The QuinSpin revolutionises and streamlines a little thought about and untidy step in the coffee making process – cleaning the portafilter.
Automation has been embraced along the coffee bar to improve efficiency. Grind-by-weight grinders are removing the need to weigh doses and automatic tampers are improving consistency before the coffee even reaches the espresso machine.
Then, after the shots are poured from a profile-controlled espresso machine, automatic milk microfoamers are speeding up service.
However, there in one simple step in the process the barista still performs manually that can cause a slight bottleneck when pumping out shots – cleaning the portafilter.
Joe Chalhoub, General Manager at Barista Group, says this may not seem like a big deal, but the effect really shows when making multiple coffees at once.
“Imagine you’ve just pulled two shots. To clean two portafilters with a traditional knocker tube, the process would be to knock out the first one then grab a rag to clean it, that you’ve probably used to clean a few group heads already,” Joe says.
“You’ve got to go one at a time because you need both hands to wipe it down, which really slows down your workflow in a busy café where you’ve got two grinders and group heads going at a time.”
After a post on Instagram showed he was testing a device that automates portafilter cleaning through the Socratic Coffee research lab, Joe was contacted by manufacturer QuinSpin, which said its product would produce better results, and sent him a unit to test.
“Barista Group is obsessed with everything to do with workflow and efficiency, which leans through every part of coffee, even to cleaning the filter baskets,” Joe says. “Working with QuinSpin made me realise how it completes that optimum workflow.”
The QuinSpin is used similarly to a milk jug rinser. The barista first pushes the portafilter into the drill head on the right, which automatically spins out the majority of the spent coffee grinds.
A quick push intro the brush head on the left finishes the job. Only a small amount of pressure is needed to activate the QuinSpin.
The device can be built into the coffee bar, with a cut-out template supplied with the unit, or it can be clipped to the side of the bench, with coffee grounds collected in a bag underneath. Either way, the device takes up less floorspace than a knock tube, providing the barista with greater movement and flexibility.
“QuinSpin brings speed, consistency, and even greater hygiene to the cleaning process,” Joe says. “It has a small footprint and can fit in right next to the coffee machine, so the minute you undo the portafilter, you can give it a spin and load it into the grinder.”
The QuinSpin performs consistently too, with the team at Socratic Coffee putting the device through its paces under several conditions.
“We up-dosed the filter basket with ground coffee, so after the extraction the coffee puck was really dry, and in another scenario, we underdosed so the coffee puck would be wet. Of course, we tested the ‘ideal’ scenario too, and in all three tests, we found that QuinSpin properly cleaned the portafilter every time,” Joe says.
QuinSpin sent Barista Group two dozen units to trial with early adopters of the device. Joe selected cafés considered “real innovators of the industry” for the initial run. One of these cafés was Sevens Specialty Coffee in the Sydney CBD, which opened in 2020 with a QuinSpin built into the coffee bar.
“Sevens has provided a test of how QuinSpin performs under heavy workflow conditions and the machine has proven very reliable. It has been running for more than six months now with no issues,” Joe says.
“[Sevens’ owner] Zach [Hiotis] told me he’d never go back and will integrate it in all of his cafés from now on.”
Yoho Loco – another café of Zach’s – and Stitch Coffee, both in New South Wales, are two more new cafés to begin using the QuinSpin.
“It’s a massive relief to everyone’s ears not to hear a portafilter banging thousands of times a day,” Zach says. “We can hear guest orders more easily now too.”
When used alongside other Barista Group products – like the Marikbar Izaga volumetric grinder and Ubermilk automatic microfoamer, with a Tone brewer handling filter coffee – Joe says high-volume cafés can achieve a seamless workflow.
“Ubermilk is becoming the standard when it comes to milk automation and microfoaming. When we started with it a couple years ago, we’d go out to people who would ask if they could run trials. Now, we’ve reached the point where they’re calling us and ordering Ubermilk outright,” Joe says.
“It’s proven to be a super reliable device in a commercial setting and adopted by the whole industry. It’s become very common to see an automatic coffee tamper and an Ubermilk on each side of a high-end specialty coffee machine.”
He adds that products like Markibar and Tone have joined the semi-automatic revolution, with specialty cafés enjoying greater consistency, speed, and service.
“It’s the synergy between these components and products that achieve any café’s ultimate goal of producing a consistent product,” Joe says.
“We are not automating the process. We are making it semi-automatic. The barista still needs to be there, but rather than weighing their doses, cleaning out the portafilter, and steaming the milk, they’ve got their head up interacting with the customers.
“Some people may prefer to say, ‘we like to keep things manual and artisanal’. But, if you can see how this technology improves the process rather than take away from it, and are willing to embrace it, your café will experience new levels of workflow efficiency.”
Towards the end of August 2021, Barista Group will open its new facility and showroom in Pemulwuy NSW, which will also house the new Socratic Coffee lab. The warehouse, laboratory, and showroom will be open to the public and coffee community by appointment.
“Jeremy [Nelson] and I co-founded and funded Socratic Coffee ourselves, so the next step for us is Barista Group sponsoring Socratic Coffee and providing us with the space for a larger coffee lab to carry out more tests and experiments,” Joe says.
“Socratic Coffee has been quiet on testing for the last year, so hopefully we can start back up soon and this time, provide people with the opportunity to come in and see how we actually conduct experiments. At the same time, they can visit the state-of-the-art Barista Group showroom and experience firsthand the equipment we have from Tone, Markibar, Ubermilk, SSP Grinding solutions, Titus Grinding, QuinSpin, and many others to come.”
This article appears in the August 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.