Seeing as I’ve just updated my espresso tamper guide 2023, I figured it was high time to give this guide to the best coffee scale a refresh too.
After all, a few new models have hit the market recently, some of which are super cool.
When preparing coffee, my motto is “be as precise as possible but don’t go overboard.” However, I also say that the dosage of coffee has a decisive influence on the result.
In this coffee scale guide I’ll discuss:
The differences between an ordinary kitchen scale and a coffee scale.
The best coffee scales out there.
Why dosing coffee with a spoon or coffee scoop is budget-friendly but not a good idea.
Best Coffee Scales at a Glance
Here’s a quick look at the coffee scales I’ll be reviewing today:
Tons of cool features
Removable silicone mat
Brew assist mode
Hidden video game
Solid and dependable
Ideal for espresso
Easy to use
Large enough for Chemex
What’s the Difference Between a Kitchen Scale and a Barista Scale?
There are good reasons why the much-hyped Acaia Lunar Scale costs $295.00, while you can get a simple digital kitchen scale from Target or at Best Buy for under $20.
Even if you don’t opt for the Rolls-Royce of scales, an entry-level model like the CoastLine Digital Pro coffee scale still costs well under $20. Let’s take a brief look at three coffee scales for comparison:
|Category||Taylor Kitchen Scale||CoastLine Digital Pro||Acaia Lunar Scale |
|Maximum weight (grams)||4,989||3,000||2,000 |
|Minimum weight (grams)||1||1||0.1 |
|Weighing increments||1||0.1||0.1 |
|Accuracy (grams)||N/A||+/- 0.01||+/- 0.05 |
|Timer function||No||No||Yes (with stopwatch) |
|Power supply||2 x AAA batteries||2 x AAA batteries||Battery pack |
|Extras||N/A||N/A||Bluetooth 4.0, USB, app |
The table clearly illustrates the most important function of a coffee scale: to specify the required amount of coffee for each preparation method as well as for the calibration of different machines. This should come down to the smallest grain.
Manual kitchen scales, while a good start, are too crude and inaccurate. They’re designed to measure out a stick of butter while baking but are of limited use coffee brewing.
That’s why the reaction time of a real coffee scale is incomparably shorter. If you pour coffee grounds from a kitchen model into your pour-over filter or portafilter, you will have dosed too much long before the scale has caught up.
On top of that, the best coffee scales not only measure weight but also time. You need this extra function when determining the optimal extraction time for a shot of espresso.
Is so much accuracy really necessary? Do I need a luxury coffee scale with a timer? Does it have to be from a brand like Brewista or Fellow? If not, how much should I spend?
Rest easy, friend – all will be revealed.
How to Choose the Best Coffee Scale
Hint: your preferred preparation method is a good indication of which will be the best coffee scale for you. Not only because of the level of accuracy you’ll need but also because of the equipment you’ll use.
That’s especially true if you’re considering any of the following:
While ground coffee doesn’t weigh that much, even for large portions, we obviously have to factor in the water or the finished coffee. If we assume 34 ounces (1 liter) of water = 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram), it would be very tight for models like the Acaia Lunar to provide an accurate measurement.
Let’s take a look at the most important factors to consider as you’re looking for the best coffee scale.
It’s clear that achieving ultra-precision means you’ll have to sacrifice on load capacity. Still, this fits nicely into the self-image of the specialty coffee scene, where no one brews the best microlots by the gallon. Everything in small portions, please! That means no French press by the liter, either!
Apart from that, 0.1 grams hardly makes a difference in a pour-over ratio of about 25 grams of coffee to 400 grams of water. For an espresso with a brew ratio of around 7 grams of coffee to 28 grams of water, things look completely different.
On top of that, the extraction time on an espresso machine plays an important role, even if professionals pay less attention to the benchmark 25 seconds. For them, what’s more important is that the requisite 0.84 fluid ounces (25 milliliters) arrives in the cup – and that it weighs around 25 grams.
Just as the crema and flow rate are crucial calibration tools, the scale’s time measurement function is valuable in helping to assess the extraction as a whole.
So, in this case, what matters is that the scale shows you the ideal result upon completion, rather than waiting for the automatic cycle to conclude.
Now this doesn’t mean that you’ll be less precise with coffee scales other than the $300 Bluetooth thing. However, a model such as the Hario V60 Drip Coffee Scale is much too sluggish in its response time to be effective for espresso preparation.
For a pour-over, imprecision – as long as it remains manageable – isn’t a huge problem. Instead, I see it more as an incentive to be calmer, more consistent and slower when pouring from your gooseneck kettle.
