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It’s hard to find a coffee maker that has a quality build, is easy to clean, and lets you make a wide range of beverages. If there is one name that stands out in that category, it’s Ninja.
When they released the original Ninja Coffee Bar, it was a huge hit — and for good reason. Since then, they’ve only improved on that design, leading to a whole line of the best coffee makers out there.
But which is the best Ninja coffee maker for your particular needs? Let’s find out together.
(If you want to skip past all the discussion and just see the latest price on my #1 pick, here it is: Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System CP307.)
What Makes Ninja Coffee Makers Unique?
It all started with the Ninja Coffee Bar, which launched in 2015 with a major marketing push featuring Sofia Vergara, one of the stars from Modern Family. By that point, many of us were already in awe of what Ninja had done with their kitchen blenders, so I was really excited to see what waves they would make in the coffee maker market.
Ninja did not disappoint.
Their line of coffee machines offers a level of versatility that you rarely see in a single machine, particularly when it comes to brew styles and brew sizes.
Type of machines
Most consumer coffee machines are drip coffee makers. These machines work by heating water to near its boiling point and letting the steam rise through a series of pipes until it is dripped over a filter full of coffee grounds and into a carafe or cup underneath.
Drip machines are not the only option on the market, though. Some of the other popular options include pour-over coffee makers, French presses, percolators, and cold brew makers. You can look at our detailed comparison of percolators vs drip coffee makers for a better understanding of how these machines can differ in design and in the coffee that they produce.
If in doubt, drip coffee is the most popular option for good reason. These machines are fast, easy to use, and produce a consistently good cup of coffee.
All Ninja’s machines are drip coffee makers, although some do produce a coffee concentrate that they use in espresso-style drinks recipes. All Ninja machines have permanent filters for their coffee grounds, eliminating much of the waste associated with the paper filters used in typical drip machines.
Grounds vs. pods
Until the past few years, nearly all coffee machines used loose grounds in either a permanent or disposable filter as the source of coffee. Since then, Keurig and Nespresso have made pod-based coffee machines very popular. Those machines use pods that contain pre-portioned ground coffee.
The upside of pods is largely simplicity. The downsides are that they cost more than grounds, don’t have as much variety, and have a larger environmental impact. Pod machines also don’t let you adjust the amount of coffee grounds, and they ofter produce weaker coffee.
Ninja’s machines all use coffee grounds rather than pods. If you want a machine with similar versatility that uses pods instead, check out our Ninja vs. Nespresso head-to-head comparison.
Most drip coffee makers produce a single type of coffee. Some machines have started including a strong brew setting, particularly in Keurigs and similar machines that notoriously produced weaker coffee. Few drip machines have more brew styles than that, and the Ninja is one of those few.
Each of the Ninja machines has at least 2 of the following brew style options available at the turn of a dial. They differ primarily by the richness of the coffee, ranging from standard coffee to a coffee concentrate. To get the richer coffees, the machine slows the brewing process and lowers the temperature. Richer brews also produce a smaller amount of coffee.
- Classic coffee: Not much to say about this one, it’s what you get from a standard coffee maker.
- Rich coffee: This is a stronger brew than the classic option, perfect for those that like a bit more flavor or want to add milk without losing the underlying flavor of the coffee.
- Iced coffee: If you add ice to regular coffee, you end up with watered down coffee. This setting increases the richness enough to maintain the proper concentration and flavor even after the ice has done its part.
- Cold brew coffee: I’m not going to pretend that this is as good as the cold brew you spend 12+ hours making in your fridge — after all, it only takes 10 minutes. The principle is basically the same, though: decrease the temperature and slow the brewing process.
- Specialty coffee: This setting is Ninja’s way of creating something akin to a latte or a cappuccino. It’s not a true espresso because it doesn’t use pressurized water, but it does concentrate the coffee enough to make a great-tasting specialty beverage.
If you also enjoy a cup of tea, the smart brewing baskets make it very easy to switch back and forth between tea and coffee. The separate coffee and tea filters also ensure that the flavors don’t contaminate one another, which is great for households with both tea and coffee drinkers.
