Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System Review: Great Value or Overkill?
Do you have 17 different coffee and tea-making appliances on your countertop? We get it. First, you get into coffee and buy a coffee maker. Then you want to try cold brew coffee, and someone suggests a milk frother. Your partner has a craving for iced tea…. It snowballs fast.
Someone at Ninja faced this same challenge and came up with the idea of an all-in-one brewer for hot and cold coffee and tea. The result is the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System. Keep reading this Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System review to see what we found.
SUMMARY: The Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System
- Multipurpose brewing system for coffee, cold brew, tea, iced drinks, and specialty brews.
- Modern user-friendly design with an intuitive touchscreen display.
- Fold-away milk frother arm lets you craft cafe-style drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.
It’s met all of my expectations and more. I love hot and cold coffee, and my husband loves iced tea.– Katt
The Full Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System Review
Complex devices that try to do everything end up doing nothing well, so we were curious about the performance of this Ninja coffee bar. In the end, we came away impressed. It’s not perfect, but it is more than the sum of its parts.
This complex coffee and tea brewer has so many functions to appeal to tea and coffee drinkers that it’s going to take us a while to talk about all of them. So we’d better get started!
Design – 4/5
Like all the best Ninja coffee makers, the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System is an attractive coffee maker with a clean, modern look. Compared to traditional coffee makers like the Moka pot or the French press, it looks like a piece of advanced technology – and in many ways, it is. If the team at Google were creating a coffee maker, it would probably turn out something like this, with smooth curves, chrome accents, and a flat touchscreen interface.
The design is surprisingly compact, especially when considering the brewing versatility. It measures just 30 cm by 25.5 cm by 38 cm, a minimal footprint compared to owning different brewing equipment for hot coffee, cold brew, and tea.
Cleverly, the built-in milk frother tucks away, keeping this machine’s practical rectangular shape.
It is available with either a 10-cup thermal carafe or a glass carafe. The glass carafe version also has a warming plate. Though both versions have pros and cons, Home Grounds prefers the more expensive thermal carafe option. A thermal carafe will keep your coffee warm for hours without needing a warming plate (1). So the coffee never gets that burnt “office coffee” taste with which we’re all familiar, and you’re saving energy. The stainless steel thermal carafe is virtually indestructible, while the glass carafe can easily shatter.
The retractable platform for single-cup brewing is a cool design addition to this Ninja coffee bar. A cup is much smaller than a carafe (duh), so it makes sense to have it closer to the coffee output to avoid splatter. For this reason, many espresso machines include separate stands, but Ninja’s retractable platform is equally effective and much more convenient.
At the back of the machine, you’ll find a 1.45-litre removable water reservoir, which is the same capacity as the thermal or glass carafe. You either refill it each time you brew a new pot of coffee, or it can brew several single-cup cycles in a row.
Features – 4.5/5
This machine is packed with features. Indeed, that should be why you’re buying it. If you’re looking for a basic coffee maker, look elsewhere. But if you want what is essentially a tiny cafe on your countertop, then keep reading as we walk through everything this machine can do.
The Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System is designed to make coffee or tea, including separate colour-coded filter baskets and brewing modes for both. So if you’re worried that the flavour of the herbal tea you brewed yesterday will affect this morning’s coffee, you don’t need to be.
Whether brewing coffee or tea, you can choose one of six brew sizes: one cup, an XL cup, a travel mug, a larger travel mug equivalent to about 3-4 cups, a half carafe, and a full carafe. The machine calibrates the brewing process to optimize the flavour and aroma at each of these sizes; it doesn’t just change the quantity of water.
You can also choose between five brewing modes; this is where this machine stands out from the crowd. The brew styles are:
- “Classic brew” is the most dilute and gives the traditional drip coffee machine flavour.
- “Rich brew” uses a slower brew cycle to enhance extraction and produce a more robust flavor.
- “Over ice” yields an even more concentrated coffee so that it won’t taste watered down when poured over ice in an iced coffee.
- “Cold brew” extracts the coffee using a cooler water temperature but still manages to brew in just 10 minutes.
- “Specialty brew” makes a concentrated hit of coffee designed to mimic espresso, which is to be used in milky drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.
And while I described each of those as coffee brewing systems, you can equally use them to brew hot tea, cold tea, and tea concentrate.
If you enjoy specialty drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, you’ll be excited by the unique fold-away milk frothing arm on the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System. This motorized whisk attachment makes it quick and easy to make milk froth for your tea and coffee beverages. Let’s be clear that this is not the same as a steam wand on an espresso machine. It doesn’t heat the milk, and it can’t produce the sort of creamy microfoam you need for latte art.
Some users have complained that the frother doesn’t heat the milk, but that’s actually a benefit of this machine.
If you’re making a cold drink like iced coffee, it’s nice to have a cold milk foam topping, which is impossible to achieve with a steam wand. And if you’re making a hot drink, it’s easy to warm milk on the stovetop or in the microwave before frothing.
This machine lacks a Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) home brewer certification (2). You’ll have to buy the Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker instead. This coveted certification means that the coffee maker has undergone rigorous testing and is guaranteed to make coffee to the highest standard. The idea is that this standard is appropriate for specialty beans (3). So if you are spending a lot of money on the best coffee, consider opting for an SCA-certified home brewer to showcase your expensive beans properly.
Lastly, even though this is a coffee maker review, we’d be remiss not to mention that the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System comes pre-programmed with the appropriate brewing recipes for the five main types of tea: Herbal, Black, Oolong, White, and Green. Tea lovers know that each of these is best with a particular steeping time and brew temperature, and the team at Ninja knows this too (4).
