Our entirely caffeine dependent cofounder Jack takes a crack at SharkNinja’s newest coffee creation, the Ninja Coffee Bar. He discovers a world of wonderful convenience and sadly overextracted grounds. Espresso, it is not – but if you’re a certain sort of coffee lover, this could be what you’re looking for…
What is it?
The latest from electrical appliance giant SharkNinja – the Ninja Coffee Bar is a rather versatile ‘one click’ coffee solution that you can use to create a variety of coffee drinks. It is essentially is a drip brewer with mad features and buttons.
There are 2 models – one has a glass carafe and the other has a thermal carafe. The later is slightly more expensive.
How much does it cost?
The glass carafe version costs about £120, the metal carafe version £130
Where is it available?
Direct from Sharkninja, Amazon (…please pay your taxes)
Caffeine dependent, time starved coffee lovers (but not necessarily connoisseurs, as I’ll explain later)
Casual coffee drinkers in search of a relatively low maintenance way of making an occasional brew – that’s a little more involved than instant, and no pods or capsules exacerbating the environmental crisis.
People ready to take their first step in coffee ‘con latte’ creations – cappuccinos, mochas, lattes, you know the drill…
In a word:
Caffeine Ninjutsu For The Automation Minded Individual
Hell, I’d never heard of Sharkninja until I got my hands on this thing…
Initial Set up:
Assembly is straightforward and takes about 10 minutes. It then needs 2 water brews before your first use – this cleans out the machine and releases a chemical smell that quickly disappears.
It’s made in China, as you might expect. But it looks and feels pretty solid.
The interface does not appear to be quite so complex or intimating as some of its competitors. There are two main options for your coffee, one is regular strength coffee, which they call Classic, and a stronger, bolder brew which they call Rich.
There’s also the option to create other variants on the cuppa joe. One are the ‘con latte’ recipes – essentially your more complex layered milk beverages. It won’t do the milk for you (you gotta do that yourself with the hand frother).
There’s also options to create iced coffee, with or without milk. Again – it doesn’t provide the ice for this, but it does create a stronger brew, that will withstand the dilution caused by ice melting.
Ease of use? Absolutely! The only real work involved is to scoop some coffee grounds into the filter and press the button. How many grounds to use is stated on the scoop itself. I tend to use 1 more than recommended because I am a savage >:3
The built in filter is reusable and works just fine. It’s also removable, which means you can use disposable paper filters – much like any other drip machine. I don’t really see the necessity of this – maybe if you have extremely fine grounds?
In operation, it’s no louder than any other drip machine (it bubbles), and it beeps to let you know it’s finished. The manual milk frother works particularly well, though the Ninja does not come with a coffee grinder. It also has a thermal plate which you can use to keep your drink warm.
Once done, coffee cools pretty quickly in the glass carafe, which I like – but some people who enjoy searing coffee may not. I eventually end up taking the top off of the carafe as it tends to fall off when pouring
Since there is not many way to customise your variables (asides from how fine you grind your beans, and how many grounds you use) – it helps to ensure you have a roast that works well for this flavour profile. As I said earlier, my first lot was over extracted. Can you use your grounds twice? Like any drip coffee, this depends on grounds and your tolerance for under extracted coffee flavours :3
It’s 13.5”H x 11.42”W x 16.26’’D. It doesn’t take up much space – height is probably more of a concern than footprint.
Versatile: You can do a LOT of coffee related stuff with this machine – and all for a reasonable price. Hot, on ice, single cups up to carafes, all at different brew strengths. The hand milk frother is…handy
Easy: Press button, receive coffee (and this all happens very quickly, which is obviously important with morning coffee). The only thing you really need to do is add the bean grinds to the machine and clean the filter before your next brew. Filter cleaning is also not rocket science.
Extraction: Coffee obsessives will likely struggle with the machine’s tendency to over and under extract. It makes the claim that the “Auto-iQ One Touch Intelligence draws just the right amount of water needed from the reservoir based on the brew size and brew type you select” – but having tested this with a few roasts now, I don’t think this is the case.
‘Autopilot’: There is no way to calibrate brew times – probably one baristas and barista trained people won’t be too enthused with. Your only real control is over how thickly you grind your beans – which only goes so far.
Drip vs espresso: It doesn’t really create espresso in the conventional sense – a ‘proper’ espresso machine uses pressure to force the water through the bean, whereas this is a drip system. It’s not a substitution for espresso, what it creates is more of a coffee concentrate. The concentrate is OK as an ingredient for making milky drinks, but I wouldn’t drink it solo, as if it were espresso.
There’s a lot going for the Ninja Coffee Bar. For something so versatile it is very economical. It’s like having a regular brewer, single-serve brewer and (kinda) espresso machine – all in one.
However, a tendency to over/under extraction and the inability to change this will be a deal breaker for very serious coffee drinkers. No point using expensive grounds if you’re not able to make the most of them, after all.
I suppose the real thing will be to see how long the device survives/lasts/endures with daily use – which remains to be seen. I’ve had mine for a few months, and I use it most every other day (if I’ve got some grounds that come out alright…)
It’s been great so far!