Want to know how your favorite coffee shops make kickass coffee every single time?
The best places never put a foot wrong.
And it can be really annoying when you make a brew yourself and just can’t quite get it right.
So what gives?
Well, one of the secrets is to measure and experiment with the variables used to make coffee. Coffee to water ratio? Grind size and consistency? These things have a HUGE impact on the taste of your coffee.
And more and more folks are starting to cotton on to this missing piece of the jigsaw.
I make no apologies for making my coffee right. Instant coffee can take a hike. Starbucks and the other corporate chains too. There’s a lot of brown swill you wouldn’t feed to farm animals around and I hate it.
This website is for those who care about making coffee the proper way, using freshly roasted, freshly ground coffee beans, and brewing a cup where you measure what you’re putting in.
You wanna make a superb cup of coffee?
You need to use a scale.
You need to measure the amount of coffee and water you’re using.
I do it every time. It means I can reproduce a great cup of coffee time and again. Here’s a peek at the text document I use by the way.
If you’re looking for the best all-round coffee scale on the market then my money’s on this one, the Hario Coffee Drip Scale. It’s Japanese hi-tech from one of the most happening coffee startups around.
You get quick readouts, 0.1g accuracy AND a built-in timer. Perfect for brewing delicious home-made coffee with none of the fuss. All at an affordable price point.
If you wanna go more in-depth, the reviews are below. As well as the Hario we have a cheaper option and a pricey but super exciting option. Scroll past the reviews for some info on using and buying scales.
Let’s dive in!
Do I Really Need A Scale To Make Coffee?
Quick answer: yes.
Anyone still here? Ok, I’ll explain… Coffee is not like tea. If you’re brewing a pot of black tea then you simply dump your teabags into some hot water and wait a while. If you steep for too long, it’s no big deal. Don’t steep for long enough? Maybe a touch weak, but no big deal.
Coffee is a different beast altogether. Browse some of the coffee forums of the world and you’ll hear talk of strength percentages, TDS ratios and the latest in refractometer tech that’ll give you an extra 1% on your espresso extraction.
You don’t need to go to those extremes (yet!), the point is that little differences in coffee brew preparation can have a huge impact on the taste.
If you’re looking to make great coffee, there are four things you need to measure every time you make a brew… the grind size, the amount of coffee you put in, the amount of water you use and the brew time. Here’s a snippet of the text document I use to track my coffees.
If you measure these variables a whole world of amazing things opens up. And owning a scale is the key to all that.
If you make a great cup, you can now make the exact same one again. If you like your coffee strong, you can measure exactly what amount of coffee gives you the perfect hit. You can even find loads of recipes online from superstar baristas showing you how them make a killer brew.
Best Under $20: Ozeri Touch
The Ozeri Touch is a really nice looking scale. It’s made with a tempered glass surface which Ozeri claims is 4 times stronger than normal glass. The black design looks modern and sleek and it’s available in numerous other colors.
It’s a simple design with only two buttons. The first is ‘Unit’ where you can change between grams, pounds and ounces, fluid ounces or millilitres.
The second is the ‘Tare’ function which resets the weight, ignoring whatever is on the scale. Just remember to press the button twice as it states in the instructions!
The accuracy of this scale is excellent considering the price. Testing the scale with preset weights gets the exact amount to the nearest gram almost every time.
|Size||9″ x 6″|
|Battery Life||6-9 months|
|Batteries||Lithium 3V CR2032|
|Maximum Weight||12lbs (5750g)|
|Units||g, lbs/oz, fl. oz, ml|
Its size measures 9″x 6″ and it can hold a maximum of 12lbs. This is heavy enough to put your french press or pour over on the device. I recommend doing the whole brewing process on the scale. The scale itself is pretty light at only a pound so it’s quite portable.
The Ozeri switches off after 2 minutes to preserve battery life. Although this is described as a selling point it can actually be a bit annoying if you’re not quick on the draw.
It can be quite frustrating to have to redo the Tare with your French Press again if you miss it!
Something else to bear in mind is that this uses Lithium CR2032 batteries. While they are easy to find and order online – Amazon stocks them – you may struggle to find them in a normal grocery store.
Additional features include an overload alarm and a low battery indicator.
Best Under $50: Hario Coffee Drip Scale
The Hario is another sleek, black, modern-looking design. It’s made out of durable plastic and was designed for coffee. This gives it a few features you won’t find on your everyday kitchen scale.
The auto-off is significantly longer than most other cheap kitchen scales. Hario gives you 5 minutes, a solid amount of time while you’re grinding coffee beans and whatnot. It also will not power off at all while you are using the timer. Saves a lot of frustration!
Speaking of the timer, this is a great little feature of the Hario. If you’re measuring the weight of coffee and water then you will want to measure your brew time too. A smartphone can work, but having the timer on your scale for your 4-minute French Press brew is super convenient.
|Size||7.5″ x 5″|
|Battery Life||12 months|
|Maximum Weight||2kg (4.4lbs)|
It’s a step up from the Ozeri in terms of precision. The Hario measures to the nearest 0.1g. You can see exactly how much coffee you use rather than being up to half a gram out.
The scale becomes a little less precise as you move over 200g (down to nearest 0.5g) and over 500g (nearest 1g.)
