No, your coffee doesn't need to go on a diet. But every decent chef knows that a kitchen scale can work wonders.
If you already have a scale, it might work fine for coffee too. But some models have features designed specifically for the coffee connoisseur.
Read on to see what you might be missing.
For most coffee drinkers, the scoop is the go-to tool for metering out their coffee beans. Many recipes tell you how many tablespoons of coffee per cup. In fact, it's right there on the bag for a lot of your mass-produced coffee.
So why should you chunk that standard practice to the side and start measuring by weight?
Because consistency is the key to great coffee.
Do you want to be able to recreate the perfect cup you poured yesterday? Or do you want to avoid that bitter mess you accidentally crafted the morning before?
A kitchen scale is not an absolute requirement for great coffee, but it enables you to precisely measure ingredients in order to reproduce great results (and avoid the subpar ones).
While much of coffee brewing is an art, some steps are best left to science. Because science gives you the chance to repeat experiments, controlling various inputs, in order to determine what method yields the best results: in this case, great coffee.
What exactly is a heaping tablespoon? And a level tablespoon? Rounded? Should you scoop whole bean coffee or only ground?
While you might feel confident in your ability to scoop the same amount each time, you are likely off by a bit. And that bit adds up scoop after scoop. Check out this experiment by Serious Eats to see how much a scoop can vary.
Bakers use scales to precisely measure ingredients because they understand that volume can be misleading. The same applies to coffee and water.
Instead of guessing whether your scoops are heaping, rounded, or just a bit hilly, use a scale. Thirty grams is thirty grams, no matter how fine the grind or how heaping the spoon.
The most obvious case for using a scale is in a manual brew. You can put your brewer, with filter, on the scale and press the tare button to reset it to zero. Then add your ground coffee.
You'll know exactly how much coffee you have, which will tell you exactly how much water you need to add. So hit the tare button again and add your water. The entire process can happen on the scale if you have the right model. And if you record your results, you can reproduce it for the next cup.
For a French press, you can brew in a similar manner. Use the tare to reset after placing your press on the scale, and once more after adding your grounds. Again, you'll know how much water to add, and you'll be able to measure it.
If you're making drip coffee, just add your filter to the scale then measure your coffee precisely. For an espresso, tare the portafilter, then fill as usual. Weigh your coffee and proceed. In these methods, you can consistently control your coffee amount even if you don't weigh your water.
You're not looking for the scales of justice here. You need something a little more precise (and useful). For that, you'll want digital, no questions. A good scale will also provide accurate and dependable results.
For scales, simple can work, but you, you'll probably want to look for these features:
Nourish Digital Coffee Scale
Acaia Coffee Scale
Brewista Smart Scale II
Hario Coffee Drip Scale
Etekcity Digital Kitchen Scale
aiPao Pocket Kitchen Scale
HuiSmart Digital Coffee Scale
On the surface, it may seem like all scales are the same. After all, you just want to weigh some coffee with them. But if you're going to spend the time and money to get a scale, you might as well choose one you'll love.
Here are a few favorites that will help you start brewing better coffee day in and day out.
The sleek design and functionality of the Nourish scale combine to make your brewing experience smooth and convenient.
At first glance, guests might mistake the Nourish scale for an iPad Air. It's about the same size and features rounded corners and a pleasant glass top. The smooth surface is also convenient for easy clean up.
The scale has four buttons with two on each side of the large and easy to read display.
The units button switches from grams to ounces to pounds. This means you can use it for small measurements (like coffee) but easily switch to pounds for cooking recipes.
The zero (tare) button resets the weight to zero, allowing you to zero out the scale when you place your brewer or filter on top.
There is also a mode button that switches between the scale, stopwatch, and timer modes. This is great for French press and pour over brewing. A dedicated timer would be nice, but it's easy to switch between the timer and the scale while pouring.
Finally, there's a lock button that prevents the display from going dark for five minutes without movement. Since the scale has an auto-off feature, this lock capability is essential.
It's no surprise that this scale has “Coffee” in the title because the manufacturers designed this scale for java from the beginning. With a simple, modern design, the Acaia looks terrific, but this scale is built for work.
One of its most exciting features is that it can pair (via Bluetooth) with an iOS or Android app for customization and control. The app allows you to record and share recipes in addition to controlling the tare and timer functions of the scale. You can also use the app to modify the auto-off settings.
