I have many tools to brew coffee at home. For a long time, I was just a simple Hario V60 dripper user. But after moving to the Netherlands, I said new home, new life and decided to broaden my coffee making tools. I wanted to be able make espresso based beverages, but at the same time didn’t want to go too serious about it. An entry level manual espresso machine would do the work for me. I bought Sage(Breville) Barista Express. It’s looking good at my coffee corner and good value for money.
V60 dripper or espresso machine is good if I make the coffee for myself or maximum two people. But if you have friends and family visiting you, making coffee to everyone can be a daunting task and you may regret why you didn’t buy a proper filter coffee machine. And sometimes, during a work day, you just want to drink one cup of coffee after the other. You just want to drink plain black coffee without any fancy way of brewing. Then you need a filter coffee machine. For that purpose, I bought the lovely local brand of the Netherlands, Moccamaster. With variety of color options, retro looking design and well build quality it is the best filter coffee machine that can be bought on the market.
The machines aside, I still find the best coffee taste with the pour over methods. This year I moved my experience to a whole another level. My lovely wife gifted me a birthday present that I have long been admired. The GINA Smart Coffee Maker. I would say one of the best birthday present ever. It completely bumped up the joy of making coffee.
GINA is a dripper with the ability to brew your coffee in three different ways: with pour-over, immersion, and cold drip. Yeah, all three methods possible with this beautifully designed coffee making tool. And speaking of design, it is a real beauty and even have a reddot design award from 2018. It’s something that you want to keep on your kitchen counter with proud. There is an app connected smart version and basic version. Mine is smart one. Or kinda smart, I will talk about it later. The basic version of it has the same design and can be seen at many coffee houses. Baristas enjoy using it. And it definitely looks nice on the bar.
This brewer is absolutely beautiful. It comes with three color options. Mine is the white-silver combination and honestly this is the most beautiful option. Shiny metal body and white ceramic funnel looks gorgeous. Bronze precision valve completes its award winning design. Overall it has very well build quality. Definitely doesn’t look cheap. The pitcher is tall, nicely shaped and sturdy. And the white Goat logo looks really nice on it. Remember the smart part, I will talk in more detail but all the electronic gadgets are at the bottom of the GINA. Under the rubber surface there is a smart scale. No display or buttons on it. It comes with a micro usb charging cable and charging port is behind the scale. With the bluetooth connection, you can see all the information on your app. More on it later. This bottom part is also heavy and gives a nice weight distribution to the brewer.
There are three things that I don’t like about it. Upfront conclusion, I can live with them. First, the immersion lid of the ceramic funnel is not tightly closing the top and with a small shake it can slide and fall. When you do immersion, it can get hot and hard to pick up while it is sliding. Second is about the metal frame welding points. Well they are strong, no issues on that but they are bit too obvious to the eye. Or maybe I’m acting a bit obsessive. On the other hand, with the metal color it looks industrial with those welds. Finally, a minor issue but when I unbox it, there were some packaging tapes around the frame. Removing those leaves some initial marks on the metal and rubber plate on the bottom. It can come off, but you need to spend some time. On the other hand, it has a really nice and secure packaging. I couldn’t throw the package to recycling bin until I really had to.
What is so special about it?
First off all, just the bluetooth app connection can make it a very special device for many tech savvy people. But for a coffee geek, it’s the precision valve. With this valve, you can control the flow of water and the duration of water coffee interaction. By completely closing the valve, you can achieve the perfect blooming. Here is another benefit, since the ceramic funnel can be detached from the frame, you can easily do the swirling. Which is something hard to do with Hario V60. With GINA, you don’t need to stir. This is something important. According to James Hoffmann, swirling results in much better coffee taste compared to string with a tool. Can’t you achieve this with other drippers? Yes you can but with GINA it’s much more natural and easy to achieve.
Pour over is the main method of GINA. It’s the most straightforward method you can use. It works like a regular V60 dripper but with more precision. You have more control over your brew thanks to precision valve. It comes with its own branded V60 paper but any other brand still works. After finishing the ones that comes with the box, I kept buying Hario paper. Mobile app has pour over section. It will guide you through ratio calculation, blooming timing and total duration of the brew.
Immersion is not a method I use a lot. It results in a different coffee taste. A more bolder, stronger taste I would say. With the help of precision valve and ceramic funnel lid, immersion method can be applied easily. Mobile app also guides you for immersion. You follow the instructions on it.
Another method that you can do with the GINA is cold drip. If you are patient enough. Honestly I’m not a fan of cold drip. Even in the 38 celcius degree hot summer days. I don’t like the taste of cold coffee. But that’s me and if you are a fan of cold drip, GINA can help you. For this purpose, it has cold drip module with its specific paper. You can use mobile app for guidance. Honestly haven’t tried yet but I kinda trust it will nail it.
At first, I got really excited about the mobile app functionality of GINA. Charged the battery of the bottom scale, installed the app and make the connection. Then started browsing the app a bit. My first impression was good. Of course it is not the smoothest mobile app or totally bug free. UI of the app is outdated but OK, it is working smooth enough. Best part is bluetooth connection works good and never struggled to connect. There are some useful tools under side menu and you can even use the scale without starting the brew flow.
Under brew tab, it has four different options to brew such as pour over, immersion, cold drip and brew bar. When you select one of them, you can start your brewing flow and it shows you information about the time, water-coffee ratio and the amount of coffee that you will get in the end. Also guides you when to start adding water, when to stop blooming and when to stop brewing. These are all good and essential features that mimics the manual methods. Things that you can do with an electronic scale and V60. One of my complaints starts here. I was expecting more information. Maybe something about the flow of water. Some extra information about my brewing statistics. There is a room for improvement for the app not just on the UI but also with these type of data and information displaying.
Other problem I have is with the community feature. This was not a feature that I expect to be existed in this app honestly. You can create your profile, and after finishing your brew it gives you a screen to fill some details about your brew. About the taste, the ratio, the whole information on the brewing(time, grams etc.), your comments and grade for the different aspects of the cup. You can also add a photo. If you want, you can save the data privately or you can share with the community under your profile. Really nice ha? Well if it works. App has an annoying bug that only let me save randomly. Most of the time it’s not able to save my data. That part of the app doesn’t work properly and in time, I stopped using it. In fact this annoyed me so much, I wrote multiple reviews and even sent an email about why app needs to be fixed. But it isn’t getting any better. Maybe this is something related with the Android app, or specific to Pixel device I use or some bug on my profile data. Whatever the root cause is, I had a bad experience using it. In time I find myself stop using the app all together and use the GINA like a basic model on top of a digital scale. To summarize, mobile app and the community feature is really something. I think the idea is great. But the execution of it is subpar. It needs improvement and constant maintenance. Otherwise I don’t see any reason to give extra €75 to upgrade from basic to smart version.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely. It definitely elevates your brewing experience. You feel like a scientist and experimenting with the different aspects of the coffee. It looks good on your coffee corner and will be a conversation starter with your guests. Speaking of design, I highly recommend the white-silver model. Best looking combination I would say. Do I still recommend smart version? Well, as a nerdy mobile app engineer I still love connected technologies. If you are into it, give it a try. Your experience might be better than mine. Otherwise, I don’t suggest to pay extra cash for smart version. Basic version looks the same and if you already have a digital scale, you are good to go. Most baristas are using the basic version. If you are planning experiment with different brewing methods or want to add another option to your coffee brewing tools, GINA is a great choice. Check out their shop. They sell different tools, mugs and grinders. Also they recently started their new kickstarter campaign for Otto, a Turkish coffee pot which we call “cezve” in Turkish. Sounds interesting.
Thanks for reading!