Best Ninja Coffee Maker

Quick verdict: The Best Ninja coffee maker is the Ninja DualBrew Pro CM401

This is my roundup of the Best Ninja Coffee Makers.

I have never owned a Ninja coffee maker. I did, however, spend a whole day researching other users’ experiences with this machine online, as well as speaking to Ninja’s customer service representatives, to put together this roundup.

As well as giving you my recommendations, I’ll also warn you against a range of Ninja machines that see you paying a premium for some poorly executed features so you don’t waste your money.

Let’s get started.

Top Picks

Best Overall: Ninja Specialty CM401

Best for Espresso: Ninja Espresso and Coffee Barista System CFN601

Best For K Cups: Ninja DualBrew Pro CFP301

One to Avoid: Ninja Hot and Cold System

Best Overall: Ninja Specialty CM401

Best Overall

The Ninja Specialty CM401 has all the features that Ninja machines do well, and omits some of Ninja’s poorer features that inflate the price of the machine without adding much value.

Quality of Coffee

The Ninja Specialty CM401 can make good drip and iced coffee. Its “specialty” coffee is no match for an espresso, however.

Drip Coffee

All Ninja machines, the Specialty CM401 included, make good drip coffee. 

This is because they have a heating system powerful enough to heat your water to a consistent temperature throughout the entire brewing process.

Inferior machines only bring your coffee up to “brewing temperature” by the end of your brew, so the majority of your coffee brewing occurs at a colder-than-ideal temperature. This results in a very dull-tasting coffee.

The Ninja CM401 does not have this problem, meaning that it makes better filter coffee than most drip coffee makers.

Iced Coffee

Ninja CM401 users are very complimentary of the machine’s iced coffee online. The CM401 makes iced coffee by brewing a very small serving of coffee brewed at a slightly lower-than-normal temperature.

This results in a relatively strong coffee (due to the lack of water used) which does not melt your ice (due to the lower brewing temperature). This iced coffee is one of the Ninja CM401’s best features.

“Specialty” Coffee

The Ninja CM401’s specialty mode gets more of a mixed reception. While some compare this type of coffee to espresso, others claim that it is far too bitter.

Since the coffee is brewed with a ridiculously high coffee-to-water ratio, I would expect the final drink to be very bitter (unlike espresso which is strong but balanced tasting). While it would probably be unpleasant to drink neat, it may work well with cream and sugar as a mock cappuccino.

Quality of Coffee Rating: 7/10

Design and Build Quality

The Ninja CM401 has a good quality internal brewing system meaning that it can make good quality coffee cup after cup. Some of its external parts are not of the highest quality, however.

Internal Build Quality

The Ninja CM401 can make coffee of a very consistent quality cup after cup and across different serving sizes. This would not be possible unless the machine had a really high-quality brewing system. 

The Ninja CM401’s high-quality brewing system means that it should make consistently good coffee years into its lifespan.

Many reviews of the Ninja CM401 say that it is certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). SCAA certification is awarded to drip coffee makers that meet the highest criteria for brewing system quality.

I could not find the Ninja CM401 on the SCAA’s list of certified coffee makers, however. 

I would therefore assume that the machine is not SCAA-certified. This means that although it has a good quality brewing mechanism, you will likely get better coffee from other, SCAA-certified drip coffee makers.

External Build Quality

The Ninja CM401 has a glass carafe. 

Personally, I prefer thermal carafes because you can remove them from your machine and still keep your coffee warm and because the hot plate under your glass carafe can potentially “cook” your coffee, making it incredibly bitter if it is on there for too long.

Ninja charges around an extra $100 for you to purchase each of its machines with a thermal carafe instead of a glass one. I do not believe that this is worth this additional money.

I could find one recurring technical issue when researching the Ninja CM401. 

This is because some machines have a problem where it keeps on going into descale mode.

Although this problem is rare, if it does happen it renders your machine pretty much unusable, so it must be docked marks for this.

Design and Build Quality Rating: 7/10

Value For Money

The Ninja CM401 offers the best value for money of all Ninja coffee makers.

The Ninja CM401 is a mid-priced Ninja coffee maker, and as such is about mid-level in the number of coffee types that it offers compared to other Ninja machines.

I like the fact that all the Ninja CM401’s coffee types are good, or at least decent.

You are not overpaying for a machine that offers types of coffee that it executes poorly. This makes the Ninja CM401 the best value-for-money Ninja coffee maker.

Value for Money Rating: 9/10

Ninja Specialty CM401 Pros

Makes good drip and ice coffee.

