A set of coffee brewing scales are a ‘must have’ if you want to improve the quality of your coffee brewing and achieve a professional level of consistency. There are a number of scales on the market to suit most budgets; the more you spend, the more features you are likely to have on the scales. In this post we explore some of these features and what you might want to look for in a set of scales.
As a minimum you want your scales to have a built-in timer. This is essentially what makes it a coffee brewing scale. Your scales will then allow you to be consistent in the coffee dose, the amount of water and the brew time.
Capacity & Accuracy
This very much depends on the brewing equipment you intend to use but you will probably need a weighing capacity of 2kg (a large Chemex weight just over 622g, plus 30-40g coffee and 500-750g water will push the total to 1.5kg).
Most scales offer an accuracy of 0.1g which is super sensitive for coffee brewing (I can’t pour water to anything like a 0.1g accuracy) but ideal for espresso.
Again, this will depend on how you want to use the scales. If you want to weigh your espresso dose in a portafilter then you either need a larger pan size or a method of holding the portafilter on a small space. Some scales come with portafilter rests in the box.
Battery Powered or Rechargeable
The more expensive scales will come with a recharging port and a USB cable. Due to the low power consumption of scales, they have a very good battery life.
Mixing water and electronic equipment can be a disaster waiting to happen so there are now water resistant scales on the market. I tend to find water resistance is more important on espresso scales than general brewing scales. It is worth noting that scales are rated as water resistant and not waterproof, and prolonged exposure to hot water will never be a good thing. Some warranties cover water resistance while others do not.
Some scales are able to automate the brewing process to a degree and will have a number of modes which either auto tare the scales or automatically start/stop the timer. We tend to find these modes are particularly useful when making an espresso as scales can be set to auto tare and start a timer once they detect a cup.
Apps have been developed to accompany some scales. These have a number of functions depending on the product. At a basic level the scales can be controlled by the App – what you see on the screen is what you see on the scales. Apps can also be programmed with desired recipes and pour times which will then guide you during the brew cycle (see below).
What scales do we use at the Roastery?
Over the years we have pretty much purchased and used every possible scale at the Roastery. However, over time we have come to favour particular ones:
For scales on a budget it’s hard to beat these basic set of scales with an integrated timer. In fact this is the set we also use at home for brewing coffee and pretty much weighing any ingredients when cooking!
These Hario Drip scales have been around for years and they are our go-to scales when brewing at the Roastery. They have a clean, minimalist design and the accuracy decreases as the weight increases which makes sense when brewing. Though they don’t have any water resistance, we’ve used these scales for six or seven years with no more attention than an occasional battery change.
We’re not really fans of brewing apps so this functionality has never been high on our list of priorities. However we did support the original Kickstarter fund for the Acaia Pearl scales and if app connectivity is your thing then we would recommend these. Though not cheap they are well built and offer a two year warranty which includes their water resistance.
For espresso we like using the Felicita Arc scales and will take these out an about when visiting customers. We’ll often accidentally flush hot water over these scales so have tested their water resistance a good few times! The auto tare/auto timer mode is ideal for espresso extraction. The scales also come with a neat little portafilter holder.