Ninja’s CM401 Coffee Maker Efficiently Brews Great Coffee

Photo+courtesy+of+Ninja

Photo courtesy of Ninja

Gabriel Cabello Torres, Technology Editor

Whether you’re a college student, parent of two, or just hustling at work, coffee might be a big part of your life. For some folks, drinking coffee stemmed from loving its taste and aroma. For others, like myself, it spawned from the utility of it. What isn’t attractive about hammering down a mug of caffeinated goodness that will help you barrel through the day? In any case, you don’t want to spend an unnecessary amount of money on overglorified Starbucks drinks or poorly made fast food coffee. The best alternative was a good coffee machine that gets the job done and done well.

There are a lot of different methods and machines that can be used to make coffee these days. Coffee from Keurig machines, in my coffee snob opinion, always tasted burnt or watery. French press coffee tastes amazing but it requires both vigilance and time. That isn’t an option when you’ve got five minutes left for the door. The popular drip coffee machines were the right decision. Fortunately, I found a Ninja coffee machine that had great features and cup size versatility.

When the machine arrived at my doorstep, I started delicately tearing the packaging apart. I pulled the coffee maker out to reveal its black and silver components. The machine was pretty large compared to the humble Mr. Coffee machine I was using. It was around 15 inches tall and almost 12 inches wide. Making room for it on the kitchen counter was worth it for good coffee.

First, it comes with a frother on the side. The whisk can detach for easy cleaning. It also comes with a scoop for coffee grounds and conveniently attaches to the side. The scoop also comes with measurements on it for whatever brew size you’re choosing. The machine itself has four brewing options starting with classic brew, a rich brew, an over ice brew, and a specialty brew. The water reservoir is removable and can be filled hassle-free. There’s a small platform that can be used to hold smaller coffee mugs during the brewing process. The location where you put your coffee grounds slides out towards you for easy access. Setting the time on the coffee machine is easy and using the “delay brew” function doesn’t provide any issues. There’s an option called “stop drip” which will stop any more liquid from dropping into your container. 

One of the CM401 model’s nifty features include a permanent coffee filter that has a metal mesh. This is convenient if you don’t want to use paper filters. However, I noticed that sometimes grains seep through the mesh into the coffee. To me, that’s not really an inconvenience but it’s important to point out if you don’t like semi-grainy coffee. If you opt for the paper filters then it uses a number four cone filter. Another great feature is the options you have available for different coffee containers. The available options are half a carafe, a full carafe, and coffee mugs ranging from 10 ounces to 18 ounces. Choosing the “Specialty Brew” option only produces four ounces of coffee.

The machine’s frother is an interesting feature. While you could opt for a separate milk frother, this one is integrated into the side which makes it easily accessible for special drinks like lattes.

The two main options, Classic brew and Rich brew produce a great cup of coffee. The former offers a standard cup of coffee. Taste-wise, it makes a good cup that doesn’t taste burnt. The latter offers a stronger cup of coffee with a bolder taste. I’d recommend this one if you’re trying a darker blend as it really brings out the flavor undertones in them. Unfortunately, the “Over-Ice” option isn’t the machine’s strong suit. The function it carries is understandable but it’s very hit-or-miss. Unlike a cold-brew coffee option that other Ninja Coffee Machines offer, this one releases the brewed coffee at a hot temperature as opposed to a medium heat temperature. The over-ice function bases itself on making a stronger serving of coffee in order to compensate for melting ice which would water down the flavor. The reason the quality of this brewing option can waver is because the coffee could get burnt or simply gets undesirably watered down. The best remedy for this is to make coffee ice cubes, or simply place fresh coffee in the fridge for later use. Finally, there’s the specialty brew option. While it isn’t an “espresso” option, which only produces an ounce of coffee, it’s a great alternative. Specialty brew makes an extra strong coffee that is perfect for cappuccino or mocha-like drinks.

When it comes to the serving sizes, it has a good range for average mugs all the way to travel tumblers. It has a convenient platform that extends from the inside of the machine to hold mugs. That way, the coffee won’t splash when it’s dripping coffee into your mug. The one restriction with serving sizes is how tall your container of choice is. The maximum height you could have a container would be around seven and a half inches. If it doesn’t fit under it, you would have to settle using the carafe to pour into your travel mug. This might present an issue since the carafe’s beak isn’t pointed but round. You don’t have as much precision as you would with an average carafe so there is a possibility for a slight spill.

The water reservoir conveniently has measuring lines with the symbols of what container it corresponds to. It’s also detachable so you can easily fill it up without having to pour it directly into the machine for convenience. The “Delay Brew” function is very easy to set up. You simply have to select the time on the machine, select your brew style and size, and it will set. The device keeps your options illuminated so you don’t have to worry about accidentally picking the wrong settings. The function doesn’t skip a beat in starting your brew at its designated time. A small but nice detail is that the machine comes with a coffee recipe book that includes drinks like a Mexican spiced coffee or an iced Americano.

An important note about this machine. There exists two options of the CM401, one that comes with a thermal carafe and one that comes with a glass carafe. A thermal carafe might sound nicer since it should, logically, keep your coffee nice and hot longer. However, it costs an extra $30 to $45 and you would be buying a machine without the plate warmer. It’d be more cost effective to buy the glass carafe version as you could simply deactivate the plate warmer by turning off “Keep Warm” on the device.

Overall, this machine is both handy and efficient for the coffee lover and the person who is always on the go. It can make great tasting coffee with great versatility in both brew and serving. The added benefit of being easy to clean and use makes it ideal for a stress-free coffee maker. You can find it on Amazon here. Ninja also offers two other similar models with different features. If you like using coffee pods, also known as K-Cups, the Ninja CFP301 is almost the same machine as the CM401 with coffee pod compatibility. The added benefit of this machine is that it punctures three holes in the coffee pods instead of one. This provides better tasting coffee than Keurig machines do. This is most likely because three holes allow the water to actually flow through the coffee grounds instead of burning it. The link for the CFP301 is here. Then, there’s the CP301 which lacks a frother but has settings for tea and has a cold brew feature. The link for that machine will be here. Hopefully, this guide has helped you in finding a potential replacement for a great coffee maker!