Ninja Coffee Maker Reviews: Ninja bars, and other brewers
Are you bored with the Mr. Coffee pot that you’ve had for the last decade? Is your bank account looking stretched from so many cafe purchases?
Whether your morning go-to is a classic drip, something extra strong, a latte, cold brew, hot tea, or anything in between, there is a Ninja coffee maker to exactly match your needs. We are going to go through several of our favorite Ninjas to assess their strengths and weaknesses, so you can choose the one that best suits your brew preferences and style. Read on!
What’s So Special About Ninja?
Ninja? Depending on which region of the coffee realm you hail from – drip coffee, cold brew, espresso – you may not have ever heard of this manufacturer. A kitchen-ware and cookery company, Ninja is all about making tools that are versatile and well-built enough to be truly worth the money.
The versatility is probably their greatest selling point, given that Ninja brewers have made a name for themselves by being effective all-in-one coffee machines.
Rather than offering just one style of brew (like you get with traditional single serve brewers), these machines can brew up to 5 different ways- Classic, Rich, Over Ice, Cold Brew, and Specialty. Although Ninja has begun to phase out many of its most versatile machines, there are still some excellent options available. Let’s dive into the features of each Ninja coffee machine to learn more.
Ninja Standard Features
As we mentioned, the variety of styles and features is a big selling point for Ninja coffee makers. However, given that each brewer has its own set of nuances, let’s start with what they all have in common.
Brew Style Choices
Every Ninja coffee machine can brew “Classic” and the slightly stronger “Rich” coffee, which works better with milk. Though most machines have an even wider range, including up to 5 different brew styles, these two brew variations are standard in any of the Ninja models. Here are all of the various options you will find among the Ninja coffee makers.
- Classic – The coffee you already know and love. It’s smooth and balanced for daily sipping.
- Rich – Richer than classic, the flavors of your coffee will be more pronounced and will hold up to milk or added flavor much better.
- Over Ice – Brew hot on top of ice for a refreshing iced coffee that is not watered down.
- Specialty – A concentrate similar to traditional espresso at your favorite coffee shop. This concentrate is intended to make a great latte or even a frozen, blended beverage.
- Cold Brew – In just 10 minutes, your Ninja can do what would otherwise take hours: brew delicious and refreshing cold brew coffee.
- Cafe Forte – This style is only available in the Ninja Coffee Bar machines, and produces an even stronger espresso-like coffee than the “Speciality” setting.
The “Cafe Forte” style is only available in the Ninja Coffee Bar line, a set of products being phased out. However, the “Speciality” and “Rich” settings produce wonderful strong coffee that will serve you just as well. The two cold coffee settings are especially impressive, given how hard it can be for a machine to produce good iced coffee or cold brew without added complexity. (1)
When coffee gets cold, it loses some of its aromatic intensity…that’s true of any cold beverage.
Both the “Over Ice” and “Cold Brew” settings produce flavorful, nuanced coffee.
Each of the Ninja brewers comes equipped with Auto-IQ One Touch Intelligence.
What does this mean?
It means that the machine measures out the correct amount of water for the brew and quantity you program in. Simply choose the type of brew you would like along with the serving size and add the appropriate amount of coffee.
Single Cups Without The Pods
Let’s face it, pods are bad for the environment and don’t produce the best-tasting coffee. The single cup brew feature on any of the Ninja machines is pod-free. You simply use your (freshly) ground coffee of choice as you would if you were brewing a full carafe.
Ninja Coffee Maker Reviews
Now that you know what to expect from Ninja, let’s compare the individual models.
Ninja Hot and Cold Brewing System
The Hot and Cold Brewing System is essentially a consolidation of all the best features, plus a few improvements, from the Coffee Bar line. (2) With capacity ranging from a single cup or travel cup to the full 10-cup carafe, this coffee maker is able to satisfy your early morning craving as well as impress your friends when you invite them over.
The Hot and Cold Brewing System, as its name suggests, can make an array of hot and iced beverages using its five brewing styles: Classic, Rich, Speciality, Cold Brew, and Over Ice. Like the Coffee Bars, this Ninja coffee maker has an integrated frother that will turn both hot and cold milk into velvety foam for an array of drinks. Perhaps one of the greatest perks to this coffee maker is its relatively compact size, particularly given its capacity for so many brew styles and volumes.
One last piece of good news–all of the removable parts on the Hot and Cold Brewing System, except for the stainless steel carafe–are dishwasher safe. No more time-consuming descaling and toothbrush cleaning, just pop the pieces in the dishwasher and run descaling solution through your machine, and you’re good to go.
Ninja 12-cup Programmable Drip Brewer
Ninja may be known for their flashy all-in-one coffee makers, but they also know that sometimes simple elegance is the best approach. The Ninja 12-cup Programmable Drip Brewer is an excellent tool for anyone who wants to add convenience and style to classic drip coffee.
This Drip Brewer is the best of all things drip, with a little extra. It uses pre-infusion and a shower head style water release to evenly bloom and saturate the grounds, and circulates brewed coffee in the carafe to guarantee consistent flavor throughout the whole batch.
