Ninja Coffee Bar Single-Serve System Review
Rated by: Jennifer
Rating: 4.5 Stars
From the time I started this review I was definitely hooked on this one. The Ninja Coffee Bar (this company is spearheaded by Shark) has added a one cup at a time to its repertoire of coffeemaker products and this one does so many cool things (speaking of “cool” – iced coffee beverages are one of the main specialties) that it might spoil you rotten with drink ideas. You may have even seen the infomercial for this machine on TV somewhere and were wow-ed for sure on that alone:)
But glamorous infomercials aside, if you’re looking to ditch the K-cups for a more unique specialty drink experience, read on. This baby uses good old grounds right from your kitchen! It’s got everything you need to have a ball – just make sure you read and take in all the facts before you buy.
What's on this page?
- Ninja Coffee Bar Single-Serve System Review
- What’s Included with the Ninja Coffee Bar Single Serve?
- Buttons and Controls
- Frothing Attachment
- Ninja Coffee Bar Basket and Scoop
- Brew Type and Flavor Options
- Ease of Use
- Compatible Accessories
- Ninja Coffee Bar Single-Serve Reviews and Ratings
The Amazon sales page tells me that the unit altogether measures 11.02 by 12.2 by 16.34″ and a weight of 12.1 lbs. The manufacturer’s website did not reveal dimensions that I could see unfortunately. So…
I posted an inquiry and one thoughtful consumer provided a more accurate measurement of 14″ (H) by 8.5″ (W) by 8.5″ (D).Not too big a footprint so to speak (maybe consider your under-cabinet clearance though)
When the milk frother arm is extended out, another 4″ is added to the width overall. The power cord is approximately 29″ in length.
- Milk frother attachment
- Dial Control
- Thermal Flavor extraction technology
- Auto IQ one touch intelligence
- A handful of bonus accessories (see “What’s Included”)
- The custom brews include: Classic, Rich, Over Ice, Specialty, and Cafe Forte
- Brew sizes include: Cup, XL Cup, Travel Mug, and XL Multi-Serve
What’s Included with the Ninja Coffee Bar Single Serve?
The Ninja Coffee Bar Single-Serve System is an attractive package that contains a fair number of great startup accessories. In addition to the unit, you will receive the following unique accouterments:
- A detachable milk frothing instrument
- Special two-sided scoop for measuring coffee grounds
- Permanent reusable coffee filter
- A 40-page recipe book
- Start guide
- A 22-oz XL Hot and Cold Multi Serve Tumbler
Last but not least is a 1 year limited warranty.
Buttons and Controls
The front control panel does not have the “intuitive” approach – it’s pretty much all manual. The left image shows the round dial setting near the top that lets you switch between the different brew sizes. Below the dial are three buttons for each brew type and the specialty and Cafe Forte below.
There is also a little indicator light on each one. The “Drip Stop” and “Pre Heating” indicator lights are further down, and right below them is the Clean function and the power button.
The water reservoir does not give an oz listing per se but its max capacity is 6.5 cups. If we assume 8 oz for every cup metrically speaking that puts this unit’s reservoir at about 50 oz give or take. It has a grooved appearance and small icon indicators as well as a max fill line on one side which can help with determining how much water for a given beverage.
There are two recessed areas (on the right side) that make it easy to grip a hold of on the side facing out and a flip top for easy refilling. You can fill and re-fill it through the flip-top opening, or remove the reservoir entirely to so by a maneuver to the right and easing it out via the handy recessed grips.
The reservoir (like many of the included accessories) and its respective lid, are top-rack dishwasher safe.
The first unique accessory for the Ninja Coffee Bar single-serve is the frothing attachment arm – it extends out at the area in the back opposite the water reservoir. The arm is detachable so it can be conveniently washed.
It also can be retracted out of the way when not in use. A simple nudge will push it to the back easily. The frothing arm operates at the touch of a button on the top.
Keep in mind it froths..but it does not steam, so you may need to pop the desired amount of milk in the microwave for a short spell prior to using the frothing arm if it is important to you tor your drink of choice.
(Other than that little bugaboo, it appears to work great!)
The whisking piece can be removed easily with a clockwise turn to give it a good cleaning when necessary. To put it back on you just need to push it in and turn counterclockwise. These parts are as well, top-rack dishwasher safe.
Ninja Coffee Bar Basket and Scoop
These two included parts, close up, are well-designed. The “Smart Scoop” accessory has two sides that hold different ground amounts. When not in use there is a recessed area on the side of the machine (below the water reservoir) next to the control panel where the scoop can be reattached for safekeeping when you don’t need it.
The included brew basket fits into the space in the front; you can see an outer tab with which to pull it out in order to fill it or remove for disposing of used grounds. The basket has a cone shaped appearance and you are welcome to use paper filters if you wish but they need to be the correct size which is no. 2 or 4. (See Compatible Accessories)
Right in front of the brew basket compartment is another unique feature, the “Drip Stop” function, which you can slide to this setting for any time you are needing to interrupt cycles and restart.
Brew Type and Flavor Options
The settings go like this: A “Classic Brew” is pretty much your average cup of joe, the “Rich Brew” is a little bit more enhanced version of this with a slightly lower water content. “Over Ice” needs no explanation whatsoever; the design keeps your ice coffee from being watered-down.
