How the Ninja Coffee Bar won my heart

Disclaimer: SharkNinja sent Nichole products to review here at Butterscotch Sundae. No money changed hands, and all opinions are Nichole’s own.

I am a confirmed homebody, and as such I have a lengthy list of the Things I Miss When I’m Not at Home. Normally, the things at the top of that list are:

3. My bed.
2. My bathroom.
1. My fuzzy little angel and constant companion, Marsha T. Cat.

But things felt a little different when we were at my dad’s house for Christmas. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was until I saw Dad making a cup of coffee. And I realized that the things I was missing most were:

3. My bathroom.
2. Making a fancy frothy latte with our new coffeemaker.
1. The furry bright star of my firmament, Marsha T. Cat.

I don’t drink a lot of coffee, but I do love a great kitchen gadget. And I have had a great time playing around with the Ninja Coffee Bar ever since the SharkNinja people sent it to me a couple of months ago.

The Ninja has completely replaced our Keurig, which we bought because Rockford is the only permanent occupant of our house who drinks coffee, and he only drinks one cup in the morning before he heads off to work. So it made sense for us to have a one-cup coffee system. Most of the time. Unless we had visitors who practically live on coffee, which happened more often than one might expect and led to us going through far more of those little cups than I would’ve liked.

Enter the Ninja.

The Ninja Coffee Bar uses regular ol’ ground coffee, and it comes with a reusable filter. You can make a full 10-cup carafe when you have highly caffeinated guests, or you can use the one-cup setting if it’s just your slightly bleary-eyed self. There’s even an extra-large cup setting and a travel cup setting, in case you’re a little more than slightly bleary eyed.

“But how do you make just one cup of coffee in a full-size coffee maker?” you may be asking. “It’ll splash everywhere!” The Ninja people thought of that, and it’s one of my favorite thoughtful little touches on the machine. You flip down a little built-in platform and put your cup on it, and the coffee goes straight into the cup without leaving little coffee splatters everywhere. So smart, those Ninja people.

It’s like a tiny patio for your coffee cup!

The Coffee Bar also features a built-in cubby to store the measuring scoop that comes with it, and there’s a slider you can pop into place to stop errant coffee from dripping onto the heating plate. It also has an array of settings so you can customize the strength of your brew, from Classic to Rich to the rather potent Cafe Forte.

But my very favorite thing about the Ninja Coffee Bar is — drum roll please — the frother. It’s a tiny, motorized whisk that’s attached to an arm that swings out from the side of the machine, and it makes me want to add frothed milk to everything.

My drizzling skills need some work.
I like to add a little flavored syrup to the milk, heat it up for a minute and then froth it for 20-30 seconds before adding it to a cup of coffee — usually brewed on the 4-ounce specialty setting, which makes an espresso-like brew.

So far I’ve made iced coffee, caramel lattes, cinnamon lattes, vanilla lattes and a mocha. My father-in-law said the iced coffee I made using the (you guessed it) iced coffee setting tasted just like the one he gets at his favorite chain coffee shop. That’s high praise from a guy who may be the world’s leading consumer of iced coffee.

The Ninja Coffee retails for right around $200, and it makes a mighty fine cup o’ Joe.

What I read in 2016

Today I am grateful that Goodreads is out there on the internet compiling images of and info about all of the books I read in 2016 so I don’t have to do it myself. My goal last year was to read 40 books, and I surpassed that. These graphics say I finished with 41 books, but I’d forgotten to add “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” so it was actually 42.

John Ehle’s “The Land Breakers” was published in 1964, but I’d never heard of it until this year when a local columnist wrote about it. I’ve often thought about what it must’ve been like to live in the Appalachian Mountains in the 17- and 1800s, and this fictionalized account of one settlement paints what I’m guessing is a pretty accurate portrait. I didn’t want to stop reading when I reached the end of the book, so I checked out the sequel. I didn’t love “The Journey of August King” as much, but I’d definitely recommend “The Land Breakers.”

I read a lot more nonfiction in 2016 than I normally do, and several of those titles ended up being in my list of favorites. Helen MacDonald’s grief-laced “H is for Hawk” isn’t a warm and cozy read, but it’s ultimately very moving. “Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania” by Erik Larson is also a tough one to read, but it’s very tense and well written.

I put Beryl Markham’s memoir, “West with the Night,” on my hold list at the library as soon as I finished reading Paula McLain’s fictionalized story about her. I enjoyed McLain’s “Circling the Sun,” but “West with the Night” was my favorite book of 2016. Markham was the first woman to fly non-stop from England to North America, and that isn’t even the most interesting story in the book. She’s a fascinating person and a great writer to boot.

My favorite fiction book of 2016 was Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale.” It’s about two sisters living in German-occupied France during World War II, which I guess is further proof that I was very into harrowing stories last year.

I’m aiming to read 45 books in 2017, and I’m hoping one of those will be the John Quincy Adams biography that I’ve been struggling to finish. I’d also like to read Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” and Simon Sebag Montefiore’s “The Romanovs.”

Are we friends on Goodreads? Hop on over there and friend me if we aren’t! I’d love to know what you’re reading these days.