Its specialty mode can be nice if you like a strong coffee with cream and sugar.

It does not have you overpay for superfluous features.

Ninja Specialty CM401 Cons

Some machines have a faulty descaling system that puts it into descale mode far too often.

Best for Espresso: Ninja Espresso and Coffee Barista System CFN601

Best for Espresso

The Ninja Espresso and Coffee is the only Ninja machine that can make espresso in addition to drip coffee.

Quality of Coffee

The Ninja Espresso and Coffee makes a good filter coffee and a decent espresso. Although neither of these is amazing, they are better than many combination espresso and drip coffee makers.

Filter Coffee

The Ninja Espresso and Coffee makes a good filter coffee at any serving size thanks to its high-quality heating system that keeps your brewing water at a consistent temperature throughout the entire brewing process.

The majority of drip coffee machines only bring your brewing water to its optimal temperature by the end of brewing your coffee. This means that the majority of your coffee is brewed at too cold a temperature, resulting in a flat-tasting drink.

This problem has given many drip coffee machines a reputation for making bland, watery coffee. Ninja Espresso and Coffee does not have this problem, however. 

The machine instead makes a rich, tasty coffee that far exceeds most drip coffee machines.

The Ninja Espresso and Coffee does, however, struggle with making strong coffee serving sizes over 40 oz. 

This is because its brewing basket (the part of the machine that holds your ground coffee), is not large enough to hold enough coffee to brew properly at this quantity.

Any coffee over 40 oz made with The Ninja Espresso and Coffee will therefore be a bit on the watery side (the Ninja Espresso and Coffee can brew up to 50 oz in one go).

Espresso

The Ninja Espresso and Coffee uses a Nespresso-like pod system to make espresso. This makes passable, but far from great, espresso.

The Ninja Espresso and Coffee’s espresso-making system is very similar to (read: a rip off of) Nespresso’s OriginalLine system.

Essentially you put a small aluminium pod of ground-up coffee in the machine. The machine then rotates the pod very quickly to create pressure as it floods the pod with hot water.

I have owned several Nespresso OriginalLine machines and can tell you that while their espresso is okay, it’s nothing compared to a real espresso made from a traditional espresso machine.

While I think that the Ninja Espresso and Coffee’s espresso resembles a “real espresso” more than the Ninja CM401’s specialty brew, it’s still a far cry from a good quality espresso machine.

Combination espresso and drip coffee machines tend to fall into two categories:

  • Machines that excel at drip coffee and make mediocre espresso
  • Machines that excel at espresso and make mediocre drip coffee

The Ninja Espresso is very much in the former category.

Quality of Coffee Rating: 6/10

Design and Build Quality

The Ninja Espresso and Coffee has a high-quality reliable brewing system, however, its exterior uses a lot of plastic and its frother is absolute trash.

Internal Build Quality

The Ninja Espresso and Coffee, like all Ninja coffee makers, have an impressive interior brew system.

There are two benefits of this:

  • The Ninja Espresso and Coffee makes better drip coffee than most coffee makers (its coffee is still not among the best drip coffee makers, however).
  • The Ninja Espresso and Coffee’s drip coffee quality should not deteriorate even years into its use.

Much like the Ninja CM401, the Ninja Espresso and Coffee is not SCAA certified. 

This is because the Ninja Espresso and Coffee does not have a brew basket large enough to brew high-quality coffee in larger volumes. It will therefore make more watery coffee when you start trying to brew more than 40 oz in one go.

I struggled to find much information online about the quality of the Ninja Espresso and Coffee’s espresso brewing system. Given its similarity to Nespresso OriginalLine’s brewing system, it’s worth mentioning that OriginalLine machines rarely succumb to technical faults.

Assuming that the Ninja’s system is built similarly, you probably will be able to make a consistent espresso, shot after shot, with the Ninja Espresso and Coffee.

I certainly could not find any complaints about this espresso brewing system online.

External Build Quality

The Ninja Espresso and Coffee uses a LOT of plastic in its exterior build.

It also has a glass carafe, rather than a thermal one, which means that you cannot take your carafe away from your machine and have the coffee within it stay hot for very long.

My biggest gripe with the machine is its built-in “milk frother”.

This is literally one of those cheap battery-powered milk frothers, surrounded by plastic and awkwardly attached to the side of your machine.

It can only whizz milk up, it cannot heat it, so you need to heat your milk separately to make lattes and cappuccinos.

An inexpensive manual milk frother, which costs under $20, will make far better-frothed milk than the Ninja Espresso and Coffee.

