The Spinn Coffee Maker does something that, in my 16 years of coffee experience, I haven’t seen before. Automatic drip machines and pourover brewers rely on gravity to extract, while immersion brewers, like the French press or cold brew makers, use osmosis. Espresso machines employ a pressurized chamber and extremely finely ground coffee to create espresso. The Spinn, on the other hand, uses a centrifuge and water jets to do all of the above.
If you’re having a hard time picturing what that means, imagine a salad spinner: as it spins, centripetal force pulls water off the lettuce through the basket, and collects on the walls, as well as pooling at the bottom. The Spinn works similarly but with coffee, as shown in this video from the company, where you can see a rendering of their centrifugal filter. It’s an intriguing idea, and while people have likely experimented with centrifugal brewing before, it’s never made its way to a commercially available coffee machine.
How It Works
The Spinn comes with a built-in grinder and offers pre-set coffee options including espresso, Americano, drip, and cold brew. It’s marketed as an all-in-one package that competes with capsule-style machines, like Nespresso, and it even comes with an app and Wi-Fi connectivity that allows you to brew from, well, anywhere. To add to this, Spinn is even working with speciality coffee roasters to develop custom brewing specs. The idea is you could scan a bag of coffee, and the machine will automatically tweak its settings to extract that specific coffee to the roaster’s specifications.
If it sounds ambitious, it is. There’s no precedent to gauge the machine’s functionality by, and with its fully enclosed brewing system, it’s also not possible to run any independent tests on the grinder or the brew chamber like we did with coffee makers with built-in grinders. The only thing to do, then, was to fire it up and brew some coffee.
After the proprietary app walked us through initial start-up (which involved a self-cleaning flush), the brewer was ready to go. The front of the machine has indicator lights to let you know to refill the coffee hopper or water reservoir, or to empty the grounds bin or drip tray. It also has a simple interface with three different unlabeled, illustrated buttons for various coffees. Instead of learning which buttons trigger what, it was much easier to use their app to browse through the 15 different coffee options.
While the app also offered a large section of drink recipes (many of which leaned on an optional external milk frother) we decided to stick to its core coffee options (espresso, brewed coffee, and cold brew) to better evaluate the brewer’s main functions. To test the machine, we went through multiple bags of coffee, brewing each coffee style back-to-back, and checked for flavor quality, consistency, and usability.
What We Learned
It’s Hard To Definitively Call It An Espresso Machine
While the machine offers coffees it calls “espresso,” it’s hard to actually gauge if these beverages are technically espresso. The Specialty Coffee Association’s definition of espresso includes the amount of coffee used and the time it’s brewed, and says it should be extracted at “nine to ten atmospheres of pressure.” What that definition doesn’t include is the mechanics of an espresso machine: finely ground coffee is packed into a filter basket, with hot water directly pressurized through it. The shape and design of the machine is what truly defines espresso as a brew method, so it’s probably more accurate to say that the Spinn produces a very strong coffee that’s close to the concentration of an espresso but is technically distinct to itself.
The Spinn’s version of espresso was still pretty good. There was a distinct sweetness to the coffee, and the flavors tasted balanced. Each shot brewed to consistent specifications, even after repeated back-to-back brewing. There were other espresso options too, for longer and shorter shots, but the flavor and concentration didn’t shift much like it would with a regular espresso machine—only the volume changed.
Brewed Coffee and Americanos Were Just So-So
The brewed coffee was a little hollow and had a dry, chalky finish. While it exhibited some of the sweetness the espresso shots did, there was a distinct bitterness that suggests some overextraction. In comparison, the Americano was slightly more balanced, but thin—instead of coming directly through the coffee spout, the Spinn produced an espresso, and then diluted it with a secondary hot water spout, the way an Americano would be prepared in a cafe. Like an Ameicano from a cafe, the Spinn’s version was a little weak, though it showcased more of the sweetness that I found in the brewer’s espresso options.
Cold Brew Was Surprisingly Great
Both the nitro cold brew and cold brew drip options were really tasty, better than most traditionally-made cold brew. There’s actually a good scientific reason why, too: coffee has a dominant flavor compound (cholorgenic acid) which usually provides a pleasant, light bitterness that becomes more bitter and sour the longer it sits. It’s why old coffee in a mug is undrinkable. By brewing coffee with cold water quickly in a centrifuge, the Spinn bypasses this problem—instant cold brew that tastes fresh.
