Digital Coffee Scales: Why Weight Matters

There are so many reasons to be using digital coffee scales, whether it’s for home roasting or brewing. Here’s why you should add a digital scale to your routine.

Adding a scale to your coffee routine may feel like one step too far … into coffee fanaticism and total geekdom! While some see that as a badge of honor, complicating our lives with yet another thing we must do, another thing to “correctly” brew or roast, feels wrong to me.

But sometimes there is a real benefit to taking that one extra step. And once you get used to using a scale, it can become second nature, even with early-morning coffee brewing!

A Digital Scale Improves Home Coffee Roasting Results

Let’s focus first on using a scale in home coffee roasting. There are 2 important uses for a digital scale:

1: To get more consistency in roast results by weighing your batch of green coffee

It’s hard to find some professional roaster who does not weigh their batch of green coffee, and consistently roast the same weight. But many home roasters just toss a scoop of green coffee beans in their machine and expect a good roast!

Roasting has many variables, and you want to get control of them so you can make logical roast adjustments that give controlled results. One easy variable to control is the green coffee batch size, and to think of the green coffee in your roast chamber as part of your roast system. Coffee absorbs and transfers heat, particularly later in the roast.

Variations in batch size change the heat transfer, so even if you keep the same heat and air control settings, your batches will be inconsistent. You need to roast the same green coffee batch every time so that changes you make to heat or air flow using the roasters controls actually make sense, and matter.

2: To understand your roast level by weighing your coffee after roasting.

Knowing the weight loss in the roast process is a good way to judge the “degree of roast” … how dark you roasted your coffee. It also becomes a reliable number to compare roasts, even when they are weeks apart, and you can’t visually compare one roast to another. For sample roasting I use 100 grams so it’s easy to calculate weight loss: if my roasted coffee weighs 85 grams after roasting, I record 15% weight loss. If your batch is 120 grams, or 454 grams, it’s more difficult but here’s a quick formula to calculate weight loss

We have a whole page dedicated to calculating roasted coffee weight loss! Here is the short video on that topic as well

A video we made to encourage using a scale for roast batches and calculating weight loss in coffee roasting!

A Digital Scale is Easy to Integrate into Pour Over Brewing

Using a scale to brew coffee at home may already be culturally accepted to mean “I am a real coffee geek.” For some, that might not actually be a good thing though… like when the 17 yr old barista tells you that if you aren’t brewing by weight you aren’t serious about coffee. Ugh.

While being 48% wrong (and why do we need to be serious about things we enjoy?) … sadly your teen barista might be 52% right as well. Using a scale really can improve your brewing results, consistency and quality. I really really did not want to brew with a scale in my own home (and honestly I only use it about 50% of the time).

But using a scale actually brought my brew ratio of coffee-to-water into a better proportion when I chose NOT to use a scale. It made me more conscious of timing. It calibrated my eyeball technique that I often prefer. And when I am going to use a bit more dose of coffee than usual, an unusual coffee, or brew for 2 and not just myself, the scale really matters.

Scales are super important for espresso use. There’s lots online about that so I won’t go into it here.

To put it more directly, a coffee scale is important for manual pour-over brewing because it …

  1. Improves consistency and repeatability of your brew
  2. Fixes bad brew results with over-dosing or underdosing
  3. With the brew timer, helps you track the flow rate and control extraction
  4. Helps with experimentation, trying different coffee doses and timing
  5. Helps you adjust your brew to something other than you usually do, like making a single cup batch or brewing extra for visitors.
  6. Helps you pay attention!
  7. Makes you look like you know what you’re doing 😉

But a scale isn’t all you need to brew coffee a little better. A scale does not fix:

  1. Grind issues that result in over extraction or under extraction.
  2. Other problems like water chemistry, a roast you just don’t like, or otherwise bad coffee!
  3. The impression others have that you know what you’re doing. :-0

There are 50,000 brewing demo videos on youtube so it seems unnecessary to pollute the web with one of my own. Poking around youtube, here’s one that’s not too jazzy, and about the way I do it. Here is another good one without voiceover that focuses on 3 pours of hot water, whereas I prefer more, but whatever… start with a basic routine and fit it to what works for you!

You can find the ratio of ground coffee to water you prefer. I like 10 grams : 150 ml. 10 grams roasted ground coffee to 150 milliliters of water (remember ml = grams so that is 150 grams of water). So if I grind 30 grams for a Kalita or Hario type pour over, I am aiming for 450 ml water.

Digital Coffee Scales at Sweet Maria’s Store

We think using a scale is really important. I also think that the high end scales people are pushing, while they are very nice, are rrrrriiiidiculously overblown and expensive. They are kitchen jewelry. Boo! Some have so many features, they become harder to use, not easier. $220? Bluetooth? No thank you.

We offer a couple simple options to fit your budget (we hope). Oxo also makes a good simple scale too, around the Versi price (below).

A Low-Cost Digital Scale we offer at Sweet Maria’s

Digital Coffee Scale, a Low Cost Option

This is a great, basic scale that we really like for measuring green coffee batches and for brewing coffee. It has an integrated timer, 3000g capacity, 0.1g resolution, and rechargeable batteries.

As much as we like this scale, we don’t recommend it for espresso or if you a lab quality scale. For the price, under $20, it works well and will improve the consistency of your roasting and brewing too! Yes you could say it’s a cheap knock off of a $200 scale. The load cell in a Fellow or Hario will be better. But I have used this and similar for 3 years now and it works fine for me.

Here’s the link to our low-cost Digital Coffee Scale on Sweet Maria’s Site.

The higher quality option: The Escali Versi digital coffee scale

The Escali Versi Scale with a built in timer helps bring everything you need for a precision cup of coffee every time. The Versi includes 4 pour over brewing modes. From weighting out your green coffee before roasting to weighing the water to your freshly ground coffee ratio. This scale can help you get it done. With an easily removable silicone cover this make for spills and clean ups to be a breeze with added protection from heat. It’s got a USB rechargeable battery and a great touch sensitive interface that makes for no more sticky buttons. It’s just under $55.

Here’s a link to the proven, good quality Escali Versi scale at Sweet Maria’s shopping site.

Escali Versi Pre-Programed Features:

PR1 – Full automatic pour over mode with two automatic tares and an automatic timer function
PR2 – Manual mode with tare and timer functions performed manually
PR3 – Full automatic pour over mode with one automatic tare and an automatic timer
PR4 – Ratio mode with two automatic tares – no timer function

Capacity: 3,000 g (6.6lbs)
Increments: 0.1 g, 0.1 ml, 0.005 oz
Auto Shut-off time: 30 Sec-10 min (option to disable)
Battery: USB Rechargeable 
Product Dimensions: 6.5″ x 6.5″ x 1.13″

It includes a 2 year manufacturer warranty and measures at 6.5″ x 6.5″  x 1.13″

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