Size and Design
When preparing espresso, you’ll do well with something like the Brewista Smart Scale II, which will set you back less than a hundred bucks.
This model also highlights another important detail: you must be able to fit an espresso scale directly onto the espresso machine drip tray under the portafilter dispensing spout. Not to mention, for all other methods, a coffee scale should be large enough to cope with the footprint of the largest Chemex, French press and drip pot.
The factors of footprint, response time and accuracy are so closely intertwined in many coffee scales that they qualify for their own course. So, if you’re unsure, it always helps to look at your equipment and grab a ruler!
What I love about my Acaia Lunar is not just its precision. I also think being able to pair the device with your smartphone via Bluetooth is awesome.
With the app, you can make sure you produce quality results. You can create brew curves, check the battery level, set the scale and generally play around to your heart’s content.
None of that is necessary, though. Manually, it all works, too. Still, as a diehard app-head, I really enjoy using the smart functions. Or at least I’m happy they’re available.
The 7 Best Coffee Scales
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what to look for, let’s take a closer look at what I consider to be the best coffee scales on the market right now.
Acaia Pearl: Best Overall
- Sleek, minimalist design
- USB charging
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Sophisticated app
- Incredibly precise
- Very expensive
- Rather small for Chemex
Although I mentioned the Acaia Lunar earlier, I feel like the Acaia Pearl is a superior device. In fact, it’s the scale of choice for coffee professionals the world over.
Still, you’ll pay a pretty penny – the Acaia Pearl will set you back $219.99 on Amazon right now.
If you’re serious about precision during coffee preparation, the Acaia Pearl is the ultimate device for weighing your coffee beans or espresso shots. In fact, this sleek, minimalist scale will register a single coffee bean, which is just insane!
Thanks to its streamlined user interface, the Acaia Pearl is a joy to use, and it charges via USB, so there’s no need for batteries.
Best of all, this coffee scale has Bluetooth connectivity, as well as a nifty timer. You can connect to the Pearl via an app and lose yourself in all the in-depth features on offer.
Timemore Black Mirror Basic Pro: Best Value
- Beautiful design
- Automatic timer
- Flow rate monitor
- Great value
- Not fully water-resistant
Like the Acaia Pearl, the Timemore Black Mirror Basic Pro features a sleek, understated design, so it’s gonna look great in your kitchen.
However, at just $67.00, this digital coffee scale represents ridiculously good value for money, especially given how well it performs. Oh, and you have to admit that it’s name is pretty badass too!
In terms of features, the Timemore Black Mirror Basic Pro has everything you need, including an automatic timer function and a sophisticated flow rate monitor.
The Black Mirror is known for its ultra-quick response time, which makes it ideal for espresso preparation. And its compact size means you won’t have problems fitting it under your portafilter.
Finally, this coffee scale measures precisely in 0.1-gram intervals as soon as it detects at least 0.5 grams of weight.
Related: Timemore C3 Manual Coffee Grinder Review 2023
Coffee Gator Coffee Scale: Best Budget
- Very affordable
- High load capacity
- Removable silicone mat
- Easy to use
- Slow response time
- Rather bulky
If the $23.49 asking price for the Coffee Gator Coffee Scale makes you wonder whether it can really perform, have no fear – this thing is the real deal!
Sure, the Coffee Gator scale isn’t the fastest device on this list, so it isn’t really suitable for espresso preparation. However, the Coffee Gator is ideal for manual brewing methods.
Thanks to its relatively high load capacity of 6.6 pounds (3 kilograms), this coffee scale can easily handle heavier equipment for brewing coffee. Plus, the removable silicone mat works really well to protect the scale from accidental spills.
What I really love about the Coffee Gator Scale is its large, intuitive user interface, which makes it easy to operate the thing. Plus, you’re able to quickly switch between an impressive range of measuring units.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the Coffee Gator has a built-in timer function. What a bargain this scale is!
Fellow Tally Pro Studio Digital Coffee Scale
- Beautiful to behold
- Awesome Brew Assist Mode
- High-quality materials
- Super-fat response time
- Glass shows fingerprints
- Rather pricey
You have to hand it to San Francisco-based manufacturer Fellow – they really know how to produce drool-worthy coffee equipment that’s both gorgeous and high-performing. I’m definitely a fan, having had the pleasure of testing the Fellow Opus and Fellow Ode grinders.
True to form, the newly released Fellow Tally Pro Coffee Scale is a thing of beauty, although you’ll have to shell out an eye-watering $185.00 for the privilege of owning it.