Beverage Volumes Were Very Accurate
It was impressive how accurate the Spinn brewer’s volume listings were: brewed coffee listed as 6.8 ounces was within a tenth of an ounce every time, and espresso shots consistently lined up to the 2-ounce marking on our measuring cup. The key to this is the machine’s centrifugal extraction, which pulls out all of the liquid from every individual coffee particle—so, whatever volume of water enters the grounds comes out as extracted coffee.
The Machine Worked Really Well
The machine worked like a charm. If there was ever an issue (for example, if the water reservoir needed to be refilled), the indicator on the front of the machine popped on, and the app alerted us. The parts and pieces fit together easily, so it was never a chore to empty the grounds bin (though the green plastic ring that lines the lip of the grounds bin did fall into the trash can a few times). As much as we liked the coffee, the truly impressive thing was how well the whole system worked.
Automated machines offer a lot of freedom to busy people or those with limited mobility, and since the Spinn operates off of a water reservoir and a coffee hopper, there’s less prep work than a capsule machine, which requires you to load in a capsule every time you want to brew. If a Spinn brewer is locked and loaded, it can brew multiple times in a row before it needs tending to—and you can even start it from another room via the app. As new technology, it was impressive how well it operated through our testing.
The Spinn brewer offers some of the best tasting, fully-automated brewed coffee out there. While none of its coffee options could fully measure up to traditional brewing methods, they were all light years ahead of coffee makers with built-in grinders and capsule machines, like Nespresso. What was truly impressive was how well the machine worked: the app and machine were in tune and it was clear whenever the brewer needed attention. While the Spinn might not replace all of the equipment on a coffee nerd’s counter, it’s a viable alternative for anyone who doesn’t brew a lot of coffee at home and wants to avoid the waste and poor flavor quality of a capsule machine. There’s also strong potential for people who have limited mobility—with a larger capacity reservoir and coffee hopper matched with one-touch brewing options, the Spinn doesn’t require loading a small capsule every time someone wants to brew. A visiting caretaker could even fill the brewer with coffee and water once a week, setting the brewer up for someone who might struggle with how small capsules are. While the Spinn is a lot pricier than most capsule machines, being able to use your own coffee and skirt overpriced proprietary capsules can also be a money-saver in the long run.
The two main limitations of the Spinn are taste and cost. No matter what, the Spinn couldn’t replicate the flavor quality of a traditionally pulled espresso shot or drip coffee. It’s an expensive machine and, for that price, you could buy our top picks for coffee grinders and coffee makers and still have money leftover. It’s also new technology with a lot of moving parts inside. We hesitate to highly recommend expensive equipment with a lot of automation because there’s a chance it might require more maintenance than a simpler drip coffee maker, and there’s not a lot of long-term use info out there on the Spinn. Still, there’s no other machine that can tackle all of the different coffee styles the Spinn can, so if that’s what you’re looking for, the Spinn might well be a good choice for you.
Who It’s Best For
If you’re looking for a no-fuss automated brewer but still care about the quality of the coffee you’re using, the Spinn presents a new alternative to capsule brewers. Because it’s such new technology, though, we recommend it if the higher price tag won’t break your budget, even if it can be a long-term money-saver.
Can you use coffee beans in the Spinn Coffee Maker?
The Spinn only works with whole coffee beans since its grinder automatically feeds ground coffee into the brewing chamber. So, at the moment, you can’t use pre-ground coffee or capsules with it.
Can you use the Spinn coffee maker without using the app?
The Spinn coffee maker has a variety of coffee options programmed to various buttons, so you can use it without the app. You might want to read the user manual first to learn how to cycle through all of the options first.
How do I clean a Spinn coffee maker?
The user manual comes with detailed instructions on how to clean a Spinn Coffee Maker, but you can hand-wash the removable parts, including the the grounds bin and water reservoir. To clean the inside of the machine, the Spinn has an automatic cleaning cycle and custom cleaning solution.