You are thinking about getting a set of coffee scales and wondering why are coffee scales so expensive and if it is worth it!
I was right there in your boots, a gasp after seeing the price in hundreds of dollars…for scales just a few years ago and that really did make me question if I really do need a scale to measure my coffee and if there is another method of getting the right amount of coffee and do I need to buy expensive scales?
Pardon the pun and let’s weigh up our options.
Why Are Coffee Scales So Expensive?
I was genuinely curious as to why these scales are so much more expensive than others. One of the main reasons is the load cell. The load cell is the part that measures weight.
The expensive coffee scales, like the Acaia, use a very accurate specialist load cell that is more sensitive to slight changes in weight of 10 milligrams at a time.
A load cell of that standard and accuracy is expensive, it is costly for the manufacturer, and it needs a more sound, exact manufacturing process and efficiency. Higher quality and grade of materials are needed in their manufacture. Due to a high failure rate due to strict tolerances in their quality control, all ads up to your costs.
You are paying for accuracy and the quality and precision components involved with the manufacture. You are paying for extras such as being water-resistant, a built-in timer and a lot of other features such as being able to connect to the wifi, save and store information and create statics.
Scales this accurate are also known as a gram scale or a mass scale.
Do I Need An Expensive Coffee Scale?
yes, you do need a coffee scale, but it does not need to be an expensive scale one or the most expensive one that you can find. What you do need are scales that are accurate and give you precise measurements. Other things like a built-in timer and being water-resistant are nice plus points but not absolutely essential. Just be careful when you are weighing water.
The most important part is that your measurements are accurate, and you have an easily readable backlit LCD display or an 8-segment digital display for convenience of use.
Let’s now talk about why you need a scale for making coffee.
Why Use A Scale When Brewing Coffee?
In a single word, consistency.
The manual brewing of coffee, regardless of which coffee brewing method used, is a beautiful, loving mix of art and science. To get a great cup of coffee every single time and get that predictable result at the end, you will need to adhere to the coffee to water ratios for the various brewing methods that you are using.
As a coffee enthusiast and coffee lover, you will need to weigh both your coffee and water to get the ratios spot on and get that great end result that you enjoy.
A coffee scale with a built-in timer will help you with your brew times spot on and perfect. This is where the value of the high-end coffee scales help, as they can connect to your wifi and help you to record weight, measurements and timings and record what is the perfect brew for you.
Are Coffee Scales Worth It?
You will get paid back with a quality Cuppa Joe every single time. Also, I’ll add that using a coffee scale and measuring your weights will function as an educational tool as they help you to see where you are making mistakes and where you can improve on your brewing skills.
When you can control the variables, you can alter and improve the taste of your coffee. One such variable is the weight of the coffee and the weight and quality of the water used. You can focus on other variables, like the brew temperature, grind size and brew time.
Brew time, of course, can be measured and recorded with a built-in timer.
Why Coffee Scales Are Important
This question rolls on from the above one. A coffee scale is important for you to get precise measurements of your coffee and water, and it is important for you to get it right and get that perfect brew every single time.
Get into the habit of using a scale in your coffee journey of using an accurate a coffee scale. It will only serve to aid your skill level and improve your coffee and make it absolutely perfect, always!
It is very plausible that you can save money by using a scale. If you are using too much coffee for your brew by just guessing how many grounds to use and just measuring with a scoop or tablespoon or using the standard size of the portafilter then it is entirely possible that you are using too many grounds of your specialty single origin coffee beans.
Also, in this case, your brew would not have been as perfect tasting as it could be due to using too many grounds. The same applies if, and when, you are using too few grounds.
That is the importance of using scales to weigh your coffee and adhering to the coffee to water ratios.
What To Look For In A Digital Coffee Scale
There are 6 key things that I personally look for in a digital coffee scale, which are size, precision, battery life, tare function, a timer and resistant to water.
I like to have pocket sized scales that on the big size, double the size of a pocket calculator as a minimum. When your scales are too small you will have difficulties in weighing water for your Chemex pour over coffee, drip brew, cold brew and other brewing techniques. A compact coffee scale that is too small is not good.
You want to be able to measure more than just espresso or ristretto shots.
Precision and Accuracy
This is a very important factor. You need a scale that is accurate and precise. This means that your digital display should be able to display at least 0.1 gram increments in weight and not jump by a whole gram at a time. I have a preference for a backlit display of some kind for ease of viewing.
An accuracy of 0.1 gram is enough and is the very minimum that you should look for. Accuracy to the 1/100th 0.01 of a gram is, of course, better due to greater accuracy, but the end result is not going to make your coffee taste any better.
A 0.5 gram accuracy is not good enough because this does make a big difference, especially when you are measuring small quantities for an espresso shot.
Your shot could be out by 5% to 10% at a 0.5 gram accuracy. Please do pay attention to coffee scale accuracy when you are looking at scales that you want to buy.
Battery life is something that is overlooked. I look for a long battery life as replacing or recharging batteries frequently can be inconvenient and annoying for me. If you don’t make coffee so much and only enjoy the occasional brew, then this is not something that you should be focusing on too much.
Just be sure to have a spare set of batteries nearby or taped to the side and keep an eye on the charge indicator and keep the recharger near your scales.
A timer is something that I find to be very convenient is a built-in timer. I find it very inconvenient to keep getting my phone out, look out the timer app and using it. Having one right there on the scales is just much easier. The timer should have an auto off timer to save you from doing it yourself and let you get on with enjoying your cuppa Joe.
Some scales with the timer feature have an auto timer mode, I am very so-so about the need for an auto timer.
