This is Worth the Hype, where our writers and editors put popular products to the test to see if they are, in fact, worth the hype.
I’m not a coffee snob, or at least I don’t think I am. I pretty much only drink dark roast coffee black, or the occasional cappuccino. I rarely deviate from those selections, and a simple, strong black coffee is my overwhelming favorite. I use a drip coffee maker at work, and I use a stovetop mocha pot to make my Americano at home. Occasionally, I’ll make a Starbucks run for a dark roast black coffee, nothing more. Don’t give me medium roast posing as dark roast because I’ll just throw it away.
Coffee making is a daily ritual that I don’t want to spend a ton of time or a lot of money on. I’ve entertained the idea of getting an espresso machine, but the cost of a good one is just more than I want to spend. Plus, doing it right takes practice, and there’s still a fair amount of cleanup. A good friend of mine has gone through no fewer than three of the most popular espresso machines on the market in a span of five years, and if it’s outside the warranty period, he has to plunk down almost two grand for a replacement. No thanks.
The Coffee Making Struggle
Time and attention to make coffee are definite issues. My mornings are slammed because my wife and I both work full-time, and all three of our kids are in school full-time. Therefore, I can’t be bothered to be meticulous about measuring, monitoring, etc., which is why I choose not to use a pour-over method. I also dislike the cleanup involved with a French press. The cost and waste involved with pod coffee makers like Keurig and Nespresso are a big turnoff for me, and I never thought the taste was all that good, anyway. Whatever I’ve said about not being a coffee snob flies out the window when I remember that I prefer the flavor and aroma of dark roasted whole-bean coffee that’s been freshly ground, the kind that still has the oils all over it. Another reason to say no to automatic pod coffee machines.
On top of all this, I can’t continue to just make black coffee for myself and make mocha pot espressos and cappuccinos for my wife and guests. It’s too time-consuming and very limiting in terms of fulfilling various coffee requests. If I’m going to spend hundreds of dollars, I need a coffee machine that can pretty much do it all with minimal effort and fuss. From what I could surmise from my research, there wasn’t any machine that could do all of this without someone to actually make the coffee manually, which brought me back to the espresso machine. Ugh, that just didn’t appeal to me from a labor, cleaning, and reliability perspective. Here’s where Spinn comes in to turn traditional coffee making on its head.
What is the Spinn?
The Spinn Coffee Maker promises the ability to make barista-level coffee, as well as near-countless variations of it using whole beans and purified water, all with practically zero fuss. That’s a lot to promise, and I was pretty skeptical about its ability to do so day in and day out. Unlike gravity-based coffee makers (drip, pour over), immersion (French press), or pressurized (espresso machine), the Spinn uses a fast-spinning centrifuge and water jets to get the job done.
Before you even set it up, be aware of the Spinn’s size. It measures 13.2″D x 8.6″W x 14.1″H, so it’s not small. The good news is that it is an attractive machine that’s oval-cylindrical and smooth-sided, so there’s nothing protruding from its surfaces. The Spinn comes in matte silver and matte black, so you can choose what looks best in your kitchen or office. Our tester was silver in color and quite attractive on our green and black soapstone countertops. The Spinn comes with five main parts: body, water tank, bean hopper, residue bin, and the drip tray. There’s also a water supply line that comes with the Spinn, so you have the option of hooking up a filtered water supply which prevents you from having to refill the tank.
Rather than pressure, the aptly-named Spinn uses what’s known as centrifugal brewing paired with water jets to make its myriad brew profiles. There’s also a built-in burr grinder that manages the consistency of the grounds based on the beverage you select on the app. The sheer number of coffee permutations that the Spinn can manage is astounding:
- Cold Brew Nitro
- Cold Brew Drip
- Pour Over
- Cafe Romano
- Flat White
That’s a pretty expansive repertoire. It’s also WiFi-based, so you can use the Spinn app on your smartphone to pretty much manage everything. I love the fact that users can customize many of the drinks including the amount of coffee grounds and the size. For the Americano, for example, you can also select whether or not you want the hot water or the espresso dispensed first.
The app is practically idiot-proof because it walks you through every step of the coffee-making process and shows you exactly what’s happening. To further simplify things, the app will also tell you how to maintain, clean, and troubleshoot the Spinn. Simply add water to the reservoir, which also houses a Spinn water filter which needs to be changed out every 120 days of use. Whole beans go in the bean hopper, and it funnels the beans to the burr grinder and then passes them onto the centrifugal brewer. Any residue from the grinding process ends up in the residue bin. Extraneous liquid from the brewing process is sent to the removable drip tray upon which your coffee cup rests. There’s a platform that can be adjusted to different heights based on the size of your coffee cup.
You can purchase Spinn Market whole beans directly from the app, but you can also other brands you purchase at the store or coffee shop. Just scan the bag, and the app will upload your brand and type of beans to your phone and make recipe accommodations accordingly. It’s brilliant. Once you’ve queued up your drink, the process is actually quite fascinating to experience between your phone and the Spinn machine itself. From beverage selection to grinding to brewing, it really is like having your own barista without the awkward small talk.
How’s the Coffee?
The espressos and Americanos from the Spinn are superb. I would say that are at least as good as those made at my local coffee shop. I know the quality comes from the beans I use, Colectivo Sumatra, but the Spinn is able manage the grind incredibly well, and uses the perfect temperature, too. The coffee is especially smooth, even after I increase the amount of coffee used in the recipe, which can easily be done on the app. When I compare the Spinn coffee to my typical methods, not only is the process significantly easier, the flavor is superior. What’s more, I can save any customized brew and name it accordingly, which saves me even more time in the morning. It’s a feature I especially love about the Spinn.
Is it perfect? No. There have been times that the Spinn has issues. The funnel angle isn’t steep enough to allow the beans to slide into the burr grinder all the time, so I find myself having to slide them down there myself. If I forget, it doesn’t grind enough beans to make the coffee correctly. Rarely are there true hiccups in the system. I’ve gotten the red warning light on the machine once or twice, but the app tells you to reset the machine and then it works properly. There is some regular maintenance that needs to be done. You have to manually empty the drip tray and the residue bin, but that takes a few seconds.
The companion milk frother is a wonderful added accessory. Just pour milk into the top (but don’t exceed the “Max” line or hot milky foam will spill over the top). Press the button and the near-silent whir of the tiny whisk does its thing as the milk gets heated. The frother docks into its power base and beeps when the work is finished, at which point you can pull it out and dispense the milk and foam for your cappuccino.
When it comes to maintenance, the Spinn app will tell you to perform regular cleaning, which requires Spinn brand cleaning solution. It takes about 30 minutes to perform the task, but every step is well outlined in the app. You also need to replace the water filter every so often, but the app will tell you to do that, too. If you choose to ignore the prompts to do so, you’ll soon find out that the Spinn won’t make the coffee properly and you’ll end up with a watery brew that’s no good to drink.
I have to say that I’m a true convert to the Spinn because the convenience and quality far overshadow the minor issues it has from time to time. The long-term reliability remains to be seen, but I find myself turning to the Spinn several times a week to make what I deem my best home coffee-making experience to date. To call it revolutionary would not be an overstatement.
Specs: Spinn Coffee Maker
- Type: centrifugal espresso machine
- Coffee: whole bean
- Weight: 25.1 pounds
- Colors: silver or black
- Features: Wi-Fi enabled, companion app, customizable, programmable