Bringing the coffee house home.
As per most creatives, we’re big-time coffee drinkers in the Murrell household. When it’s just a quick cup, we used to hit up our trusty Keurig; when there’s more time to savor the process, we love a good pour-over, and used to rely on a beloved Clever dripper for that.
The Ninja Coffee Bar changed all of that for us.
Let me just get this out of the way up front… we love the Ninja so much that it’s going to be nearly impossible for me to write objectively about it. The fine folks at Ninja sent us a unit to test back in January, and it has absolutely consumed our coffee habits ever since. Let’s get into the details, because if you’re a coffee fan at all, I think you’ll immediately understand why we love this little machine so much.
What Does It Claim to Do?
The Ninja Coffee Bar is an all-in-one coffee making system that claims to produce a wide variety of coffee drinks using a range of built-in presets and an included frother attachment.
- Supports a variety of sizes, from a single mug to a 50oz carafe
- Built-in carafe warmer
- Supports several brewing styles
- Built-in frother
- Uses a permanent filter (included), or normal coffee filters
Look and Feel
We’re testing the Carafe System with Pod-Free Single Serve, and it looks gorgeous on our counter. I find even the fanciest pod-based coffee makers to look a bit large and gaudy sitting out in a kitchen, so the Ninja’s retro futuristic design is a sight for sore eyes. My wife is a designer with some of the pickiest taste I’ve ever encountered, and she’s absolutely in love with the look of this thing.
Thankfully, all of those good looks are backed up by some stellar industrial design. Much like the Ninja Blender we reviewed over the holidays, the Coffee Bar has a thougtful sturdiness to it that I can’t help but admire every time I use it. From the way the brewing area slides out to add your grounds, to the easily removable water reservoir, everything about this machine was designed with users in mind. The controls are backlit, bright and clear, and even the brew selector has a satisfying click to it as you rotate through the six brew sizes.
It’s a joy to use, and I don’t throw that compliment around flippantly. This machine will likely be your morning companion from here on out, so all of those graceful touches make for a meaningfully fantastic experience.
Performance and User Experience
Here’s how much we love the Ninja Coffee Bar: In the two months we’ve had it, we haven’t touched a k-cup, we haven’t moved our Clever dripper, and our Starbucks gift cards have barely seen a single-digit change. The coffee this thing puts out is honestly so good that I’d rather make my own at home than make the typical coffee house pilgrimage. I mean that… it’s truly fantastic.
Making a single cup (our most common task) is extremely simple. Turn it on, dump in your grounds (we grind our own daily), and select a brew. About three minutes later, you’ll have a phenomenal cup of coffee. Most of what the Ninja does is basically act as an automated pour-over machine; with the exception of stirring the grounds once the water is added, the Ninja’s “cafe forte” brew follows the same ritual that goes into a good pour-over brew using a Clever dripper or Chemex.
My favorite feature has to be the “specialty brew,” which is a concentrated 4oz cup that is similar in boldness to espresso. Combine that with some hot frothed milk, and you have a silky smooth flat white that will absolutely rock your world. Honestly, that flat white is so delicious that I quit experimenting with the other recipes from the Ninja’s included recipe book.
Lauren is a huge fan of the cappuccino, and even the normal brews you might make with the carafe are a delicious compliment to late-night pie or early morning emails.
Functionally, the machine is all very easy to use. Select a brew size, select a brew method, and that’s just about all there is to it. The built in milk frother is wonderful, especially given how quiet it is and how easy it is to clean (just twist it off and back on). It even folds around to the back when not in use to save your some counter space.
The Ninja Coffee Bar is so great that I can think of very few reasons why any coffee lover wouldn’t want or need one. It’s quick enough to replace you Keurig for single serve. Unless you’re a hipster with something to prove, I think it’s an acceptable replacement for your beloved pour-over tools (go ahead and light me up in the comments below). It’s an incredible coffee maker, and I think it will absolutely turn you into a raving fan like I’ve become.
Build Quality and Reliability
I covered this up above already, but this machine is so well-engineered that it puts every other kitchen appliance I have to shame. You’re going to get years of faithful service out of it.
It works perfectly every time, too. No weird half-brews like the Keurig quirks, and no finicky connections anywhere.
Look, it’s $200 (sometimes cheaper if you catch the right sale), but this will be the best $200 you’ve ever spent. It’s slightly more expensive than a top-of-the-line Keurig, way more expensive than a typical percolator, but less expensive than owning a cappuccino maker, espresso machine, or the handful of other coffee contraptions it replaces. I think it’s a steal.
If it’s not already abundantly obvious, our family absolutely loves this thing. Lauren reminds me weekly that this is her favorite gadget that I’ve ever brought into the house.
If you even remotely enjoy coffee, you owe it to yourself to pick up a Ninja Coffee Bar. Make it a birthday gift, graduation present, or even just treat yourself. Throw your other coffee machines out, and put this in a treasured spot in your kitchen.