This budget coffee maker is putting over $200 per month back in my pocket

Ninja CE251 Coffee Maker
(Image credit: Ninja)

Nothing beats a hot cup of coffee in the morning. However, a few weeks ago my beloved Nespresso Romeo died and my girlfriend and I started purchasing coffee from our local coffee shops. As delicious as those cups were, it didn't take long for us to notice buying two cups per day meant we were spending about $56/week on coffee alone. 

We like drinking our coffee black, so we had been toying with the idea of getting a Chemex ($49 at Amazon (opens in new tab)), but I'm not that big a fan of babysitting my coffee. I also liked the Technivorm Moccamaster ($359 at Amazon (opens in new tab)) which is recommended in our list of the best coffee makers, but neither of us is ready (or willing) to drop that much on a coffee machine. Enter the Ninja 12-Cup Coffee Maker ($99 $79 at Amazon (opens in new tab)). Not only did it get very high ratings on Amazon's reviews, but it's also on sale. Despite some trepidation over its C grade on Fakespot (opens in new tab), we decided to give it a shot.

Ninja Coffee Maker (CE251): $99 (opens in new tab)

Ninja Coffee Maker (CE251): $99 $79 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
Compact and easy to use, the Ninja CE251 Coffee Machine is a no-fuss, 12-cup coffee brewer with a removable 60-ounce water reservoir and adjustable warming plate that can keep your coffee hot for up to 4 hours. The machine lets you pick from classic or rich brew settings and it can also be programmed up to 24 hours in advance.

The $79 machine that cut my $224/month bill

Ninja CE251 shown on kitchen countertop

(Image credit: Future)

The Ninja CE251 is very compact and fits in a small nook on our kitchen counter. It has a stainless steel finish, although some parts are made of BPA-free plastic. (The carafe itself is made of glass). It also includes a reusable filter. 

In terms of features that we like, the machine has an adjustable warming plate that can keep your coffee hot for up to 4 hours without burning it. It's great because we can program the machine to start brewing at 8 a.m. and keep the pot of coffee warm until we're ready to drink it. 

It also has two settings so you can brew a cup of coffee classic style (smooth and balanced) or rich brew (robust flavor). After using it for two weeks, we've both taken a liking to the rich brew setting, though to be perfectly honest, I think the freshness of the coffee grounds themselves has a much greater impact on flavor than any setting on the Ninja machine.

Our first cup of coffee on the Ninja was a Lavazza Qualita Oro that tasted, well, bland. It was similar to the last cup of black coffee I got from Starbucks. (Sorry, Starbucks fans). To be fair, the coffee grounds were weeks old, so I can't blame the Ninja machine for the outcome.

Next, we went to one of our local coffee shops and tried their Peruvian/Papa New Guinea blend. The cup of coffee the Ninja brewed wasn't on a par with the freshly brewed cups made at the cafe, but it came very close, which we found impressive for a $79 machine. For our next cup, we tried brewing coffee from Hidden Grounds, which is another favorite cafe of ours. The Ninja did a remarkable job brewing their African/South American blend. The coffee was inky black with a deep, lingering cocoa flavor. We've been drinking it all week and each brew has been excellent. Our next brew will be a single-origin Dominican cafecito from Don Carvajal. (More on that when I write my full review of the CE215).

In the meantime, this $79 machine has cut our $224/month bill by a wide margin. Yes, it's common knowledge that buying coffee everyday is an easy way to overspend, but it's not until you fall into that trap that you realize just how much money you're throwing away. 

We're still spending money on coffee (beans), but the spending is less frequent and more manageable now. That said, if anyone has any coffee bean recommendations, I'm all ears. 

As deals editor at Tom’s Guide, Louis is constantly looking for ways to avoid paying full price for the latest gadgets. With over 10 years of deals-hunting experience, Louis price checks against multiple retailers and searches high and low for the best deals to bring readers. A born-and-bred New Yorker, Louis is also an avid swimmer and marathoner. His work has appeared on Gizmodo, CNET, and Time Out New York.