Design and Build Quality: 6/10

Value For Money

The Ninja Espresso and Coffee is good value for money, especially when you compare it to the more basic Nespresso machines and mid-level drip coffee makers.

The Ninja Espresso and Coffee are basically these two types of machines combined and are cheaper (generally) than buying these two machines separately.

It, therefore, delivers good value for money.

Value For Money Rating: 8/10

Ninja Espresso and Coffee CFN601 Pros

It is relatively inexpensive for a machine that can brew drip coffee and pod espresso.

Its drip coffee is better than most drip coffee makers.

It is very easy to use given its wide range of functionalities.

Ninja Espresso and Coffee CFN601 Cons

Its milk frother is terrible, you will struggle to make lattes with this machine.

Its espresso does not compare to a “proper” espresso machine.

Best For K Cups: Ninja DualBrew CFP301

Best for K-Cups

The Ninja DualBrew CFP301 is the only Ninja coffee maker on the market right now that does pod brewing.

Quality of Coffee

The Ninja DualBrew can make a good filter coffee when brewing in small quantities, however, this gets more watery if you brew larger batches. Its K-cup coffee can rival that of the best Keurig machines.

Drip Coffee

The Ninja DualBrew makes a good drip coffee up to serving sizes of half a carafe. However, once you get to whole carafes, its coffee starts to get watery.

This wateriness at larger serving sizes is because the DualBrew does not have a large enough brew basket to hold the quantity of ground coffee needed to brew at this serving size.

Still, if you are only going to brew a few cups of coffee in one go, the DualBrew will make consistently good drip coffee.

K-Cup Coffee

The Ninja DualBrew makes very good K-cup coffee. Its K-cup coffee is better than that made by most Keurig machines.

The Ninja DualBrew makes excellent K-cup coffee for three reasons:

  • It punctures your K cups with three needles, rather than the one needle on many Keurig machines. This results in more even extraction of the coffee in the K cup as water enters the K cup from more points.
  • It has four strength settings that control your brewing time and the amount of water used. Setting the machine to “rich” or “specialty” settings will help you avoid the main problem with K cup brewing – making a weak, watery coffee.
  • It can brew 4 oz and 8 oz serving sizes. K cups are designed to brew 8 oz of coffee or less, based on the amount of ground coffee inside them. Many Keurig machines only start at 8 oz serving sizes, so inevitably make watery coffee.

I’d therefore recommend the Ninja DualBrew over the majority of Keurig machines.

Quality of Coffee Rating: 7/10

Design and Build Quality

The Ninja DualBrew has a good internal build quality and a really nice-to-use control panel. Its K cup port does occasionally leak ground coffee into your drink, however.

Internal Build Quality

The Ninja DualBrew, like all Ninja coffee makers, has a really high-quality brewing system.

This means that it both makes excellent coffee (so long as you brew a half carafe or under) and that the quality of the coffee will stay consistent years into your ownership.

The only technical issue I could find with the Ninja DualBrew’s internal build was that the machine sometimes leaks coffee grounds into your drink when brewing K cups.

This only affects a small number of machines and is a problem that I have seen among almost all K-cup brewers.

It is a problem with the K cup system generally, rather than one specific to the Ninja DualBrew.

External Build Quality

The Ninja DualBrew has the same external build issues that all Ninja machines have – namely that it is built with a lot of plastic and has a glass carafe.

As I’ve said many times now, glass carafes are inferior to thermal carafes as you cannot remove them from your machine without your coffee quickly cooling down. If you want to keep your coffee hot, then it needs to be sitting on your machine.

I do really like the Ninja DualBrew’s user interface. It looks good and makes the machine really easy to use despite its large number of functionalities.

Design and Build Quality Rating: 7/10

Value For Money

The Ninja DualBrew offers good value for money as it is cheaper than the higher-end Keurig machines. 

As I said earlier, the Ninja DualBrew makes a comparable K-cup coffee to the very best K-cup machines in addition to making good drip coffee.

This, plus its better-than-average drip coffee, means that it’s a bargain compared to most machines with similar functionalities.

Value For Money Rating: 9/10

Ninja DualBrew CFP301 Pros

Makes a better K-cup coffee than most Keurig machines.

Has a really intuitive and nice-to-use control panel.

It is much better value for money than Keurig machines.

Ninja DualBrew CFP301 Cons

It cannot make full carafes of coffee without the coffee being really watery.

