The Hario scale has become a classic since its release in 2012. In many ways, it was the first particularly designated coffee scale; measuring both volume and pour time. It was designed in response to the growing popularity of pour-over coffee and the observed shortcomings of kitchen scales for coffee brewing.
However, since its release, the coffee scale has been all but redesigned with the introduction of the smart scale. And so while once it was the top of the field, it now has fierce competition. In this article we will review the Hario scale based on our own experience over the last 3-4 years as well as in light of the developments in the field.
Why Invest In A Coffee Scale?
While this is old news for the dedicated home brewers, many new initiates are surprised that there is even such a thing as a coffee scale. What is wrong with eyeballing it? Or the good old kitchen scales?
And the answer is that a coffee scale allows increased precision and accuracy. Coffee scales have a few distinctives that set them apart from your usual scale. They are far more accurate especially in the 0-500g zone, they have an inbuilt timer, and they have a far longer time before the auto-off kicks in (so that the scales don’t die mid brew!).
And so while push comes to shove you can get away without a coffee scale, purchasing one is one of the most surefire ways to up your coffee game.
Hario Scale Review
The Hario scale comes with a slim and sleek design, available in either a black or white finish. Its minimalistic design means the Hario scale has only three functions: weight, tare, and timer. On the right is a power/ tare button and on the left is a timer button. The buttons are touch-sensitive and easy to use. In the middle, there is a simple easy-to-read LED split screen showing the time and weight. The Hario scale runs on the metric system, so it only weighs in grams, not ounces. The simple design means it is very straightforward to operate.
The Hario scale has a compact and lightweight footprint. At the same time, it is still large enough to accommodate most brewers, servers, and portafilters. The scale runs on two AAA batteries and has an auto-off feature after 5 minutes. It also has the valuable feature that when the timer is running, the auto-off feature is disabled until the timer stops (or reaches 99:59)- so you won’t have to worry about your scale turning off mid-brew.
The Hario scale has been designed particularly for manual brewing. So while it can be used to weigh an espresso dose or extraction, it is too big to fit on a drip tray and doesn’t offer the sensitivity required to weigh during extraction. Hario also makes a V60 drip station which pairs perfectly with the Hario scale, offering a sweet pour-over setup.
To be frank, the aesthetic design of the Hario scale has never really done it for me. I find the design somewhat strange. There are some pieces of coffee kit that just give the feel of elegance and excellence, the Hario scale is not one of these. It is a utility.
The Hario scale features a solid build quality. It is made of ABS resin which is durable and water-resistant, so you needn’t worry about the odd spill. The Hario scale is known to be reliable- and we can testify to this. We have owned the Hario scale for three years now and have used it multiple times a day and never had any issues.
The advantage of the simple operation and the lack of features certainly does add to the durability of this coffee scale. There is very little that can go wrong providing you are sensible with it.
When it comes to scales, precision is the key factor. The Hario scale has varying levels of accuracy depending on the weight. From 2g to 200g, it measures in 0.1g intervals, from 200g to 500g in 0.5g intervals, and from 500g to 2000g in 1g intervals. Interestingly, this was done at the recommendation of coffee expert James Hoffman to keep costs down.
These varying levels are more than sufficient for most manual brewing methods. The Hario scale does not start weighing until 2 grams have been added and has a maximum capacity of 2000g. The idea behind this design decision is that to have uniform accuracy all the way up to 2000g would have greatly increased the cost. As it is, we have never really found accuracy to be a major issue. Does it compare to the Acaia scale in this regard? Of course not, but this is significantly cheaper and so that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
The second key factor to performance is responsiveness. Even a slight lag in response time can cause you to overshoot your target coffee to water ratio. This is vital for manual brewing methods like pour over and Aeropress.
The Hario scale is known to have issues with lag (as almost all coffee scales do at this price range). While it hasn’t been a major issue, we have certainly found that especially for V60, even the slight lag is irritating.
While these factors mean the Hario scale is not the fastest or most precise scale on the market, it is more than sufficient for manual brewing methods. To be fair, my appraisal of the Hario scale is that while it used to be the go-to coffee scale, it now feels a bit dated and plain. Can it still suffice for home brewing? Of course it can, but it is no longer the best option, nor even necessarily a recommended option. There are now competing scales like the Timemore Black Mirror that are of a similar price range but excel the Hario in performance.
Who Is The Hario Scale For?
The Hario scale is a basic scale ideal for manual brewers on a budget who are not interested in anything fancy. What the Hario scale lacks in features and pizzaz, it makes up for in longevity and affordability. It’s simple design, ease of use, and reliability have meant that while it is no longer no.1, it is still a coffee scale you can trust.
So is the Hario scale still a good buy in 2021? For us it was a good buy three to four years ago, but if we had to replace it today, we would almost certainly go with something else.
However, for some it may still be a good option. Sure it’s not the flashiest, fastest, or most accurate scale on the market. But it is a quality scale made by a trusted brand. The Hario scale offers accurate weighing, a built-in timer, and reliability, all for a reasonable price. If you want a coffee scale with a few more features, see our guide to the best coffee scales here.