Brewing coffee at home can become a serious obsession, I know it has for me. Discovering recipes created by barista champions or other coffee crazy folks and trying them out is my kind of Sunday Funday. While some people like to eyeball how much coffee grounds and water they use for a brew, I am definitely team accuracy. Hence, I always have a coffee scale handy for when my caffeine cravings kick in. Whether I brew espresso or pour over, weighing coffee beans and water during the brewing process has become a habit that has considerably improved my cup of joe. If you are getting serious about brewing coffee, it is high time to put down that scoop and find the best coffee scale to up your game.
When I walk in a coffee shop and see that the barista is weighing every single dose of espresso on a coffee scale before pulling a shot, I know I’m in good hands. Once an espresso is dialed in, it is imperative to ensure the results are consistent and every guest gets the same quality brew by weighing the dose and output. Very similarly, it takes that kind of accuracy at home to brew the same tasty cup of coffee day in day out. Whether you like to experiment with different brew ratios or you want to reproduce a recipe that works for your selection of beans, a coffee scale will help you to stay on point and measure the exact amount of coffee and water needed to get there.
What if you are trying out a new coffee and your recipe or go-to brew ratio isn’t producing the desired flavors? In that case you can easily experiment by adjusting different parameters and keeping track of the changes by using a coffee scale and timer. While you could just wing it, you’d never really know what change made the difference and how to reproduce it.
Essentially, a coffee scale needs to have a weighting function (duh) ideally with an accuracy of 0.1 grams, a tare button to reset to 0 and a digital display. Nowadays, there are a range of models available, from simple to smart, which can be overwhelming when trying to find the coffee scale that is right for you. Here is a break down of what kind of coffee scales are available to help you decide:
Very simple no frills digital scales that include a tare function, like the GreaterGoods Digital Food Kitchen Scale with 1 gram or 0.1 ounce accuracy, are your most budget-friendly option. When using it as a coffee scale, make sure its size is a fit for your brewing device and use your smartphone as a timer. While this type of scale is not accurate enough for espresso brewing, some hobby brewers find it does the job for pour-over coffee. In this price range, scales have a relatively slow response time and are not waterproof, which can cause problems when spilling hot water while brewing on the scale.
WHEN TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Digital coffee scales with a timer like the OXO 11212400 Good Grips 6 Lb Precision Coffee Scale, are more popular with hobby brewers as they measure from 0.5 or 1 gram up in 0.1 gram intervals. Despite the improved accuracy, espresso brewers will find the response time is still too slow to use this type of scale for espresso brewing. But having a built-in timer is a convenient feature for pour-over lovers to experiment with different extraction times.
FOR THE ENVIROMENTALIST ESPRESSO LOVER
Another great option are functional and portable coffee scales with a timer that can quickly be recharged via USB-C like the Timemore Black Mirror Digital Coffee Scale. Unlike with the previous models, forget about stocking up on AAA batteries and enjoy a more environmentally friendly option. This coffee scale measures in 0.1 gram increments for highest precision and comes with an integrated timer for total control of your coffee brewing process. It is slim enough to fit on the drip tray of many espresso machines and responsive enough to pull a precise shot of espresso.
SMART AND WATERPROOF COFFEE SCALES FOR PROs
Last but not least, smart coffee scales such as the Acaia models Pearl, Pearl S, Lunar or the ultralight Pyxis with 0.01 gram sensitivity, are popular options for professional use due to extreme accuracy and little to no lag time for both pour-over and espresso brewing. The Acaia models are water proof, beautifully designed and connect via Bluetooth to an app on your smartphone to calculate brew ratios, track your brews and save recipes. Different smart scales come with different functionalities, but what they have in common is a higher price tag and the fact that users more often than not experience problems when trying to connect the scale to their phone or simply trying to use the app for what it was built to do.
A point of advice here: the built-in timer will only start once you have set your brew ratio, have placed your brewing device on the scale, hit tare, and weighted your coffee grounds. It then calculates the desired amount of water for you. Depending on whether you chose “A” for automatic timer or “M” for manual timer, the timer starts either when the scale detects water hitting the coffee bed or when you hit the timer button. Once you have done this process a couple of times it becomes intuitive, but if you are in a hurry using your smartphone as a timer instead will get you there faster. It might be a limiting factor though, that this coffee scale only gives the option to choose between a brew ratio of 1:14 and 1:20.
Overall, I really like using the Brewista Ratio Pour Over Coffee Scale. It helps me to be consistent when brewing and I take it everywhere with me, even when I go on a hike. The fact that you can charge it by USB makes it super convenient. There is an icon on the display that shows how much battery life is left.
