Ninja Coffee Bar Cf111 Single Serve System Review

ninja coffee bar single serve cf111 Ninja Coffee Bar Cf111 Single-Serve System Review

Rated by: Jennifer

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Update 04/2023: The Ninja Coffee Bar CF111 & CF112 have been discontinued, but we would still recommend some of the newer versions released.

From the time I started this review, I was definitely hooked on this one. The Ninja Coffee Bar (this company is spearheaded by Shark) has added one cup at a time to its repertoire of coffeemaker products, and this one does so many cool things (speaking of “cool” – iced coffee beverages are one of the main specialties) that it might spoil you rotten with drink ideas. You may have even seen the infomercial for this machine on TV somewhere and were wow-ed for sure on that alone:)

Altogether, Ninja is an awesome brand, and their range of specialty coffee machines is a testament to it…I didn’t see this particular model at Kroger when I went out to do my “investigation,” but I did see one of the models featured, and that glass carafe itself was impressive looking 🙂

But glamorous infomercials aside, read on if you want to ditch the K-cups for a more unique specialty drink experience. This baby uses good old grounds right from your kitchen!  It’s got everything you need to have a ball – make sure you read and take in all the facts before you buy.

Dimensions

The Amazon sales page tells me that the unit altogether measures 11.02 by 12.2 by 16.34″ and weighs 12.1 lbs. Unfortunately, the manufacturer’s website did not reveal the dimensions I could see. So…

I posted an inquiry, and one thoughtful consumer provided a more accurate measurement of 14″ (H) by 8.5″ (W) by 8.5″ (D). Not too big a footprint, so to speak (maybe consider your under-cabinet clearance, though)

When the milk frother arm is extended, another 4″ is added to the width, putting it closer to 12.5″.

The power cord is approximately 29″ in length.

Features

  • Milk frother attachment
  • Drip stop
  • Dial Control
  • Thermal Flavor extraction technology
  • Auto IQ one-touch intelligence
  • Clean function alerts you to prompt descaling
  • A handful of bonus accessories (see “What’s Included”)
  • The custom brews include: Classic, Rich, Over Ice, Specialty, and Cafe Forte
  • Brew sizes include: Cup, XL Cup, Travel Mug, and XL Multi-Serve

What’s Included?

The Ninja Coffee Bar Cf111 Single-Serve System is an attractive package with many great startup accessories. In addition to the unit, you will receive the following unique accouterments:

  • A detachable milk-frothing instrument
  • Special two-sided scoop for measuring coffee grounds
  • Permanent reusable coffee filter
  • A 20-page recipe book
  • Start guide

Last but not least is a 1-year limited warranty.

Buttons and Controls

The front control panel does not have the “intuitive” approach – it’s pretty much all manual. The left image shows the round dial setting near the top, letting you switch between the different brew sizes. Below the dial are three buttons for each brew type and the specialty and Cafe Forte.

The dial settings, which you would select first, correspond as follows:

  • Regular… 9.5 oz
  • XL Cup…11.5 oz
  • Travel Mug…14 oz
  • XL Multi-Serve…18 -22 oz

However, I think that in the last setting (XL Multi-Serve), you could very well brew more than that size. I daresay one of those carafes, although I haven’t heard anyone say for sure they have tried it. It looks like it would fit in that space with its triangular design.

There is also a little indicator light (blue) on each one. The “Drip Stop” and “Pre Heating” indicator lights are further down, and right below them are the Clean function and the power button.

    
One thing to point out is that compared to other models, and the Ninja single-serve takes a little longer. The average preheat time, I found out, is around 3 minutes. Add to it, brew time, on average, is about 2 minutes, so for a total of 5. You’ll notice that the Preheat light is illuminated further down when this happens.

As a final feature to mention within the operation…You’ll probably appreciate this part – it emits an audible “beep” to let you know it’s done – something I’ve seen only with a few models, such as the Cuisinart DCC-3000.

Reservoir

The water reservoir does not give an oz listing per see, but its max capacity is 6.5 cups. Update – I did find out after a LOT of digging it’s 43 oz. Assuming 8 oz for every cup, metrically speaking, puts this unit’s reservoir at about 50 oz, give or take. (OK – close enough!) It has a grooved appearance, small icon indicators, and a max fill line on one side, which can help determine how much water for a given beverage.

Two recessed areas (on the right side) make it easy to grip a hold of on the side facing out, and a flip top for easy refilling. You can fill and re-fill it through the flip-top opening or remove the reservoir entirely to do so by maneuvering to the right and easing it out via the handy recessed grips.

The reservoir (like many of the included accessories) but NOT its respective lid are top-rack dishwasher safe.

Frothing Attachment

The first unique accessory for the Ninja Coffee Bar single-serve is the frothing attachment arm – it extends out at the area in the back opposite the water reservoir. The arm is detachable so that it can be conveniently washed.

It also can be retracted out of the way when not in use. A simple nudge will push it to the back easily. The frothing arm operates at the touch of a button on the top.

