Ninja Coffee Bar Review
THE VERDICT:
The Ninja Coffee Bar is an impressively versatile coffee maker. Its ability to make everything from a regular cup of joe to cappuccinos and ice coffees make it a coffee lovers dream machine.

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Design8.5
Features9
Value9
Tastiness8.5
The Good
  • The Coffee Bar for the most part brews smooth rich coffee in a variety of convenient sizes. Capable of making an impressive amount of specialty coffee drinks.
The Bad
  • The 43 ounce carafe may be too small for some. Coffee sometimes has a slight bitterness.
8.8Overall Score

The Ninja Coffee Bar is the swiss army knife of coffee machines. Want a plain old cup of java? No problem, it can make it. How about a caramel macchiato? Yep, it can do that too. I know, how about an ice coffee? Don’t be silly, it’s got that covered as well. The Ninja Coffee Bar is the master of specialty brews. Is it as good as a Starbucks brew? Maybe not, but it’s pretty darn close. You could spend hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on machines to make all the specialty brews that the Coffee Bar can create. Somehow this coffee maker manages to smush all those machines into one plastic and metal body and make it work.

 

Ninja Coffee Bar Design

The body of the Ninja Coffee Bar is made mostly of plastic with stainless steel accents. It stands at nearly 15″ tall, but should fit comfortably underneath most kitchen cabinets. Along with the coffee maker, you get a hand frother, a plastic tumbler (with a straw), a 43 oz glass carafe, a measuring spoon, and a permanent coffee filter.

Ninja Coffee Bar Review
On the right side of the Ninja sets the plastic water reservoir. To take the tank on/off you simply twist and pull up. The top of it flips open to easily dump out or add water. Underneath the reservoir sets the brains of the operation. The main control panel houses the programmable clock, the delay brew button, stay warm button, the coffee serving size knob, brew type button, cleaning cycle button, and the drip stop indicator.

 

Pan to the left of the water tank and you’ll see the brew basket which slides out of the machine for easy access.  You can brew your coffee with the permanent coffee filter or use a number 4 paper cone filter. Under the basket you have the warming plate which keeps your pot of java warm. The plate’s designed to shut off automatically after about 2 hours. If you only want a single cup, the Ninja has a multi-serve cup platform which folds down. Stack a mug on top of this and you can enjoy a single cup of coffee instead of a whole carafe.

 

Ninja Auto IQ Intelligence

One of the stand out features of the Ninja Coffee Bar is its brew size flexibility. Keurig has dominated the single server market for several years, however the Coffee Bar makes it easy to brew a single cup or an entire pot of coffee.
Ninja Coffee Bar

The brew size dial has four settings: full pot (38 ounces), half pot (19 ounces), travel mugs size (14 ounces), and a single serve coffee mug (9.5 ounces). Turning the knob to one of these four settings determines how much water the Ninja Coffee Bar pulls from the water reservoir. On the side of the tank are clear indications of how much water you should add depending on the serving size you select above.

 

Choose a Brew

The amount of coffee you see drip into your carafe or mug depends on the type of brew you select. For instance, on the classic brew setting you can expect to see about 38 ounces of coffee drip into your carafe. If you select rich brew you can expect to receive a few ounces less. The richer the brew, the less coffee you’ll get. Ninja claims that the classic brew produces a smooth and balanced flavor.

Ninja Coffee Bar Review
Rich brew is still smooth, but the bolder flavor makes it more suitable for throwing in a dollop of cream or milk. The over ice setting lets you make ice coffee drinks without sacrificing the bold coffee flavor. Finally, if you really want to get your caffeine fix on, you can select the specialty brew. This setting pumps out concentrated coffee, ideal for espresso and mixed coffee drinks.

 

Let the Brewing Begin

When you make a brew, you can either use the included permanent filter or purchase number 4 paper filters.  I tried making coffee with the Ninja Coffee Bar both ways and I preferred the paper filter over the permanent. Coffee made with the permanent filter consistently had a bitter taste. To be honest, this is something I’ve encountered with every permanent filter I’ve ever used on any machine, not just the Ninja. Either way, it does give you an alternative if you run out of paper coffee filters.

 

Once you fill the water reservoir with the appropriate amount of water, you simply use the supplied measuring scoop to put the indicated amount of coffee into the basket. Place your mug or carafe under the basket and you’re off to the races.

 

The Ninja Coffee Bar pre-infuses the coffee grounds before it brews your coffee. Essentially, it saturates the coffee grounds with hot water which Ninja claims unlocks the coffee’s flavor. After you select your preferred brew, you’ll hear the pre-infusion process get under way. This usually lasts about 12-15 seconds followed by a 10-15 second pause. After which, the Coffee Bar will begin to gurgle and the sweet coffee juice will slowly start to drip into your cup or down into your carafe. A single cup usually takes a few minutes to brew.

 

How Good’s the Java?

Overall, the Coffee Bar produces a very good cup of coffee. The classic brew is smooth and flavorful. Those of you with discerning coffee palates will probably detect just a touch of bitterness, but it was by no means unpleasant. Overall, I’d give the Ninja a high grade when it comes to tastiness.

 

The rich brew is much bolder and tasted great with a touch of cream and sugar. Generally speaking I preferred the classic brew over the rich. The specialty brew is about as close as you can get to espresso. The Ninja Coffee Bar’s concentrated coffee doesn’t quite compare to the top-of-the-line espresso machines, but when used in one of its specialty drinks it excels.

 

I mentioned earlier that the carafe only holds a volume of about 38 oz. For a large family of coffee drinkers a single carafe of coffee probably won’t do the trick which means you’ll probably need to fire-up another pot.

 

Specialty Drinks

The Ninja Coffee Bar ships with a drink manual that doles out detailed recipes for a wide variety of coffee drinks. The coffee bar makes a good cup of java, but the real reason why you buy a coffee maker like this is for its variety of specialty drinks.

Ninja Coffee Bar Cappuccino

My first go at creating a cappuccino-style coffee turned out surprisingly well. One little thing that threw me off a bit was that the recipe in the manual was misprinted (Whoops!)  so I had to jump online to verify the necessary steps. The frother that’s packaged with the Coffee Bar worked better than expected. Pumping the heated milk 15 times left me with a glass full of frothy deliciousness. Making the drink took only a few minutes and when it was finished it was on par with a drink I’d expect at a neighborhood coffee bar. The cappuccino was robust, flavorful and smooth. In other words, it was delicious.

 

Iced coffee has never been one of my favorite ways to enjoy a cup of java, however with Ninja’s substantial recipe manual by my side it seemed like the perfect opportunity to test out the Coffee Bar. The steps for this were surprisingly simple. A heated 1/4 cup of half and half mixed with 2-3 squirts of vanilla syrup gave me the basis for the ice coffee. With the glass under the brew basket, I hit the Ice Coffee button and in a couple minutes I had a creamy, rich and refreshing ice coffee drink in my hand.

Ninja Coffee Bar Ice Coffee Drink

The great thing about the Coffee Bar is that you’re not restricted to the recipes in the book. This versatile little device opens up all sorts of possibilities. Aspiring baristas will find it easy to come up with their own unique concoctions.

 

The Verdict

The Ninja Coffee Bar is one of the most flexible coffee makers I’ve ever used. It makes a tasty cup of coffee, plus it’s capable of making a huge amount of specialty drinks. That being said, I don’t think this coffee maker is for everyone. If you simply want the best cup of coffee that money can buy, there are other stand alone coffee makers which are better. However, I dare you to find one that has the wealth of talents that the Ninja Coffee Bar has.

 


Where to Buy:

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