Ease of Use – 4/5
This Ninja coffee maker is straightforward to use, especially given its many features. Sure, it’s a touch more complicated than a classic automatic coffee maker. But the touchscreen controls are intuitive and have some pretty neat, user-friendly features.
The Home Grounds favourite is the Smart Basket Recognition System. The Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System can identify whether you’ve inserted the tea or coffee brew basket, and the screen will automatically display the controls for that brewing method. You never need to worry about accidentally brewing your coffee grounds as though they’re green tea.
There is also a programmable brew timer, a feature common to most coffee machines for a good reason. You can prep it in the evening and have a perfect cup or carafe of hot coffee ready and waiting when you wake up.
The Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System doesn’t use coffee pods, which might seem less convenient, but we think it’s a good thing. Not only are pods – especially the non-recyclable K-Cups – bad for the environment, but they’re expensive and contain small doses of stale coffee. Even Keurig founder John Sylvan doesn’t use them at home, opting instead to brew a thermal carafe full of coffee on a timer, just like in this Ninja system (5).
I make a pot of coffee in the morning into a thermal carafe. Before I go to bed…I put the coffee and water in, and when I wake up there’s a pot of coffee.
Using a higher quantity of freshly ground coffee for brewing will always yield a tastier cup than a pre-packaged pod, and you’ll have a much bigger variety of coffee options. When it comes to brewing tea, both loose tea leaves and tea bags are compatible with the filter.
One of the selling points of the Hot and Cold Brewed System is its built-in coffee scoop. Admittedly, the scoop is nicely designed, with a variety of measurements for all different brewing scenarios, and the way it slots into the machine is very clever. Home Grounds advises dosing your coffee by weight rather than volume to achieve more consistent results. So while the scoop is an excellent addition to this brewer, consider investing in a coffee scale to upgrade your morning cup.
When cleaning the Ninja coffee bar, it’s a little surprising that there’s no automated cycle, but it’s still a straightforward process. First, all the removable components are top-rack dishwasher safe. Second, this coffee machine monitors the build-up of scale or other dirt and alerts you when it’s time for cleaning. Descaling a coffee maker is as easy as running a few cycles with water and a cleaning solution when that time comes. Of course, if you’re using the milk frother attachment, wipe it down after every use.
Value for Money – 3.5/5
The value you get from the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System depends on how often you use all of its extra features. This is a really good iced coffee maker for its price. But if you usually just brew a cup or carafe of coffee and only rarely make iced coffee, brew tea, or froth milk, then you’re paying more than you should. You can get really good drip coffee makers for much less or SCA-certified drip coffee makers for about the same price.
On the other hand, if you like to mix up your coffee routine, you will get your money’s worth. It’s a cost-effective way to enjoy a chai latte one morning and a cold brew the next. It’s certainly more affordable than buying a coffee maker, a cold brewer, a milk frother, a kettle for tea, and so on.
Don’t Buy the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System If…
- You just want to brew coffee: If you’re not taking advantage of all the different brewing modes of the Ninja, you’re better off saving your money – or putting it towards a higher-quality coffee brewer. This Oxo drip coffee maker and the Precision Brewer by Breville are both in the same price range as the Ninja but are certified by the SCA coffee lovers to brew the highest standard.
- You like espresso drinks like lattes and cappuccinos: While the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System does have a milk frothing attachment, it can’t create the same texture as a proper steam wand, nor can it produce a real shot of espresso (6). If you prefer lattes and capps to brewed coffee, it’s worth getting a proper espresso machine.
- The Breville Bambino is an excellent option in the same price range as the Ninja. Or go for the pricier Gaggia Brera. It’s about twice as expensive, but it is a fully automated system that even includes a built-in burr grinder.
- You prefer a pod-based system: We already said that avoiding coffee pods is the best choice if you want to enjoy delicious coffee and protect the environment. But if you can’t resist the convenience of a single-serve brewer, then we won’t judge. The Keurig K-Cafe doesn’t do quite as much as the Ninja system, but it is a versatile coffee maker that allows you to brew several drink sizes and froth milk. And you can avoid all the pitfalls of K-Cup brewing by investing in a refillable K-Cup and filling it with medium ground coffee.
If you find yourself pulling out multiple appliances daily to make your family’s favourite coffee and tea drinks, then the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System is for you. With an easy-to-use touchscreen, this all-in-one brewer makes it simple to prepare various drinks, each customized to your taste. It’s more affordable than owning a collection of different appliances, and it barely takes up more space on your countertop than a traditional coffee machine.
- Driftaway Coffee. (2015, February 28). 3 Common Misconceptions About Keeping Coffee Hot. Retrieved from https://driftaway.coffee/hotcoffee/
- Specialty Coffee Association. (2022). SCA Certified Home Brewer Program. Retrieved from https://sca.coffee/certified-home-brewer
- Cadwalader, Z. (2021, July 22). What is Specialty Coffee? Retrieved from https://sprudge.com/what-is-specialty-coffee-180293.html
- David’s Tea. (2015, March 23). Hot stuff… Tea steeping temperatures. Retrieved from https://sprudge.com/what-is-specialty-coffee-180293.html
- Evans, P. (2015, March 5). K-Cup creator John Sylvan regrets creating Keurig coffee pod system. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/k-cup-creator-john-sylvan-regrets-inventing-keurig-coffee-pod-system-1.2982660
- Nosowitz, D. (2012, June 12). FYI: What is Espresso? Retrieved from https://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-06/fyi-what-espresso/