Coffee makers that claim to do it all are often pretty gimmicky. A drip coffee machine that can also do cold brew? Or a filter brewer that can produce an espresso-like ‘shot’, perfect for making milk coffees? Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
That’s exactly what we have here with Ninja coffee makers. Are they good, or are they a gimmick? The fact that two of them are certified by the SCA points to the former.
Let’s check them out and see! But if you’re in a rush, here’s our favorite:
Who is Ninja?
Ninja is a US-based company that makes kitchen appliances. Blenders, pressure cookers— that kind of thing. But you know we’re not here to talk about blenders and air fryers! No! They also happen to make a few different coffee machines.
When you look at one of Ninja’s coffee brewers, you can see exactly what they are going for. A coffee maker that is easy to use and can be purchased at a competitive price. These two things alone make up a large portion of Ninja’s popularity.
But people don’t just love these coffee machines because they’re cheap and easy. Some Ninja coffee makers are capable of attaining proper water temperatures, followed by decent brew times— all you really need to make a tasty cup of coffee.
What can we expect from a Ninja? Stealthy, rooftop hopping speed and ultimate agility?
Ninja Strength Features
Ninja currently has three coffee brewers in their product line. Each offers a certain level of control when it comes to the strength of the brew.
The big boy of the Ninja coffee brewers, the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System, offers five different settings, while the most basic Ninja offers two.
These settings control the amount of water that flows through the coffee while in the filter basket. The amount of water that the brewing system uses to brew is largely what will control the strength of the coffee.
Essentially, these buttons are forcing the coffee machine to brew coffee at a lower ratio. The brewing options include:
- Classic. The Ninja standard. Ideal for everyday black coffee brewing.
- Rich. Brews coffee at a lower ratio, using less water than classic brew mode. Produces a stronger cup. Good for black coffee with a touch of milk or maybe some extra flavoring.
- Over Ice. The over ice setting brews at a lower ratio still, allowing you to brew iced coffee without diluting your brew too much.
- Cold Brew (new models). Cold brew in 15 minutes?! If something sounds too good to be true, then it usually is. The fact is, without some extreme pressure at play, you can’t make legit cold brew in 15 minutes. The cold brew option brews the coffee at a low ratio, using lower temperature water, and also brews the coffee slower. According to Ninja, this results in a smooth, naturally sweet cold brew.
- Specialty. The specialty option produces a strong, small amount of filter coffee. This is basically the ‘drip coffee does espresso’ type deal. Using this setting, the brewer will make a 4 ounce (120ml) ‘shot’ of coffee to use for your frothed milk coffee drinks. This setting would also be good for iced coffee.
- Cafe Forte (old models). The Cafe Forte feature was an option on the phased out Ninja Coffee Bar line. Cafe Forte was a strength setting that sat somewhere between the rich and specialty settings.
- Auto-IQ One Touch Intelligence. The brewing system will automatically detect the amount of water needed for your selection. Choose a half carafe with a rich brew strength, and the device automatically knows how much water to use.
- Single cup option. No more K-Cups and no more Pods! Some of the current Ninja coffee brewers can make anywhere from a pod free single cup, up to a full carafe.
Ninja Coffee Maker Reviews 2021
A coffee machine being SCA certified is a big deal. There are currently under thirty coffee makers with the prestigious certification, many of which cost upwards of $300.
- SCA certified.
- Come with either a thermal or glass carafe.
- Brews six sizes and four styles.
- Warming plate to keep coffee hot.
- Lacks a cold brew option (if that’s your thing).
- Doesn’t look quite as sleek as other brewers.
The SCA home brewer certification means that the coffee brewer in question is able to brew hot enough, and brew in a decent timeframe. This ensures that we’ll get a tasty, well-extracted cup. As long as you choose great coffee, that is.
The Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker is one of Ninja’s two offerings that owns the certification.
The CM407’s front panel features four different strength buttons, as well as a dial that controls brew volume. Anywhere from a pod free single cup up to a 50-ounce full pot. You can choose between a glass or a thermal carafe. The glass carafe model includes a warming plate, which can keep your coffee hot. The warming plate has an auto-off feature that activates after two hours.
