PROS / You can make an extraordinary number of coffee drinks using this drip coffee maker and its accompanying tools.
CONS / The carafe's top opening is so small that you need a bottle brush to clean the carafe.
VERDICT / The Ninja Coffee Bar gives you plenty of options for making different types of coffee drinks, but it is a bit complicated to operate.
If you like gadgets and experimenting with coffee concoctions, the Ninja Coffee Bar might be the best coffee maker for you. However, if you prefer simplicity, maybe not.
This 8-cup drip coffee maker calls itself a "coffee bar" because all its accompanying tools and various programming options let you make a substantial number of different coffee drinks: regular coffee in either cup or travel mug size, various foam-topped confections, iced coffees and more.
This is an attractive, modern-looking coffee maker with the brew filter and glass carafe on one side and the water reservoir on the other. You cannot use a thermal carafe. The warming plate turns on automatically when you start making coffee.
Along with the machine itself, you get a manual-pump 5-ounce milk frother to create foam for such drinks as lattes or macchiatos, a tall insulated plastic iced coffee glass with plastic straw and a handsome, glossy 51-page recipe book for all manner of coffee drinks. Ninja even offers helpful advice about making coffee drinks or any other Ninja-related questions through its toll-free "Coffee Concierge" phone number.
This coffee maker's user manual offers illustrated and written instructions to get you started, and you also get a number of other written materials with it.
Given all the commands, buttons and the knob you need to use, this drip coffee maker scored the lowest in ease of use of any coffee maker we reviewed. There is a bit of a process to ready the machine to make coffee.
However, there are coffee fans who love different options so they can experiment, and this company is determined to offer plenty of them. To make coffee in the carafe, you gently twist the water reservoir off its base and fill it with the amount of water you want to use, replace it, then slide the attached brew basket out toward you and use the two-sided measuring scoop to add coffee. This drip coffee maker uses a permanent gone-toned mesh filter so you do not need to bother with paper filters. Depending on how much coffee you make, you could end up with extra water in the reservoir, which is normal.
You can set the machine to make four different brews (classic, rich, over ice and specialty), program it to delay brewing or stay warm, make a half carafe, full carafe, tall travel mug or flip out a small stand and position a regular coffee cup under the brew as it flows out. This coffee maker offers the welcome safety feature of an automatic turn-off function after two hours have passed.
Our tasting panel ranked the Ninja's regular coffee as good-tasting as well as having good aroma and heat, with some tasters rating its flavor as top-notch but with a few judging the taste more harshly since they wanted stronger coffee.
You will know when to clean the machine internally because an indicator light will pop on. This can be cleaned simply by running white vinegar and water through it, then running clear water for rinsing away the vinegar taste. However, daily cleaning for the carafe is a bit problematic since the neck opening of the carafe is so narrow, you must use a bottle brush to scrub away any residual coffee on the bottom.
For some people, the Ninja Coffee Bar will prove to be a headache since it involves a fair amount of programming and time spent cleaning it. But for people who enjoy trying different coffee recipes and who plunge into programming an appliance eagerly, this could be a delightful addition to the kitchen.