A scale is one of the tools most people easily overlook when they’re making coffee. But it really shouldn’t be.
In a lot of my brewing methods I use a scale to measure any number of variables. A scale offers a good way to ensure your coffee tastes roughly the same every time you make it. A lot of recipes call for tablespoons of coffee, or cups of water. But what exactly is a tablespoon of coffee? Should it be a heaping tablespoon? How high should that heap be? On top of those questions not all beans are equally dense, which really skews volumetric measurements! Long story short, tablespoons and cups are volumetric measurements and are pretty much useless for measuring mass.
Measuring mass is what scales are made for. A scale will tell you exactly how much coffee you’ve ground. You can even measure water volume with a scale because 1 milliliter of water weighs exactly 1 gram.
The Brewista Smart Scale
In the last couple of years a number of companies put different types of scales on the market. Everything from barebones Chinese models priced at about €20 / $25 to devices loaded with features costing several hundreds of Euros / Dollars. Brewista seems to be offering the best of both worlds, tons of features and functions but with a price tag that won’t break the bank.
The scale isn’t too big at 12.5 cm (~5″) long by 10.5 cm (~4″) wide and 2 cm (~13/16″) high and its platform being 10 cm (~4″) square. It will hold two espresso cups at the same time, a single larger mug or even a V60 decanter fits perfectly. It measures in 0.1 gram increments all the way up to 2000 grams. The scale itself has a soft touch rubberised coating that has been holding up quite well so far and is surprisingly easy to clean without damaging it.
The scale has 6 different modes, 4 auto modes geared towards espresso, 1 “hand” mode for pour over methods and 1 more “hand” mode for a full manual scale. The 4 auto modes all automatically tare after you put your cup on it. Auto mode 1 starts the timer at the same time it resets the weight to zero. Auto mode 2 lets you start the timer manually. Auto mode 3 disables the timer and Auto mode 4 starts the timer automatically once it measures weight after it automatically tares. Personally I like the 4th auto mode best for making espresso.
The first “hand” mode is meant for pour over devices. It auto tares after you put your brewer on, then you add the ground coffee and it auto tares again (after a few seconds) and it starts the timer. The second “hand” mode is essentially a fully manual mode, you decide when or if you want to tare a weight and / or start a timer.
Other than the 6 different operation modes there’s one other feature that really sets this scale apart from its direct competition, it’s water resistant. Somewhere down the road you are bound to spill coffee and it’s nice to know that doesn’t mean the automatic demise of your precious equipment.
Pros and cons
There are a number of upsides to this particular scale, the auto tare and auto timer functions in various modes of operation are clear plus points. Being water resistant is a huge bonus that makes cleanup easier and safer. Another plus is that you can adjust the time it remains powered on when you stop using it. That time can be set to either 60, 120 or 180 seconds but you can also disable it completely. The scale is small, but still just large enough for a V60 decanter or even a Syphon Brewer. Something I’d like to see Brewista improve on is the display, which can be a little too bright in dimly lit rooms. I’d rather have a reversed LCD that only lights up the characters instead of the entire LCD.
I’ve been using the scale for the better part of three weeks now and I’ve honestly had a hard time finding the downsides of it. The scale itself is easy to use and fits perfectly on my espresso machine. I’ve been weighing my shots for as long as I can remember but having a timer gives some insight into whether or not shots are running long or short. Plus, having it built-in with the scale allowed me to finally get rid of the timer taking up space next to my espresso machine. All in all I really can’t recommend this scale enough.