You can use the Ninja for either loose-leaf or tea bags, and you’ll be able to brew your teas in the classic, rich, iced, cold brew, or specialty styles as described above. When you insert the coffee basket, you’ll only see the coffee brewing options, but when you insert the tea basket you’ll also see options for each of the following types of tea. Cold-brew green tea anyone?
- Herbal tea
- Black tea
- Oolong tea
- White tea
- Green tea
Some machines make an entire carafe of coffee at once while other machines make only a single cup. Even within each of these categories, there is variation in the brew size. Some machines have a carafe that is as small as 4 cups while others have machines that make 12-cup carafes. Single-cup machines often have options ranging from a 4 oz cup size up to a 12 oz cup, but 6 or 8 oz is most typical.
There are also dual coffee makers that can produce both single cups and whole carafes, providing the best of both worlds. The downside of these machines is that they typically take up more counter space and are more expensive than standard machines.
Carafe machines have one other important characteristic to consider: the carafe itself. Most machines have glass carafes, but some higher-end models offer a stainless-steel thermal carafe that keeps your coffee warm for longer without the need to continuously apply heat.
The low-end Ninja models only produce a carafe of coffee, but most of the models can make any of the following 6 sizes.
- XL Cup
- Travel Mug
- XL Multi-Serve
- Half Carafe
- Full Carafe
The actual quantity of coffee for each size varies depending on the brew style. For instance, the cup option produces 9.6 oz of classic coffee but only 3.1 oz of specialty coffee.
Ease of use and cleaning
Drip coffee makers are almost always easier to use than other options. However, adding additional options inevitably adds complexity, and Ninja’s coffee makers have a lot of options. Fortunately, their auto-IQ one-touch intelligence technology simplifies the whole process.
Switching between beverage types is just a matter of turning a dial. Even changing brew sizes just requires turning a knob. The rest of the process, from measuring water to adjusting brew temperature, is handled entirely by the machine. It couldn’t be easier to use.
Cleaning the Ninja is about as hard as any drip coffee maker. You’ll need to dump out the grounds and wash the reusable filter. The removable water reservoir not only makes it easy to refill water, but it also helps with the cleaning process. You’ll also need to descale the machine about once a month. Unlike some other highly automated coffee makers, Ninja can be descaled with vinegar and does not require an expensive, specialized descaling solution.
All but the low-end models have a built-in frother, which means you won’t need to spend the extra money on a separate milk frother to make your favorite specialty drinks. Since it’s a fold-away frother, there’s no major concern about it using up extra counter space either.
The Ninja smart scoop is an underrated feature. I know, it’s just a coffee scoop, but it’s a scoop that hides away in the machine and has two sides: one for single-serve and one for a carafe. Sometimes the simple conveniences fly under the radar, but I appreciate them.
The Ninja machines are programmable, with the ability to set a brew time up to 24 hours in advance. Who doesn’t want to wake up to the smell of a fresh pot of coffee?
The Best Ninja Coffee Makers
Best Ninja coffee maker: Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System CP307
- Coffee and tea brew settings: Brewing technology offers an array of coffee and tea options
- Cold brew coffee and tea: Brew over ice at a lower temperature for smooth, naturally sweet flavor in 10 to 15 minutes
- Smart basket recognition: System recognizes basket and displays coffee or tea drink options
- Separate coffee and tea baskets: Brew coffee or loose or bagged tea to keep flavors separate
- 6 brew sizes: Brew anything from a single cup or travel size to a half carafe or full carafe in your coffee maker
- 5 brew styles: Choose your strength with classic, rich, over ice, cold brew, or specialty
- Brew directly into a cup with the coffee brewer: Use any brand of coffee or tea, loose leaf or bagged
- Tea type: Select your tea type and the system knows the temperature and number of steeps needed
- 50 Ounces (10 cup) thermal carafe: keeps your coffee and tea hot upto 2 hours
The CP307 is just an amazingly versatile machine. To start with, it has all 5 of the Ninja coffee brewing styles: classic, rich, iced, cold brew, and specialty. It also has all 5 tea brewing options and a separate tea brewing basket. With this machine, you can use any of the 6 brew sizes, from a single cup to a full carafe.
