Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
If you like gadgets and experimenting with coffee concoctions, the Ninja Coffee Bar will be right up your alley. This 8-cup drip coffee maker that calls itself a "coffee bar" because its accompanying tools and various programming options let you make a substantial number of different coffee drinks. It can help you make regular coffee in either a cup or travel mug size, as well as various foam-topped confections, iced coffees and more.
Our tasting panel ranked the Ninja's regular coffee as good-tasting as well as having good aroma and heat. Some tasters rated its flavor as top-notch, but a few judged the taste more harshly since they wanted stronger coffee. It also was able to brew relatively fast, faster than all but two of the coffee makers we reviewed.
Ninja offers more room for experimentation than other top-rated coffee makers. 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 gold-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) and program it to delay brewing or stay warm. It can also be set to make a half carafe, a full carafe or tall travel mug, or you can 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.
This is an attractive, modern-looking and multi-tasking 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 but coffee stays warm in its glass carafe – as the warming plate turns on automatically when you start making coffee.
Along with the machine itself, you get a manual-pump, a 5-ounce milk frother to create foam for such drinks as lattes or macchiatos, and a tall insulated plastic iced coffee glass with a plastic straw.
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.
You will know when to clean the machine because an indicator light will pop on. This model can be cleaned simply by running white vinegar and water through it, then running clear water to rinse 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.
The warranty is a little short, but the customer support is great with this product. It comes with a handsome, glossy 51-page recipe book for all manner of coffee drinks. Ninja even offers helpful advice about making coffee drinks or answers to any other Ninja-related questions through its toll-free "Coffee Concierge" phone number.
The Ninja Coffee Bar has a dramatic learning curve since it makes so many different kinds of coffee drinks. But if you enjoy trying different coffee recipes and plunge into programming an appliance eagerly, this will be a delightful addition to your kitchen. It does a good job of making plain old coffee, and then it does a lot more than that, too.