Still, with its sleek glass base and ultra-premium build, this thing is worth every penny. As you’d expect, the Fellow Tally Pro is accurate to the tenth of a gram, and has a lightning-fast response time.
What’s truly special, though, is its Brew Assist Mode, which helps you achieve the perfect extraction every time. The only downside to this coffee scale is that the glass housing shows fingerprints really badly. On the other hand, at least there’s a hidden video game to discover. No, really!
Related: Fellow Stagg EKG Kettle Review 2023
Hario V60 Drip Coffee Scale
- Great value
- Easy to use
- Large digital display
- Ideal for brewing pour-over coffee
You guys know how much I love Hario products, so you won’t be surprised to find the Hario V60 Drip Coffee Scale included here.
Costing $44.50, the Hario scale isn’t exactly cheap, but it does represent great value.
As its name suggests, the Hario V60 Drip Coffee Scale has been designed with pour-over preparation in mind. To that end, this scale is rather laggy and won’t do for espresso. Still, thanks to its impressive precision weighing and built-in timer, you’ll have no problem using it with your Hario V60 dripper.
Some users have complained that the Hario scale isn’t water-resistant at all. However, as far as I know, the Japanese manufacturer has made improvements in that area for more recent models.
Related: Hario Mini-Slim Plus Manual Coffee Grinder Review 2023
Brewista Smart Scale II
- Slim and compact
- Multiple user modes
- USB charging
- Ideal for espresso
- Not the best for large pots
I already gave the game away on the Brewista Smart Scale II by discussing its suitability as an espresso coffee scale. And at just $89.00, it’s no wonder this baby is used by both home baristas and professionals.
Featuring USB charging, an automatic timer and precision measuring at 0.1-gram increments, the Brewista Smart Scale II has everything you need. Plus, its fast response time and compact, slim design make it ideal for slipping under your espresso cups as you do your barista thang.
The fun doesn’t end there, though – the Smart Scale II features six user modes, five of which are designed for espresso preparation. Add in the fact that this thing has a large digital display and a waterproof cover and you know you’re onto a winner!
OXO Brew Precision Coffee Scale
- Affordable coffee scale
- Attractive design
- High load capacity
- Large enough for any coffee pot
- Slow response time
- Not very water-resistant
If you’re looking for a coffee scale that’ll easily double up as a general kitchen scale, the OXO Brew Precision Coffee Scale will fit the bill. And you’ll pay just $44.79, which isn’t bad at all.
While the OXO scale isn’t going to win any speed records, it’s quicker to respond than many other models at the same price point. Plus, its generous dimensions and maximum load of 6.6 pounds (3 kilograms) make it ideal for when you’re brewing into a large Chemex or French press.
Powered by four AAA batteries, the OXO Brew Precision Coffee Scale has an auto shutoff feature, which is a nice touch. I also have to point out that OXO has excelled in terms of how sleek and stylish this thing looks. Plus, it has a similar design language as the OXO 9-Cup Coffee Maker, which I really appreciate.
Related: OXO Coffee Grinder Review 2023
Do I Need a Scale for a Super-Automatic Espresso Machine?
If we assume that a fully automatic espresso machine can at least approximate espresso, it seems reasonable to wonder whether we shouldn’t also rely on a scale for calibration.
Although I never really mention it in my super-automatic coffee machine reviews, my Acaia coffee scale always comes into play. Sure, super-automatic machines are compromise devices, but there’s plenty of potential for optimization.
When I talk about decreasing the volume of coffee, using a finer grind and increasing the dose, it’s worth checking out how that affects the resulting cup quality.
Even with a super-automatic machine’s limited setting options – especially in terms of minimum dispensing volume – the parameters defining dosage, extraction time and amount of coffee in the cup shouldn’t change. The easiest and safest way to check these factors is with a coffee scale.
Still, even when you’re spending $3,599.00 on a high-quality machine like the Jura Z10, you don’t have to use an expensive scale.
The Jura is also a compromise device with finite setting options, so even the best scale for coffee can only help so much. Mid-range models are perfectly adequate – sluggish though they may be.
Using a Coffee Scale With an Entry-Level Espresso Machine: Is it Necessary?
By the same token, what I’ve just said also applies to entry-level home espresso machines. After all, you always use a burr coffee grinder, which you first have to dial in perfectly. A scale is the fastest way to reach your goal, even if you only use an entry-level machine such as the DeLonghi Stilosa.
The next step up toward a “real” espresso machine is the Solis Barista Perfetta. It’s astonishingly accurate – especially when it comes to exposing incorrect preparation parameters. So, it’s worth being very meticulous here.