The CP307 comes with a 50-oz stainless steel thermal carafe, which keeps your coffee warm longer than a glass carafe. You’ll get the ninja smart scoop for ease of use. This model also has a built-in milk frother, which works for both hot and cold milk. The removable water tank makes for easy refilling and cleaning.
Cheaper variant: Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System CP301
- Brew multiple brew sizes, ranging from a pod free single cup or travel mug, all the way up to a full Carafe
- Hot brewing lets you enjoy a bold, flavorful cup of hot coffee or tea; Or brew over ice to create full flavored, refreshing iced beverages
- Brew your favorite style of tea, whether you use tea bags or loose leaf, with the specially designed tea brew basket
- Auto IQ one touch intelligence technology
- Built in frother turns hot or cold milk into silky smooth froth in seconds, with nothing more than the press of a button; The thermal Carafe is not dishwasher safe
The CP301 is exactly like the CP307 except that the stainless steel carafe is replaced with a glass carafe of the same size. If having a thermal carafe is not important to you, this model can save you a few dollars.
First runner-up: Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker CM407
- Specialty brew: brew super-rich Coffee concentrate that you can use to create delicious lattes, macchiato, cappuccinos, and other coffeehouse-style drinks.
- Iced Coffee: brew fresh over ice for flavorful Iced Coffee that's never watered down
- 6 brew sizes: brew anything from a single cup or travel size to a half carafe or a full carafe in your Coffee maker
- Fold-away frother: turns hot or cold milk into silky-smooth froth
- No Pods Required: Up to $200 in annual savings using grounds vs. pods Based on a 2.5-cup daily average consumption of popular coffee brands
- Included components: Instruction Booklet
The CM407 still has all of the 6 brew sizes, from cup up to full carafe. It also has the ninja smart scoop, the integrated frother for milk, the permanent coffee filter, the removable water reservoir, and the 50-oz thermal carafe.
What it doesn’t have, though, is all of the brewing options of the higher-end model. You can still brew classic, rich, iced, and specialty coffee. Cold-brew is not an option on this model.
The CM407 also doesn’t have any of the tea settings of the higher-end model nor does it have the separate tea basket and tea filter. This one is purely just for coffee.
Cheaper variant: Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker CM401
- 4 BREW STYLES: Select from one of the four, versatile brew styles: Classic, Rich, Over Ice, or Specialty Brew.
- SPECIALTY BREWS: Brew a super-rich coffee concentrate that you can use to create delicious lattes, macchiatos, cappuccinos, and other coffeehouse-style drinks.
- MAKE ICED COFFEE: Brew fresh over ice for flavorful iced coffee that's never watered down.
- 6 BREW SIZES: Brew anything from a single cup or travel size to a half or full carafe in your coffee maker. 6 sizes include Cup, XL Cup, Travel Mug, Multi-Serve Travel Mug, Half Carafe & Full Carafe.
- NO PODS REQUIRED: Use your favorite grounds to create a single-serve coffee—no reusable pod required.
- BUILT-IN, FOLD-AWAY FROTHER: Turns hot or cold milk/milk alternative into silky-smooth froth. Removable for easy cleaning.
- REMOVABLE WATER RESERVOIR: Conveniently carry the 40-oz. removable water reservoir to your sink for easy filling.
- EASY TO CLEAN: The glass carafe, brew-through lid, permanent filter, removable filter holder, water reservoir, flip-top lid, frother whisk, and scoop are all top-rack dishwasher safe.
- AUTOMATIC SHUTOFF: After one hour of inactivity, the system will power off automatically.
- WHAT'S INCLUDED: Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker, 50-oz (10-cup) Glass Carafe, Fold-Away Frother, Permanent filter, 40-oz. Removable water reservoir, Ninja Smart Scoop, Recipe Inspiration Guide, quick start guide & owner's guide.
This one is exactly like the CM407 except that it has a 50-oz glass carafe instead of the stainless one. For that difference, you do get to save a few dollars.