As far as handy features go, it has two noticeable functions. A delayed start timer, meaning you can set the machine to brew the next morning. And if you’re someone who can’t wait for a full carafe to brew before pouring a cup, the brewer has you covered with the drip-stop function. Use the drip-stop slider to plug the brew basket, allowing you to remove the carafe while the brew continues.
This machine is good for anyone who has cabinets in their kitchen. As with most of the current Ninja coffee brewers, nothing is loaded into the machine from above. Everything comes out from either the front or the side.
The filter basket is inserted via the front of the machine, and the water reservoir comes out from the side. The milk coffee lover can froth some Barista style foam using the fold-away milk arm housed on the opposite side of the machine.
The filter basket on the Ninja CM407 uses either the provided reusable mesh filter or a paper filter. Use a paper filter for a cleaner cup profile or the metal mesh filter for a coffee with a heavier body.
While the Ninja CM407 contains fewer features than the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System, it does perform better at simply brewing coffee. Which is why we buy coffee makers in the first place, right?
The Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System has bells and whistles for days! We’ve got a lot to unpack here…Here it goes!
- Loads of brew size and ratio options.
- SCA approved means that it can brew hot enough.
- Includes a milk frother.
- Comes with two brew baskets. One for tea and one for ground coffee.
- Almost entirely made of plastic.
- Brew times are a little too fast.
The face of this brewing system is pretty futuristic, with its illuminated settings on a sleek black panel. We have a clock that allows us to set a delayed start timer, a clean button, and a dial that we can use to set the brew strength and the cup size. There are five different brew strengths, each one with a specific style in mind. Just next to the coffee strength settings, we also have five options for teas.
Now, I know what you’re thinking— probably the same thing I was. “Like I’m going to put tea in my brew basket!”. One of its nice touches is that it comes with two brew baskets— one for coffee, the other for tea. Color-coded. Nice. The brewing system automatically recognizes which basket you’ve inserted, which is pretty cool. Each brew basket comes with a permanent mesh filter, but you can use paper filters, too.
If you are a fan of milk coffees like lattes and flat whites, there is a built-in milk frother on the side of the unit. Note that it isn’t a steam wand, and it won’t heat your milk. It is basically an electric whisk. You can make some pretty decent textured milk with it easily.
We’ve got 6 brew sizes, ranging from a single-serve all the way up to a full carafe. That means your travel mug will fit under the coffee outlet so long as it isn’t too tall. Super handy to be able to brew a single-serve directly into a travel mug, grab and get on your way. The Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System comes with a glass coffee pot with a full pot capacity of 50 ounces (1478ml).
Brewing a half pot of coffee will brew 32 ounces (950ml), and will take about 5 minutes. This is a little too fast for my liking. It’s not too bad, though, and with a little grind adjustment, you should be able to land in a good place brew time-wise.
Now that we’re on the subject of time let’s talk about the Cold Brew function. To make flavorful coffees, we need to use one of two things— heat, or time. If we use a lot of heat, as we do for a pour-over, we don’t need much time. But if we don’t use heat, aka cold brew, we need a lot of time. The Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System claims to brew sweet, flavorful cold brew in just 15 minutes. This simply isn’t going to happen.
This Ninja coffee maker is fairly budget and packed full of features. Because it focuses on doing so many different things, it doesn’t really nail any of them perfectly. All in all, for the price, the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System isn’t a bad option for those wanting to make a variety of drinks in different sizes.
If you’re super particular about your brews, stick with our top pick.
With everything you need to make a simple cup of coffee, the Ninja 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker is the most bare-bones machine in the lineup. This machine is a simple coffee brewer. Add some water, add some coffee, choose one of the two strength settings, and you’re off to the races!
- Large 60 ounce brew capacity carafe.
- A simple, easy to use coffee maker.
- Includes a warming plate to keep the coffee warm for hours.
- Doesn’t include the Auto IQ feature.
- Built mostly of plastic.
The glass 60 ounce (1774ml) full carafe makes this the largest machine Ninja currently offers. Six-zero! 60 ounces! That is a huge amount of coffee. The brew capacity of this machine alone might make this a contender for anyone wanting to brew a large volume.
Thankfully you don’t need to brew 60 ounces everytime. On the face of this machine are a few different settings, including an option for smaller 2-4 cup batches. This setting, according to Ninja, will optimize the drip machine for a smaller amount of coffee.
Other options on the front here are two brew strength buttons— classic and rich. While I personally feel like two strength options are perfect and that there is no need for more, I’m sure others feel differently.
