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✔ What We Liked
- Thoughtful quality-of-life features that make daily use a breeze
- Multiple brewing methods, strengths, and modes
- Easy to select exactly how much coffee you want to brew
- Built-in milk frothing wand that produces a consistent microfoam
- Space-saving features including interchangeable brewers and movable water tank
✘ What We Didn't Like
- Does not include a reusable filter; must purchase separately
- The frothing wand does not heat milk
- This machine has a lot of parts that need to be cleaned on a regular basis
- Some reviewers on Ninja’s website said the coffee machine spit grounds into their coffee (we did not experience this with our machine)
- All pod coffee makers produce more waste than other types of coffee makers
Buckle up for an in-depth review because this coffee maker has a ton of features! This one of the most thoughtfully designed and intuitive machines we’ve reviewed so far at this price point. The Ninja DualBrew Pro is a great option for someone looking for a feature-packed machine that makes daily use a breeze. It’s ideal for making drip coffee, pod coffee, and cappuccino- or latte-style drinks due to its built-in milk frother.
That said, this machine isn’t ideal for someone who is looking for an espresso machine or wants to have full control over how they brew coffee. There are many entry-level espresso machines that run around the same price as this coffee maker. Besides espresso machines, we suggest considering manual coffee makers, like pour-over coffee makers or French presses, if you want more control over the brewing process.
The first test we conducted was using the Specialty brew function with some coffee beans that we ground ourselves. The coffee beans were the Pleasant Morning Buzz Vienna Roast from Whole Foods, which is a medium dark roast.
The speciality brew function only brews four ounces of coffee as it’s meant to be a concentrated base for drinks similar to cappuccinos or lattes. While it’s not espresso, it’s quite strong and holds up well with milk. I taste-tested the coffee without milk first. It had a bitter taste that increased during the first sip, but the bitterness was less noticeable as I took more sips. It also had a strong, lingering aftertaste. Personally, I wouldn’t drink this on its own, but it’s not really meant for that.
I also tested the milk frothing wand to turn my specialty brew coffee into a cappuccino-style drink. One downside of the wand is that it does not heat your milk, so you will need to heat up your milk before frothing. I used the microwave for 30 seconds to heat up about two or three ounces of whole milk in a mug. Frothing with the wand is super easy. You position the wand just below the surface of the milk and hold the power button, frothing for 30 to 45 seconds.
The foam is not as stiff as you’d get with a traditional steam wand, but the wand produces a very consistent, creamy microfoam. I added this foam to my specialty brew to drink it like a cappuccino. While it didn’t taste exactly like a cappuccino (as it does not have espresso), it was a nice, tasty cup and easy to make. After I finished with the foam wand, it was easy to detach it for fast rinsing and washing. After using the foam wand, it folds neatly into the machine, sitting flush with the rest of the machine.
We also tried the coffee pod functionality using a medium roast pod from Peet’s coffee. To be honest, it tasted exactly like pod coffee I’ve had from many other pod machines. In my experience, pod coffee tastes consistent across machines, so you’re mainly looking for a machine that meets this standard.
I used the same Peet’s pods in the Hamilton Beach Dual Brew that I reviewed earlier this year, and the taste between the two machines is comparable. While I didn’t use the same pods in the Keurig K-Classic I reviewed, the taste profile from this machine and the Keurig machine were also similar.
You won’t get the best coffee from a pod, but this machine produces to the standard I expect from pod coffee makers.
Another test was brewing some drip coffee in the carafe. I again used the Whole Foods Pleasant Morning Buzz Vienna Roast. I used four big scoops; Ninja recommends three to five big scoops for half of a carafe. I brewed 28 ounces, which is about half of the carafe, on the rich strength setting.
While there was some bitterness that’s characteristic of drip coffee, the flavor was pretty rich and earthy. It was a good option if you like a stronger cup. It would also make a great base for adding milk or creamer.
Ease of Use
Overall, this machine is extremely easy to use, mainly due to many quality-of-life features. The touchscreen display is clear and intuitive to use. The water reservoir and coffee scoop also have built-in measurement guides so you won’t forget how much coffee and water you need.
My only gripe about this machine’s ease of use is that it has a lot of parts to clean. Because it’s designed to be interchangeable, this means more components that need cleaning. All told, there are eight removable components that need cleaning, which is more than most coffee makers or espresso machines. Other than that, it’s generally a smartly-designed kitchen appliance.
Boy, does this machine have features! This is one of the most feature-packed machines I’ve reviewed so far, especially at this price point. I’m not going to cover every single one, but I’ll highlight all the best features (in my opinion) as well as some shortcomings of this coffee maker.
Brewing Methods & Modes
Let’s start with brewing options. Like the name implies, this machine is a dual brewer, meaning you can brew using ground coffee like a normal drip machine or use a coffee pod like a K-cup. The design of this machine is clever because it doesn’t have two separate brewers. Instead, it allows you to change out the brewer depending on how you’re making coffee. Other dual brew machines we’ve tried generally have two brewers side-by-side, which makes these machines bulky. The Ninja with its interchangeable brewers is quite compact, making it ideal for smaller spaces.
Beyond the two brewing methods, there are a ton of options on how to brew your cup of coffee. There are four brewing modes: classic, rich, over ice, and specialty brew. Classic brews a classic cup of coffee at a normal strength. Rich is a stronger, richer tasting brew. Over ice, as its name implies, is designed to brew over ice so you can easily make iced coffee. Finally, specialty brews a four-ounce concentrated cup, which can be used as a base to make an Americano, cappuccino, latte or other milk-based drink.
