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There seems to be a new craze at the moment: wanting to own a drip machine and espresso maker all in one. And you know what? I’m a part of the craze.
That’s why I had to get my hands on this multi-purpose machine. I wanted to see firsthand whether the convenience of having two systems in one compromises the quality of the coffee produced.
So keep reading as my review of the Ninja CFN601 Espresso and Coffee System Review covers everything you need to know.
My Quick Rating
This is a very good-looking machine. The black finish and stainless steel color contrast perfectly, making the coffee maker the ideal choice for modern kitchen styles (it looked great in my kitchen).
Its size is surprisingly small, considering that it can make both espresso and drip coffee. This was great as I don’t have the largest kitchen in the world, so if you don’t have a lot to work with, then I think this is a good option in the size department.
One feature that I really liked was that the machine gives you the ability to adjust the cup tray when making an espresso.
Whether I was trying to make a single espresso shot or a cappuccino, I could adjust the tray to fit the size of the cup I was using. Plus, I could also squeeze my travel mug in the espresso maker compartment, allowing me to fill it up before heading out to work – amazing!
I’d like to add that the drip coffee side also has a foldable tray, which allowed me to fit different mug sizes. So that was a big plus as well.
Now, what you can’t see is the milk frother. This is because it’s folded into the machine. I had to rotate it before I could start making my infamous cappuccinos. I’ll talk more about the milk frother later on.
At the back of the coffee machine, there is a removable water tank. The tank is pretty standard and easy to remove.
Moving on to the interface, there is a lot that had me excited. The buttons are self-explanatory; if I wanted drip coffee I could use the buttons on the left over the drip coffee section and vice versa if you want an espresso.
What really made me happy were the additional options. There were options to keep my pot of coffee warm, delay the brew until I wanted it in the future, and put the machine through a cleaning cycle.
Oh, and there was one more thing that I thought was a nice touch: I could use the drip-stop function to halt brewing. This was ideal as I could halt the machine and take out my coffee jug to get my caffeine fix quickly.
Afterward, I put the jug back under and resumed the process so it could get to work making my future cups.
As you may have already guessed, the Ninja CFN601 Espresso and Coffee system can produce espressos and drip coffee.
However, the espresso maker uses pods rather than coffee grounds. This bit of information is vital; if you’re wanting the real deal when it comes to making espresso, then you will need to opt for another machine.
Following this, only certain types of pods can be used, which I found out the hard way. Only OriginalLine Nespresso capsules can be used in the Ninja CFN601. K-cups cannot be used.
On the other hand, the drip maker is similar to other standard ones. What I mean by that is you can flip the lid, add coffee grounds to the brew basket and start the brewing process with a button or two.
Also, it provided me with the option of choosing what size I wanted, which was handy as I could make a lot when I had friends coming over.
How Easy It Is To Use
Unlike some of the other machines I’ve reviewed, I was very happy with how easy this machine is to use. The buttons are very straightforward, making the coffee and espresso maker perfect for beginners and coffee aficionados alike.
There is a scooper that is attached to the side of the machine. Once you pull it out, you can scoop the right amount of coffee grounds, which helps to take away any guesswork. I found this to be amazingly helpful, as I could produce consistently good-tasting coffee (in just under 8 minutes).
By far the worst part about owning a coffee maker is having to clean it (for me, at least). Thankfully, the cleaning and descaling functions on the machine made the process simple and headache-free.
For instance, I could remove the drip tray on the espresso side and use the cleaning platform, which is basically just a holder for the coffee pitcher, but it was still really helpful as the pitcher prevents water from flying everywhere during the cleaning cycle.
The Quality of The Coffee
Now, one of the most vital parts: the quality of the coffee. It’s commonplace to experience watery coffee made from poorly designed drip coffee machines; however, this is not the case with the Ninja CFN601.
I found that the water was around the temperature of 195 F to 200 F when I used the machine. Obviously, the coffee made was a little colder than the water temperature, but it was still piping hot when it met my lips and tasted fantastic.
Also, you have the option of swapping to espresso mode and adding an espresso shot to your brewed coffee. And if you’re wondering if I just made this combination up, I’m not! It’s called red-eye coffee.
When it comes to espresso, the Ninja made me decent espresso shots. In my personal opinion, nothing beats the real way of making an espresso, but the pod coffee from this machine wasn’t terrible (and that’s saying something from me).
The Intriguing Frother
Never have I used a fold-away frother until I picked up Ninja CFN601 Espresso and Coffee machine to review. I was very skeptical at first, but once I got the hang of it, I was happy with the microfoam I was able to produce. It literally just took a couple of seconds, and ta-da!
Cleaning it was a breeze too. Unlike every other frother I’ve come across, you can detach it from the machine to clean it. This was absolutely amazing, as it kept the frother in good working order without the usual hassle.
Other Bits and Pieces Included
Delay brew – Like all good drip makers, the Ninja allows you to select a time you want to start brewing. This is especially helpful for me in the mornings when I had to get up for work. I could pick a suitable time, the size I wanted, and the type of brew.
Warming plate – Under the drip maker, there is a warming plate that keeps the jug warm. When I first started using it, the plate stayed on for two hours. With that being said, I later found out that I could adjust the setting depending on what I wanted.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that the warming plate doesn’t activate when you’re brewing coffee over ice, which I thought was a great touch.
Is It Worth The Money?
One of the best drip makers I’ve ever used was around $70. Considering that this one includes a Nespresso espresso maker as well (plus all of its fancy features), I think it’s really good value for money.
Now, I’m going to be honest. It’s definitely not the best machine I’ve used – not by a long shot. Although, for what you pay, what you get is more than reasonable.
If you’re like me and prefer a traditional espresso machine rather than pods, then I recommend you check out the Smeg. Keep in mind that this one doesn’t come with a drip maker, so you’d have to get two machines separately, but if you’re interested, it’s there for you to look at!
My Overall Thoughts
To condense my thoughts, I think this a decently-valued machine that can produce good quality drip coffee and pod espressos.
I originally thought the combination of the two systems would mean you get the worst of both worlds, but I was thoroughly surprised by its brewing capabilities.
Furthermore, it’s easy to use and has some nice features. I think my review of the Ninja CFN601 Espresso and Coffee System shows that this is a good purchase for families that enjoy different types of coffee. However, if you’re not a fan of pod coffee (like me), then maybe it’s best to continue your search elsewhere for the right machine!