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It's hard to bring a quality espresso machine to market, let alone one made for ordinary consumers. Now add to the list a device that can brew everything from drip to pour-over to Americanos and the bar for success rises even higher. No sweat, says startup company Spinn. According to Spinn, the $499 (£400, AU$650) Spinn Coffee Maker, on sale for $299 at the time of this review, can handle all that and then some.
In fact, Spinn claims a laundry list of features for its new coffee maker. The Spinn will grind its own beans thanks to its built-in burr grinder. A unique brewing mechanism uses a high-speed centrifuge to sling proper espresso. It also boasts onboard smarts that let you control the machine remotely and shop for beans. Of course, big talk from startups is nothing new and the world is littered with the dead dreams of once-hopeful smart coffee appliances. Let's just say it's a good idea not to jump on the Spinn train until real machines land in customers' hands.
From the outside the Spinn Coffee Maker looks like a typical grinder and coffee brewer combo. It has a rounded rectangular shape and there's a large bean hopper on the top for whole-bean coffee. Water and grounds combine and interact within the machine's center to form the final beverage you crave.
The liquid then flows down into a container below, whether that happens to be a tiny espresso cup, large coffee or travel mug or full-size 16-ounce carafe. At the base of the machine sits a drip tray to catch any spillage.
What's really odd about the Spinn Coffee Maker is how its creators claim it brews java and espresso in particular. Traditional espresso machines use strong water pumps and powerful boilers to create high-pressure conditions within a robust metal filter. In this way hot water has enough force to flow quickly through a bed of tightly-packed coffee grounds. It's certainly a challenging brewing method and many home coffee makers lack sufficient pressure, hot-enough water or both to do it right.
By contrast, the Spinn machine is designed to use centrifugal force instead of water vapor and atmospheric pressure alone to whip up espresso drinks. Equipped with a brewing chamber mounted inside a high-velocity centrifuge, the filter rotates up to a head-spinning 5,500 rpm. According to Spinn these speeds are fast enough to simulate the internal brewing mechanism of serious espresso machines. To brew more mundane styles of coffee such as drip, the filter apparatus revolves at a lower 2,000 rpm.
This coffee maker is supposed to be smart and app-connected as well. There's a Wi-Fi radio inside the appliance that lets the gadget jump onto your home wireless network. It uses the link to communicate with the Spinn companion mobile application, which allows you control the coffee maker remotely. The app also pushes notifications about the coffee maker's status.
Of course what would a smart-home-friendly coffee maker be without a way to shop for beans, and Spinn's product has this capability too. Through the application, Spinn Coffee Maker owners have the option of ordering bags of whole beans from a list of partnered suppliers. Additionally, the machine can automatically order more coffee if you trust it to do so.
I find it hard to swallow much of what Spinn claims its coffee maker can accomplish. Sure, it sounds plausible to run hot water through a swiftly spinning centrifuge and ultimately a layer of coffee grounds. What you'd likely get at the end though, I'll wager won't be true espresso.
I'm no physicist, but my gut tells me the force created by rotating a relatively low-mass solution of liquid and solids (1 ounce coffee and 2 ounces water) won't generate pressure that's high enough. I have a sneaking suspicion that what the Spinn device spits out will be something closer to coffee made by a French press or perhaps an AeroPress. Still that's not a bad thing, it's just not a drink worthy of an espresso die-hard's seal of approval.
Even if the Spinn Coffee Maker can deliver acceptable espresso-brewing performance, at the moment I see no compelling reason to buy this $500 product over a cheaper yet capable home coffee appliance. I grab my personal caffeine kicks from good drip and pour-over. Both drinks I can get from a reasonably priced $190 Bonavita BV1900TS, a more affordable $100 Braun KF7150 or a $16 Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over funnel.
Regardless of whether you decide to bite, according to the company's website the earliest you can get your hands on Spinn's product is by the "end of 2017." That's when Spinn plans to fulfill the second round of preorders it's currently accepting. The first round of preordered units is closed and is slated to ship by the first half of this year.