When it comes to choosing the best coffee maker, you need to consider what sort of coffee do you prefer, how much do you need to brew any single day and whether you’re the sort of person who likes to experiment or you’re easily satisfied with whatever coffee you get, provided it has enough caffeine in it.
The battle for market dominance between Ninja Coffee Bar and Keurig is an interesting one for the world of coffee makers as it is an all-American contest. While some of the most famous coffee makers in the world are Swiss or Italian, here we have two US-based makers fighting for the privilege of bringing coffee to the American public.
To help you decide which is better for you, here is an in-depth look at both makers, with the pros and cons carefully weighed.When it comes to choosing the best coffee maker, you need to consider what sort of coffee do you prefer, how much do you need to brew any single day and whether you’re the sort of person who likes to experiment or you’re easily satisfied with whatever coffee you get, provided it has enough caffeine in it. The battle for market dominance between Ninja Coffee Bar and Keurig is an interesting one for the world of coffee makers as it is an all-American contest.
While some of the most famous coffee makers in the world are Swiss or Italian, here we have two US-based makers fighting for the privilege of bringing coffee to the American public. To help you decide which is better for you, here is an in-depth look at both makers, with the pros and cons carefully weighed.
Ninja Coffee Bar is a sort of jack of all trades as it allows you to brew four different types of coffee:
Keurig is a no-thrills, no-frills sort of coffee maker. It only brews one type of coffee, not intended for the preparation of fancy coffee shop style beverages. While it lacks imagination, Keurig is a synonym for strong coffee you can brew easily, giving you a caffeine kick right when you need it. Keurig managed to rise to dominance of the market as it produces machines that are big enough to prepare large carafes of coffee, perfectly suited for the office environment, hotels, and all sorts of places where you need a lot of coffee ready to serve.
Ninja Coffee Bar machines come with a standard conical filter basket which allows you perfect freedom to choose your coffee blend, from the most affordable supermarket blend to the most exquisite specialty single-origin coffee. You can switch between blends, choosing among the many flavors out there, and, of course, you can experiment by putting more or less grounds in your machine to find a brew that meets your tastes. If you buy your coffee in beans, which you should, by the way, you will have to invest in a good grinder. The secret to a good coffee is freshly-ground beans. Obviously, this means some extra time added to your coffee ritual and some people don’t want to deal with this sort of hassle early in the morning.
Pods are very convenient for people who do not have time to waste on coffee making. Just pop in a pod and your coffee will be ready in less than a minute. This comes with a cost, however. When you buy a Keurig coffee maker you’re pretty much stuck with K-pods and this feature was at the origin at a major trade war in the coffee makers industry. The Keurig 2.0 brewing system is based on a pod scanner located in the pod holder assembly, which scans the pod to make sure it’s Keurig-licensed. The company says this feature is designed to make sure you get great coffee with the Keurig guarantee. At the same time, K-pods are labeled in such a way as to allow the machine to know whether you want to make a single cup or a whole carafe, so it adjusts the water quantity. Accordingly, you can buy K-Cup, K-Mug, K-Vue, or K-Carafe pods and use them as needed. If you put in a K-Cup the machine won’t allow you to brew a larger quantity of a very weak brew.
However, there were complaints that this scanning system limits people’s choice and forces them to buy just one brand instead of letting them use cheaper alternatives. Some companies came up with methods to trick the pod scanner into accepting various types of pods, which resulted in lawsuits. In the end, Keurig relented and offered its customers the option to buy a reusable cup, which does allow them to fill it with a blend of their choice, which is very convenient. On the other hand, if you have to fill the cup with your own grounds, it’s not a pod anymore, is it?
As far as costs are concerned, using K-pods is definitely the more expensive option. The price can be even 5 times higher for pods as compared with the same amount of grounds in a regular coffee blend. Using pods, a cup of coffee will end up costing $0.50, which is considerably cheaper than a drinking your coffee at a coffee shop, but more than you would pay by using grounds from a supermarket blend.
Many reviews like to point out that Keurig coffee makers have large water reservoirs so you can prepare large carafes of coffee without having to worry about refilling. This is especially true of the K575 which has an 80 oz water reservoir. However, Ninja Coffee makers come in a variety of models with different brewing capacities. While the Ninja Coffee Bar Single-cup maker only provides enough coffee for one person, the standard Ninja Coffee Bar has a 50 oz water reservoir, which should be enough for a large family or a small office.
