Ninja CE251 Review 2022: Not Your Grandma’s Coffee Maker!

After working as a professional barista for many years, Arne Preuss founded Coffeeness.

Although I tend to get pretty excited about sophisticated SCA-certified coffee makers, I'm well aware that many of you just want a solid, inexpensive machine that brews great coffee with minimum fuss. That's why I decided to embark on this Ninja CE251 review.

Although I tend to get pretty excited about sophisticated SCA-certified coffee makers, I’m well aware that many of you just want a solid, inexpensive machine that brews great coffee with minimum fuss. That’s why I decided to embark on this Ninja CE251 review.

In fact, I went ahead and ordered one of these bad boys to test out for you. Later in this Ninja 12 cup coffee maker review, I’ll share some of my observations.

In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at what this popular and approachable coffee maker can do.

Ninja CE251 Coffee Maker

A step above other drip coffee makers!

Compact and stylish

Easy to use

24-hour delay brew function

Good value for the money

Removable water reservoir

Lots of plastic

No thermal carafe option

Ninja CE251 Review Overview

If you’ve had the chance to peruse my guide to the best Ninja coffee makers, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the machines this company produces.

While the Ninja CE251 might not share the wide range of features available on some of the manufacturer’s more high profile offerings, there are still reasons to recommend it to coffee lovers. Plus, with an affordable price tag of just $99.99, the Ninja CE251 represents a really good value for your money.

Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker Front View.

One look at the Ninja CE251 is all it takes to figure out this machine is a step or two up from your Grandma’s gurgling coffee maker. Stainless steel accents lend the Ninja a sleek, contemporary vibe and the elegant ribbed water tank sits above an intuitive control panel. 

Most importantly, the Ninja CE251’s compact dimensions make it a great choice for those with limited space in their kitchen. I’m thinking this 12 cup coffee maker would be ideal for studio apartments, dorm rooms or top secret hideouts.

Ninja CE251 Coffee Maker Features

Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker Review Features.

For those of you who aren’t bothered about a milk frother, iced coffee option or being able to brew coffee in a range of different sizedcoffee mugs, the Ninja CE251 could be your new favorite coffee machine. Let’s take a look at a few of the features that set the Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker apart from the crowd.

Water Reservoir

Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker Water Reservoir and Lid.

Sometimes it feels like manufacturers are having a laugh at my expense by making the process of filling a water tank so difficult. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve attempted to add water to a coffee maker only to end up spilling half of it all over my kitchen counter. 

That’s why I’m so happy to report that this Ninja coffee maker has a 60 ounce (1.7 liter) removable water reservoir with clearly labeled level markers. 

Not only does this make filling the water tank easy and convenient, it also means you can keep it nice and clean without having to worry about what could be growing in there.

Boiler

Ninja claims that the CE251 has an advanced boiler for a “perfectly hot cup of coffee.” The aluminum boiler has been designed to help regulate the brewing temperature for consistency during brewing.

I know lots of you will like to hear that, but may I remind you that water can be too hot for brewing coffee.

Before testing the Ninja I worried that the manufacturer had been a little over zealous here. However, during my Ninja 12 cup coffee maker review I was relieved to observe the machine brewing coffee at the ideal temperature of around 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius).

Flavor Straw

Although it has a terrible name, the Flavor Straw is actually a pretty thoughtful feature. Located inside the Ninja’s glass carafe, the Flavor Straw helps circulate the coffee during the brewing process.

Essentially, this means you won’t have to suffer through a weak first cup before reaching rocket fuel toward the bottom of the carafe. Instead, you’ll enjoy consistent coffee every time. I call that a win!

Reusable Filter

Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker Filter.

The Ninja CE251 comes with a reusable mesh filter, which I’m always happy to see. After all, there’s nothing worse than waking up to an empty paper filter box. That said, using a permanent filter can mean you’ll find a little sediment in your coffee, which isn’t everyone’s favorite thing. 

If you prefer a cleaner cup, you can use Melitta #4 filters instead. By the way, if your reusable filter gets damaged, you’ll only have to spend $5.00 for a replacement gold tone filter on Amazon.

Brew Strengths

Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker Brew Strengths.

When brewing coffee with the Ninja CE251, you’re able to choose between two brew strengths – Classic and Rich. The former setting is meant to represent a clean and balanced cup of coffee, while the latter will supposedly give you a deeper and richer extraction. 