So you are pretty much in good hands whether you’re going for bold or just keeping it simple. If you were just wanting to make a simple cup of tea instead, the Classic or Rich Brew settings would be enough to go on. You may have come to this conclusion already but yes, you can certainly use the Ninja single-serve to dispense hot water on tap.
The manufacturer’s site FAQ advises against producing tea for the reason that “the natural oils of the coffee grounds may conflict with the taste of the resulting tea” – while on the whole that’s an OK argument, I think you could still make tea (as some consumers happily reported) if you want and you clean the basket regularly.
Below these 3 are the “Specialty Brews” which produce coffee concentrate to produce the desired gourmet-style beverages, e.g, mochas, frappucinos, lattes, the list goes on, in which case the use of the frothing attachment will come into play.
You can layer them as you see fit; as the generously-sized tumbler will make this fun and easy. Below this option is “Cafe Forte” which is, as I understand, a full-bodied brew that needs no sugar or creamer whatsoever.
The Auto-IQ technology remind me a great deal of the “bar code” technology used by the Tassimo T20 in which the machine “knows” how to sync up the right amount of water and pressure along with the amount of grounds.
This will eliminate some guesswork but the included booklet/recipes will be a great help in determining how strong, how much coffee to use for each drink, etc., in as fun a way as possible.
Ease of Use
How easy this machine may be in day to day operation may all depend on a few things…one of them being used to manual functions. The dial on the control panel is where you make your size selection, and the options below are push button…that is pretty much the gist of operation, simplified. The respective icons on the dial and the buttons both illuminate as they are selected and are easy to read.
With the unique platform mug rest with which to set smaller mugs; when you want to use the tumbler or another taller cup like the one included you just push the platform back up out of the way-pretty handy.
As indicated on the buttons themselves, the “Specialty Brew’ setting of 4 oz and the “Cafe Forte” of 8 oz is not changeable. The start guide that is included provides good info on what volumes to expect for each brew type. It is recommended to use at least a 12 oz container to prevent overflow (this is important to keep in mind as this is not one of those brewers with the catch-all overflow drip tray)
In the event that you wish to experiment with different strengths you can use your own paper filters instead of the included brewing basket, you will need to pick up a cone size #2 as the filter basket has the cone shaped design. Size number 4 may work well too just as long as the shape is correct.
Other optional accessories sold separately include:
- 16 oz stainless steel travel mug
- 18 oz Hot and Cold Insulated Tumbler
- 100-page Coffee Recipe Book
- 12-oz insulated mug
Ninja Coffee Bar Single-Serve Reviews and Ratings
I was happy to discover enough evidence that the Ninja Coffee Bar Single Serve is a “winner” not just in terms of enjoyment by consumers, but great performance and minor annoyances. Consumer reviews reflected this well, not just “honeymoon” users but those going on months of use as well.
Many of the comments were along the lines of “versatile – there is something for everyone with this coffee maker” “plenty of room for those tall cups” “not having to bother with K-Cups” and the most encouraging “I am saving money now getting to use my own everyday ingredients and spending less time stopping by X venue”
All of these comments are encouraging because it shows people are able to get a little creative with their drinks. The included recipe book was one other bonus that won over a lot of people too during the break-in period, getting to familiarize themselves with the process in as fun a way possible.
What I observed in the few negative or “average” ratings seemed to follow one pattern: some consumers were having trouble with the “Clean” function of their unit. They assumed that if they did the ritual that the “Clean” light would automatically go out and that was not the case. Wanting to find out more about this apparent sore spot, a little deep digging on my part revealed that the clean/descale ritual is a little different from that of some other single-serve machines.
What makes the difference is that with one of the (insert brand name here) you may find that you’re supposed to add your white vinegar/water combo to the reservoir, make sure that nothing is in the brewing chamber and hit the “brew” button. You don’t actually do that with the Ninja here. You choose a size from the dial knob and hit the “Clean” button, but you don’t hit any of the other buttons. It takes a little longer and that’s what I think tripped people up, especially if they owned a previous other brand and they were used to hitting the “Brew” button to descale.
- Versatile brewing options
- Plenty of space for tall cups
- You can use your own grounds anytime
- Don’t have to fool around with coffee pods
- Large 22-oz tumbler bonus
- Milk frother attachment
- Auto-IQ and thermal extraction technology
- Drip Stop function
- Water reservoir a tad smallish
- Does not have an Auto On/Off setting
- You may need to warm the milk on your own for specialty drinks, as the frother does not do this part
- Cleaning procedure may take some getting used to as it is a little different than other single-serve brewer clean/descale methods
Well, I personally think the listing price options are certainly justified, especially when I compare to some other brewers with similar options. The addition of the 22-oz Multi-Serve tumbler which is a $10.95 value on the manufacturer’s site separately, pretty much clinches it as a great deal (not to mention the other added bonuses too.)
Speaking of which Amazon beat the manufacturer site listed price on the Ninja Single Serve system by about $50 at the time of writing. You can check to see if that’s still the case:
Also factor in the fact that you can use your own coffee grounds whenever you want plus your own choice ingredients straight from the grocery store to make your specialty drink concoctions, and overall this is a great deal long-term! If you usually make paper filters a part of your repertoire as well these too will be inexpensive.
So who should consider the addition of the Ninja Single-Serve System in their home? Only people who love coffee, variety, and saving money making it their own special ways….and those who want to sometimes beat the monotony of the classic coffee break. If all that applies to you, this may just be your machine!