A timer is good for recording the extraction time, or brewing time, to get your coffee spot on every single time. As a regular coffee drinker, you will notice the difference in quality when you take note of these variables, and will be able to replicate the results at will.
This is the ability to zero out your scales, a reset facility to accurately weigh the grounds or water and not include the weight of the container, for example, your Chemex coffee or cold brew coffee container or the container with your grounds in them that is on the scales.
You need to tare your device with the container on it before you start weighing your water or coffee grounds.
If you are going to spend good money on a set of coffee scales then being water-resistant is something to think of. With your coffee scales you are going to be having a lot of hot water and cold water around your scales as you measure and weigh water.
Do I Really Need A Timer?
Having a timer on your barista level coffee scale is a huge plus in terms of convenience and helps you to get gourmet coffee shop quality every time you make your morning coffee…and your afternoon cuppa, and your evening one as well predictability.
It is handy and advantageous, but not an absolute must-have as you can measure your brewing times by using your phone as a coffee timer. You can also use your wrist watch or any other item that you can time with.
Regardless of which coffee brewing method you are using, you will need to know how long to brew for, time it and record the result. By recording the results, you will get predictable results every time you make your daily coffee.
Frequently Asked Questions About Why Are Coffee Scales So Expensive
Can I Use A Regular Kitchen Scale For Coffee?
It is absolutely and most certainly possible for you to use a regular kitchen scale to weigh your coffee grounds. Kitchen scales will perform their function and weigh your grounds, and you will be able to use your weighed grounds to brew a good cup of coffee.
Just don’t expect the same level of accuracy or consistency as you would with specialist coffee scales that are used by coffee shops.
You can use a kitchen scale for weighing your coffee; just be aware that they are not as accurate.
Why Do People Weigh Their Espresso?
Coffee lovers weigh their espresso grounds and coffee grounds to help them to get that perfect espresso shot every single time.
For espresso brewing, a slight weight difference of just one gram or two grams makes a big difference and will dramatically alter the taste. To hit that “sweet spot” every single time, you need to take note of how many grams, typically 10, are used in a single shot of espresso. With such small adjustments either way totally changing the outcome, a digital scale for accuracy is needed.
…And that is why people weigh their espresso ground.
Coffee grounds for other drinks are weighed for a matter of course for the same reason. I keep a note, a little spreadsheet of how my friends and family like their coffee and how many grams were used for which brewing method.
When I opened my first coffee shop I did the same for regular clients. The result is they loved their coffee and encourage their friends to come, which leads to a solid client base.
Having a timer on your barista level coffee scale is a huge plus in terms of convenience and helps you to get gourmet coffee shop quality every time you make your morning coffee…and you afternoon cuppa, and your evening one as well predictability.
It is handy and advantageous, but not an absolute must-have as you can measure your brewing times by using your phone as a coffee timer. You also use your wrist watch or any other item that you can time with.
Regardless of which coffee brewing method you are using, you will need to know how long to brew for, time it and record the result. By recording the results you will get predictable results every time you make your daily coffee.
Are Expensive Coffee Scales Worth It?
Yes, in my opinion and experience, expensive coffee scales are worth it for the accuracy and extra features that you can take advantage of and brew a better quality cup of coffee.
An accurate scale will give you greater precision and with that precision you will enjoy creating a process with greater accuracy and the ability to extract more of the coffee solids into your cup of coffee and get that better tasting cup of coffee.
Can I Use Any Scale For Coffee?
Yes, as long as you can get a degree off accuracy you will get a reasonable good cup of coffee. A gram scale with an accuracy of at least 1/10th of a gram will get you the accuracy that you need, even if the scale is not specifically designed for weighing coffee.
A coffee scale is recommended due to the additional features like a timer and importantly are waterproof and have a digital display.
Is A Coffee Scale The Same As A Food Scale?
No, they are very similar but the main difference between the best coffee scales and a food scale is the accuracy. With food, accuracy to a single gram is okay but with coffee a 1/10th of a gram is needed as there is a big difference in the end result.
Also, coffee scales need to be waterproof. Also, the very best have facilities that are specific to coffee, such as timing your brew and recording your extraction time.
Do You Need A Coffee Scale For Espresso Machine?
While it is not absolutely necessary to use a coffee scale for an espresso machine, particularly when your espresso machine is perfectly calibrated and set up. However, it is advantageous to have a coffee scale when you are pulling shots.
With a coffee scale you will, and absolutely will get a better quality shot of espresso when you use a coffee scale.
Why Is The Acaia Lunar Scale So Expensive?
The Acaia Lunar coffee scale is so expensive as it is hand made with high quality materials. The components used to ensure the accuracy that you experience are very expensive. The company, Acaia is well known for producing high quality scales that are durable and last the test of time.
How Accurate Are Coffee Scales?
Most coffee scales on the market are accurate to 1/10th of a gram which is good for most coffee brewing methods If you plan on brewing espresso shots you will need a scale with a 1/100th of accuracy which will ensure better quality shots of espresso.
Frappé-ing It All Up – Why Are Coffee Scales So Expensive?
A specialist dedicated coffee scale is expensive due to using components that are costly for the manufacturer to get the accuracy that you need to get your coffee perfect every single time. There is also, in the manufacturing process, a very high quality control method that ensures the precision that you need.
These specialist scales include features that help you with various components of coffee brewing, such as timing your brew, getting the ratio of coffee to water correct for all methods of coffee brewing. This, as a coffee person and coffee lover, will help you to make your coffee of choice perfectly every single time that you make it.
If anyone asks you why are coffee scales so expensive, you know what the answer is and why these little devices are a little pricey.
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