Become an at-home barista (and save money) with this genius multifunctional coffee maker

Banu Ibrahim
November 1, 2017

Story highlights

  • Ninja's Coffee Bar Glass Carafe System is the perfect device for those looking to become at-home baristas and save money on their daily caffeine fix.

We have bad news for you: Your daily caffeine fix could be costing you big.

Studies have shown that the average American worker spends hundreds of dollars on coffee annually. That cost can skyrocket if your drink of choice isn't a house blend.

According to a study from Square, the average price of a cappuccino across the country is $3.51. But if you're the kind of person who needs an additional shot of espresso, extra flavorings or a bigger size in order to get your caffeine jolt, that price can easily surpass $5.

If you find yourself among the many who enjoy a specialty beverage to start your morning — think flat whites, iced lattes and cappuccinos — it may seem impossible to create barista-quality brews at home.

But that isn't the case. There are kitchen gadgets and simple tips and tricks that will help you create the perfect cup of Joe without leaving the house.

The easiest way to create specialty beverages at home is with two steps: Source the best tasting beans and then invest in a machine that will do the bulk of the prep work for you.

Why focus on the beans?

Well, because coffee beans are a lot like fruits and veggies. They have peak seasons that determine their flavor. (Pro tip: Buy whole beans instead of ground ones for an even fresher aroma). An easy way to see which regions are in season is this chart from Counter Culture.

Once you've got your beans in order, you'll want a device that can give you a quality brew for a relatively affordable price tag.

The name of this game is saving money, after all.

A product that ticks both of these boxes is the Ninja Coffee Bar Glass Carafe System ($149.90; amazon.com). The device is best known for its ability to create a number of coffee concoctions, with settings for a variety of specialty coffees, a standard drip pour and over ice brews.

It also features a milk frother attachment that will help you create the perfect cappuccino, latte or flat white.

Fitted with smart technology, the gadget will measure the right ratio of water to beans to help cut any guesswork on your part.

To keep things into perspective, let's compare this price with the average cappuccino that runs $3.51.

Ninja's cappuccino drink calls for 4 tablespoons of ground coffee. If you were to use this customer-favorite 2.2-pound bag of beans from Lavazza ($22.15; amazon.com) you'd be able to make about 33 cappuccinos (about 1 pound of coffee is equivalent to about 60 heaping tablespoons). That means if you're a daily coffee drinker and go through about 365 cappuccinos in one year, the device plus beans will run you about $394. That's a fraction compared with 365 drinks from your typical coffee house, which would have you dishing out around $1,281.

As far as functionality goes, the Ninja Coffee Bar is one of the most affordable multipurpose coffee makers on the market, but there are espresso-only coffee appliances, like De'Longhi's Bar Pump and Espresso Maker ($79.99; amazon.com) that are cheaper.

We will note though, that it is rated lower in terms of customer satisfaction and will limit you on the variety of drinks you can make.

The Ninja has 4- to 5-star ratings across multiple retailers, including Amazon, Target and Best Buy, and many Amazon customers have noted it's been their go-to switch from a classic pod brewing machine.

This all boils down to control. The coffee maker gives you more control over the taste of your drinks, the strength of your coffee and beverage options that rival your local coffeehouse.

We'll drink to that.

Note: The prices above reflect the listed retailer's price on the date this article was published.

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