The takeaway is clear: even when using a beginner espresso machine, the more responsive the scale, the better. We don’t plan out the preparation process from the cup but start with the grinder.
That said, without a clear idea of what 6-8 grams of ground coffee looks like in the espresso machine’s filter basket, you have no business making espresso!
However, since not even the “reasonable” grinders in the entry-level sector come with timers or scales, you’ll need an external tool to be able to fulfill this basic requirement for espresso preparation.
Quality-wise, the scale should be superior to the CoastLine or Coffee Gator, which means you’ll end up paying more. After all, you’re going to need more precision and a faster response time.
The logic is similar to the grinder: even when using the most inexpensive espresso machine, it’s worth having a halfway decent espresso grinder and a proper coffee scale. Otherwise, the entire setup doesn’t make sense.
However, with the right coffee grinder and the right scale, it almost doesn’t matter how much the espresso machine costs.
Manual Brewing: A Coffee Scale Is Essential!
A brew station without a coffee scale is incomplete, even though you can achieve good pour-over coffee without one.
You’ll make your life a lot easier if you accurately weigh the amount of coffee you need, use the timer to monitor the blooming phase and then keep a close eye on the rest of the brewing process.
As I mentioned, I don’t have a problem with sluggishness here, and I don’t see what there is against the CoastLine coffee scale or similarly priced models. As long as it’s not a kitchen scale (OK, I guess that would do in a pinch), you’ll be fine with any model.
Just pay attention to the total measurable weight and factor in the equipment. You’ll also want to make sure the jug is completely on the scale and within the measurement-sensitive range.
Coffee Dosing Without a Scale: When Is a Spoon Good Enough?
So, how much ground coffee do you need per cup? Under the reign of the traditional coffee maker, the answer has always been a heaping tablespoon per cup, plus one for the machine.
Whenever I employ this method in my coffee maker reviews, I’m amazed that it actually works because I have no idea how much coffee to spoon into the filter. Still, a coffee scale to go with a Black and Decker machine? Why bother?
For this test, I went through the trouble of weighing the coffee. One heaping tablespoon – in this case, using a fairly finely ground omni-roast Ethiopia Sidamo – equals 5 grams.
I mention bean type, roast and grind because they all have an impact on weight. However, I only had a narrow spoon on hand and had no idea how “heaping” a tablespoon should be.
According to the commonly accepted brew ratio for filter coffee, about 7 grams of coffee to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) of water is a perfect starting point. So, the idea of adding an extra spoonful for the machine seems designed to absorb inaccuracies.
Why does this method work so well in a standard drip coffee maker? Because it’s so beautifully imprecise by nature! Also because the typical coffee used in a drip machine is an imprecise blend with imprecise roasting.
There are huge margins of error in this diffuse preparation chain, but the result is drinkable coffee.
Still, if I were to pour the delicate Sidamo into an old Mr. Coffee machine according to these eye-measurement specifications, it would only end up being half as delicate in the cup; and I would notice!
The Coffee Scoop Question
Would it be the same if I used a coffee scoop? It depends.
A coffee scoop is one of those deep-mouth portion spoons that come with every can of coffee and many bags of beans. If you fill the coffee spoon to the brim and level the surface, you should get between 7 and 8 grams of ground coffee.
Under the same conditions – quite finely ground Sidamo, and with no idea of how firmly to level it off – the contents of my coffee scoop weighed 6.5 grams.
With a coffee machine, I can tolerate a 0.5-gram deviation – that’s where the tablespoon and coffee scoop belong. However, this manageable deviation should ensure that I don’t experience any problems with the Sidamo in the drip coffee machine.
Nevertheless, the delicate, fresh aroma structure of the Ethiopian coffee wasn’t complete. Ultimately, the imprecision of a budget coffee machine, combined with a distorted sense of proportion, robs even the most versatile coffee of much of its character.
I feel like I just talked trash about automatic drip machines there, so I should mention that a new generation of outstanding coffee makers has emerged in recent years. Machines like the Ratio Six and the Brim Pour-Over Coffee Maker can give anyone’s manual technique a run for its money, so they’re worthy of being paired with a quality scale.
Ultimately, you don’t have to max out your credit card to get the best coffee scale for your needs. However, if you want to go all the way down the rabbit hole, manufacturers like Acaia will gladly help you reduce your bank balance by a not insubstantial amount!
If you’re just getting into coffee and espresso, a regular digital kitchen scale will work fine. Still, I think you’ll find yourself upgrading before too long.
Do you have any questions or suggestions about coffee dosing or the best coffee scale? Feel free to leave a comment below!