If you love coffee and want the best results at home, a coffee scale plays an important role in the brewing process, as dose control is an essential part of making sure you get the right extraction based on your chosen brewing method.
To maximise flavour, use the right proportion of ground coffee to liquid coffee in your cup.
BUT PAUL, WHY DO I NEED SCALES?
For instance, as a general rule, you should use about 20 grams of ground coffee to make 40 grams of double espresso in your cup while making espresso.
A reasonable rule of thumb for freshly brewing 1 litre of filter coffee is 60–65 grams of ground coffee.
The "scoop" or spoon way of measuring out your coffee is a relatively typical error that many people make. If you get it wrong by only a few percent, it can have a significant impact on the entire flavour.
It is not a good idea for a number of reasons. The weight of coffee beans in a scoop will vary with each scoop since coffee beans are very light and you never pick up the same number of beans in a scoop at once. Dose control, or getting the exact weight each time, is essential.
A scoop or a spoon cannot be measured in terms of volume using a consistent scale. The Aeropress scoop typically holds roughly 17–18 grammes, but different scoops and spoons may each hold 5 grammes, 7 grammes, or even more. So if you continue down that road, the amount of coffee you use each time will vary greatly depending on the scoop or spoon you use.
How accurate you want your coffee scales to be at various weight levels will at least in part influence how much you'll ultimately spend on them.
Additionally, the increment levels are equally as crucial as the accuracy level. The most accurate digital scales measure to the nearest 0.01 of a gram, while better models measure to the nearest 0.1 grams. Cheaper scales will measure to the nearest 1 grams.
TIMING YOUR EXTRACTION
Most coffee scales have a timer; regular kitchen scales typically don't. Regardless of the brewing method you use, the length of time it takes for the water to flow through the coffee is one of the most crucial factors in producing wonderful coffee. For this reason, it is crucial to know how long your coffee will take to brew.
Yes, you can take out your phone, activate the stopwatch, and try to stare at the scales and your phone simultaneously to acquire the precise weight for a double espresso. Once you get that weight, press the stop button on your phone to see how long it took.
When you can do it all on one device and the scales include both the weight and the time, it is more simpler and more convenient.
Response time is the amount of time it takes the coffee scales to register an increase in weight. This is crucial for making coffee since the quicker the response time, the more precisely you can brew. This is particularly crucial when measuring espresso since if you're using a less expensive set of scales that exhibit latency, it may result in you having a few more ml of espresso than you initially believed when you stopped the shot.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU SPEND?
When looking for coffee scales, you can discover relatively affordable brew scales for between £10 and £20 at one end of the price range and a profusion of scales from this point onward, up to and then past the £200 level.
The most affordable scales:
- Often experience latency, often referred to as lag, which causes the weight to update to take a few seconds.
- Tend to have higher rates of errors and to be less strong, resilient, and reliable.
- Tend to weigh things less precisely and are susceptible to weight variance, which causes weight readings to fluctuate if you weigh something once, tare it, and then weigh it again.
- Don't typically have some of the features that might be useful for specific usage, especially espresso. In particular, they don't typically have the auto timer function, which people like if their espresso machine lacks a shot timer.
You would pay a little bit extra because you want:
- Reduced latency and improved responsiveness.
- Improved durability and build quality.
- Greater accuracy
- Improved features
- Rather than requiring batteries, rechargeable.
When I say "a bit more," I'm referring to about £30-£50. I would categorise this price point as the kind that the majority of people would consider tolerable for splurging on a nicer set of scales.
What makes you think you need to pay significantly more than this?
- Bluetooth and smartphone applications.
- Extremely well-built, with some of the more expensive scales being made entirely of aluminium.
- Almost no lag and extremely quick response time.
- Amazing accuracy
- Several features.
- Low profile, especially for scales used by professionals in the espresso industry, to better fit on drip trays beneath portafilters.
As a conclusion to this piece, there are numerous options available, from the more domestic, less expensive "normal" coffee scales all the way up to the professional grade barista gear at rates that would cause many of us to take a sharp breath and utter one or two quite harsh comments.
Personally, I believe that the reasonably priced options listed above are where the majority of "normal" home baristas should be looking; however, for those just starting out in this hobby who want to be able to weigh their dose and their brew and want to do so for less than £20, the least expensive options listed above will work just fine. Last but not least, why not if you are a professional barista or what I like to call "hard core home barista" who is prepared to invest a few hundred pounds on coffee scales and will use the features and functions?