On our Facebook page we get asked all sorts of questions like “What is a coffee scale used for?” is one that popped up a few days ago. All questions are good questions. The only bad or silly question is the one that does not get asked.
In this article I will tell you what a coffee scale is used for and why you need a digital coffee scale and how they help you to make a better quality cup of coffee.
Now let’s get right to it!
What Is A Coffee Scale Used For?
A coffee scale is used to bring precision, accuracy and consistency to your coffee as an end result. With a coffee scale, you will be able to measure the exact amount of coffee and water by weight and get a top quality brew every single time.
Due to a coffee scale, and your ability to follow the coffee to water ratios and use the exact same ratios every single time for all the different brewing techniques, be it pour over, Chemex, drip coffee, percolator, espresso, siphon, cold brew or any other technique.
The use of coffee scales brings you that much-needed consistency and predictability in what the end result will be.
Read: Where to buy a digital scale
Do You Even Need A Digital Coffee Scale?
if your end goal is that of making amazing coffee predictably and using the correct ratio of coffee to water and getting a full on, full-bodied, full flavored coffee experience every time, then yes, you certainly need to be using a digital scale.
Do I Need A Coffee Scale With Timer?
Undoubtedly, you have seen coffee scales that have a built-in timer and wondered what the timer is for and if you even need a digital coffee scale that has a built-in timer.
Per se, a timer is not an absolute must-have feature, certainly not a make or break if it has one or not. It is a nice addition and can help you to get the perfect extraction time and to play around with or experiment with different extraction times.
Having a timer on your scales can help you to time and record the perfect bloom times for your grounds and to take note of them. You can also time your brewing time and take note of it using the timer function. It has its plus points and use, not to mention saves you from using the app on your phone when your scale is right there in front of you!
Not to mention it is far more accurate than using your wrist watch.
Read: What is a coffee scale used for?
Why Are Coffee Scales So Expensive?
Coffee scales are not so expensive per se, but it depends on what you want. If you are looking for top quality professional coffee scales, then there is a reason why they are more expensive than others.
One of the main reasons you are paying for precision and accuracy. The high-end coffee scales are very finely calibrated to note 1/10th of a gram changes in weight. Very slight delicate amounts added will show up on the digital display.
as you are using these for measuring water and likely have hot water around, they are made to be water-resistant. The more expensive ones tend to have a rechargeable battery for ease of use.
Are Coffee Scales Worth It?
It is a piece of kit and a tool that is an essential must-have item for everyone that is seeking to make top quality gourmet level coffee at home.
When you use a scale, it will help you to see and find out where you have been making mistakes in the elaboration of your brew. They take away the mystery and guess work of weights and ratios, allowing you to focus more on other variables such as water temperature, grind size, brewing time, roast and coffee origin.
The end result will be an improved flavor and more control over the whole coffee brewing process and elaboration.
If you pay attention to what you are doing and all the variables, taking notes like an alchemist, you will know, not guess, but know exactly what it takes to make world-class coffee every single time, as you will have a repeatable process.
To be able to do that you need a coffee scale.
Do I Need A Scale For Pour Over Coffee?
you will need a scale for making pour coffee as the goal is not to just fill your goose neck kettle with a random amount of water or fill it to the top and boil. Nor is it the objective to just scoop coffee into the filter and fill it half way, to the top or 4 tablespoons.
Brewing coffee is an art, a beautiful art that flirts with science. Measure the water by weight, control the brewing temperature by using a thermometer and weigh how much coffee you are using to get the coffee to water ratio exact. Do this, and you will be able to predict what the end result will be, every time you make pour over coffee.
Why Do You Need A Scale For Espresso?
absolutely you need a scale for making espresso more than any other coffee drink that you are making since an espresso is the base for a good deal of other coffees Pulling the perfect shot from your machine and getting total control over the flavor, you will need to use a scale and experiment until you get that perfect shot.
This makes a coffee scale an invaluable must-have tool.
How Accurate Should Coffee Scales Be?
This is an area of debate amongst coffee experts, and I’ll tip my hat in on the debate.
Some will say you need an accuracy of 1/100th of a gram while others will say 0.5 gram accuracy is enough.
In my experience and opinion, 0.01 gram (1/100th) of a gram accuracy is too accurate and not required. There is nothing wrong with extreme accuracy at all. I do love and prescribe to the principle of the more accurate the better, but there is a point of being so accurate that no benefit is achieved.
In my opinion, an accuracy of 1/100th of a gram is more accurate than we need for our purpose of weighing coffee and water.
An accuracy of 0.5 grams is said to be enough by many experts also. The problem with a 0.5g accuracy is when you are using only 10 grams of coffee grounds for an espresso shot you will end up with 5% too much or too little grounds.
A 0.5 gram is not accurate enough.
A 0.1 (1/10th) gram accuracy is enough for what we are looking for on the scales that we use. At this level, not too accurate nor inaccurate.
What Makes A Good Coffee Scale?