You can also select the amount of coffee for all brewing modes except specialty. These range in size from six ounces to a full carafe of 55 ounces. For instance, if I’m brewing a coffee pod on classic strength, I can choose from six, eight, 10 or 12 ounces. If I’m brewing ground coffee on classic strength, I can choose from eight, 10, 12, 15, 18, 28, 37, 46, or 55 ounces. This ranges in size from a single mug to travel mugs to the full carafe.
Quality of Life Features
It’s evident from the design of this machine that Ninja truly thought about how people will use the machine and designed it accordingly. There are so many small quality-of-life features on this machine that make it a breeze to use.
Starting with brewing, I personally liked that there’s a progress bar on the screen while you’re brewing, and the Ninja beeps a few times once it’s completed the brewing cycle. My high-end De’longhi machine does this, but it was not something I was expecting from a machine at this price point.
The Ninja also has measurement guides on both the water tank and the coffee scoop. It makes it easy to know how much water and coffee grounds you need to brew a certain amount. For someone who is forgetful (like me) or wants to brew differently everyday, you won’t need to consult the user manual when making coffee.
Speaking of the water tank, it can swivel to be on the side of the machine or the back of the machine, depending on your space constraints. This isn’t a feature I’ve seen in a coffee machine before, and it’s a thoughtful one. If you have a narrow, but deep space, you can swivel the water reservoir to sit at the back of the machine. If you have a wider space, you can keep the water reservoir on the side.
The coffee scoop also has its own home on the machine. It attaches to the side that houses the frothing wand, so you won’t need to worry about losing the coffee scoop. The frothing wand also tucks in flush to the machine so it won’t take up space if it’s not in use.
One thing that surprised me about this machine is that it does not come with a reusable filter. Ninja sells one, but you must purchase it separately. Reusable gold-tone filters are now commonly included with many drip coffee machines, so I was disappointed that Ninja doesn’t include one with this machine. You’ll need to spring an extra $13 to $17 to purchase a reusable filter compatible with this machine.
The frothing wand is either a shortcoming or an advantage depending on how you look at it. The frothing wand is not a steam wand, so it does not heat your milk while frothing. Because the wand doesn’t heat, you can use it to froth cold milk and therefore make cold milk-based drinks. If that’s your jam, this is a great feature. If you mainly drink hot cappuccinos and lattes, you’ll need to settle with warming your milk in the microwave or on the stove. It’s not terribly inconvenient, but it’s something to consider based on your drinking habits.
There’s also no drip tray with this machine, so you’ll need to immediately clean up spills and be careful when brewing. Thankfully, the brew head can be closed off after brewing to reduce dripping.
Finally, some reviewers on the Ninja website noted that the machine spit coffee grounds into their cup. This seemed to be a small minority, but it could indicate a manufacturing issue with the machines. I did not have this experience.
|Time to brew
|Coffee grind size
|Ease of cleaning
Because this coffee maker offers multiple brewing functions, it is time-consuming to clean. There are eight total removable components that need regular cleaning. They are the water reservoir, the carafe, the carafe’s lid, the coffee grounds basket, the pod adapter, the frother wand, the scoop, and the coffee grounds brew lid (called the sliding lid in the user manual).
That’s a lot of parts to clean! Thankfully, some of these parts are dishwasher safe. The water reservoir can be placed upside down on the bottom rack of the dishwasher, and you can place the water reservoir’s lid on the top rack. In fact, Ninja recommends doing this at least once per week. I’m grateful that it’s dishwasher-safe because the water reservoir is narrow and therefore difficult to hand wash without a long-handled brush.
The other components that are dishwasher-safe are the glass carafe, the carafe’s lid, the frother wand, and the coffee scoop. All of these, except the glass carafe, should be placed on the top rack of the dishwasher.
The brewing components, such as the coffee grounds basket, pod adapter, and coffee grounds brew lid (sliding lid), are not dishwasher safe and must be hand washed.
Beyond day-to-day cleaning, you will need to regularly descale the machine. Again, because of the machine’s multiple brewing methods, there are essentially three different descaling cycles to run. You will need to descale using Grounds mode, Pod mode, and Hot Water mode. The first time that the “CLn” indicator turns on, Ninja recommends running the descaling cycle on the mode you use the most. The next time the light turns on, use one of the other modes.
After the first few times descaling the machine, if you see the “CLn” indicator on that means it’s time to descale the current mode (Grounds, Pod or Hot Water).
You don’t need to buy a special Ninja descaling solution. Any descaler formulated for use in coffee makers will work. You can also use white vinegar following the instructions in the user manual.
The machine has the characteristic Ninja look. It feels modern-looking to me, and the touchscreen display is bright and easy to read.
As for the measurements, these change based on where you position the water tank. If you leave the water tank to the side, the machine measures roughly nine inches wide, 11 inches deep, and 15 inches tall. With the frothing arm out, the machine measures 12.5 inches wide. With the coffee pod lid up, the machine measures just under 19 inches tall.
With the water tank on the back of the machine, the widest part of the machine is seven inches and the machine measures 14 inches deep. With the frothing wand out, it measures approximately 10.5 inches wide.
Overall, this is a relatively compact machine given its functionality. That said, if you have low-hanging kitchen cabinets, this coffee maker might be too tall.
I think this machine represents good value for the price. It’s not a coffee maker for everyone, but for those who want a hassle-free experience without sacrificing brewing options, it’s a good machine.
My main gripe around value is that I feel this machine should include a reusable filter. It’s increasingly common for drip coffee makers to include reusable filters, even at lower price points. However, you can pick up a reusable filter compatible with this machine for around $15 or so.
|Current price on Amazon
|Cost for supplies