Ninja Coffee Makers: Innovation or Gimmick?

Ninja coffee makers promise versatility like no other. From brewing hot coffee to creating espresso-like shots, they claim to do it all. This sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Yet, with certifications from the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), Ninja might just be onto something. We’ll dive into these machines’ features to determine if they live up to their claims or if it’s all just clever marketing. Let’s get into the details!

Founded in the US, Ninja has expanded its kitchen appliance offerings to include coffee brewers designed for simplicity and affordability. Users love these machines not just for their price but for their capability to brew at proper temperatures and times — key factors for a good cup of coffee. With models ranging from basic drip brewers to systems that handle cold brew and iced coffee, Ninja is pushing the boundaries of what a coffee maker can do. So, are these features truly beneficial or simply gimmicks? This review aims to uncover the truth.

Ninja Coffee Makers: Strength Features

Ninja coffee makers provide a range of brew strength settings, allowing users to customize the intensity of their coffee. The flagship model, the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System, offers an impressive five different settings, providing a high level of control over the brewing process. At the more basic end of the spectrum, the simplest Ninja models offer two distinct settings. These settings dictate the amount of water that passes through the coffee grounds, significantly impacting the strength and flavor of the final brew. Essentially, the user adjusts the machine to brew coffee at a lower or higher water-to-coffee ratio, depending on their preference.

These brew settings include ‘Classic,’ which is geared towards traditional black coffee; ‘Rich,’ which uses less water to create a stronger cup of coffee suitable for adding milk or flavorings; ‘Over Ice,’ designed to brew at an even lower ratio to prevent dilution when making iced coffee; ‘Cold Brew,’ which claims to produce smooth, sweet cold brew in just 15 minutes by using lower temperature water and slower brew times; and ‘Specialty,’ which mimics an espresso-like strength for use in milk-based drinks or iced coffees. While some of these features sound almost too good to be true—like making cold brew in 15 minutes—the range of options undeniably brings a level of versatility that few other coffee makers offer.

User-Friendly Features

One of the standout features of Ninja coffee makers is their user-friendly design. The Auto-IQ One Touch Intelligence system automatically adjusts the amount of water needed based on the selected brew size and strength. Whether you want a single cup or a full carafe, you simply select your preference, and the machine does the rest. For those who prefer not to use single-serve pods or K-Cups, some Ninja models offer the flexibility to brew anywhere from a single cup to a full carafe without the waste associated with disposable pods.

Additional convenience comes in the form of features like the delayed start timer, allowing users to set their coffee maker to begin brewing at a specific time, ensuring a fresh pot is ready when they wake up. The drip-stop function is another useful feature, enabling you to pause the brew cycle mid-way to pour a cup without making a mess. Many models also come with a fold-away milk frother, which is particularly beneficial for those who enjoy lattes and cappuccinos.

Model Reviews

The Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker is one of the most highly regarded models in Ninja’s lineup. This machine boasts the prestigious certification from the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), a testament to its ability to meet high standards for brewing temperature and extraction time. Available with either a thermal or glass carafe, the CM407 also features a warming plate in the glass carafe model to keep your coffee hot. The machine allows users to brew six different sizes and offers four different brew styles, making it versatile enough to meet various taste preferences.

Another compelling model is the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System. This coffee maker stands out for its extensive range of features, including the ability to brew both coffee and tea. It comes with two separate brew baskets, one for coffee and another for tea, and the machine automatically recognizes which basket has been inserted. With five different brew strength settings and six different size options, this Ninja model is designed to cater to a wide array of preferences. The built-in milk frother is an added bonus for those who enjoy milk-based beverages. However, it’s worth noting that the system is made primarily of plastic and the brew times are somewhat fast, which might not appeal to all coffee purists.

For those who prefer a more straightforward coffee-making experience, the Ninja 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker offers simplicity and functionality at a budget-friendly price. With a large 60-ounce carafe, this model is perfect for brewing large quantities of coffee. It features two strength settings—classic and rich—and a 24-hour delayed start timer. While it lacks some of the advanced features found in other Ninja models, such as the Auto-IQ functionality, it still delivers a solid, dependable brew.

Previous Ninja Brewers Review

Ninja’s earlier line of coffee makers, known as the Ninja Coffee Bar, set the foundation for the brand’s current offerings. The Ninja CF112 Coffee Bar has now been replaced by the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System. Both models were designed to cater to a variety of sizes and styles, but the new version includes additional features like a carafe and a dedicated tea brew basket. Likewise, the Ninja Coffee Bar with Thermal Carafe has been succeeded by the Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker, offering the same versatility with updated aesthetics. Another old favorite, the Ninja CF097 Coffee Bar, closely resembles the newer CM407, with both featuring multiple brew sizes and strength controls.

Ninja coffee makers offer a compelling mix of versatility, user-friendly features, and affordability, making them a worthy consideration for many coffee enthusiasts. Their ability to brew various styles and strengths of coffee, from a basic cup of drip coffee to specialty beverages, sets them apart from many competitors in the market.

The flagship models, such as the Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker and the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System, provide extensive options for brewing and customization, catering to a wide range of preferences. Features like the Auto-IQ One Touch Intelligence, multiple brew strength settings, and the inclusion of a milk frother add to the machines’ appeal, especially for those who enjoy experimenting with their coffee drinks.

However, it is essential to manage expectations. While Ninja coffee makers are versatile, some features, like the 15-minute cold brew claim, may not meet the standards of more traditional brewing methods. Additionally, the extensive use of plastic in some models could be a concern for durability over the long term.

In conclusion, Ninja coffee makers are not just gimmicks; they bring genuine innovation to the table. While they may not replace a dedicated espresso machine or a specialized cold brew setup, they perform admirably for their price range and offer a level of convenience and versatility that can meet the daily needs of most coffee drinkers.