Keep in mind it froths..but it does not steam, so you may need to pop the desired amount of milk in the microwave for a short spell before using the frothing arm if it is important to you for your drink of choice.

(Other than that little bugaboo, it appears to work great!)

The whisking piece can be removed easily with a clockwise turn to give it a good cleaning when necessary. You need to push it in and turn it counterclockwise to put it back on. These parts are also top-rack dishwasher safe – or handwash if you’re concerned about getting lost.

Cup Platform

The Ninja has a simple push-up cup platform that you can pull out for small to medium-sized cups, such as 12-14 oz, and push up out of the way to accommodate tumblers. It has a chrome look to it with a grid design when it’s in its resting spot.

The question of whether or not something will fit probably will not enter your mind with the Ninja (well, one exception…a carafe….which a number of people were asking about since the Cf111’s appearance is pretty close to that of its full-pot cousin models.)

Ninja Coffee Bar Basket and Scoop

These two included parts, close up, are well-designed. The “Smart Scoop” accessory has two sides that hold different ground amounts. When not in use, there is a recessed area on the side of the machine (below the water reservoir) next to the control panel where the scoop can be reattached for safe keeping when you don’t need it.

 

The included brew basket fits into the space in the front; you can see an outer tab with which to pull it out to fill it or remove it for disposing of used grounds. The basket has a cone-shaped appearance, and you are welcome to use paper filters if you wish, but they need to be the correct size which is no. 2 or 4. (See Compatible Accessories)

As a small word of caution, the brew basket is NOT dishwasher safe – rinse it out periodically.

Right in front of the brew basket compartment is another unique feature, the “Drip Stop” function, which you can slide to this setting (the teardrop icon with a slash over it) any time you need to interrupt cycles and restart.

Brew Types and Settings

The settings’ primary functions are explained here, and as you will soon see, they give you a lot of room for experimentation.

“Classic Brew” – pretty much your average cup of joe. Choose this one when you’re not looking to get fancy -pants and you want to go Keurig style, so to speak.

“Rich Brew” – a little bit more enhanced version of this with a slightly lower water content; it is kind of like the “strong brew” or “pulse” function I’ve seen on comparable models.

“Over Ice” needs no explanation; punch in this one when you want a tall refreshing iced cuppa. Be at the ready with a tumbler and a handful of ice cubes (don’t use glass!) This setting will produce a more “concentrated” coffee that melts into the cubes, so you won’t have to worry about ending up with a watered-down end product.

So you are pretty much in good hands whether you’re going for bold or just keeping it simple. If you want to make a simple cup of tea instead, the Classic or Rich Brew settings would be enough to go on. You may have come to this conclusion already, but you can certainly use the Ninja single-serve to dispense hot water on tap.

The manufacturer’s site FAQ advises against producing tea for the reason that “the natural oils of the coffee grounds may conflict with the taste of the resulting tea” – while, on the whole, that’s an OK argument, I think you could still make tea (as some consumers happily reported) if you want and you clean the basket regularly.

Below these 3 is the “Specialty Brews” setting, which produces coffee concentrated on producing the desired gourmet-style beverages, e.g., mochas, frappucinos, lattes, the list goes on, in which case the use of the frothing attachment will come into play (in addition to your recipe book too!)

You can layer them as you see fit, as the generously-sized tumbler will make this fun and easy.

The last setting,  “Cafe Forte,” located right below Specialty Brews, is, as I understand, the one you push to get a full-bodied brew that needs no sugar or creamer whatsoever.

As indicated on the buttons, the “Specialty Brew” setting of 4 oz and the “Cafe Forte” of 8 oz are not changeable. The included start guide provides good info on what volumes to expect for each brew type. It is recommended to use at least a 12 oz container to prevent overflow (this is important to keep in mind as this is not one of those brewers with the catch-all overflow drip tray)

What is the Auto IQ?

The Auto-IQ technology is a built-in setting that helps produce the right water-to-coffee ratio. It does remind me a great deal of the “bar code” technology used by the Tassimo T20, in which the machine “knows” how to sync up the right amount of water and pressure along with the number of grounds.

This will eliminate some guesswork, but the included booklet/recipes will greatly help determine how strong, how much coffee to use for each drink, etc., in as fun a way as possible.

Ninja Coffee Bar Single-Serve System with Built-In FrotherNinja Coffee Bar Single-Serve System with Built-In Frother

Clean Function

Below all the different coffee settings, we now come to the two silver buttons at the bottom, and the left one is the Clean function. This prompt goes into effect whenever a mineral buildup is “suspected,” in which case, a light will appear.

Some consumers found the Clean light annoying until they better understood how it is supposed to work – see Consumer Reviews for more on that. The actual procedure involves the use of a descaling solution (no specific brand is mentioned, so you don’t have to worry about needing to use a proprietary type)

Or, as I found out through the manual, you can definitely use a part of white vinegar with an equal part of water.

22 oz Tumbler

Is the Cf111 Just Like the Cf112 Model?