I’ve experimented with these settings on other Ninja coffee makers and found they make little difference on the cup results. I must admit to having had the same experience during my Ninja 12 cup coffee maker review. That’s not to say I didn’t get a good cup of coffee out of the thing – it’s just that the brew strengths option seems redundant.

24-Hour Delay Brew

If you like to plan ahead, the Ninja CE251 has you covered. You can program the coffee maker to brew coffee up to 24 hours in advance, which is a pretty impressive feature. However, I must say, I can’t get behind the idea of leaving ground coffee to sit for that long. That’s because the oxidation process means you’ll be losing way too many aromatics and your coffee won’t taste as good.

I’ve got a much better idea – a coffee maker robot that’ll take care of everything. I’ll start designing it right after I’ve finished this Ninja CE251 review!

Brew Sizes

As I already mentioned, the Ninja CE251 can brew up to 60 ounces (1.7 liters) of coffee, making it ideal for families or serious caffeine fiends. One thing to remember is that this coffee machine always uses all the water in the reservoir, so you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

Small Batch Setting

Ninja CE251 Review Closeup Photo.

I was a little confused by the small batch setting at first. After all, didn’t I just tell you that the Ninja always uses all the water in the reservoir? So, why bother with a special setting for smaller batches?

As it turns out, activating this setting tells the coffee machine that you’ll be brewing less coffee, so it makes adjustments in the way it brews. I can’t seem to find any more information than that, so we’ll just have to trust the manufacturer, I guess.

Mid-Brew Pause

If you’re the type to dart out of the shadows and grab a quick stealth cup before the coffee maker has finished brewing, you’ll be happy to learn that the Ninja CE251 has a mid-brew pause feature. 

That means no messy splashes and no evidence you were ever there. Just don’t make a habit out of it – I can’t ever condone drinking under extracted coffee.

Carafe

Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker Glass Carafe.

The Ninja CE251’s glass carafe isn’t anything to write home about, but it does the job nicely. There’s an ergonomic handle, brew through lid and a well-designed spout that cuts down on spills when you’re pouring coffee.

And let’s not forget the carafe’s Flavor Straw! Here’s hoping that’s the last time I’ll ever have to say those two words together.

Adjustable Warming Plate

If you’ve spent any time reading my coffee maker guide 2022, you’ll know I’m just not a fan of warming plates. No matter how sophisticated a keep warm function may be, you’re always going to end up with overly acidic coffee that’ll give you a sad face and an upset tummy.

Anyway, the Ninja’s warming plate is fully adjustable for up to four hours and the manufacturer claims your coffee won’t get burned. Just don’t say you weren’t warned!

Warranty

The Ninja coffee brewer comes with a one-year limited warranty, which is fairly standard for an affordable coffee machine. If you end up with a defective machine, just get in touch with the Ninja support department and they’ll take care of everything.

What’s in the Ninja CE251 Thermal Coffee Maker Box?

In the Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker Box.

Here’s what’s included with the Ninja CE251:

  • Reusable gold tone filter
  • Removable filter holder
  • Ninja measuring scoop
  • Power cord
  • Glass carafe
  • Removable water reservoir
  • Throwing stars (Just kidding!)

How to Use the Ninja CE251 coffee maker

Using the Coffee Maker during the Ninja CE251 Review.

I can think of a few scenarios wherein you might find this Ninja coffee maker confusing and difficult to use. If you just arrived from a different dimension or grew up under a rock, for example, the Ninja might present a few problems. However, the rest of you shouldn’t even need to read the instructions to get a decent cup of coffee from this machine.

I should tell you that you’ll have to invest a little time in cleaning the Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker before using it for the first time. Aside from rinsing all removable parts, the manufacturer recommends running a couple of brewing cycles with water to prime the machine.

Once you’re ready to make coffee, add filtered water to the removable reservoir and freshly ground coffee to the filter. Although I always like to weigh my coffee using a coffee scale, I know that many of you prefer a more no-frills approach.

You’ll be happy to hear there’s a Ninja coffee scoop for measuring coffee grounds. You may be even happier to learn that the scoop has its own handy little storage area on the side of the machine. After all, it is a Ninja!

Place the carafe under the brewing group then press the power button on the control panel. Next, select your brew strength before pressing the Brew button. Don’t forget that if you’re brewing four cups or less you should apparently select the Small Batch function, too.

After a few minutes, the Ninja will beep, alerting you to the fact that all the hard work has been completed. Now you’re free to enjoy delicious coffee! Of course, if you’re one of those sneaky mid-brew coffee rustlers, you’re probably already enjoying a cup with a smug expression on your face.

