Includes customization features
Brews small and large batches
Easy to use
Made of mostly plastic
Coffee is too hot
Average for drip coffee
We purchased the Ninja CE251 12-Cup Coffee Brewer so our reviewer could try it out at home. Read on for our full product review.
Conserving space in the kitchen can be quite a challenge as more and more convenient appliances, such as small coffee makers, become available. One product that attempts to reduce its footprint on your counter is the Ninja 12-Cup Coffee Brewer. I spent several weeks at home testing its design, setup, ease of cleaning, overall performance, and extra features. Keep reading to see what I found.
Design: Sleek and slim but mostly plastic
The Ninja 12-Cup Coffee Brewer boasts a sleek design with stainless steel and black accents. It should fit in well with most modern kitchen designs. It also sports a slim size (measuring 9.9 x 10.5 x 14.6 inches), which is noteworthy, considering it can brew up to 12 cups at a time. One downside, however, is that the majority of the parts are made of plastic. I'll admit this made the coffee machine feel a bit less sturdy and somewhat cheap.
Furthermore, the coffee machine’s design is pretty standard in terms of comparable coffee makers. The water tank lives at the back of the machine, right next to the brew basket area. The carafe and warming plate are directly under the brew basket. The control panel sits underneath the water tank.
I found the control panel to be one of the coffee maker's best features: I didn’t have to do a lot of reading to figure out how to use it.
One note about the control panel is that it’s clearly labeled and easy to navigate. I found the control panel to be one of the coffee maker's best features: I didn’t have to do a lot of reading to figure out how to use it. For even more convenience, there is an LED clock display on the control panel, as well as a cord storage compartment located at the back of the machine.
Setup Process: Priming takes too long
The setup for the Ninja 12-Cup Coffee Brewer is a bit excessive, in my opinion. The included instructions recommend priming the machine by running two full cycles of water through. This took about 15 to 20 minutes (a full cycle takes about eight minutes. There was also the additional time I had to devote to washing all of the removable parts prior to priming. I found that the priming process for the Ninja is much longer than most other coffee machines I’ve tested. Ultimately, it felt unnecessary.
To use this coffee maker, place the coffee grounds into the permanent filter (or a paper filter if desired) and place the filter into the brew basket. Add the desired amount of water to the tank and select your preferred coffee strength on the control panel. Then, press Brew, and the machine will take care of the rest.
Performance: Plenty of extras but average coffee
The Ninja 12-Cup Coffee Brewer does not fall short when it comes to extra features. First of all, this machine can brew up to 12 cups of coffee at a time, which is quite a large batch size considering its slim design. I found this to be one of its best features, and you quite possibly will too, if you drink a lot of coffee or have a big family. There is also a small-batch setting, allowing you to brew up to 4 cups of coffee at a time.
First of all, this machine can brew up to 12 cups of coffee at a time, which is quite a large batch size considering its slim design.
There are several options that controlled the strength of my coffee in terms of taste, including the Classic Brew and the Rich Brew setting (for a stronger coffee). There's also an automatic brew function, which means that it can brew automatically 24 hours ahead of time if it is set to do so. In addition, there’s a pause feature and an adjustable warming plate.
These extras really make this machine's performance stand out, in my opinion. The warming plate is a highlight: It's adjustable for up to four hours so that you can select how long you want to keep your coffee warm. I also like that the water tank is removable, allowing me to fill up the tank at the sink easily.
Despite these features, the drip coffee I made with the Ninja Coffee Brewer was not that impressive. It’s certainly fine for drip coffee if that’s your cup of tea, but it wasn't anything special. I was expecting to make above-average coffee due to the number of customizations the appliance offers. I also found that the coffee was consistently too hot right after brewing.
These extras really make this machine's performance stand out, in my opinion; the warming plate is a highlight.
Cleaning: Easy-to-wipe warming plate
All of the Ninja 12-Cup Coffee Brewer's parts are dishwasher-friendly (top rack only!). This was certainly convenient, considering there are several removable parts to clean after each use.
Another positive is that the warming plate was so easy to wipe down after each use. I found this to be unique compared with other coffee machines I’ve tested. Wiping the warming plate can sometimes be a pain (you've probably experienced this many times as well), but that was not the case at all with the Ninja. I was able to simply use a wet towel to wipe it down, and it was ready to go.
Price: Fair for what it provides
The Ninja 12-Cup Coffee Brewer retails for around $89, which is a fair price considering all of the features it offers, in addition to its large-batch size. An average drip coffee maker retails somewhere around $100, so this is a more than fair price.
Ninja 12-Cup Coffee Brewer vs. Black + Decker 5-Cup Coffee Maker
The Black + Decker 5-Cup Coffee Maker (view at Amazon) is another coffee maker on the market that is small in design, reasonably priced, and offers a brew-pause feature and a warming plate. However, it offers fewer features than the Ninja 12-Cup Coffee Brewer and has a smaller capacity, making only up to 5 cups of coffee at a time. The Black + Decker also retails for significantly less, at around $25.
In the end, it comes down to your price range and which features you’re looking to get from a drip coffee maker. The Black + Decker is much smaller and less expensive, but there are fewer extras. Though costing more, the Ninja offers a number of extra features and offers varietal batch sizes if you're a huge (and picky) coffee enthusiast or have family members with different coffee preferences.
Buy it if you love those extras.
For a fairly low price, the Ninja 12-Cup Coffee Brewer excels in offering quite a few extra features. It would be worth purchasing if you're someone who likes customizations such as automatic brewing function or changing batch sizes to shake up your kitchen routine.
- Product Name CE251 12-Cup Coffee Brewer
- Product Brand Ninja
- Price $89.99
- Weight 7 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 10.55 x 14.61 x 9.96 in.
- Color Black/Stainless steel
- Water Tank Capacity 12 cups
- Power 1100 Watts
- Voltage 120V
- Warranty 1 year, limited
- What's Included Integrated Ninja scoop, brew-through lid with flavor straw, glass carafe, gold-tone permanent filter, removable filter holder, brew basket, water tank, and water reservoir lid