A coffee scale is one of the most valuable yet most undervalued tools in your coffee kit. It is the point of difference between precision and luck of the draw, between development and stagnation in your coffee brewing journey. And the reason is that an accurate coffee scale gives you control and repeatability. It allows you to replicate a delicious coffee and remedy a poor coffee.
In this article, we will review and recommend what we believe to be the best coffee scale for the home brewer in 2021.
Our pick: Acaia Pearl 2021
If you simply want our recommendation, then we think that the single best coffee scale on the market is the stylish Acaia Pearl 2021. While it doesn’t come cheap, this scale is the gold standard for specialty coffee scales. It is an incredibly accurate coffee scale specifically made for the coffee industry with a stack of impressive features and Bluetooth capability.
Why should you invest a in Coffee Scale?
The reasons why you should think seriously about investing in a coffee scale are precision and consistency. A reliable coffee scale allows you to experiment with your coffee-to-water ratio down to .1 of a gram or less and so find the perfect coffee recipe for your palate. And just as significantly, a reliable digital scale ensures you have complete control over the various parameters and so can replicate a fantastic coffee day after day.
Now maybe you find yourself thinking, ‘but I measure my beans out with a scoop already, isn’t that good enough?’ The short answer is no; it’s not good enough. And the reason is that a scoop or a spoon is never wholly accurate or consistent. While eyeballing can put you in a similar ballpark every time, it can never ensure perfect uniformity. Furthermore, the volume and weight of coffee beans changes depending on the type of bean and whether it is light, medium, or dark roasted. So a level tablespoon of beans one day may be a significantly different weight from another day, which will affect taste and extraction.
For both manual and espresso brewing styles, the ratio of coffee to water directly impacts the extraction time and subsequent taste. In fact, for brewing methods such as pour-over, coffee scales are a virtual necessity. And as if there weren’t enough reasons already, just go and ask your local barista. Good cafes are a case in point that good coffee scales are part of the road to consistently good coffee.
Best Coffee Scale
Acaia Pearl 2021 Coffee Scale
The highly modern and elegant Acaia scale marks the gold standard for coffee scales. This range of coffee scales is renowned for commercial grade accuracy combined with elegance and a bucket load of high-end features. The Acaia scale range is perhaps most well known for its apps and Bluetooth compatibility. It allows the user to save recipes, use pre-programmed modes, and even control the scale from your smartphone (available in both Android and iOS)! This is the most accurate coffee scale on this list, with a fantastic 20ms response time, and can be used in commercial or home settings. The designers boast that the scales are so accurate that they can even detect evaporation!
The Acaia Pearl 2021 is specifically designed for manual brewing, and so is a larger size than the Lunar. It is packed full of modes to assist with manual brewing and even has a real-time flow indicator on top of the LED display. Its big brother is the Acaia Lunar which is designed for espresso and so is significantly smaller (to fit comfortably on a drip tray), completely waterproof, and specialized for espresso. Like the Pearl, it has modes for brewing espresso and a real-time flow indicator. The Acaia coffee scales are more than simply coffee scales; they are statement pieces. They don’t come cheap but grace any bench-top and give the precision to significantly up your coffee game. While expensive, the Acaia range is indisputably the best coffee scale on the market at present. This is a coffee scale that we believe you will never feel the need to upgrade from. It is also worth noting that even a few years down the track Acaia still lead the pack in terms of both precision and features. See our in-depth review here.
Hario V60 Drip Coffee Scale
This Japanese company has become well known in the coffee world for coffee gear that is both of high quality and aesthetically pleasing. And the V60 Drip Coffee Scale is no exception. The Hario Coffee Scale boasts an inbuilt timer with an LCD screen split between the timer and the weight. It also has the valuable function that whenever the timer is activated, the auto-off is disabled until the timer stops.
In terms of technical precision and accuracy, it has a maximum limit of 2kg and has three levels of accuracy. From 2g to 200g, it measures in 0.1g intervals, from 200g to 500g in 0.5g intervals, and above 500g in 1g intervals. Interestingly this was decided on with input from leading coffee roaster and Youtuber James Hoffman.