Ninja CE251 Coffee Maker Observations

Observations Made in My Ninja CE251 Review.

I started out the testing phase of my Ninja 12 cup coffee maker review by brewing a two cup batch of single origin Nicaragua coffee. This natural process Red Catuai is one of my current favorites and I was interested to see how the Ninja would handle a light roast coffee.

I wanted to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use two scoops of coffee grinds. However, that just didn’t seem like enough, so I added a third scoop for good measure. The cup results were satisfactory but far from mind-blowing. Again, switching between brew settings had no noticeable effect on the coffee taste.

There was plenty of body and some of the chocolate notes I’d expect. Still, the Nicaragua was lacking the long finish and pleasant acidity that I get when brewing it in a Chemex.

Incidentally, I should mention that the Ninja CE251 doesn’t hold back on the gurgling and popping as it’s brewing. In fact, this is one of the noisier machines I’ve reviewed. With that said, you won’t experience an ear piercing noise once the coffee is ready – just three polite beeps and that’s it.

Brewing a Full Carafe

Inside the Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker Filter Compartment.

Next, I decided to brew up a full carafe using a blend with a medium roast profile. However, I was a bit worried about the permanent filter being large enough to accommodate 12 scoops. With that in mind, I used a slightly finer grind size to compensate.

Fortunately, that was the right call and I didn’t experience any overflow. In fact, the Ninja’s showerhead did a fantastic job of evenly soaking all the coffee grounds. Still, I will say the brew group lid doesn’t seal very well so there was some seepage during brewing.

As it turns out, this coffee maker seems tailor made for getting the best out of easy drinking blends. The Ninja produced a well rounded, full bodied cup that was very satisfying. Needless to say, my caffeine levels got a little out of control. Just ask the neighbors!

Ninja CE251 Coffee Maker Cleaning and Descaling

Let's review how to clean Ninja CE251 coffee maker.

Fortunately, cleaning the Ninja CE251 is a relatively straightforward affair. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and tell you to take the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions with a grain of salt. Ninja tells us that pretty much anything that can be removed from the coffee maker can be washed with plenty of soap or put in the dishwasher.

I say ignore the dishwasher entirely and rinse everything under warm water while keeping soap to a minimum. Either way, make sure to clean the filter, brew basket, carafe and water reservoir at the end of each day.

Once a month, or so, you should take care of descaling your coffee maker. Limescale will build up inside the machine, even if you’re using filtered water. Letting it go will affect the Ninja’s performance and the taste of your coffee.

Add a mixture of water and descaling solution to the reservoir, then press the Clean button. The cycle will take around half an hour, after which you should run a brew cycle using water only to rinse the machine.

Ninja CE251 Coffee Maker Specifications

 Ninja CE251 Coffee Maker
ManufacturerNinja
NameCE251 Programmable Coffee Brewer
Product categoryDrip coffee maker
Housing materialPlastic
Carafe MaterialGlass
Brew capacity60 oz / 1.77 l
Serving size options10-60 oz / 0.3-1.77 l
ProgrammableYes
Permanent coffee filterYes
Auto pauseYes
Removable filter basketYes
Water filterNo
Removable water reservoirYes
Water reservoir materialPlastic
Warmer plateYes
Weight7 lbs / 3.1 kg
Dimensions (H x W x D)14 x 8 x 10 in / 35.5 x 20.3 x 25.4 cm
Customization options2 colors
Warranty1 year
Extras/miscellaneousCoffee scoop, reusable gold tone filter, instruction manual
Current price on Amazon$99.99

Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker vs Other Drip Coffee Makers

Thus far, it looks like this Ninja CE251 review proves the coffee maker is a pretty solid proposition … especially if you’re looking for an affordable, no-frills coffee maker. Still, you probably won’t be surprised to learn there are plenty of other coffee machines vying for your attention. Let’s take a look at how the Ninja measures up to the competition.

Ninja CE251 vs Cuisinart DCC 3200 Coffee Maker

Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker vs Cuisinart DCC 3200

If the Ninja CE251’s 12 cup brewing capacity isn’t quite enough for you, consider spending a little more on the Cuisinart 14 Cup Coffee Maker

Costing $99.95 on Amazon, the Cuisinart DCC 3200 shares many of the Ninja’s features, including brew pause and customizable brew strength. You’ll also get a glass carafe and a reusable permanent filter.

Although it took me a while to find the right ratio of ground coffee to water, I ended up getting really great results from this drip coffee maker during my hands-on review.