You probably noticed a model of the Ninja Coffee bar with a slightly different number, Cf112, and wondered if it is the same. Answer: Yes. Yes, it is. The only difference is that it includes the bonus accessory of a 22 oz tumbler cup (shown to the left) that you can use to make those delicious iced coffee drinks.

Also, one consumer answered this one; the recipe book includes 40 different recipes instead of the 20 that come with the Cf111.

I know how confusing that is, seeing a model with a similar model number and wondering what features are different but then discovering it’s just got different accessories that come along. I know Keurig is famous for this one, too 🙂

Compatible Accessories

In the event that you wish to experiment with different strengths, you can use your own paper filters instead of the included brewing basket; you will need to pick up a cone size #2 as the filter basket has a cone-shaped design. Size number 4 may work well, too, just as long as the shape is correct.

Other optional accessories sold separately include:

  • 16 oz stainless steel travel mug
  • 18 oz Hot and Cold Insulated Tumbler
  • 100-page Coffee Recipe Book
  • 12-oz insulated mug

These nice -but not totally necessary items will help you make the most of your Ninja experience.

ninja coffee bar cf111 reviewNinja Coffee Bar Cf111 Reviews and Ratings

I was happy to discover enough evidence that the Ninja Coffee Bar cf111 is a “winner,” not just in terms of enjoyment by consumers but great performance and minor annoyances. Consumer reviews reflected this well, not just “honeymoon” users but also those going on months of use.

Many of the comments were along the lines of “versatile – there is something for everyone with this coffee maker,” “plenty of room for those tall cups,” “not having to bother with K-Cups,” and the most encouraging, “I am saving money now, getting to use my own everyday ingredients and spending less time stopping by X venue”

These comments are encouraging because they show people can get a little creative with their drinks. The included recipe book was another bonus that won over a lot of people too during the break-in period, getting to familiarize themselves with the process in as fun a way as possible.

What I observed in the few negative or “average” ratings seemed to follow one pattern: the orange “clean” light is a source of consternation. They assumed that if they did the ritual, the “Clean” light would automatically go out, and that was not the case. Wanting to find out more about this apparent sore spot, a little deep digging on my part revealed that the clean/descale ritual is a little different from that of some other single-serve machines.

Per the user manual, as it turns out, the cleaning cycle step involves three full actions of descaling and rinsing to be a complete cycle. It is possible some consumers tried to start a new cup of coffee but didn’t realize this fact and were deterred. One consumer mentioned that he used RO (reverse osmosis) water strictly and never saw the cleaning light come on, as did most people who never had trouble with it, always used filtered water. The user booklet explicitly states that you should use filtered water, as do most other brands.

What makes the difference is that with one of the (insert brand name here), you may find that you’re supposed to add your white vinegar/water combo to the reservoir, ensure that nothing is in the brewing chamber, and hit the “brew” button. You don’t actually do that with the Ninja here. You choose a size from the dial knob and hit the “Clean” button, but you don’t hit any of the other buttons.

It takes a little longer, and that’s what I think tripped people up, especially if they owned a previous other brand and they were used to hitting the “Brew” button to descale.

Pros

  • Versatile brewing options
  • Plenty of space for tall cups
  • You can use your own grounds anytime
  • You don’t have to fool around with coffee pods
  • Large 22-oz tumbler bonus
  • Milk frother attachment
  • Auto-IQ and thermal extraction technology
  • Drip Stop function

Cons

  • The water reservoir is a tad smallish
  • Does not have an Auto On/Off setting
  • You may need to warm the milk for specialty drinks, as the frother does not do this.
  • The cleaning procedure may take some time as it differs slightly from other single-serve brewer’s clean/descales methods.

Price

The addition of the 22-oz Multi-Serve tumbler, which is a $10.95 value on the manufacturer’s site separately, pretty much clinches it as a great deal (not to mention the other added bonuses too.)

If you choose to purchase the Cf112 over the Cf111 for the extra tumbler, that’s about a $20 increase. This version is worthwhile if you’re very much into iced drinks.

I like the price when I take a long view look at what you get – and since I am doing an update (3/17/20), I’ve noticed that the listings are under the category of used or “Renewed” (which is similar to refurbished but sounds like with extra care and testing done)

I also checked Walmart, and it looked like you can only get a refurbished cf111 but at a higher price. If you’d prefer to get brand new, I did find some listings on eBay that are new (be sure to factor in shipping)

Also, factor in the fact that you can use your own coffee grounds whenever you want, plus your own choice of ingredients straight from the grocery store to make your specialty drink concoctions, and overall this is a great deal long-term! If you usually make paper filters a part of your repertoire as well, these, too, will be inexpensive.

Summary

So who should consider the addition of the Ninja Single-Serve System in their home? Only people who love coffee, variety, and saving money make it their own special ways….and those who sometimes want to beat the monotony of the classic coffee break. You know, making delectable treats with cream on top. If you love frappuccinos, macchiatos, and everything in between…this maker has something for you and then some.

If all that applies to you, this may be your machine…If not, well…there are other models out there!

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