In addition to the cool factor of the app, this scale is hyper-accurate. It measures to within a tenth of a gram, and it is very responsive. The Acaia is sensitive enough to register blowing on the scale, and the manufacturers suggest that it can even measure differences from evaporation.
The precise measurement is great for espresso, and the fast readout time is important when measuring for a pour over. You want to know exactly how much water you're adding as you pour, not three seconds later.
With only two buttons (both touch sensors, rather than actual clicking buttons), the Acaia prioritizes a minimal look. This is reflected in the display as well, which is a bit small.
The power and tare buttons can do a lot of work, though. Because they're touch sensitive, they serve different functions depending on how long you hold them down.
If you don't mind spending some extra cash for an accurate scale that looks impressive, the Acaia Pearl Black is a great option.
Another scale that was designed for the barista (professional or amateur), this smart scale shines no matter what brew method you use it with.
It has accuracy to within .1g, allowing you to dial in your coffee quantity. In manual, the Brewista does a fine job. What really makes it smart, though, are the modes.
Each pre-programmed mode has different automatic features. In mode 6 (pour over), for example, you will be able to use manual tare, but the timer starts automatically. And the different espresso modes feature auto-tare, auto-timer, no timer, or some combination.
The Brewista also uses a USB-rechargeable battery, and the auto-off function can be programmed to fit your needs.
At just over four inches wide by five inches long, the scale is compact and light enough to take on the road. And while it's not the cheapest on the market, it is competitive for a scale with so many options.
The Hario scale is a no-fuss tool that prioritizes function. It measures within one-tenth of a gram and can be used for a variety of brewing methods.
While the Hario's looks might not be a conversation starter, it packs in the features. Notably, the display has dedicated space for the timer and weight. So you can see the timer and the measurement while you pour or grind.
Also, the auto-off function is disabled when using a timer, so you can perfect your bloom and infusion times without worrying about the scale shutting down.
At just over an inch thick, this scale might be a bit bulky for some users, especially if you want to place it on your espresso machine's drip tray.
Unlike some models, the Hario is powered by 2 AA batteries. That's nice for a quick change out or if you need to travel without worrying about plugging it in.
If you are looking for a more general purpose digital scale for measuring coffee, this inexpensive model by Etekcity is a good start. It will handle weights from a gram to eleven pounds, so it can do more than coffee.
The scale is sleek, with a metal surface and etched buttons. It will look good on the counter, but at a compact 5.5” x 7.1” it slides easily into a drawer as well.
Unlike many scales in the roundup, the Etekcity model is a bit shy on the features. It does have a tare function, and it can switch between different measurement units.
There is an auto-off feature that will power the scale down after two minutes. You can tap the scale to remind it that you're still around, but it isn't very convenient. There also is no option for a timer.
If you would rather invest your money into other tools for your brewing process, this scale will do the job for many applications.
As the smallest model in the batch, the AiPao scale is a great option for the coffee brewer on the go. You can pack this petite unit (4.13” x 5”) in a bag with no problems. And since it runs on 2 AAA batteries, you don't have to worry about access to electricity if you're out camping.
The AiPao is also accurate to a tenth of a gram, making it an excellent choice for the precise measurement needed for coffee brewing.
Since it's on the smaller side, though, you might have trouble loading your entire brewer onto it. It does come with trays that can help extend the surface area a bit, but you'll have to be careful when balancing everything.
While the scale has an auto-off function, you can change it to run longer or even turn it off. Unfortunately, there is no timer on this unit.
The final model in our list is another designed specifically for coffee. It features a split display with dedicated space for the timer and scale, so no need to switch back and forth.
This one is accurate as well, measuring to one-tenth grams. While it's not as responsive as some of the higher end models (Acaia, for example), it is precise.
As you'd expect, there's a tare function, and you can change between different units of measurement. The auto-off kicks in after four minutes, so it's not as inconvenient as some models that want to sleep after less than a minute.
The blue background display is bright and easy to read, and the surface cleans easily. It's powered by 2 AAA batteries as well.
As with many coffee accessories, the best scale is the one that works for you.
One nice facet of coffee scales is that they aren't likely to break the bank. And if you need to save before splurging on the perfect scale, many of the inexpensive models will still improve your consistency and make your life easier.
If you look for a model that provides the accuracy and features that you need, and that looks great on the counter (or tucks away easily into a drawer), you're bound to be happy with the results. Especially compared to that unreliable scoop.