See Also: Cuisinart DCC 3200 Hands On Review 2022

Ninja CE251 vs Braun BrewSense Programmable Brewer

Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker vs Braun BrewSense

The Braun BrewSense is another 12 cup coffee maker that’s fully programmable up to 24 hours in advance. Although I like the Braun’s simple, modern design, the Ninja CE251 wins out for me, thanks to its removable water reservoir.

Still, if you don’t care about that, the Braun BrewSense has a lot going for it, including PureFlavor brewing technology which optimizes temperature, brewing time and extraction. 

I also really appreciate that this automatic coffee maker will let you know when it’s time to perform a descaling cycle.

The Braun BrewSense is available in black for $69.95 or stainless steel for $93.77. It just so happens I’ve ordered one of these machines to test out, so keep checking back if you’re interested to see how the Braun BrewSense performs.

Comparison Chart of Drip Coffee Makers

 Ninja CE251 Coffee MakerCuisinart 14 Cup Coffee MakerBraun BrewSense
ManufacturerNinjaCuisinartBraun
NameCE251 Programmable Coffee BrewerPerfectemp DCC 3200KF7070 BrewSense Coffee Maker
Product categoryDrip coffee makerDrip coffee makerDrip coffee maker
Housing materialPlasticStainless steelStainless steel
Carafe MaterialGlassGlassGlass
Brew capacity60 oz / 1.77 l70 oz / 2 l60 oz / 1.77 l
Serving size options10-60 oz / 0.3-1.77 l5-70 oz / 0.14-2 l5-60 oz / 0.14-1.77 l
ProgrammableYesYesYes
Permanent coffee filterYesYesYes
Auto pauseYesYesYes
Removable filter basketYesYesYes
Water filterNoYesYes
Removable water reservoirYesNoNo
Water reservoir materialPlasticPlasticPlastic
Warmer plateYesYesYes
Weight7 lbs / 3.1 kg9 lbs / 4 kg6.2 lbs / 2.8 kg
Dimensions (H x W x D)14 x 8 x 10 in / 35.5 x 20.3 x 25.4 cm14 x 9 x 7.75 in / 35.5 x 22.8 x 19.6 cm14.2 in x 7.9 x 7.9 in / 36 x 20 x 20 cm
Customization options2 colorsSeveral colorsNone
Warranty1 year3 years3 years
Extras/miscellaneousCoffee scoop, reusable gold tone filter, instruction manualReusable gold tone filter, charcoal water filter, scoop, instruction manualReusable gold tone filter, coffee scoop, charcoal filter, filter holder, instruction manual
Current price on Amazon$99.99$69.99$93.77

Verdict: Ninja CE251 Review

Ninja CE251 Coffee Maker

A step above other drip coffee makers!

Compact and stylish

Easy to use

24-hour delay brew function

Good value for the money

Removable water reservoir

Lots of plastic

No thermal carafe option

At the start of this Ninja 12 cup coffee maker review, I mentioned that this machine would most likely appeal to those of you who want a reliable, affordable coffee maker. After having investigated further, I’d say the Ninja CE251 ticks both those boxes and more. 

Having tested out the Ninja CE251, I can report that it does a great job of keeping things simple, yet effective. Devotees of delicate and nuanced pour over style coffee might be better off looking elsewhere. However, those who want the freedom to brew large, consistent batches will be onto a winner with the Ninja.

The most important takeaway from my Ninja CE251 review is that this is a machine for lovers of coffee blends. If you enjoy big, bold and full bodied coffee, you’re onto a winner with this Ninja drip coffee machine. Be warned, though: you could end up drinking way more coffee than you should!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my Ninja 12 Cup Coffee Maker review. What kind of coffee maker do you use? I look forward to your questions and comments!

Ninja CE251 Review FAQ

Descaling a Ninja CE251 coffee maker is easy – simply add a mix of descaling solution and water to the reservoir, then press the Clean button to initiate the cycle. Once the descaling cycle has finished, brew a full carafe using only water to rinse the machine of any residual cleaning solution.

The Ninja CE251 coffee maker can be programmed to brew coffee up to 24 hours in advance using the machine’s Delay Brew function.

Although the Ninja CE251 coffee maker comes with a reusable gold tone coffee filter, you can use #4 paper filters instead.

As with all automatic coffee makers, it’s best to start with a medium grind size in the Ninja CE251 coffee maker. You can make small adjustments to the grind size according to your taste preference.

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