Ones to Avoid: Ninja’s Hot and Cold System

Ninja has a “Hot and Cold” range of machines that make a cold brew as well as drip coffee. I’d recommend avoiding these as the cold brew they make is terrible and in no way resembles a real cold brew.

Ninja’s “Hot and Cold” machines make cold brew coffee by brewing ground coffee in room temperature water for 15 minutes.

This. Is. Not. Cold. Brew.

Since coffee extracts very slowly in cold water (compare how quickly things dissolve in boiling compared to room temperature water), cold brew needs to brew for at least 12 hours to create a drink of any real flavor.

I tried making a 15-minute cold brew to get something close to what the Ninja Hot and Cold does and the result was slightly bitter water.

If you want good cold-brew coffee, you are far better off getting an inexpensive manual cold brewer.

Although the Ninja Hot and Cold machines still make good drip coffee, you pay a premium to have this (poorly executed) cold brew functionality.

I’d therefore recommend avoiding this range altogether.

What You Should Ask Yourself When Buying a Ninja Coffee Maker?

Here are the questions that you should ask yourself when choosing which Ninja coffee maker to buy.

How Much Are You Willing to Spend?

Ninja coffee makers range a lot in price. This difference in price reflects how many different types of coffee each machine can brew. Think about what types of coffee you want and do not overspend on the ability to make a coffee type that you will never actually drink.

Ninja coffee makers are slightly higher than the mid-range of what you generally pay for a coffee maker.

There is typically around a $250 difference between the cheapest and the most expensive Ninja coffee makers on the market at the time of writing (December 2022).

Ninja tends to justify the additional cost of their more expensive machines by the types of coffee that it makes. 

In other words, the main difference between the more expensive and cheaper Ninja’s is the types of coffee that they can make.

You can save money by asking yourself what types of coffee you are actually going to make with your machine and then buying a machine that only makes those coffee types (and no more).

That way you are not wasting your money on a machine with more functionalities than you’ll need.

The table below shows all the machines featured in this article, listed from cheapest to most expensive, as well as what types of coffee they can make.

Please note that with my dollar sign rating, fewer dollar signs mean the machine is cheaper.

Machine NamePriceType of coffee that they make
Ninja Specialty CM401 (best overall)$Drip coffee
Iced coffee
Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System CP301 (don’t recommend)$$Drip coffee
Iced coffee
Cold brew
Ninja DualBrew Pro CFP301 (don’t recommend)$$$Drip coffee
Iced coffee 
K cup
Ninja Espresso and Coffee Barista System CFN601 (best for espresso)$$$$Drip coffee
Iced coffee
Espresso

What Type of Coffee Do You Want to Make?

Ninja coffee makers vary in the brewing styles they offer, as well as offering different strengths and sizes within each brewing style. Again, machines with a greater variety of brew types and styles cost more, so go for a machine that makes only the types of coffee you’ll drink.

I’ll now go through the different types and styles of coffee that Ninja coffee makers offer.

Drip Coffee (Using Loose Grounds)

Ninja coffee makers offer up to four styles of drip coffee. They are:

Classic: Brews a single serving of coffee with 12 oz of water.

Rich: Brews a single serving of coffee with 10.5 oz of water.

Over Ice: Brews a single serving of coffee with 6oz of water. It also brews your coffee for a longer time and at a lower temperature so it does not instantly melt your ice when it makes contact with it.

Specialty: This brews a single serving of coffee with 4 oz of water.

The idea here is that brewing with less water will create a stronger coffee.

While brewing with a bigger coffee-to-water ratio probably will make some difference to your coffee’s strength, it’s a very crude way of doing this.

Messing with coffee-to-water ratios only makes a difference to your coffee’s intensity of flavor. It does not change the flavor profile itself.

If you want a markedly different flavor profile, then you will do better playing around with your coffee’s grind size, rather than your brew ratio.

You will, however, still notice a difference in the intensity of your coffee when you brew with these different settings.

K Cups

Some Ninja coffee makers, namely the Ninja DualBrew and DualBrew Pro allow you to make single-serve coffees with K cups.

I think that if your coffee maker can brew single servings with ground coffee (as all Ninjas can), then the ability to brew with K cups is redundant.

K cups are inferior to ground coffee for three reasons:

  • They make worse-tasting coffee as a K cup does not hold enough ground coffee to make a decent strength coffee (even at a single serving)
  • They are far more expensive per brew than ground coffee
  • They create a lot of waste

This redundancy of K-cup brewing is why I’d recommend Ninja machines that do not make K-cup coffee over ones that do.

