Ninja Coffee Bar Cf111 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:)
Altogether, Ninja is an awesome brand and their range of specialty coffee machines is a testament to it…I didn’t see this particular model at Kroger when I went out to do my “investigation” but I did see one of the models featured and that glass carafe itself was impressive looking 🙂
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.
Table of Contents
- Ninja Coffee Bar Cf111 Single-Serve System Review
- What’s Included?
- Buttons and Controls
- Frothing Attachment
- Brew Types and Settings
- Clean Function
- Compatible Accessories
- Ninja Coffee Bar Cf111 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)
The power cord is approximately 29″ in length.
- Milk frother attachment
- Drip stop
- Dial Control
- Thermal Flavor extraction technology
- Auto IQ one touch intelligence
- Clean function alerts you to prompt descaling
- 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
The Ninja Coffee Bar Cf111 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 20-page recipe book
- Start guide
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.
The dial settings, which you would select first , correspond as follows:
♥ Regular… 9.5 oz
♥ XL Cup…11.5 oz
♥ Travel Mug…14 oz
♥ XL Multi Serve…18 -22 oz
I do think, however , that the last setting (XL Multi Serve) you could very well brew more than that size, I daresay one of those carafes , although I haven’t heard anyone say for sure they have tried it, it looks like it would fit in that space with its triangular design.
There is also a little indicator light (blue) 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.
One thing to point out , compared to other models, the Ninja single-serve does take a little bit longer. The average preheat time, I found out, is around 3 minutes, add to it, brew time on average, is about 2 minutes, so for a total of 5. You’ll notice that the Preheat light is illuminated further down when this is going on.
As a final feature to mention within operation…You’ll probably appreciate this part – it emits an audible “beep” to let you know it’s done – something I’ve seen only with a few models, such as the Cuisinart DCC-3000.
The water reservoir does not give an oz listing per se but its max capacity is 6.5 cups. Update – I did find out after a LOT of digging, it’s 43 oz. If we assume 8 oz for every cup metrically speaking that puts this unit’s reservoir at about 50 oz give or take. (OK – close enough!) 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) but NOT 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 – or handwash if you’re concerned about it getting lost.
The Ninja has a simple push-up cup platform that you can pull out for small to medium sized cups such as 12-14 oz, and push up out of the way to accommodate tumblers. It’s got the chrome look to it with a grid design when it’s in its resting down spot.
The question of whether or not something will fit probably will not enter your mind with the Ninja (well, one exception…a carafe….which a number of people were asking about since the Cf111’s appearance is pretty close to that of its full-pot cousin models.)
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)
As a small word of caution, the brew basket is NOT dishwasher safe – just rinse it out periodically.
Right in front of the brew basket compartment is another unique feature, the “Drip Stop” function, which you can slide to this setting (the teardrop icon with a slash over it) for any time you are needing to interrupt cycles and restart.
Brew Types and Settings
The settings’ primary functions are explained here, and as you will soon see, give you a lot of room for experimentation.
“Classic Brew” – pretty much your average cup of joe., . choose this one when you’re not looking to get fancy -pants, and you just want to go Keurig style so to speak 😁
“Rich Brew” – a little bit more enhanced version of this with a slightly lower water content, it is kind of like the “strong brew” or “pulse” function I’ve seen on comparable models.
“Over Ice” – this one needs no explanation whatsoever; punch in this one when you want a tall refreshing iced cuppa. Be at the ready with a tumbler and a handful of ice cubes (don’t use glass!) This setting will produce a more “concentrated” coffee that melts into the cubes so that you won’t have to worry about ending up with a watered-down end product.
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 is the “Specialty Brews” setting, 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 (in addition to your recipe book too!)
You can layer them as you see fit; as the generously-sized tumbler will make this fun and easy.
The last setting, “Cafe Forte” , located right below Specialty Brews, which is, as I understand, is the one you push to get a full-bodied brew that needs no sugar or creamer whatsoever.
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)
What is the Auto IQ?
The Auto-IQ technology is a built-in setting that helps produce the right water to coffee ratio. It does 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.
Below all the different coffee settings, we now come to the two silver buttons at the bottom and the left one is the Clean function. This is a prompt that goes into effect whenever a mineral buildup is “suspected” in which case, a light will appear .
Some consumers found the Clean light annoying until they got a better understanding of how it it supposed to work – see Consumer Reviews for more on that. The actual procedure involves the use of descale solution (no specific brand is mentioned, so you don’t have to worry about needing to use a proprietary type)
Or as I found out through the manual, you can definitely use a part of white vinegar with an equal part of water.
Is the Cf111 Just Like the Cf112 Model?
You probably noticed a model of the Ninja Coffee bar with a slightly different number, Cf112 to be exact and wondered is it the same? Answer: Yes. Yes it is, the only difference is that it includes the bonus accessory of a 22 oz tumbler cup (shown to the left) that you can put to good use making those delicious iced coffee drinks.
Also, one consumer answered this one; the recipe book includes 40 different recipes as opposed to the 20 that comes with the Cf111.
I know how confusing that is, seeing a model with a similar model number and wonder what features are different, but then to discover it’s just got different accessories that come along. I know Keurig is famous for this one, too 🙂
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
These nice -but not totally necessary items will help you make the most of your Ninja experience.
Ninja Coffee Bar Cf111 Reviews and Ratings
I was happy to discover enough evidence that the Ninja Coffee Bar cf111 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: the orange “clean” light is a source of consternation. 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.
Per the user manual as it turns out, the cleaning cycle step involves three full actions of descaling and rinsing to be a complete cycle. It is possible some of the consumers tried to start a new cup of coffee and didn’t realize this fact and were deterred. One consumer mentioned that he used strictly RO (reverse osmosis) water and never saw the cleaning light come on, as did most people who never had trouble with it, always used filtered water. The user booklet does explicitly state that you should use filtered water, just as do most other brands.
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
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.)
If you choose to purchase the Cf112 over the Cf111 for the extra tumbler, that’s about a $20 increase. You may find this version worthwhile if you’re very much into iced drinks.
I like the price when I take the long view look at what you get – and since I am doing an update (3/17/20) I’ve noticed that the listings are under the category of used or “Renewed” (which is similar to refurbished but sounds like with extra care and testing done)
I also checked Walmart and it looked like you can only get a refurbished cf111 but at a higher price. If you’d prefer to get brand new, I did find some listings on eBay that are new (be sure to factor in shipping)
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. You know, making delectable treats with the cream on top. If you love frappuccinos, machiattos, and everything in between…this maker has something for you, and then some.
If all that applies to you, this may just be your machine….If not, well…there are other models out there!