We are serious coffee drinkers. When the nice people at Ninja sent me a Ninja Coffee Bar Brewer™ to write a review, well, honestly I was reluctant to try it. Over the years, my husband Tom, a kitchen gadget guru extraordinaire, has perfected our morning coffee. We love our Dutch-made Technivorm Mocchamaster™ KBT 10-cup Coffee Maker and didn’t think we could get a better cup of coffee at home. We freshly grind the coffee beans for each pot of coffee and use distilled water when possible. We also have a Nespresso Citiz™ Coffee Machine for espressos with the automatic milk frother attachment for cappuccinos. Between the two machines I thought we were covered. Miss Kiki agreed.
The Ninja Coffee Bar does has some unique features that are very appealing, such as a single-cup and travel-cup size brew options as well as adjusted brew strengths. So we decided to do some side-by-testing and let the two machines battle it out.
The verdict: If you had to pick just one machine to keep on your counter - go with the Ninja Coffee Bar for the most versatile coffee options. The Ninja Coffee Bar retails for around $200. Click here to buy it on Amazon.
However - we are going to keep all three machines! I said we are serious coffee drinkers. The Ninja Coffee Bar makes the best tasting single-cup coffee and travel-size cups of speciality drinks like frappes and iced coffees. The Technivorm Mocchamaster makes the best coffee overall - a full carafe of incredibly smooth and rich coffee, and the Nespresso simply makes the best espresso with lush crema - with no close competition.
I know that the most important factors in brewing home coffee are water temperature, steep time, and quality ingredients. Our favorite everyday coffee bean is Eight O’Clock Dark Italian Roast. For the side-by-side test, we used the same coffee beans, water, stopwatch app, coffee cups, and digital thermometer. We made a full carafe of classic brew coffee in both the Ninja Coffee Bar and the Technivorm Moccamaster. The test had a few surprises.
Steep time Full Carafe: The Ninja took 10 minutes and 02 seconds to brew a full carafe, whereas the Technivorm took 7 minutes and 19 seconds. As a result the Technivorm Moccamaster coffee won the taste test. It had a smoother, more pure coffee flavor. We had a neighbor do a blind test and she picked up on that as well. The Ninja coffee was excellent but was slightly more bitter due to the longer steep time.
Steep Time Travel Cup: We also tested the Ninja Coffee Bar travel-size cup with the classic brew option. That size took 4 minutes and 15 seconds to brew and the flavor was as good as the Technivorm full carafe-made coffee. Steep time matters.
Drinking temperature: We also tested the coffee temperature poured right after brewing. The Ninja Coffee Bar tested exactly at 175 degrees, a perfect temperature. The Technivorm registered cooler at 164 degrees. I think the problem is the open top of the thermal carafe on the Technivorm. (Update: my husband informs me we have a sealed drip cap but he does not use it). The Ninja has a built-in sealed drip top on their carafe. The Ninja glass carafe will stay warm for more than hour on the warmer plate but the extra warming made it more bitter. I still prefer to keep coffee warm in a thermal carafe. You can buy a thermal carafe for the Ninja on their website.
Summary of the Ninja Coffee Bar Brewer
- Fits on the kitchen counter - under the counter cabinets (always my first consideration).
- Great coffee and brew options for the price point.
- The full carafe pot came out at a perfect 175 degrees when first poured
- Single-brew and travel-size cups are quick and tasted smooth and rich.
- The stop-drip feature is useful and has an audible signal to avoid spills.
- The glass carafe is nice and easy to pour (the Technivorm carafe splashes when pouring).
- The water tank clicks in place nicely.
- The buttons are clear and easy to use.
- The full carafe coffee was dark and rich, but slightly bitter due to longer steeping times.
- Single-brew cup must be a minimum of 12 ounces which meant I had to use my mugs instead of my preferred smaller porcelain cups.
- The gold coffee strainer is not a universal size. Replacements will have be ordered from Ninja.
- Hard to clean the glass carafe with the small opening.
- Out of the box it comes with a glass carafe. The coffee can get bitter after an hour on the warming plate. (You can order a thermal carafe from Ninja).
What is your favorite coffee maker?