One of the newest Ninja Coffee Bar models CF091 allows you to customize brew size from Cup, XL Cup, and Travel Mug to XL Multi-Serve, Half Carafe, and Full Carafe.
Ninja also has a thermal carafe model that keeps the coffee hot for a long period of time, so you don’t have to keep the hotplate on. For instance, the Thermal Carafe System has a 43 oz double-walled, vacuum-sealed, stainless steel thermal carafe which will keep the coffee hot for up to 2 hours.
This is a very important thing, as keeping the coffee on a hotplate for a long time will make it taste bitter. This is the reason why you cannot get a decent cup of coffee in most public places where they keep the machine on continuously. It is quite convenient for a cafeteria to be able to offer a hot cup of coffee at any moment, but it won’t taste as good as freshly made coffee.
If you’re always in a hurry than Keurig is your best bet. Most models take roughly one minute to brew your coffee but keep in mind it might take a couple of minutes to heat the water.
Ninja Coffee makers are known as slow brewers. A single cup takes around 4 minutes and the full carafe takes about 8 minutes. If it takes longer than this, try running a descale cleaning cycle.
You can pretty much guess the answer to this question. Since Keurig machines only prepare black coffee they do not offer a frother. Their brew is nowhere near espresso quality so it is not suitable to make espresso-based drinks like cappuccino or latte, so a milk frother would be useless.
On the other hand, the Ninja Coffee Bar comes with a built-in frother, so you can easily make some milk foam for your cappuccino. Other models have a hand-pump frother, which is not as neat as the built-in one, but still pretty easy to use. This device is microwave safe, so you just add the milk and microwave for around 60 seconds. All that is left to do is to pump for maybe 10 seconds to aerate the milk and get a surprisingly thick foam.
The Ninja Shark company has launched a cold-brew system on most of its more recent models, trying to win over the growing numbers of cold brew fans. Ninja Coffee Bar models allow you to prepare a cold brew in 10-15 minutes, which is quite revolutionary considering that traditional cold brew takes about 12 hours to infuse properly. Sounds like a miracle, but as the saying goes – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. The Ninja cold brew is actually a lukewarm sort of brew, as it is not made with cold water as it should be. Other than that, the taste is decent for a cold brew.
A Ninja Coffee maker will alert you when it’s time to clean the machine. When the Clean button lights up you should start by cleaning the removable parts, like the filter, with water and soap. As for the machine itself, it is recommended to run hot water through the system pressing the whole carafe button, only without adding the grounds, obviously. Next, you should use a water and white vinegar solution poured in the water tank and, again, run a whole carafe program. To get rid of the vinegar, run the whole carafe program once more using just plain water.
The cleaning process for a Keurig machine is pretty much the same. The company has a special descaling solution, which you are advised to use every three months. But, at $13 per bottle, you might want to pass on it and use a half-water, half-vinegar solution, which works just as well.
No matter which coffee maker you choose, keep in mind you need to do a descaling at regular intervals, otherwise, your machine might malfunction or stop altogether.
You can get a Keurig 2.0 K350 brewer retails for $149.99. This model brews a single K-cup or a 4-cup K-carafe pack. Other models can be bought for as little as $90, which is however more than you would pay for a regular filter coffee maker and this is actually the only type of coffee Keurig machines make.
Ninja Coffee makers fall within the same price range. For instance, a Ninja Coffee Bar Single-Serve System which can prepare up to four cups as well is around $100, and it comes with a built-in frother for milk and cream. You can also find more affordable models at $50 or the fancy Ninja Specialty Fold Away Frother Coffee Maker at around $150.
Both Ninja Coffee and Keurig are affordable and cheap enough as far as coffee machines are concerned, so price won’t make much of a difference when it comes to choosing between the two.
The final choice rests with you and your needs. If you’re only interested in getting a cup of black coffee every morning and are perfectly happy with pods, which are more convenient to use than Keurig is the machine for you. On the other hand, since both machines cost around $150 why not get a Ninja Coffee Bar that offers several types of brews? Even if you only drink normal black coffee, it’s still useful to have a versatile machine at hand, for those instances when friends come around. Even if the Ninja espresso is not quite a coffee shop espresso it’s still good enough to make a great cappuccino and, who knows, having more options you might switch to another type of coffee yourself.
If you’re looking for a coffee maker for the office, an 80oz reservoir Keurig is a good option, but then again a regular filter coffee machine is cheaper and you don’t have to bother with pods, which you should order every month and will cost more than store-bought coffee grounds.
Ninja Coffee Bar vs Keurig: The Ultimate Showdown