If you want this brewer to be your new wake up call, it can do that. Using the Ninja 12-Cup’s 24 hour delayed start timer, you can program the brewing system to start brewing at whatever time you want. The glass carafe sits on a small hotplate that can keep coffee warm for up to four hours— four hours should be long enough to finish a mammoth 60-ounce carafe of coffee, no?
One thing it lacks that the other machines offer is the Auto One-Touch function. This means that the brewer will use whatever water is in the removable water reservoir for that batch. You need to put the exact amount that you want it to use for each brew. Not a huge deal, but the IQ function does make things easier.
Aside from the brew-pause feature, which will pause the brew while you remove the carafe to pour a cup, that’s about it! The Ninja 12-Cup is a basic brewing system. That’s what I think a lot of people like about it. No Barista style built in frother, no ‘specialty’ sizes— just basic drip coffee. It is by no means the best drip coffee maker, but it is solid for the price.
If you can stretch the budget ever so slightly, I’d recommend going with one of these SCAA approved coffee makers instead.
Previous Ninja Brewers Review
The previous line of Ninja coffee makers was known as ‘Ninja Coffee Bar’. The idea was that having one of these feature stacked babies in your house was like having your own coffee bar or coffee shop at home! These products have since been phased out and replaced by one of the coffee makers in Ninja’s current line.
Let’s take a quick look at this previous line of machines. If you’ve had your eye on one of these but can’t find one online or in a store, I’ll let you know which current machine replaced it.
1. Ninja CF112 Coffee Bar
The Ninja CF112 Coffee Bar was replaced by the all-new Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System. Both machines were designed to brew a variety of different sizes and styles. A couple of the most significant differences are that the new version comes with a carafe, whereas the CF112 brews single-serve only.
Both models feature a built-in frother and IQ one-touch intelligence. The new version also includes the cold brew option and a variety of different settings for tea. It also comes with its own separate tea brew basket, which the CF112 didn’t offer.
If you wanted the Ninja CF112, go for the current Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System.
2. Ninja Coffee Bar with Thermal Carafe
The Coffee Bar with Thermal Carafe is almost exactly the same as the Ninja CM407 in every way. Both coffee makers feature a 50-ounce thermal coffee pot (thought the CM407 also offers a glass carafe model), and both feature six brew size options.
The only real differences between the two are their looks and the fact that this older Ninja coffee maker includes the now fazed out cafe forte option. This was basically a strength setting in-between rich and specialty.
If you wanted the Ninja Coffee Bar with Thermal Carafe, go for the current Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker.
3. Ninja CF097 Coffee Bar
With six size options and five brew strength controls, the Ninja CF097 is also very similar to the Ninja CM407. Both machines have a thermal carafe, and both offer loads of brew options.
The newer of the two, the CM407 certainly look more modern and features the phased out cafe forte brew mode. But those are basically the only differences between the two models.
If you wanted the Ninja CF097 Coffee Bar, go for the current Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker.
The Final Verdict
It can sometimes be all too easy to pass off certain coffee makers as being cheap and gimmicky. But if a couple of these Ninja coffee makers are good enough to be certified by the SCA (specialty coffee association), they can’t be too bad, right!?
With its ease of use, slimmed-down feature set, and SCA certification, the Ninja CM407 Specialty Coffee Maker is my pick for the best of the Ninja coffee brewer. It has enough options to accommodate pretty much any drink style you want– brew a cup of regular coffee to milk drinks without going overboard.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Ninja coffee makers any good?
In Ninja’s current lineup, a couple of coffee makers have earned the SCA (specialty coffee association) stamp of approval. This certifies that the brewer is able to brew coffee at an optimal temperature within a reasonable amount of time. Stick to these for the best results.
Which Ninja coffee maker is best?
For the price, the Ninja CM407. It is SCA approved, offers a solid number of brew options, and comes with either a thermal or glass carafe.
Which is better Nespresso or ninja coffee bar?
Each company offers entirely different brewing systems. If you want to brew coffee from real coffee beans, go for the Ninja. If you’re going to brew single-serve pods or capsules, go for the Nespresso. Most single-serve devices brew some pretty terrible tasting coffee. And they are bad for the environment. Probably better to make coffee in a Ninja with real beans.