Coffee scales are the secret to making good-quality coffee. Image source: Unsplash
Brewing the perfect cup of coffee is an art, and every artist needs the right tools. Introducing the coffee scale – a tiny hero that brings precision, consistency, and a dash of fun to your daily java ritual. In this beginner’s guide, we'll uncover the secrets behind this mighty little gadget and how it can transform your coffee game.
First Up: Why Should I Get a Coffee Scale?
PRECISION. Using a gram scale empowers you with complete control over the exact amount of coffee and water you use. Say goodbye to guesswork with scoops! By precisely measuring the weight of coffee and water, you can easily adjust the ratio to make your coffee stronger or weaker, based on your personal preferences. This level of control is particularly useful when experimenting with different brewing techniques or trying to replicate a specific coffee recipe.
CONSISTENCY: By using the same weight of coffee beans each time, you can also ensure that the taste and strength of your coffee remain consistent. You’ll appreciate this especially when using manual brewing methods like pour-over or the French press, where small variations in the amount of coffee can significantly impact the taste. This point is also important given that coffee beans can vary greatly in size and density. Two scoops of Ethiopian coffee beans, for example, can weigh 20g one week and 16g the next. Simply eyeing the number of coffee beans you use could result in dramatically different outcomes.
WASTE ELIMINATION. Using a coffee scale to give precise amounts prevents one from using unnecessary water or coffee beans.
Features of a Scale
When purchasing a coffee scale, there are a number of useful features to consider.
GRIND INCREMENTS. Most kitchen scales typically measure in 1g increments. However when it comes to making coffee, it is advisable to use a scale that can read smaller increments of at least 0.1g. This enables you to attain more precise inputs and outputs for your brew recipe.
TIMER. Your coffee scale should have a built-in timer to prevent it from shutting off during the brewing process, and for you to measure your brew time. While it is possible to use a separate timer, such as your phone, having a built-in timer on the scales makes the process much simpler. In fact, some scales even offer the convenience of automatically starting the timer as soon as your brew begins.
SENSITIVITY. The scale should be highly responsive to any weight changes, ensuring accurate readings.
SIZE. It's important to consider your specific brewing method and ensure that the scale you purchase fits appropriately underneath your equipment. For example, in espresso brewing, a smaller scale is usually necessary, allowing it to fit snugly between the drip tray and portafilter. When it comes to brewing drip coffee on the other hand, you'd need to ensure that the scale has a spacious plate that can accommodate the brewing equipment placed on top of it. Typically, you’ll want a measuring platform large enough for a french press or large mug.
GRAM CAPACITY. The gram capacity refers to the maximum weight the scale can accurately measure. It's crucial to select a scale with a capacity that suits your brewing needs. For instance, if you primarily brew single cups of coffee, a scale with a lower gram capacity, typically around 500g, would be sufficient. However, if you brew larger batches or require a scale for other purposes in the kitchen, you might want to consider a scale with a higher gram capacity, such as 2,000g or more. Around 1,000-2,000 gram capacity is a good estimate for a coffee scale.
APP CONNECTIVITY. Certain scales offer Bluetooth connectivity, enabling you to connect them to a smartphone app. Although this is not essential, it allows you to measure coffee parameters and conveniently store multiple measurements.
RESILIENCE TO WATER. While not mandatory, a waterproof scale is preferable for added durability.
Can Kitchen Scales Weigh Up to Coffee Scales?
Admittedly, kitchen scales can perform the basic job of measuring when brewing coffee. However, if you desire superior results and greater control over your brew recipe (and seriously, who doesn’t?), it’s worth investing in a dedicated coffee scale.
As mentioned earlier, most kitchen scales only measure in 1g increments, whereas for coffee brewing, the ideal increment is 0.1g to achieve enhanced precision. Moreover, using your equipment with kitchen scales, which lean towards being bigger and heavier, could become troublesome.
Lastly, coffee scales can also come with additional features tailored for the brewing of coffee alone. For instance, there may be heat-resistant components that prevent the temperature of hot coffee from affecting the scale’s internal measurement system. Unlike kitchen scales, which may take a bit longer to settle before displaying the weight, coffee scales are specifically designed to provide accurate readings in real time. This is so you have precise information on how much water to add when attempting a pour over brew.
The conclusion? Turns out, there’s a lot that this nifty gadget has to offer which can’t be paralleled by kitchen scales or guesstimating. Don't let your coffee be a weighty issue; let the scale handle it and enjoy your perfectly balanced brew!