Cold Brew

The Ninja DualBrew and DualBrew Pro can make a version of cold brew coffee.

They do this by having your ground coffee sit in room-temperature water for ten minutes before dispensing.

This is not cold brew. Cold brew needs to be brewed for at least eight hours (ideally for 12 hours).

I tried making a 10-minute cold brew manually, doing it the exact same way that the Ninja DualBrew would and the result was slightly bitter water.
If you want a cold brew, then get a manual cold brewer. No machine does this well.

Espresso (sort of)

One Ninja coffee maker, the Ninja Espresso and Coffee Barista System CFN601 can make espresso as well as a drip coffee.

The machine makes espresso with pods. 

The system is very similar to Nespresso OriginalLine, so if you have any familiarity with those types of machines then you know what to expect.

These are what Ninja’s espresso pods look like

I’ve owned several Nespresso OriginalLine machines and “real” espresso machines. 

I have no doubt that Ninja’s pod espresso will be passable, but far from great, by espresso standards.

I therefore wouldn’t recommend the Ninja Espresso and Coffee Barista System as a machine used primarily for espresso, however, if you are going to use it for both drip coffee and espresso then it’s a good option.

The Ninja Espresso and Coffee Barista System can make three styles of espresso. They are:

  • Espresso (1.35 oz)
  • Lungo (3.75 oz)
  • Iced Espresso (1 oz brewed at a slightly cooler temperature and for a longer time)

The table below shows the types and styles of coffee that each of the machines featured in this article makes.

Ninja Specialty CM401 (best overall)Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System CP301 (don’t recommend)Ninja DualBrew Pro CFP301 (don’t recommend)Ninja Espresso and Coffee Barista System CFN601 (best for espresso)
“Classic” drip coffee
“Rich” drip coffee
Ice coffee
“Specialty” drip coffee
K cup
Cold Brew
Espresso
Lungo
Ice espresso

How Much Countertop Space Do You Have?

Ninja coffee makers vary quite a bit in their footprint. Make sure you do not get a machine too large for your kitchen.

The table below shows the dimensions of each of the Ninja machines featured in this article. I’d recommend that you have at least eight inches of countertop width and depth clearance so you can use your machine easily.

Machine NameDimensions (width x depth x height)
Ninja Specialty CM401 (best overall)12” x 8.8” x 15”
Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System CP301 (don’t recommend)11.8” x 10” x 15”
Ninja DualBrew Pro CFP301 (don’t recommend)11.4” x 9.1” x 15.5”
Ninja Espresso and Coffee Barista System CFN601 (best for espresso)12.2” x 9.8” x 15”

What Do All Ninja Coffee Makers Have in Common?

I’m going to explain what all Ninja coffee makers have in common so you are not sold on a “unique” feature of an expensive model that you would also get on a cheaper model.

All Ninja Coffee Makers Brew Similar Quality Coffee

All Ninja coffee makers have basically the same brewing system.

This means that they will make similar quality coffee if they are in the same brewing setting.

The machines only make different quality coffee by virtue of their different brew settings.

They Can All Brew Drip Coffee With Loose Coffee Grounds

All Ninja coffee makers can brew drip coffee with loose grounds.

While certain machines can brew other types of coffee (espresso, cold brew etc) they can all brew “traditional” drip coffee in addition to these extras.

They Can All Brew Single Servings and Larger Carafes

All Ninja coffee makers can make single servings of coffee (they start at around 10 oz) all the way up to 50 oz carafes.

Some machines offer 6 serving sizes, others offer 9 serving sizes, however, they all have the same maximum and minimum serving sizes.

All Ninja Coffee Makers Have Removable Reservoirs

All Ninja coffee makers have removable reservoirs.

This makes them easy to fill and (more importantly) easier to clean as you can just rinse them directly in your sink.

I own a drip coffee machine with a non-removable reservoir and it is a massive pain to sponge clean.

No need to worry about this with Ninja coffee makers, regardless of the model you buy.

They All Have an Auto Brew Mode

All Ninja coffee makers allow you to have the machine brew your coffee at a specific time that you set in advance.

I love this feature on my drip coffee machine, and I use it most mornings. 

Just be wary of people who try to sell you a specific Ninja coffee maker based on the auto-on feature alone. All Ninjas have this.

Final Verdict

The best Ninja coffee maker is the Ninja Specialty CM401

Best Overall

The Ninja Specialty CM401 has all the features that Ninja machines do well, and omits some of Ninja’s poorer features that inflate the price of the machine without adding much value.

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