This coffee scale particularly comes into its own in manual brewing methods. Because of its size, it isn’t great either for regular travel or to be placed on espresso drip trays. Overall the Hario is a good entry-level coffee scale with a decent track record. Also you can buy it without mortgaging the house (something that might not be true of the later scales intended for espresso). This is the coffee scale that we have been using for several years now. A few years ago this was perhaps THE go to coffee scale for those who didn’t want to fork out for the Acaia. However, while it is still a reliable option, it is now somewhat dated.
Timemore Black Mirror Coffee Scale
In many ways, this Chinese coffee company is the new kid on the block for coffee scales. They are most well known for their range of manual coffee grinders, but this coffee scale and its more advanced older brother are gaining more and more notoriety in the coffee world. This model looks remarkably similar to the Acaia Pearl but at a fraction of the price!
And really, it has a lot going for it. It looks elegant and stylish; it is accurate to 0.1 of a gram, it is water-resistant, comes with an inbuilt timer and LCD screen, and has a battery that can be recharged quickly and painlessly through a USB-C port. It is not a smart coffee scale and so doesn’t have Bluetooth capability. In fact, it really does two things, it weighs coffee accurately and times your brews. Which is really all the average coffee lover requires of a coffee scale. The other nice thing about this coffee scale is that it is a size that could be used either for espresso or manual brewing.The Timemore is now a serious contender for our favourite coffee scale. It has superb price to quality ratio and has been very well received in the specialty coffee community. See our full review of the Timemore Black Mirror here.
ERAVSOW Digital Hand Drip Coffee Scale
The ERAVSOW is an basic all-round coffee scale at a very affordable price. This digital scale uses a high precision G-sensor to weigh beans and, as with most of the other coffee scales on this list, is accurate to 0.1g. Like the Hario, it has an inbuilt timer, and it also comes with an auto-off after a generous five minutes. Another helpful feature is the ability to switch between ounces, grams, and even milliliters.
This scale is made of brushed stainless steel, which is known to last and be very easy to clean. It also has a large LCD display that is easy to read. Because of the somewhat unique circular shape, it is too large for either traveling or placing on an espresso drip tray. This is a great all-rounder for the coffee enthusiast looking for a reliable coffee scale that won’t break the bank.
HuiSmart Digital Coffee Scale
The HuiSmart is somewhat unique in that it is designed to double either as a coffee scale or a general kitchen scale. It has an inbuilt timer with a split-screen display so that the timer is also showing alongside the weight measurement. It is accurate to 0.1g with the same gradations as the Hario and can swap between grams, ounces, or pounds (which makes sense if you want to use it more generally in the kitchen). It has a blue display that is clear to read but is somewhat small (especially if you have just rolled out of bed for your daily shot of caffeine!).
It can hold up to 3kg weight (most coffee scales only go to 2kg) and comes with a silicone mat to prevent spills or other forms of damage. It has an auto-off function after 4 minutes. The small size of this scale makes it great for travel and easy to store (it even has an inbuilt hole to hang it up). But the real attraction of this scale is its multi-functionality, making it an excellent option for the coffee lover struggling to convince the wife to buy ANOTHER piece of coffee equipment. All they need to know is that it is a great ‘kitchen’ scale which happens to work as a coffee scale as well…
Brewista Smart Scale II
Brewista is a well-known and respected brand in the coffee world, and for a good reason. This coffee scale ups the level from an entry-level home brewer to a professional barista. The Brewista II is an across-the-board excellent coffee scale that shines in virtually every brewing style. It is incredibly accurate, and its tiny size makes it both portable and versatile. It is water-resistant and comes with a protective silicon cover making it ideal for espresso and use on drip trays.
