Modern coffee tastes have moved way beyond your basic mug of drip. These days, java drinkers hanker for a variety of beverages, including stiff shots of espresso, creamy lattes, refreshing iced coffee and practically everything in between. Kitchen appliance maker SharkNinja, formerly Euro-Pro, feels its new $200 Ninja Coffee Bar CF092 can satisfy many of these cravings right from your countertop.
While the flexible coffee maker does automatically brew in many different container sizes and even boasts its own built-in milk frother, it doesn't live up to SharkNinja's hype. More expensive than its predecessor the $140 Ninja Coffee Bar CF080 (itself a mediocre performer), this pricey machine brews coffee that tastes worse. You'd be much better off buying a $190 Bonavita BV1900TS to make big pots of quality drip. For delicious single portions of joe choose the $16 Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over, which serves superb coffee one cup at a time.
Design and features
Constructed from thick, black plastic parts with faux-chrome highlights, the Ninja Coffee Bar certainly doesn't look like a premium coffee maker. Placed next to luxury competitors like the $299 Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 and the $580 Ratio Eight, which use metal, glass, even wood within their frames, the Coffee Bar looks downright cheap. Even the spartan stainless-steel chassis of the $190 Bonavita BV1900TS makes the Coffee Bar look chintzy by comparison.
Still, I do find the retro appliance styling of the Ninja somewhat charming. Its large buttons labeled in capital letters are easy to read and easy to press, too, since they're well-spaced from one another. This coupled with lots of bright LED lights, sharp lines and angled surfaces give the Coffee Bar a decidedly 1980s alarm clock appearance, which I admit isn't for everyone.
Underneath its unique styling, the Ninja Coffee Bar is still a traditional coffee machine. Essentially a rectangular tower standing 14.8 inches tall and sprawling 11.6 inches wide by 7 inches deep, this is one big machine and takes up even more space than the massive Moccamaster KBT 741.
On the left side of the appliance you'll find a 43-ounce glass carafe that sits on a circular hot plate. Above that is a brew basket that accepts either the bundled permanent filter or disposable paper filters (Type 4). SharkNinja also equipped the coffee maker with a handy drip-stop switch, placed at the foot of the basket.
Like its predecessor, the updated Coffee Bar has a removable water reservoir. The clear plastic tank (54 ounce capacity) sports a series of fluted ridges along its sides that are easy to grip. There's also a hand-size indentation on its right edge, which makes it a cinch to grab as well.
Below the reservoir is the Ninja Coffee Bar's main control area. It includes a "Multi-Serve Dial" for selecting the coffee container size you plan to use (ranging from small 9.5-ounce cups to 43-ounce carafes). Here too are buttons to engage specific types of brewing programs. Five in all, the keys are labeled Classic Brew, Rich Brew, Over Ice Brew, Specialty and Cafe Forte. Each brew style is designed to create coffee of varying strength, with Classic the weakest and Rich Brew slightly stronger. Cafe Forte is stronger still, while Specialty is the most intense, with an almost espresso-like concentration.
The entire coffee machine rests on top of a trim, flat pedestal, which houses a few more controls such as the power key along with buttons to command the hot plate. There's a tiny LCD screen here, too, which displays a digital clock and allows you to set a time for delayed brewing.
The Coffee Bar's most novel feature, however, is a motorized frothing whisk that's designed to aerate milk for frothy cafe drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. The whisk is attached to an arm that lives in back of the appliance and swivels forward when it's ready for action.
Performance and taste
SharkNinja makes breathless claims about this new Ninja Coffee Bar system, going so far to say the gadget offers a "Better than a coffeehouse experience. At home." Sadly, this statement could not be further from the truth, since the coffee the Coffee Bar makes is substandard and at times completely undrinkable.