P Pat Cotter

Spinn Coffee and Espresso Machine Review

Spinn Coffee and Espresso Machine Review

We’ve been proponents of superautomatic espresso machines for quite some time. They don’t necessarily offer the fine-tuned control of a semi-automatic espresso machine, and there’s a wide range of quality in that category. With that said, a superauto can be a great route to a quick and easy morning coffee. Today we’re taking a look at and reviewing a different kind of automatic machine that we think is really exciting. Say hello to the Spinn.

What is the Spinn?

The Spinn is an automatic coffee maker that does things differently than other superautomatics. First things first - this machine doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be “like” a Philips or Jura superauto. Instead of a focus on automating the process of making espresso at home, the Spinn seeks to be a device that just makes a great cup, however you like it. But what does that mean in practice? Well, for starters, the Spinn is an all-in-one machine that contains a grinder and brewing system. It does not include a milk frother, which is a potential turn-off for some customers, but more on that later. The unique thing about this machine is the way that it brews. Instead of dropping grounds into a small chamber and tamping them with a mechanical apparatus like a superautomatic espresso machine, the Spinn, well, spins the coffee. First it grinds, as you’d expect, then it uses a moving assembly to put the grounds in the brew chamber. From there it adds water and spins the chamber at high RPMs, pressing the water into the coffee and then allowing it to drip through the spout and into your coffee cup. If this sounds a little weird, it is. We’re always skeptical when we hear about a machine purporting to brew coffee in a new way like this, and the Spinn was no exception. However, we were very impressed with the results.

The Coffee

What makes the spin so interesting is the ways that it modifies every parameter to produce different kinds of coffee. Where other superautos might adjust extraction time, dose, and water amount, the Spinn has nearly 40 different parameters that it’s adjusting from drink to drink (and coffee to coffee, but again, more on that later). While as an end user you only have the ability to adjust a few parameters, the different drinks the machine offers are actually brewed in different ways. Some options, like the ristretto and the espresso, use the spinning functionality to “tamp” the coffee into more of a dense puck. They then spin very fast to push water through that puck and emulate an espresso shot. This process doesn’t quite produce the 9 BAR of pressure you’d get from a traditional pump, but it’s still impressive, and it makes for surprisingly rich shots that even have the customary cream you’ll find with espresso. Where this machine really shines is in its “slow brew” options. The standard coffee option is just about the best automated “slow brew” coffee. I put slow brew in quotes because it still just takes a few moments for this option. What you get reminds us of a pour over, which is very impressive from an automatic machine. In addition to the basic coffee option, the Spinn also has a couple of cold brew options. These two drinks slow extraction down more and use the spinning chamber to brew at a cooler temperature. They don’t come out cold, as there’s no refrigeration in the Spinn, but if brewed over ice you get a really impressive cup that is absolutely comparable to cold brew that you’d normally have to wait for overnight. The point we’re trying to make is that the coffee that the Spinn produces is quite good, period, and exceptional when compared to other slow brewing automatic machines (of which there are few to begin with). All of that would be enough to recommend the Spinn, it’s the service that comes with it that really puts it over the top.

App and Features

While the Spinn can be controlled by using buttons located on the machine, you get the most out of it with the app. The Spinn app gives you access to drink programming and a wide range of options. The best part? More options are added all the time. As engineers at Spinn develop new ways to get great drinks out of the machine they add those recipes to the app. They’re good about ensuring the classics are always easily available too. You can even program in your specific volume/strength settings to a button on the machine. The app also gives you access to the Spinn coffee marketplace. This is a great way to get coffee for your machine. While the pricing on these coffees aren’t exactly cheap, they’re in line with what you’d pay buying direct from the roasters. A flat shipping rate also gives you the ability to stock up with a larger order without paying shipping fees on just a bag or two. The real reason to pick up coffee from the marketplace, whether you do it outside of the app or within it, is that the roasters can actually dial in the parameters for the roast. By scanning the bag before putting the coffee into the machine you will get roaster provided drink settings. This means you can get the very best cup for these coffees. You can also, of course, use any whole bean coffee you like as well, and we found that everything we put into the machine still held up with default settings. Finally, the app does so much more than just act as a place to order drinks and new beans. You can shop for accessories, monitor the machine, and get notifications about bean levels (as a reminder to order new beans), plus even more odds and ends that make managing the machine a breeze. Should you have questions about your machine you can even access help articles, and support directly to answer them. So is there anyone this machine isn’t for?

Potential Cons

While we really love this machine, there are a few caveats to keep in mind. First - being such a versatile machine without an easily removable hopper is a bit of a bummer. We would have loved an option to remove our favorite cold brew beans to swap in some espresso. This can at least be mitigated by only adding a limited amount of beans at a time. The machine can flush small amounts of beans if you go this route, making switching it up easier. Next, there’s the lack of milk frother built in. Spinn does sell a decent external frother, and while you can get some pretty high quality milk foam from the device it doesn’t live up to a full steam wand. This is, of course, a non issue for anyone not looking for lattes and cappuccinos specifically. Finally, like with every superauto, we hesitate to recommend dark roasted, oily coffee in the Spinn. While you can get away with using some darker beans, because the grinder is inaccessible it means that there’s no way to effectively clean the oil buildup that very dark roasts cause. This isn’t a unique issue, and it’s something that can even affect standalone grinders that aren’t maintained. It does, however, mean that if you must have very dark coffee you’re still best off sticking to more manual machines with standalone grinders. There’s a few more elements to consider with this machine before we can give you our recommendation on who it’s for.

Odds and Ends

The ergonomics and physical design of the machine are things we have yet to really touch on. This may seem odd, as it’s something we do usually focus on. In the Spinn’s case though, the name of the game is putting as little as possible between you and your coffee. The machine itself is reasonably small considering everything going on under the hood. The hopper and water tank aren’t hard to access, but because the hopper is accessed from the top it could be a bit of a pain if you have particularly low cabinets. The drip tray in the front is especially neat, as it also acts as a bit of an adjuster for the spout. The spout itself doesn’t allow for taller travel mugs, but by removing the drip tray temporarily you can get some extra cup clearance. The machine knows when the drip tray is removed, so it will prevent extra water from attempting to drain into it while it is detached, then release the water when it is replaced. We also like that you can access the “worm,” or the part of the machine that moves the coffee from the grind chamber over to the brew chamber. While reports from Spinn (and our own testing) have been very positive in terms of reliability, being able to clear the chamber using this small access port provides peace of mind. Maintenance and water filtration are a breeze as well with the app’s reminders and access to purchasing descalers and filters. So after all of this, what’s the verdict on the Spinn? Who’s it for?

The Verdict

The Spinn is absolutely one of the most exciting and forward thinking automatic coffee makers that we’ve seen. We love the versatility of the machine, and how easy it is to work with. Using the app is fun, and so is being able to manage your coffee experience in one place. So who is this machine for? We think the Spinn is a perfect purchase for someone who is willing to play with recipes and settings to find their perfect cup but wants an automatic machine. While you can get a great coffee out of the box with the default options, the Spinn experience will best serve the end user who wants to experiment with different coffees and recipes. If you’re a daily latte drinker, the Spinn’s lack of built-in milk frothing capabilities could be a deal breaker for you. However, it might be worth trying out some milk foamed in a standalone frother to see if that works for you as an alternative to a steam wand. We also think that it might not fit as a daily driver machine for end users that are accustomed to complex, less automatic machines. Otherwise, if you’re interested in an automatic coffee maker that truly doesn’t compromise on drink quality we think the Spinn might be perfect for you.

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