Ninja Coffee Bar: Countertop Coffeehouse

You’ve probably seen today’s product on television- because it’s basically impossible to turn away when Sofia Vergara comes on the screen. She’s the spokeswoman for this unique update on a coffeemaker, coming from the folks behind the QVC best-seller Ninja Mega Kitchen System, a series of blenders large and small, a food processor, and even a multi-cooker. And while that lineup might not scream “barista”, we’ve been putting it through some serious tests, brewing up batches of locally-roasted single-origin beans.

The Ninja Coffee Bar looks, at first glance, like some of the other coffee brewers on the market. But hidden behind the stainless steel and plastic front lies a feature set that is a bit unusual. The main trick up this Ninja’s sleeves is a set of buttons that allows you to adjust the concentration of the coffee results- ranging from the Classic Brew to the slightly more intense ‘Rich Brew’, up to a doubly-strong Over Ice option and the strongest Specialty Brew. If you’re fine with percolating, then the lower selections will be fine, but those who love ‘cowboy’ campfire java or French press results will want to go for the heavier choices.

One goal, and promise of the machine, is to allow you to create an espresso-like concentrate that you can use to make lattes or cappuccinos. Any regular machine can make decent coffee these days, but countertop space is precious, so finding a multi-purpose appliance can help. They call it the ‘Auto-iQ’ system, and adjusts not only based on your chosen strength but also from your pick of size- cup, travel mug, or even carafe. It’s not quite as easy or fast as a single-cup brewer, but gets the job done. For larger batches though, and especially on the higher sizes, we couldn’t help but notice overextraction, leading to bitterness, regardless of what beans we were using.

The Ninja Coffee Bar is programmable up to 24 hours in advance, handy if you want to set it up the night in advance and wake up to coffee in the morning. A permanent filter is included, though you can use paper filters if you prefer. The unit feels a bit cheap, though we really liked the textured removable water tank with it’s ridged edges for easy gripping. We appreciated the frothing accessory too, a nice addition along with the tumbler. You also have a choice between an insulated thermal carafe or a slightly classier glass version. Either way, the Ninja Coffee Bar might just be the best addition to sneak into your coffee routine this holiday season, and is available for around $199.99 in stores and online.

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