Best for pour over
Brew ratio function calculates the amount of water needed for your dose of coffee
Manual as well as automatic timer and tare function
Measures in 0.1 gram intervals from 1 to 2000 grams
Charge by USB
The Hario V60 Drip Coffee Scale is a reliable device that was designed for hand dripping. It has all you need to pour a perfectly accurate drip coffee, from a tare function to a timer. You can measure weight and brew time simultaneously, as both indicators are visible on the display. Note that the timer does not start automatically, just press the Start/Stop button to get it going. This neat entry-level scale without complicated frills is powered by two AAA batteries. While it is not waterproof, it can handle a few tiny droplets here and there.
The display accuracy shines between 2 and 200 grams, when it measures in 0.1 gram intervals. From 200 to 500 grams the scale measures in 0.5 gram intervals and between 500 and 2000 grams it measures in 1 gram intervals. While the incremental increase works well for pour over, it does make precisely weighing espresso rather difficult. If you add a portafilter with ground coffee to the scale, it will likely surpass the 200 grams threshold, meaning you won’t be able to measure in steps of 0.1 gram. The Hario Drip Scale is not designed to fit on the drip tray of an espresso machine either and is not known for responding instantly. But then again, that is not what it was build for. If you stick to manual brews only, the Hario V60 Drip Coffee Scale is a great choice.
Designed for pour over
Manual timer and tare-function
Measures in 0.1 gram intervals from 2 to 200 grams, less precise after that
Powered by two AAA batteries
The Timemore Black Mirror Coffee Scale is a beautiful device with simple but efficient functionality. A built-in timer and tare function, coupled with instant responsiveness, are at the heart of its features and make pour over as well as espresso brewing a breeze. Look out for the 2020 model with auto time and tare functionality when you make a purchase!
Even though the scale is bigger than for example Acaia’s Lunar model, it’s usable on most espresso machines and at the same time more cost-effective. The fast responsiveness, neat design and precise measurement in 0.1 gram increments make the Timemore Black Mirror a solid choice both for espresso and pour over.
Suitable for espresso and pour over
Silicone pad protects device
Built-in timer and tare function
Fast and accurate readings in 0.1 gram increments
Sleek and stylish design
Fast charge via USB-C
Aside from the Brewista Ratio Pour Over Coffee Scale dedicated to filter coffee, Brewista have launched the Smart Scale II specifically for espresso with an accuracy of 0.1 grams. Designed to fit under most group heads of espresso machines, it comes with a silicone mat to protect it from heat and water. No need to worry if you accidentally spill a few drops of liquid on the scale, its nano-coating effectively repels water. Six convenient weighing modes, five for espresso and one for pour over, ranging from fully manual to auto-tare and auto-timer, make your daily espresso dial-in and prep a breeze. The Brewista Smart Scale II is an affordable and compact choice for espresso brewing that offers you a lot of functionality.
Clear case included to protect the scale during travel, can be used as a tray to weigh your beans
Rechargable built-in battery compatible with micro USB
Six different modes to customise your work flow
Slightly slower than Acaia models but performs well on the drip tray
Whether at home or in a cafe setting, the smart coffee scale Felicita ARC was designed to fit on the drip tray of any espresso machine and has the perfect shape to comfortably hold a portafilter or two espresso/cappuccino cups next to each other. For a bulky pour over device or server, the somewhat oval form is not ideal, as you might end up covering the display when placing it on top of the scale. When testing the weight of a single coffee bean, the Felicita ARC quickly measured it down to the first 0.2 grams, whereas the previous three scales were not sensitive enough to register these first couple of hundred milligrams. The auto-tare and auto-time functions are handy features that allow you to focus on operating the espresso machine instead of worrying about hitting the right buttons on your scale. While you can connect your smartphone or tablet via Blutooth to the Felicita app to build out recipes or track your flow rate, don’t expect it to make your life necessarily any easier.
Can be used for pour over but designed for espresso
Bluetooth connectivity with Felicita App
Customizeable modes for automatic starting and stopping of timer and auto tare
Great looking addition to any brew bar
Significantly higher price tag than the other three scales I reviewed
Comes with a calibration weight
Micro USB charging cable
Smart, chic and extremely precise – the Acaia Pearl and Acaia Pearl S are great entry models to discover the world of Acaia scales. While the Lunar and Pyxis models are especially interesting in professional settings, Pearl is an absolute favourite in the home brewer community. Although it is the most affordable coffee scale in the Acaia line-up, I should warn you that the price tag is considerably higher than that of an average kitchen scale. But in the case of Acaia, you get what you pay for, and that is an extremely durable scale that shines with accuracy and many useful features. Auto-tare? No problem. Auto-timer? Absolutely! And there is so much more it can do. Connect your coffee scale to your smartphone via Bluetooth, let the Acaia app calculate your brewing recipe and monitor your real time flow rate. The Pearl and Pearl S have the same dimensions, but the latter has a larger max capacity of 3kg instead of 2kg.
Can be used both for espresso and filter coffee
Bluetooth connectivity to track your brews
Minimalist, sophisticated design
Battery rechargable via USB