The measurement speed is decent but not fast. You can expect to have to wait a second or so after adding coffee or water for the scale to register.
The Hario does only measures in grams. This is standard in the coffee world but not so standard here in the States. I would recommend that you use grams for measuring coffee as 1 gram = 1 millilitre. Makes it super simple. It’s a cinch to measure out a 1:16 ratio because 10g of coffee needs 160g of water, for example. If you absolutely have to use ounces then this scale isn’t for you.
It’s powered by AAA batteries so they’ll be easy to replace and this one works nicely as an espresso scale, too.
Here’s a shot of the scale from the side.
And here’s one that gives you a close-up of the screen and what you’ll be looking at. Including annotations in Japanese for that extra-kitsch effect.
Best At Any Price: Acaia Scale
This coffee scale is at the top-end of the market and promises big things – it won SCAA 2014 Best New Product for the category of ‘Coffee Accessories’.
The Acaia Pearl has a modern design and beautiful white finish that makes it look more like it should be sat on a desk in Silicon Valley rather than in your kitchen!
At first glance it looks like there’s no display. It is there, it’s just ‘invisible’ as the folks at Acaia say. When you turn it on the display will appear at the bottom. You have two options, just the weight readout or weight and a timer.
First major advantage is the super quick 20ms response time. That’s only 1/50 of a second. You put the coffee on the scale, you see how much it weighs in about the time it takes you to blink.
|Size||6″ x 6″|
|Battery Life||20-30 hours running time|
|Batteries||inbuilt with USB charger|
|Maximum Weight||2kg (4.4lbs)|
It’s extremely accurate too – it can even detect weight changes caused from the evaporation of water!
There is all those useful features that the Hario has too – the high precision to the nearest 0.1g, a timer, an auto-off timer that’s customisable. The Acaia even has the option of using ounces and it has an in-built battery with a good battery life AND is rechargeable. Wow.
The real benefit of the Acaia Pearl however, is the mobile app. It’s available for iOS and Android – you connect using bluetooth – and has a bunch of benefits that are completely unique to this scale.
Take a look at the shot of the phone on the right. That’s the visualisation on your app that is linked to the scale. The app is full of features like this. There is even ‘Live Pour Tracking’ where you can see the ratio change as you add water to your Pour Over.
The long term idea is to be able to share this data with other coffee users, creating a user environment where best practice can be shared. And if you don’t fancy it one day, the scale is perfectly usable without the app.
I love the concept. It’s definitely the future where people are able to use this technology to recreate the perfect conditions that you see in quality coffee shops. Those conditions can take hours to dial in, by the way!
So here’s the Amazon link for you good people before we get to some more photos… Quick warning: The Acaia Pearl is super popular and regularly goes out of stock. Sorry!
Here you can see the Acaia Pearl being used to measure some coffee beans. The weight pops onto the screen on the front. This is the black version, obviously.
And here’s a photo of some baller who’s measuring his strength ratio with the Acaia Pearl.
What Do We Need In A Coffee Scale?
So what are we looking for in a scale for making coffee?
Coffee is made in small amounts. Each cup contains as little as 1/2 of a fluid ounce. So we need a scale that can respond to small input.
If you try to use a normal kitchen scale then it probably won’t be precise enough. Of course, if you have a kitchen scale that precise already then you can try using that.
The second thing we must have is a Tare button (pronounced like “tear”). This button resets the weight to 0g and ignores whatever is already on the scale.
Let’s say you have a little bowl that you put your coffee beans in that weighs 56g, when you press Tare with the bowl on your scale it will go from 56g to 0g. You don’t have to deduct the weight of the bowl from the overall weight to get the coffee weight.
It also comes in very useful to measure water when you add it to your French Press, V60, Chemex or whatever…
The last thing is a scale that can measure in grams. Grams are a very small unit of measurement, 1 ounce is about 29 grams.
The coffee world uses grams and not ounces as well as milliters and not fluid ounces. It’s a lot easier because one milliter of water is a gram. Most recipes for a coffee brew you read online use grams as well.
You’ll be happy to hear that each of the three options I’ve selected fits these criteria.
What Is Nice To Have In A Coffee Scale? (Optional Features)
Here are features that are not necessary for making fantastic coffee, but are useful or make the process easier.
If you’re new to this whole measuring lark then a scale that measures to the nearest 1g is fine. But the dedicated coffee enthusiasts out there prefer a measurement precision of 0.1g.
It’s nice to be able to see the exact weight rather than worrying if you’re a gram or two out like I always did with my old 1g scale. Personally, having moved to a 0.1g scale I couldn’t go back.
A timer on your scale is not necessary because it’s 2019 and we all have smartphones now. But it is convenient in a decadent kinda way.
And if you’re using a method that is very hands-on like the Aeropress or a Pour Over then having the timer going in front of you is pretty useful without having to make sure your phone doesn’t go on sleep and you have to unlock it.
Another nice feature is to have a quick response time. Pop your coffee beans in and within milliseconds you see the weight flash before your eyes. This one is purely convenience.
Do you mind the 1-2 seconds the scale takes to measure your coffee? Or would you prefer a lightning-fast readout of the weight?
Lastly, there are considerations like the size of your scale, how much is the maximum weight it can hold, what the battery life is. I’ve grouped this basic data into a table for you to check out.