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It has always fascinated me how the world of coffee has evolved. I’m sure that hundreds of years ago people were choking down their coffee black because there was no option and the “bitter bean juice” was probably an unpleasant energy booster.
Now, however, we have all sorts of unique and interesting ways to get our caffeine fix.
And why would you limit yourself to only one?
You can buy espresso machines, milk frothers, single-serve brewers, and even fancy drip coffee sets that reportedly make some of the smoothest coffee you will ever drink.
Investing in and learning how to operate all of these machines can be a huge hassle. However, buying a cup from Caribou Coffee or Starbucks every day probably isn’t very practical for your pocketbook.
This is where a Ninja Coffee Bar can come in handy. If you like to experiment with making different drinks but don’t want to empty your savings account in order to buy the best contraption for each style, this compact machine might be worth the investment. It can make a ton of different types of coffee drinks without taking up much more space on your counter than a regular coffee maker.
For this review, I’ll be talking about the Ninja Coffee bar that I already own, the Ninja CF097. However, there are several other models (some newer) available so be sure to check those out if the CF097 isn’t quite right for you.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at everything that you get with this purchase and whether or not it is worth the price tag.
Ninja Coffee Bar CF097 Full Review
What Can A Ninja Coffee Bar Do?
Ninja coffee bars do everything from traditional drip, concentrated brews that closely resemble espresso, and iced coffee. They are advertised as a machine that can do it all, and that seems relatively true for a majority of the customers reviewing this product. One of the best contraptions (in my opinion) to come out of the Ninja Bar store is the CF097.
The CF097 has some added features that the previous models were lacking, including some advanced technological perks, such as the Auto-iQ One Touch Intelligence.
As this machine is beloved in nearly every online coffee forum I won’t extoll its virtues to you for too long. But let’s start off by taking a look at all of the options on this keypad and then we’ll talk about all of the different options that the CF097 gives you:
Looks like a rocket ship, right? Well, here is the list of coffees that you can easily crank out with this machine:
Traditional Drip Coffee
What is interesting about this machine is that, at first glance, it looks amazingly like a traditional drip machine. It has a carafe, a water reservoir with a clear window so you can easily see when it needs to be topped off, and space for your filter of coffee beans. If you want to make just a simple carafe of coffee for your family in the morning, you can sidestep the more complicated options and just go for the traditional brew.
When you make iced coffee, you want a brew that is going to be a little less on the bold side and rest a little more on the smooth side. Coffee already has a naturally bitter taste to it, and when served cold, that bitterness is unfortunately enhanced. What this Ninja model does is brew coffee with the right amount of water so that the result is smooth and delicious enough to drink iced.
The Ninja Bar does a pretty decent job at making espresso. It usually doesn’t go down too smoothly as it is espresso made from a drip machine, but it comes close enough to satisfy all of the customers enthusiastic enough to write about this product. You can make espressos by selecting the Specialty Brew option, which will make a dense, concentrated drip that gets the job done.
Lattes and Cappuccinos
Once you have made your pseudo-espresso, you can use that as a base for lattes and cappuccinos. This machine comes with a built-in milk frother, meaning that making a professional-grade coffee drink at home is made relatively easy with a Ninja Bar.
Other Help Features Of The CF097
Among the aforementioned options are also various brew levels and flavor profiles you can choose from. You can use the Classic Brew, Rich flavor, Over-ice, Specialty, or Café Forte.
This is where the AutoiQ One Touch Intelligence feature comes to play. When you select what serving size and what type of coffee you want to make, the machine uses this software to program the perfect amount of water, temperature, and brew time needed to create the drink you selected. There is little to no fiddling on the customer’s part.
This model, the CF097, has a collapsible stand hidden alongside the area where the carafe usually rests, which will help you adjust to any size mug or thermos you wish to use. When you buy a Ninja Bar, it comes with all of the materials you need to utilize its features. It includes a carafe for hot and a carafe for iced coffee. Some even come with a thermal carafe, meaning your coffee will stay warm without having to worry about using a warming plate and potentially burning your morning cup of joe.
Other models come equipped with a warming plate for your carafe, while others don’t due to customer complaints regarding a burnt coffee aftertaste. This all depends on your personal preferences.
There are corresponding buttons to help you brew the right amount of coffee as well. On the CF097, you have the option of making a regular cup (8 oz), extra-large cup, travel mug, half of a carafe, or a full carafe. A measuring scoop that comes with the product has all of the correct ground amounts located on the spoon for easy reference. For all of the rather complicated drinks that this can make, it is surprisingly easy to use.
What Makes a Ninja Bar CF097 Unique?
The fact that you can make traditional drip, espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, and iced coffee all with one machine is a powerful selling point. The CF097 is particularly unique for its top-notch sensor technology, ensuring that all of your brews are made to the exact taste specifications.
For those that appreciate the subtle differences between a well-made cup of coffee and the more hastily concocted alternative, this will most likely be worth the investment.
Who Is This Machine Meant For? Is It Worth The Cost?
What if you just like traditional drip coffee and only occasionally enjoy the creamy latte or sweeter cappuccino? Is the Ninja Bar worth it? Most likely not. You could easily get an affordable drip coffee machine that has the same brew settings as the Ninja Bar and go out to buy your own occasional latte at a coffee shop, saving yourself a fair bit of money.
This machine might only be worth it for those that love to frequently switch up their coffee routine and enjoy the process of frothing their own milk. It is easy to understand so making the drinks isn’t difficult, but the initial investment isn’t worth the occasional cappuccino, pseudo-espresso shot, or latte.
When buying this product, make sure that you will actually use all of its features. Too many times glowing reviews and overhyped descriptions trap people into thinking that they will use all of the bells and whistles when all they really want is a simple cup of coffee. Before jumping into this purchase, make sure that you will actually enjoy making cappuccinos and lattes regularly. This investment isn’t worth it unless you truly want the variety.
Personally, however, it was totally worth it and helps me avoid an overpriced coffee-chain coffee when I need to change up my routine.
Alternatives To A Ninja Coffee Bar
Keurig, in response to the Ninja Bar, has come out with its own version of a machine that can make all of the same drinks as its competitor. Called the Keurig K-Café, it does traditional drip, single-serve traditional, and espresso grade coffee. It, of course, comes equipped with a milk frother, so you can make nearly any kind of coffee imaginable.
While it is a more expensive alternative it does come with the convenience of being able to use K-cups for your daily fix.
Our conclusion, however, is that the Ninja Coffee Bar does a good job at handling all of the same jobs as this newer Keurig without the exorbitant cost. So, if you are going for a versatile machine, the Ninja Bar is your best bet, as it is a tested and true product that doesn’t overcharge for the bells and whistles.
Even if you can’t use Kcups, there are a plethora of options in terms of coffee ground flavors and roasts that will more than makeup for the loss.
All in all, if you love playing barista at home, hate waiting in line at the coffee shop, and love experimenting with different ways to make your daily cup of caffeine, this is a fantastic option.
With how expensive getting a drink at your local coffee shop is nowadays, I would say this is a solid investment. It lives up to its name and rarely disappoints.