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Hands-on Gear Review
Ninja Coffee Bar ReviewPrice: $270 List | $87.99 at Amazon
Pros: Versatile, easy to use
Cons: Relatively poor, plasticky taste, expensive
Bottom line: Ok if you want to try and make some drinks with milk and syrup, but doesn’t perform well as a standalone coffee machine
The Ninja Coffee Bar is nothing if it isn't versatile. It offers a built in milk frother, different settings and different carafes for if you're making hot coffee or iced, and is the only drip machine we tested that can make a single cup of coffee at a time. Unfortunately, all of this versatility does bring a sacrifice in taste quality, the Ninja was amongst our taste testers least favorite machines. However, the Ninja is more geared towards making milk coffee drinks with lots of syrups and flavorings, so that poor taste quality will be overshadowed if you use it in this manner.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Ninja Coffee Bar gives you the tools to make just about any coffee creation you can think of, but we weren't impressed with its performance strictly as a coffee maker.
The Ninja Coffee Bar's overall scoring in our testing was on the lower end, mostly due to its poor performance in our taste tests.
Below we discuss how the Ninja Coffee Bar fared in each of our individual testing metrics.
The Ninja was a relatively poor performer in our taste testing, earning a 4 out of 10. This was below average in a metric where scores ranged from 2 to 10. This low score was mostly due to to a strong plastic taste in the brew. This taste did get a bit weaker after the first few pots, but it never went away. In fact, its coffee tasted more of plastic than the coffee we made in a Keurig machine that uses plastic pods. That plastic taste gets washed out when you add frothed milk and flavored syrups to the coffee, but is very prominent if you drink your coffee black.
The Ninja was one of the easier machines to use and earned a score of 8 out of 10 in our testing. This was bested only by the pod machines, both of which scored a 9, and far above the low score of 4. This high score was largely due to its interface, which clearly lets you select how much coffee you'd like to brew and lets you choose between classic brew, rich brew, and over ice brew. It also has a small LCD that makes programming the scheduled brew time function very easy. The carafe also produces an easy, clean pour. It missed out on a top score simply because it's hard to beat the insert-pod-push-button simplicity of the pod style machines.
The Ninja was an average performer in our convenience testing, earning a 6 out of 10. This was right in the middle of the scoring, which ranged from 3 to 9. Including cleanup and initial prep the Ninja made 6 cups of coffee in 10 minutes, which was fairly fast for a drip machine but still slower than the BUNN Velocity Brew, which takes advantage of a constantly heated water tank to make coffee incredibly fast. The Ninja can also be programed to automatically start brewing at any future time, which can streamline your morning routine.
Ease of Cleaning
The Ninja Coffee Bar isn't particularly easy to clean. It earned a 5 out of 10 in our cleaning testing, putting it towards the bottom of a scoresheet that saw scores from 4 to 9. While we really like the green quality of the Ninja's reusable mesh filter, cleaning the grounds out of it is much more time consuming than throwing away a paper filter full of grounds. Luckily that filter and most other parts of the machine (excluding the carafe) are dishwasher safe. The attached milk frother requires some extra cleaning if used, the best method being dunking it into a cup of water and running it for a second. Deeper cleaning requires removing the frother (which is quite easy) and some scrubbing. The descaling process took 80 minutes to run, which was longer than most machines.
The Ninja Coffee Bar's list price of $270 makes it one of the more expensive machines we tested. This is a decent value if you want something that can froth milk and can make everything from a single cup of coffee to a full pot. However, if you just want good tasting coffee the OXO On Barista Brain costs less and is far superior in that aspect.
The Ninja Coffee Bar can make coffee and froth milk, so you can practice your barista skills at home. However, the coffee it makes is far inferior to that of other machines in this price range.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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