for $135), the Ninja Coffee Bar offers a lot of bang for the buck. It makes a great cup of coffee, allows you to use the coffee of your choice, and has all the bells and whistles.
Remember at the beginning of this Ninja Coffee Bar review I talked about making an investment? Well, here’s the explanation… I used to spend about $15 a day at my local Starbucks. Including weekends. That’s $105 per week. In less than a week and a half, my Ninja Coffee Bar was paid for! In addition, I like pretty good coffee, which costs about $12 per pound, and I go through a little less than a pound of coffee per week. So my coffee habit now costs me a little less than $9 per week. That’s less than what I used to spend DAILY. There you have it!