If you drink coffee and have ever looked up anything about coffee online, chances are your social media ads have been peppered with mentions of Spinn, the centrifugal coffee maker that gives you hand-crafted quality caffeine beverages from your own beans, not a pod.
Intrigued, I reached out to Spinn to see if they’d, y’know, let me take it for a spin (sorry, it’s the last time I’ll use that joke in this piece, promise). I’m a big fan of all things coffee, and I do like easy access to lots of of it, but I’m also fairly picky as to where and how I get my fix. It seemed like this innovative device might actually split the difference between convenience and quality.
What Is It?
Spinn is an app-connected single-beverage coffee maker that uses centrifugal force to make a wide variety of coffee drinks. It stores up to a pound of coffee beans in the top, grinds them using its integrated burr grinder, and uses water that it filters. The leftover grounds are spun dry, then deposited inside the unit for easy disposal or composting, no pods required.
It also has a companion milk frother that can be pressed into service to make hot or cold foam and steamed milk.
Setting It Up
Right out of the box, it’s obvious that Spinn isn’t your normal coffee maker. The box is engineered to flop open like an animated loot box, pretty nifty. Then it’s a matter of removing tape from all the various parts (do not throw away the green lid to the residue bin, it’s not a piece of packing material), filling it up with water, then firing up the app to finish.
During setup, you’ll need to scan the barcode for your beans so that Spinn can input all the various recipes for that blend (you can use your own as well, but you’ll have to adjust the recipes manually). You can order additional beans (believe me, you’ll drink more coffee in your first week with Spinn than you had thought possible) through the app. Most, but not all, of the roasters that have partnered with Spinn have customized recipes to go with their various offerings. Scan the bag with the app and your Spinn updates accordingly. If you do use your own beans, try not to use anything too dark—the oils accumulate and keep things from running smoothly.
While you can make seven different beverages via the icons on the front of the Spinn itself, the majority of the device’s functionality is contained within the Spinn app. On one hand, the app gives you a staggering amount of variety, on the other it introduces complexity for the user and confusion for anyone who’s using the Spinn without the app (but more on that later).
How Does It Work?
Wake up in the morning, stick a mug under the spout (you can even raise the drip tray for smaller espresso cups, which is nice), press the icon on the handy iOS widget, and Spinn makes the exact type of coffee you want be it an espresso, ristretto, lungo, cold brew, a plain cup of coffee, or half a dozen other types of coffee (or just hot water if someone needs tea). You can also navigate to the Specials and +Milk tab in the app for additional coffee recipes.
When you start a brew, Spinn measures out the exact amount of beans needed for the recipe (adjustable in the app if it’s too strong or too weak for your palate), then grinds them using the integrated burr grinder. It then uses water filtered by the onboard filter to wet the grounds and spins the whole mix at various speeds to extract exactly the right compounds from your coffee. It’ll even leave a nice layer of crema on top of your espresso drinks. If you’re using the milk frother, you’ll have to do that part manually, there’s no communication between the two devices, sadly.
Once your beverage is finished, you’ll want to move it off the drip tray. About 10 minutes after a cycle is completed, the Spinn runs a bit of water through the machine to clean itself up.
Is it Worth It?
If you’re the type of coffee drinker that burns through a pot or two of java throughout the day, then Spinn might not be right for you (though you can purchase a large carafe that fits the machine). Also, if you only drink one type of coffee every day, Spinn might be overkill. While it makes a fantastic cup of coffee, its true value is in its single-cup versatility.
The Spinn is for those individual coffee drinkers that want to start their day with a pour over, then switch to espresso later in the morning, and maybe treat themselves with cold brew later in the day. Or for multi-member households that all have different coffee needs.
Spinn excels at being able to brew whatever it is you’re craving. When you pop open the app, the choices are almost overwhelming. If you brew your coffee with beans from roasters that work with Spinn, the app even adjusts the recipes for each drink based on what you’ve loaded in the hopper.
Spinn isn’t for coffee aficionados that want to use different beans for each beverage. There’s no elegant way to remove the beans from the Spinn. It’s a laborious process that involves removing the drip tray, water reservoir, and grounds hopper before tilting the entire unit. If you want decaf in the evening, get ready to work for it.
And that’s the dirty little secret of Spinn—it’s surprisingly demanding. It needs more water than you expect. You’ll need to empty the drip tray and residue bin often. If things go wrong, you’ll need to have the app handy to determine the exact issue and, even then, may have to dig into granular device notifications just to get an idea of where to start. I had a morning where the Spinn refused to complete a cycle. It wasn’t until I removed the worm drive that moves the grounds to the brew chamber (which required unscrewing a tiny screw with a jeweler’s screwdriver), vacuumed out all the excess grounds, and reassembled everything that I finally got a green light.
That said, it’s still easier than maintaining a high-end espresso machine day-to-day. Though, speaking of maintenance, Spinn recommends a cleaning cycle every thirty days, yet doesn’t include the first bottle of cleaner in the box. They’re working on a subscription service or maybe including the cleaner for some of the packages, which will be welcome.
The Spinn is unapologetically app driven as well. Yes, there are icons on the unit for an espresso, Americano, or plain coffee but those aren’t the Spinn’s shining stars when it comes to brews (that would be the superb pour-over and cold brew). There are also four user-defined options that you can access by pressing the “person” icon multiple times but unless you’ve set them yourself (or have access to the app) there’s no real way of knowing what they’re for. My brother accidentally made himself cold brew every morning while he was staying at my place when what he wanted was a pour over.
Even I, who spend most of my day attached to my phone, prefer clear labels to having to fight with an app or voice assistant first thing in the morning (Yes, Spinn is Alexa-compatible. No, I will never use it. Jeff Bezos doesn’t need to know about my morning coffee).
Where Can I Get It?
Is Spinn really better than your average pod coffee maker? Yes. You get to use fresh ground beans of your own choosing and the only waste to worry about can be used as compost. Is it the answer to all your coffee woes? If you or your household needs caffeinated flexibility above all things, it definitely can. Will it make you the life of the party as your peers line up, delighted to make their own affogato (as featured in online ads)? If you do, you have really weird friends.
So if I’m recommending the Spinn, why take it to task so hard? Because there are things I’d love to see addressed in the next version of the device. It makes fantastic coffee and the environmental impact of only having coffee grounds as waste instead of plastic pods is wonderful. But as a device that lives on a kitchen counter, it’s got to be more user friendly. Professional chefs are often admonished when they try to tell diners how to eat their food. I feel that the same applies to kitchen appliances, especially ones that have broad appeal like coffee makers.
That said, Spinn rewards users that are willing to put in a bit of work. The drink options on offer far outstrip anything else available. The magic of the device is that you don’t have to remember how to pull a lungo or a ristretto, Spinn does it for you. Once you find your favorites, it gets easier. But that learning curve is steep.
With holiday sales, you can currently get Spinn starting at $699 on their website. There are package offers as well that include the milk frother, travel mug, and a large carafe. It’s expensive, but not out of line with other high-end espresso/grinder combos from premium brands like Breville.
Except most countertop machines don’t come with an app-powered barista, willing to make absolutely anything your coffee-fueled heart desires.