A good coffee scale should be small, at least able to fit into your pocket but not too small. Being water-resistant is a good plus point to look for as you are using them to weigh water. A digital display and, better still, a back lit LCD display is better.
The most important aspect is accurate to at least 0.1 gram accuracy and able to display 0.1 gram increments. A coffee scale with a timer is handy, but not essential.
For practical use, they should be flat and preferably, with a rechargeable battery and auto shut off. Tare facility to “zero out” your scale is a feature to look for.
The ability to weigh from 0 to 300 grams at least is a must. A lot of coffee scales go way beyond 300 grams and weigh up to 2 kg or 3 kg as a maximum range. It is unlikely you will be weighing coffee or water in great amounts.
Can I Use Food Scale For Coffee?
basic food scales will get the job done for measuring and weighing your coffee. As long as they have the features mentioned above, like a tare button, water resistant and are accurate and are battery powered for convenience, you are good to go.
They might end up being a little big or may not have that 0.1 gram accuracy or be able to display in 0.1 grams or have a timer.
Coffee Scale Vs Kitchen Scale
How and what you weigh your coffee with is not so important; what is important is that you can weigh your coffee accurately.
This is why scales are important as dark roasted coffee has different density and mass than lightly roasted coffee and thus, a simple scoop or tablespoon is not a good way for measuring coffee.
A coffee scale beats a kitchen scale in my opinion, as they are more accurate due to being specialized for weighing small quantities of a lightweight item, smaller and importantly, portable and water resistant.
I’m not entirely dismissing kitchen scales at all; if this is all that you have then by all means use them. You will still be able to brew a great cuppa Joe, but give consideration to getting a coffee scale at some point in your quest to make great coffee.
Frequently Asked Questions About What Is A Coffee Scale Used For?
Is A Scale Necessary For Pour Over Coffee?
In my opinion and experience of using the pour over brewing method the answer is simply yes!
The pour over method is one that gets the best out of your specialty grade coffee beans and extracts more of the coffee soluble into your cup of coffee.
When you use a coffee scale, you will get more precise measurements for the coffee, the water and thus the coffee to water ratio.
Also with a specialist advanced digital coffee scale for baristas you can monitor the extraction time and use your scale to your advantage and brew a much better cup of coffee. If you make pour over coffee a lot, a digital scale with a built-in timer.
Why Do People Weigh Their Coffee?
Baristas, coffee lovers and coffee enthusiasts love to weigh their coffee for precise measurement. Brewing coffee is somewhat a mix of science and art, what you can measure, you can control.
Having precise measurement of the weight of both the coffee and the water as well as the water temperature and brewing time will help to make excellent coffee with expensive specialty grade coffee beans.
Also, these measurements can be recorded which helps the barista and coffee enthusiast to have a process that is repeatable due to knowing the exact measurements for all the variables for a particular brewing process.
Why Do Baristas Weight Coffee?
Baristas weigh coffee as they want to deliver the perfect cup of coffee to their clients. There is a perfect amount of coffee to be used with an exact amount of water for each coffee beverage and brewing technique.
When baristas are weighing coffee they know how much coffee will produce that perfect cup of coffee and that too little coffee will produce a sour tasting beverage and too much, a bitter tasting one.
There is a specific “coffee recipe” for each drink that involves temperature, grind size, amount of coffee to be used by weight and the amount of hot water, and ultimately an ideal coffee to water ratio. When you see a barista weighing coffee, just know that you are getting the maximum flavor into your cup for those coffee beans.
Do You Weigh Coffee Before Or After Grinding?
It is best to weigh your coffee beans before you grind them as whole beans have the same mass as ground coffee no matter what their grind size is. Your measurement will be no more nor no less accurate.
You will end up with less wastage and a slightly fresher cup due to delaying the grinding. If you grind your beans first, you will increase the surface area prematurely and the amount of time that oxygen is in contact with the grounds and accelerate their decay due to the oxidization process.
Weighing your beans as whole beans first means you can move straight to brewing once they have been ground.
What Kind Of Scale Do You Need For Coffee?
The best coffee scales to use are digital coffee scales with a 0.1 (1/10th) of a gram precision measurement. Accurate measurement and some essential features like a tare function, water resistant, and timer.
A rechargeable battery is convenient also.
Why Do People Weigh Espresso Shots?
Espresso shots are weighed for one simple reason: he or she wants to pull the perfect shot. A barista that is weighing espresso shots has already weighed the amount of coffee grounds needed for the shot of espresso.
A barista that is weighing an espresso shot is making sure the correct amount of liquid is getting poured into the shot glass and is also likely timing the shot to make sure the brewing time is spot on also.
Frappé-ing It All Up – What Is A Coffee Scale Used For?
The question “what is a coffee scale used for?” has been answered in detail and comprehensively answers all your questions. Predominantly, a coffee scale is used to measure water and coffee by weight.
If I have missed any of your questions, or you have a question about this topic, shoot us a question on our active online coffee community on Facebook/Meta and share your delicious coffee creations, ideas, recipes and coffee morning selfies.