In the kitchen, certain things require exact measurements. For example, you wouldn’t want the baker responsible for your wedding cake to eyeball the ingredients—there are recipes for a reason! Your daily cup of coffee is no different. Do most of us blindly add a spoonful or two of grinds into a brewer, and move on? Sure. But there’s a better way and that’s by sticking to certain measurements.
“There’s this romantic notion, mostly perpetuated by a Eurocentric ideal of coffee, that brewing is something you just kind of feel out,” says Kyle Glanville, founder and CEO of Go Get ’Em Tiger in Los Angeles. “But no matter how strong, bitter, sweet, or fruity you want your coffee to be, the only way you can make a consistent tasting cup is by using a scale.”
Yes, a kitchen scale. You can use the same one you weigh out flour with, or get one designed specifically for coffee. Either way, if you’re ready to take your technique to the next level and brew a dependably great cup, a scale is essential.
The reason? You’re trying to get the same measurements of water and beans every time. After all, coffee is nothing more than water and extract from those beans, so finding the perfect ratio and then sticking to it is key. Among baristas, the standard brewing ratio is 60 grams of coffee per liter of water, “but I favor slightly stronger,” Glanville says. “62 grams per liter, is what I aim for, personally.” Both recipes use a 16:1 ratio of water to grounds. And here’s another tip: keep your scale in metric. This will make measuring much easier as 1 liter is 1000 grams.
This 16:1 ratio is applicable regardless of the beans you’re using, or your brewing method—French press, stove top, automatic dripper, etc. Start with 60 grams of coffee per liter of water, and if the resulting brew is a little thin or weak “you can make a pretty reasonable assumption that your grind should be finer, which would allow the coffee to extract more,” explains Glanville. Overbrewing, or brewing too strong, will taste like you took a sledgehammer to any of the nuanced flavors your beans may have. You know you’ve nailed your recipe when the finer flavor notes of your coffee shine through. A balanced brew should “come at you in waves, and as the cup cools it should get a little sweeter,” Glanville continues.
All this from a simple kitchen gadget, you might ask? “A little weed scale is probably not the ticket,” Glanville jokes, but a proper coffee or kitchen scale will allow you to dial in and lock down your preferences. Look for one that has at least a half gram resolution (the precision of the scale) to enable you to really hone in on your measurements.
Here are six home-brewing scales we recommend:
The Introductory One
If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly scale, this one has a clear display, precision within 1/10th of a gram, and at a price that’s probably cheaper than your bag of beans. Sure, there are no bells or whistles here, but it’s going to do exactly what you need reliably every morning.
The Coffee Expert’s Favorite
For a no-frills, easy-to-use, and inexpensive scale, the Jennings CJ-4000 is a bargain. “This is a scale I continue to own and haven’t replaced in six years because it refuses to die,” Glanville says. “It has a half-gram resolution [measuring precision] and a capacity of up to four kilograms. Every once in a while the battery dies, but the scale just simply will not. I recommend it to most folks.”
For The Design Conscious
The OXO scale is a real workhorse, and a bargain at its price. This model has a ¼ gram resolution with a nearly three kilogram capacity, a sleek design, auto-timer, is heat resistant, and includes a silicon mat to keep everything clean.
The Expert's Choice
While certainly a more expensive option, Acaia scales have become something of a barista favorite. In addition to the 1/10th gram resolution and three kilogram capacity, the Pearl Model S has an integrated phone app that provides a real-time flow indicator to help your pour-over technique, as well as a brewing guide and even allows you to save multiple brew recipes.
For All The Features At A Fraction Of The Price
If you want something similar to the Acaia scale but at less than half the price, the Black Mirror is a great choice. Not only does it have a clean, modern design, but it has an auto-timer, a 1/10th gram resolution, and even two modes of power (batteries or a plug-in). Pair with Timemore’s app for even more data and control over your brewing.
If You Want the One Cafes Use
Hario is a trusted name in coffee, and you’ll likely find the V60 in your favorite coffee spot. The V60 has a 1/10th gram resolution, and a two kilogram capacity. Furthermore, the scale has a built-in timer so you can maintain a consistent brew time. Pair this scale with a free app like Brew Ratio and you’ll be able to track exact measurements and brew times as you dial in your coffee recipe.
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