Dušan Matičič, head roaster at GOAT STORY
Now this is a question that has been asked quite a lot: What is the difference between GINA Smart and GINA Basic? Let’s get a bit in-depth about what are the differences between the two.
The look and feel
Only a close inspection will be able to tell the two apart. Both look identical, with a beautifully crafted ceramic funnel with great heat retention, a borosilicate glass pitcher that also doubles as a stylish serving vessel, a steel frame that is elegant and sturdy at the same time (yes, this sleek frame is super strong and will not bend or break, unless you’re the Hulk of filter coffee).
Oh and let’s not forget about the “magic touch” – the precision valve. This little thingy is what really sets GINA apart from other brewers out there. The valve is what makes GINA excel when it comes to versatility in coffee brewing. Open the valve for classic pour over coffee (think V60 or other cone shaped brewers). Close the valve for immersion coffee (think French press but with gravitational filtering). Or set the drip time for a wonderfully smooth cold drip coffee. Yup, that’s three methods in one brewer.
It’s not just an ON-OFF thing
There is more to this little valve than simply pour over or immersion. It works as a little magic knob that will help you get more from your coffee.
One little trick we like to do is closing the valve for the blooming phase and release it for the rest of the brew. This simple trick will give you a cup with slightly more body and character that we sometimes miss in classic pour overs. And if you managed to grind your coffee to coarse, you can close the valve a bit to restrict the flow of water and avoid underextraction. Some call that cheating, but we don’t like to waste our coffee and this trick proved to make a solid cup.
The champ’s take on the valve
As Emi Fukahori, World Brewers Cup champion of 2018 proved, this little valve can do magic tricks when it comes to coffee flavor layering. Her winning routine started with a closed valve for full immersion brewing at a lower temperature. After about 40 seconds she opened the valve and did a pour-over at a higher temperature and ended the routine with a closed valve for another blast of full immersion brewing. The result was an explosion of flavors in her winning cup.
Of course we can not attribute everything to GINA, as she was using a magnificent coffee (an anaerobic fermented Brasilian Laurina), went super scientific with her pouring and water temperature. It took her quite some time to dial it in. It was a huge effort. We got to try the coffee she used brewed as a classic pour-over and then compared it to the same coffee, but brewed with her winning routine. The difference was … WOW!!!
But … where’s the smart in GINA?
Dear oh dear, we’ve just been blabbering about the basic functionality of GINA and haven’t even touched base on why we’re actually writing this blog post.
So, what’s the deal with SMART?
The answer is hidden in the base of GINA’s steel stand. In that little space you can find a precision scale and some other electronic parts. The nice thing is that these little bits of electronics actually turn GINA into a powerful brewing tool with an integrated scale. No need for spending that extra $$$ on a precision scale (and you know these things can be pricey!).
But … how does that work? There’s no screen on the device to show the weight … Thanks to our good friend Bluetooth, we connected GINA to a dedicated app. You can call it a control center for your coffee brewing. The app is a step-by-step brewing assistant that will help you weigh your coffee and determine the amount of water you will need for the desired coffee-to-water ratio. No more calculations, just plain and simple brewing.
The app guides you through the whole brewing process with sound notifications for blooming, water weight and time. And when you’re done, your brewing data can be saved in a custom created brew print where you’ll find all the necessary data to replicate your brew or share it with a friend or the whole GINA brewing community.
Do I need GINA Smart?
It’s a matter of preference AND a matter of how well you are already equipped for your coffee brewing.
If you already have a precision scale and have been using it with other brewing devices, you’ll be just fine with GINA Basic. Just put it on the scale and brew as usual, but with all the perks we described in the paragraphs at the beginning of this post.
If you don’t have a scale (and timer), you’ll be all set with GINA Smart. No need for a separate scale or timer plus the app will help you with your brewing.
Bottom line – life is easier with GINA Smart, that’s a fact. Less clutter on the kitchen counter, on-screen control of your brewing and the option to save your brews for replicating your brews.
In the end, it’s your choice. But just as a tip – home users usually go with GINA Smart. Coffee shops* usually pick the Basic version, as they already paid a pretty penny for their precision scales. But as written already – both brew the same superb coffee but with a different approach to data.
*With feedback from coffee shops and baristas we launched the Brew Bar feature in the GINA app. A striped down interface (scale + timer only) with up to three GINA Smart devices on one screen. It makes it possible for coffee shops to operate three GINAs at once with all data about time and weight in one smartphone or tablet screen.