Ninja Coffee Bar Review + Video below!
The Ninja coffee maker is designed for coffee lovers who desire simplicity. The overall design is simple and sleek. It looks nice on your counter. The Ninja gives you all of the tools you need in one convenient package. It’s easy to use and follow the directions and makes a good cup of coffee.
The Ninja Coffee Maker gives you several options to choose from when selecting how much coffee you want to brew. But you can’t deviate from these pre-set options.
It’s an easy single-cup brewer! The single-cup sizes yields from 9-18 ounces.
You can brew one small cup, a medium-size cup, a large cup, and a huge cup. It also has a setting to brew a very strong small cup that is 4 oz. so you can make a milk-based specialty drink. The folding shelf is a nice touch because it lifts the shorter cups closer to the brewer so it’s not splashy and messy. Yes, I’ve deemed that a technical term.
Aside from the “single cup” sizes, you can choose to brew a ½ carafe (35 ounces) or a full carafe (53 ounces).
Inside the instruction manual, they provide a chart to show you how much coffee to use for each brewing option. Also, the scoop is marked with these recommendations.
The scoop is mounted to the side so you never misplace it. The scoop is even conveniently marked with the Ninja recommended number of scoops to use for your selected brewing option. Easy. The scoop holds 2 TBSP (11g.) on the large side and 5 g. on the small side.
However, the recommended coffee to water ratio is not congruent with SCA coffee standardized ratios of 15:1. (or 2TBSP per 6 oz.) More on that later.
The carafe pours very easily without having to turn the lid to pour right after brewing. The carafe keeps the coffee extremely hot. We never leave coffee for more than an hour so I can’t vouch for more than two hours.
The lid turns easily and has a tube that brings the freshest brewed coffee to the bottom of the carafe to integrate the weakest coffee with the strongest coffee while it’s brewing. The only negative about this tube is that it does not remove and I don’t like permanent straw shaped things because they are not easy to clean. They do not include a cleaning brush to clean it.
The milk frother is a nice addition to the coffee bar, however, I think I was expecting something that was going to heat the milk too, like the steam wand on an espresso machine. This frother simply agitates the milk with a fast-moving whisk, but you have to heat it up in the microwave to make it hot. It works pretty well for making a creamy foam and comes off very easily for cleaning. They include this so you can get foam similar to a cappuccino and mix it with very strong brewed coffee. Don’t mistake this for brewing espresso though.
The cone-shaped mesh filter helps to makes coffee more flavorful, allowing the oils to mingle with your brewed coffee, making it richer and fuller-bodied. The presence of oils will also offer you a bit more caffeine in your cup. With a permanent mesh filter, you have less waste and don’t have to buy filters. I’m a fan of these because I prefer full flavors and a big body. If you prefer paper filters you can use them in place of the mesh filter if desired.
The coffee filter basket has a drip-stop feature that allows you to pour a cup before the pot is complete. However, I don’t recommend it because it weakens the flavor of the rest of the batch and nobody likes watery tasting weak coffee.
The water temperature gets very hot but it’s unclear what the top temperature actually is. The included literature doesn’t say. Optimal brewing temperature is 195-205 depending on your coffee origin, blend, and roast. Different roast levels can benefit from different temperatures and this does not adjust accordingly.
Programmable for auto-start so you can wake up to freshly brewed coffee. No fuss, grab and go!
The water reservoir comes off for easy filling, which I originally thought was a fantastic idea. I was hoping it would make it simple to clean as well as adding water but it does not achieve both desires.
- It is easy to fill, but it’s not easy to clean.
- The shape of the reservoir allows you to carry it easily with built in handles, but you can’t get your hand in there to wipe off the surface and it’s even difficult with a cleaning brush.
- The reservoir is marked with the water levels that coincide with the function button on the front of the coffee maker, however there it does not indicate how many ounces you’re putting into the reservoir.
- You can fill up the entire water reservoir and select to use only some of the water, leaving the rest of the water to use for tomorrow.
If you are someone who can work within the size options given, and just want to be given a formula and follow it, then this machine is easy and it makes good coffee. It may be the perfect brewer for you!
However, as a coffee professional, I don’t recommend using the coffee to water ratio recommended by Ninja because it will not make a strong rich cup of coffee. Using their recommended number of scoops gave me coffee that was rather weak and watery even using the “Rich” setting.
I created my own water / coffee ratio chart specifically for this coffee maker. Now I can easily know the number of scoops to use in each setting, and brew a great rich cup of coffee.
The SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) recommends using 11g. (2 TBSP) of coffee per 6 oz. of water.
Here are my scoop recommendations when brewing with the Ninja coffee bar with the included scoop. Start with the classic brew and if you need it to be stronger, then select the “rich” brew.
- Cup – 3 small scoops
- XL Cup – 2 Large scoops (or 4 small) try both
- Travel Mug – 2 Large scoops
- XL Multi Service – 3 Large scoops
- ½ Carafe – 6 Large scoops
- Full Carafe – 8-9 Large Scoops
When using traditional brewers I like to use this coffee – water ratio card so I always know how much coffee to use. I usually weigh my coffee because I have the OXO burr grinder that has an integrated scale. Weighing coffee is more accurate than scoops and this grinder makes it so easy!
I keep this chart in my kitchen and use it all the time.
To get one of these ratios charts, please visit www.beanhoppers.com and join our email list. Send us an email request and we’ll send it to you in an email, to print and use in your own kitchen. Or we an send it in the mail with a free sample!
This coffee maker simplifies your morning because you always know how much coffee to use for your chosen brewing option without having to measure water, use a scale, or do math.
The hardest part will be figuring out what grind level you prefer. They recommend a medium grind.
You can find the Ninja brewer right here on sale at Amazon
This machine makes a great single-cup brewer in comparison to the Keurig machine. The mesh filter is much easier to clean than the Keurig permanent mesh filter, and it holds as much coffee as you like for your brew.
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As someone who likes to control details, you want to weigh your coffee, brew a specific number of ounces at a specific flow rate and control the brewing temperature. If this is you, this coffee maker may be too simplistic for you.
Ninja doesn’t make it clear how many ounces are in every option. For the cup sizes, they tell you the ounces yielded, but not the ounces before brewing, which is needed to determine how much ground coffee to use. I had to measure the water to figure out how many ounces were in the different options so I knew the proper amount of ground coffee to use. It’s workable once you do the math, and a coffee connoisseur would be willing to do this. Plus you’d only have to do it once, and make your notes, but it does add a layer of inconvenience in the beginning.
The water seems to flow through the coffee at a very fast rate, indicating that it’s not in contact with the grounds long enough for full extraction. However it does have a pre-infusion pause to allow some extra time.
It does not indicate the brewing temperature, although it seems to be plenty hot for proper extraction. I measured 185 degrees coming out of the brew basket but could not measure it before it hit the coffee grounds.
The machine is not SCA certified for the proper brewing time, temperature, and extraction.
We have 2 coffee drinkers who both drink one 12 oz. cup of coffee in the morning. That requires 24 ounces of coffee. The XL Multi option brews 18 ounces (not enough) and the ½ carafe brews 35 ounces (too much). Our only other option would be to do 2 single cups, which requires setting up the machine twice. Not the end of the world but it doesn’t work for every household either.
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