What sets the Brewista II apart are six pre-programmed modes for different brewing styles. These cover four different variations of espresso and two separate pour-over modes. In addition, it has an auto-off function that can be set for one, two, or three minutes, or even completely disabled. It is powered by a USB rechargeable battery with good battery life. The Brewista Smart Scale is an excellent option for the serious espresso enthusiast who is not afraid to spend some money. However, desfpitethe name the Brewista II is not a smart scale in terms of bluetooth connectivity.
The Verdict: The Best Coffee Scale in 2021
We hope the above reviews have been helpful for you in your coffee journey. Any of these coffee scales have the potential to lift and optimize your coffee experience.
Our recommendation is that while the Acaia Pearl 2021 may require you to mortgage your house, it is worth it! This is the best coffee scale on the market and is completely optimized for coffee with every feature you could ever want or need. In our opinion this is still indisputably the best coffee scale on the market for the home brewer.
Alternatively, if (understandably!) you balk at the price of the Acaia, then the Timemore Black Mirror is a great non-smart coffee scale at a fraction of the price.
What to Look for in a Coffee Scale
So now you are (hopefully!) convinced that purchasing a coffee scale is a worthwhile investment to up your coffee game. Next, you have the challenging choice of what to opt for; general kitchen scales or a designated coffee scale? Big or small? Basic or Bluetooth enabled? The range is almost endless! To help you figure out which is the best coffee scale for you, we have compiled a list of different factors to consider.
The single most crucial factor to look for in any coffee scale is precision. If it can’t be trusted to measure with accuracy, then simply put, it is a waste of money. The level of precision can differ substantially between the various coffee scale brands, but as a minimum, they need to be accurate within 0.1 gram. While your budget will likely determine the final choice of coffee scale (the price gap between the Acaia Scales and the HuiSmart is rather astounding!), accuracy is the most crucial consideration.
The next important factor to consider is usability or functionality. Because you will depend on your coffee scale regularly, it needs to fulfill your specific needs. So, for example, the buttons need to be easy to push and use so that you are not fiddling with them during your careful coffee routine. Similarly, response time can make or break the functionality of a coffee scale. Especially for pour-over and espresso, a slow response time and lag can significantly hinder a coffee scale’s usefulness and mess up careful time and weight parameters.
One essential function that any coffee scale requires is a tare function. This allows you to put your portafilter onto the scales and then ‘tare’ the weight to zero so that you can then measure out your coffee grinds.
Another vital thing to note is the auto-off function. Most digital scales that are not specifically designed for coffee will have an auto-off function that kicks in after one or two minutes. This can be incredibly frustrating for manual brewing styles, such as pour-over or drip coffee with longer extraction times. So if you opt for a set of generic scales, try and find one without an auto-off function.
Also, how easy is it to clean? Without a doubt, you will end up on occasion spilling coffee grounds or a few drops of water on it. So is it easy to clean, or will those grinds end up wedged in the push buttons? (this is one advantage of touch-sensitive buttons).
The size that will work best for you will primarily be driven by what brewing style you will use it for and where you will use it. If the aim is to use the coffee scale for espresso, it is essential to get one small enough to fit comfortably on your drip tray. Likewise, if your preferred method is the Chemex pour-over, you want one that is sturdy and large enough to have the Chemex on it and still be able to see the screen.
Another factor to consider is where you intend to do your brewing. If this is for your morning coffee at home, size is probably not an issue (depending on how those who live with you view your growing coffee collection!). But if it is for those regular business trips or holidays, you want a durable coffee scale that takes up little space.
As with anything in life, a coffee scale can range from basic functionality to the Rolls Royce packed with bells and whistles. And this is going to come down to what you want your coffee scale to accomplish and how much you are willing to spend.
One unique feature that is particularly helpful is an inbuilt timer. Most specialty coffee scales boast these, and they do just make life that little bit easier, especially for manual brewing, which requires careful time parameters.
Another helpful feature that some of the high-end coffee scales have is a waterproof or water-resistant construction. Again this means one less thing to worry about and tends to make for longer durability.
Finally, the Acaia range of coffee scales are all Bluetooth compatible and so connect to your smartphone where you can do everything from saving recipes to starting the timer to giving your instructions on various brewing styles.