Best Budget Ninja coffee maker: Ninja 12-Cup Programmable Brewer CE251
- Classic or Rich, each brew is flavorful and never bitter with custom brew strengths
- Hotter brewing technology: Advanced boiler for a perfectly hot cup of coffee
- Wake up to hot coffee. 24-hour programmable delay brew allows you to prepare your brew up to a day in advance
- Keep coffee fresh and flavorful up to 4 hours with the adjustable warming plate
- Conveniently carry the 60-oz. removable water reservoir to your sink for easy filling. Dishwasher-safe parts: Yes
- Material type: Plastic
- Included Components: Permanent Filter
In a lot of ways, this one is just a standard coffee maker, but it still has the quality of a Ninja. The removable water reservoir is still there, as are the scoop, and the permanent filter. Instead of the 50-oz thermal carafe, the CE251 comes with a 60-oz glass carafe.
The only brew styles available with this one are classic and rich. You won’t get iced, cold brew, or specialty drinks from the CE251. It also doesn’t have single-cup options. The only brew sizes are the 12-cup full carafe and the 4-cup small-batch carafe. The milk frother is also not included.
What Happened to the Ninja Coffee Bar?
Ninja replaced the coffee bar systems with the newer models I mentioned above. If you still want to buy these older models, you can find them used on Amazon. I wouldn’t generally recommend it as the new ones have only improved on the old design and features.
Ninja Coffee Bar CF097
- Choose a size: Select one of six sizes, ranging from a single cup to a travel mug to a full carafe
- Choose a brew: Dial up the flavor richness level by choosing a brew type: Classic, rich, over ice, specialty, or our exclusive cafe forte
- Pod free single serve: Offers unlimited variety use any brand of coffee, and personalize flavor by customizing the taste to your liking; Reveal your coffee’s full potential with fresh taste and Aroma
- 10 cup double walled thermal Carafe: Beautifully designed stainless steel Carafe that is perfect for entertaining; The double walled vacuum sealed thermal carafe will keep your coffee hot upto 2 hours
- Thermal flavor extraction technology: Patent pending ninja technology blends precision water delivery with automated controls for calibrated temperature, pre infusion, coffee saturation, and flavor richness; Ninja thermal flavor extraction technology unlocks the full flavor potential of your coffee
This was the precursor to the CP307. It doesn’t brew tea or have a cold brew setting, but it does brew classic, rich, iced, or specialty coffee. It also has the stainless steel thermal carafe and all 6 of the brew sizes of the later models.
Ninja Coffee Bar CF091
- 10-cup (50-oz.) glass carafe
- Built-In frother to brew, froth and drink—all in your favorite mug
- 20-recipe inspiration guide. Capacity : 60 oz. / 12 Cup,Stainless Steel Mesh Filter,ABS Housing
- Ninja Smart Scoop.After brewing the first cup, the Ninja Coffee Bar is pre-warmed. This enables any following brews to be slightly hotter. For a hotter first cup, after plugging in and powering on your brewer, allow 3 minutes for your brewer to pre-heat
- Permanent reusable filter.This brewer is designed to brew coffee grounds only. Do not insert pods or K-Cups
- Note: Kindly refer page number 19 in user manual provided for troubleshooting steps
The Ninja Coffee Bar CF091 is just like the CF097 except that it has a glass carafe. This makes it the precursor to the CP301.
If in doubt, the Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System CP307 is just a great all-around option, with more variety in brewing sizes and styles than almost any other drip coffee maker on the market. You can even make tea with it.
I think the CP307 is totally worth the price, especially if you have limited counter space as you get a lot of coffee and tea beverage options and even a milk frother in a fairly compact design. But if you want something cheaper that still has all the quality of a Ninja, the Ninja 12-Cup Programmable Brewer CE251 is a great budget machine.
All these Ninja machines provide quality and ease of use and cleaning. They’ve only improved their designs from the days of the original Ninja coffee bar which was already an outstanding machine. I’ve tried to point out the best options in this article, but you generally can’t go wrong buying a Ninja.