Don’t want a whole carafe? No problem, just use the small batch setting to brew the amount of coffee you need. You can even stop brewing midway to steal a mugful before the whole carafe is brewed using the “Pause” function.
All of these specs are classic, beloved features of any great drip machine, so what makes the Ninja stand out? This drip coffee maker can brew two different styles–the “Classic” brew you know and love, and the stronger, more concentrated “Rich” brew. This Ninja gives you a nice level of customization without overcomplicating things.
Ninja Speciality Coffee Maker
The Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker is a slightly simplified version of the Hot and Cold Brewing System.
It offers four brew styles to choose from–Classic, Rich, Over Ice, and Speciality–and has an attached milk frother suitable for both hot and cold beverages. Similar to the other Ninja’s this brewer offers a range of brew volumes from single-serving all the way up to the full 10-cup carafe.
An SCA-Approved brewer, this machine boasts excellent temperature consistency, pre-infusion, and even saturation of the grounds.
There are stainless steel and glass carafes to choose from, and while the stainless steel is more expensive, the absence of a warming plate means less energy wasted on keeping your coffee hot.
As with all Ninja coffee brewers, the Specialty Coffee Maker is easy to maintain. When your machine needs to be descaled, the ‘Clean’ button will illuminate. Fill the water and add descaling solution and then simply press the button, the machine will facilitate its own maintenance cycle and be ready for you to continue making great coffee. All of the removable parts, aside from the stainless steel carafe, are dishwasher safe.(3)
The Ninja Coffee Bar – Being Phased Out
The Coffee Bars by Ninja were a set of coffee makers that were designed to do it all. While Ninja no longer sells them, if you are absolutely sure that one of these coffee makers is the one for you, you can still find them through alternative sellers on Amazon. They offered five different brew styles–the same ones we already discussed with the only difference being the inclusion of the “Cafe Forte” style instead of “Cold Brew.”
The Cafe Forte was an even stronger-than-speciality brew that worked particularly well in layered drinks that used steamed and frothed milk. It seems like users have been so satisfied with the “Rich” and “Speciality” settings that the “Cafe Forte” was a bit redundant.
The three different iterations of the Coffee Bar each fit a different need in terms of brew capacity and showed the evolution of the technology over time. The CF112 Single-Serve Coffee Bar naturally works best for someone brewing for just one or two people at a time since it has a very limited volume.
Meanwhile, the CF080Z has a 43 oz. carafe–glass or stainless steel–and a warming plate to keep coffee hot for up to 2 hours. This second Coffee Bar, like all three, has an incorporated hot and cold milk frother, so you can prepare all the cafe-style drinks your heart desires without leaving the house. Unfortunately though, it does not offer the “Cafe Forte” brew style, though with the “Rich” and “Speciality” options, we doubt you will miss it.
The third machine in this line is the Ninja Coffee Bar CF091, and it combines all the best of the previous two models. Similar to the single-serve, it includes all five of the original brew styles–Classic, Rich, Speciality, Over Ice, and Cafe Forte–and has a single-serving option. However, it is also capable of brewing large glass or stainless carafes of the coffee of your choice.
This version of the Coffee Bar also has a drip-stop lever, allowing you to pour yourself a cup before the full carafe is finished.
The Verdict: Which is the Ninja of all Ninjas?
Deciding which of these machines is best is sort of like determining the best flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream – it just depends on your taste.
For the coffee lover who enjoys mixing things up, the Hot and Cold Brewing System will satisfy your craving for coffee adventure without eating up your time with maintenance or complex brewing processes. If you are looking for a snazzy brewer, but aren’t particularly excited about cold brew, the Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker will suit your needs just fine.
Finally, those of us who are faithful to classic drip but nevertheless enjoy a bit of customization will love the Ninja 12-Cup Programmable Brewer. All three of these models are excellent tools that consistently produce flavorful coffee and stand the test of time.
While we love the Coffee Bar line, there is nothing those machines offer than you can’t find in any of the three options readily available at Ninja. So take your pick and let us know how it works out, and if ninja aint for, there are still plenty of other drip coffee makers to check out here.
All of the Ninja coffee makers we reviewed come with a one year warranty and a 60-day money back guarantee.
Classic style coffee from a Ninja brewer is the drip coffee you know and love, and one serving comes out to about 9.5 oz. Rich style coffee, on the other hand, is a slightly stronger, more concentrated brew. To achieve this, the machine alotts less water for each brew, so one serving measures 8.7 oz. 
No, Ninja coffee makers do not fully shut down automatically. However, for those that use a glass carafe and warming plate, the warming plate has a default shut-off feature that activates after two hours. Users can customize this feature, selecting any amount of time up to four hours before the warming plate turns off. 
- Hoffmann, J. (2018, July 6). Better Than Cold Brew: How To Make Iced Filter Coffee. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PApBycDrPo0
- Ninja Hot & Cold Brewed System™ with Thermal Carafe: Coffee Maker. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ninjakitchen.com/exclusive-offer/CP307WBKT/ninja-hot-and-cold-brewed-system-with-thermal-carafe/
- Ninja™ Specialty Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ninjakitchen.com/exclusive-offer/CM401WBKT/ninja-specialty-coffee-maker-with-glass-carafe/