Ninja CF112 Coffee Bar Review
The Ninja CF112 single serve coffee maker is one of the more impressive looking brewing systems we’ve had the chance to review. System is the correct word for this machine – it does A LOT. Or at least, it claims to. Read the full review from the Coffee Dorks here.
- Various brew sizes
- One touch intelligence tech
- Drip stop function
- Very slow brew
- Not easy to clean
The Ninja CF112 has a built-in frothing arm, hot and cold functions, thermal flavor extraction technology, one-touch technology and much more. We set out with the mammoth task of reviewing the Ninja CF112 – read our first impressions and an unbiased review (once the novelty had worn off) here.
Ninja CF112 Highlights
- 5 different brew types from one machine: classic, rich, iced, specialty and café forte.
- 4 different beverage sizes: cup (6floz), XL cup, travel mug and XL multi-serve (22floz).
- 5 minutes to heat water and brew coffee for 6floz.
- Freshly ground coffee, no pods or cups (grinder not included).
- Built-in frothing arm for microbubbles.
- Permanent metal filter – compatible with paper filters too.
- One touch intelligence technology – draws the correct amount of water from the reservoir (holds 43floz).
- 3inches tall, 12.2inches wide, 11inches deep.
- 1-year manufacturer’s warranty (doesn’t cover accidental damage at home or during transit, or natural wear) – plus $19.95 fee to return the faulty product.
- Also included: recipe book with 40 beverages, To-Go Tumbler with lid.
Design & Features
There is a lot to get through, and some unquestionably more impressive than others:
5 different brew types. These are very good and noticeably different from each other. Follow the recipe book and find your favorite. Every single Coffee Dork found one they liked! Start with a classic, compare it to the flavor of the rich setting – depending on the beans you use, you’ll get different results.
4 different sizes. Although it’s a simple feature, it’s actually what makes the Ninja CF112 stand out. Many competing brands only make small cups up to 12floz, for single use only. With the CF112 you can brew the humungous 22floz cup, which is perfect for sharing and saves you from brewing 2 smaller cups, which takes longer.
Frothing arm. This is great fun, however, the novelty soon wore off. Simply dunk it into the milk or your coffee. It worked perfectly but often wasn’t worth the effort. See the part below where we talk about cleaning the unit.
Hot and cold drinks. The hot beverages are hot, but not super-hot. If you’re frothing milk to go on top of your latte, your coffee is going to cool down even more as you froth. For the price, we thought a hot plate would be included. Unfortunately not.
Cold drinks were a delight on the other hand! Not watery at all, simple enough to create (check the recipe book) and ice cold.
Finally, let’s talk about the design. It’s somewhat lacking. It gives the impression of multiple coffee machines welded together like a hybrid coffee monster. The frothing arm is plastic, as is the reservoir, but there are highlights of metal and far too many different textures going on. You may need to redecorate your kitchen to match.
The huge number of beverages you can create (at least 40) are impressive – there’s something for every taste.
When we tested and analyzed a “classic” coffee, to compare to Keurig and all the other competitors, we were disappointed. It was an average tasting coffee. Even with fresh premium coffee, ground just before use (no grinder attached to the Ninja brewer), the taste was missing something.
The permanent filter is just a generic metal filter, however, it did a good job of filtering our coffee. This machine is also compatible with paper filters, which is very useful if you want to use a super fine grind, or your filter breaks and you’re outside the warranty period.
You have no temperature control, so if you prefer a hotter coffee your only option is to heat up your mug beforehand or put your coffee in the microwave – this will not have a nice effect on the flavor.
Performance & Functionality
Overall performance was slower than average. If you’re desperate to make specialty drinks from your own home, the wait is definitely worth it.
From the moment you turn it on to the moment you have a fully brewed small cup, you’ve waited approximately 5 minutes. For large beverages, you’ll be waiting longer. You also need to factor in time to grind the coffee, as pods are not compatible.
The control panel has a mass of features (yes, even more) including a clean button that will light up when your coffee system needs cleaning and an audible “ding” when your coffee is finished brewing. You can also flip the “drip stop” switch to stop drips of coffee going everywhere after brewing.
Filling the reservoir is easy – it’s completely detachable which is unusual for single serve coffee brewers because of their size. Despite having a million and one functions, Ninja have put thought into making it as easy to use as possible – for that we are grateful.
This is not the most durable machine – many parts look easy to snap off. The frothing wand being the most obvious, but also the detachable reservoir – it’s instantly weaker and more prone to leaks than a continuous, fully integrated reservoir.
There are also many reports of problems with the cleaning light refusing to turn off – none of the Coffee Dorks witnessed this, but it appears to be a common fault with Ninja machines. Use filtered, pure water and clean following the arduous instructions in the manual. Fingers crossed this won’t happen to you.
All 5 beverage modes are as simple as filling her up with coffee/water, pressing a button and waiting patiently. Specialty drinks take a little more finesse, but the handy recipe book turns this into an adventure rather than a head-scratcher.
Cleaning & Maintenance
Ninja recommend that you fully clean the brewer every week. Considering just how complex this brewer is, that’s quite time-consuming.
The frothing arm was a nightmare to clean. You can’t just leave it coated in milk or coffee, it needs a wipe down at the very least. Plus, there’s no drip tray under the frothing arm which is a serious problem – froth can overspill and if you lift the arm out prematurely, will send foam everywhere.
The descaling method involves several brew cycles, one with white vinegar and others with filtered water – there are 15 steps in total that you need to follow to totally disassemble, clean and reassemble the machine, plus a 15-minute waiting period.
Ultimately, the CF112 machine is more of a party trick than an everyday, reliable coffee machine.
It’s confidently described as a single serve coffee maker, yet it has the capability to be a multi-cup brewer. It has most of the bells and whistles, but for the price, you’d expect to have a few more features thrown in; namely a hot plate or temperature control, easier cleaning, more durable materials and auto-timers.
For these reasons, we recommend this machine for those of you who want to occasionally impress friends or treat yourself to a specialty coffee from the comfort of your own home. If you are serious about good tasting coffee and need a reliable machine for everyday use, you are much better off sticking with the simpler, albeit boring, Keurig K55 or Hamilton Beach model.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.