Ninja Coffee Bar vs Keurig: The ULTIMATE Showdown (Updated For 2020)

Ninja Coffee Bar vs Keurig — do you know the key differences between two of the leading coffee maker manufacturers?

The Ninja Coffee Bar System made by SharkNinja is marketed as a cafe on your countertop. According to spokeswoman Sofia Vergara, it’s “better than a coffeehouse experience. At home.”

Marketing aside, I was impressed with Ninja’s do-it-all functionality in my Ninja Coffee Bar review.

Keurig is a name which needs no introduction. The Keurig Green Mountain company has been the undisputed coffee making champion of the world (actually, only America) for well over a decade and have released countless models from the most basic mini Keurig to the robust Keurig K575 and new K-Elite.

Ninja Coffee Bar vs Keurig?

Is Keurig better than Ninja?

Or is Ninja better than Keurig?

The Coffee Maven breaks it down.

Ninja Coffee Bar vs Keurig: The Specs

Let’s see how these two makers compare in terms of specifications and features.

Note: There are multiple models for each, so I’ll be comparing the top model for each (Ninja CF097 vs Keurig K-Duo Essentials).

FeatureNinja Coffee BarKeurig K-Duo Essentials
Coffee CompatibilityGround coffee only in standard conical filter basketAll K-Cups and ground coffee
Brew TypeClassic coffee, strong coffee, 3 types of concentrate for iced and specialty coffeesClassic and Strong Brew
Brew SizeSingle cup to 38 oz carafeSingle-serve up to 60 oz pots
Water Reservoir50 oz60 oz
FrotherIncludedNot included

Let’s bullet out the biggest differences.

  • Ninja isn’t pod-based while Keurig is
  • Ninja’s carafe is 38 oz vs Keurig’s 60 oz
  • Ninja brews concentrated coffee for iced and specialty beverages while Keurig doesn't
  • Ninja models come with a frother, either built-in or hand-pump, while Keurig doesn't

I’ll go into more detail below.

ninja coffee bar vs keurig

Ninja Coffee Bar vs Keurig: The Comparison

Let's detail a few major differences.

Refill the Water Reservoir Less Often With Keurig

Ninja’s 50 oz water reservoir on their top-of-the-line model is a little lacking, especially next to Keurig’s 60 oz reservoir.

However, not all Keurig coffee makers have such a large reservoir. It depends on the model. Most are around 50-60 oz but some are as large as 75-90 oz.

Summary: While it depends on the model, most Keurigs have a larger water reservoir (generally around 60 oz). Ninja checks in at 50 oz. Some of the more popular, low-end Keurigs (like the K45 and K50) have a 48 oz reservoir.

The Ninja Coffee Bar Carafe Is Larger Than Keurig’s

Keurig has a few different coffee maker series, such as the K50s, K200s, etc. Four of these series — K200, K300, K400, K500 — are K-carafe pod compatible and can brew up to 30 oz portions with a Keurig carafe.

All Ninja Coffee Bar models brew a full carafe, but Ninja brewers have a 38 oz max brew volume.

Summary: Only Keurig’s K200 and higher models come with K-Carafe compatibility, and the max carafe volume is 30 oz. All Ninja Coffee Bar models come with full carafe functionality with a max volume of 38 oz. Basically that comes down to a one cup difference.

Brew Specialty Beverages With the Ninja Coffee Bar

The simplest model of the Ninja Coffee Bar brews 4 different types of beverages ranging from standard coffee to concentrated coffee extract:

  1. Classic: standard cup of coffee
  2. Rich: stronger cup of coffee
  3. Over-Ice: coffee concentrate intended to be watered down with ice
  4. Specialty: stronger, espresso-like concentrate

Two models — CF097 and CF112 — also come with a Cafe Forte setting, which is stronger than the Specialty concentrate above.

Keurig coffee is not intended to be brewed over ice or used in lattes and cappuccinos. Yes, some Keurig coffee makers do have a Strong Brew feature, but that’s the same as Ninja’s Rich concentrate.

Summary: Keurig only brews coffee. Ninja can brew more concentrated coffee for use over ice or in specialty lattes and cappuccinos.

Ninja Auto-IQ vs Keurig 2.0 Scanning Technology

Each manufacturer has their own branded system designed to brew the best possible cup.

Ninja’s system is called Auto-IQ One Touch Intelligence, which takes your two settings — brew size and concentration — and mixes the grounds with the proper volume of water to achieve the ideal result. Given the most complex Ninja model (CF097) offers 5 different concentrations in 6 different sizes, you can see why this is a handy feature. Just make sure the the water reservoir is full so you don’t need to worry!

Keurig’s system doesn’t have any special name; it’s just called Keurig 2.0. The 2.0 system is based on a pod scanner located in the pod holder assembly, which scans the pod to make sure it’s a Keurig-licensed pod. Then, depending on which pod it is (K-Cup, K-Mug, K-Vue or K-Carafe), the machine offers you a narrowed selection of brew sizes. Keurig has done this for two reasons: to prevent you from using non-Keurig licensed pods and for quality control (you can’t use a K-Cup pod to brew 30 oz carafes and then complain it isn’t strong enough.)

Summary: There’s no winner in this category, per se. Both systems work well given what they’re designed to do. (Though I will say Ninja’s system seems more helpful whereas Keurig’s seems more driven by greed.)

Some Ninja Coffee Bar Models Come With a Build-In Frother

Making best use of the Specialty and Cafe Forte concentrates, 3 Ninja systems also come with a built-in frother:

  1. Ninja Coffee Bar CF091
  2. Ninja Coffee Bar CF097
  3. Ninja Coffee Bar CF112

The other two models — CF080Z and CF085Z — come with a hand-pump frother, which actually works surprisingly well.

Our complete Ninja Coffee Bar reviews has a great table that highlights the key differences between all 5 models.

Summary: All Ninja models come with a frother, either built-in or hand-pump. Keurigs don’t come with a frother.

Ninja Coffee Bar vs Keurig

Is Ninja better than Keurig?

Though both Ninja and Keurig are strong competitors in the home coffee making market, they’re targeted at slightly different coffee consumers.

Who would prefer the Ninja Coffee Bar?

There are 2 defining differences between Ninja and Keurig:

  • Ninja isn’t a pod-based coffee system
  • Ninja has specialty-brew functionality

If those appeal to you, Ninja is the answer.

Who would prefer a Keurig?

If you don’t drink many lattes or cappuccinos and are perfectly content with a basic cup of coffee, you may prefer a Keurig. As a pod-based coffee machine, Keurigs are the simplest to use and easiest to clean.

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