Weight a Minute

It’s a corny title, I know, but it covers two things that are intricately related.

Weight and Time.

As with any prepared food product, a recipe is an important part of preparation, and a requisite for repeatability and consistency of flavor.  Variations from this recipe will result in different results, and coffee is no exception to this rule.

One of the most common questions that we get in our café is usually, “How do I get my coffee at home to taste as good as it does here?”  Although there are many variables at play, having a recipe is the key.

Some great minds have already written articles about the coffee itself, calibrating and using a burr grinder, water chemistry and water recipes.  These are all important aspects to creating a better home product, but this time we will concentrate on scales and timers.

If you are a Coffee Props member, you are already more interested than most in brewing the perfect cup.  You likely have spent time and money on precision gear to help you improve your experience.  Two of the most basic pieces of the puzzle are a scale, and a timer.  These are available in a wide variety of styles and price ranges.  Some are loaded with features and abilities; others are basic and inexpensive models.

Although our usual advice is to purchase the best equipment that you are comfortable with, there are a few features that you should look for when making your choice.  A scale should be digital, and have the ability to display grams down to one decimal place (0.0 g).  Your timer should also be digital, and be easy to pause and reset quickly.  Many models have both of these features already built in for this exact purpose.

The Hario scale is the industry standard when it comes to pour-over scales.  They are accurate, quick responding and relatively inexpensive.  At just over $50USD, you have a reliable timer and scale built in.  It is easy to use and small enough to tuck away in a cabinet.  It uses AAA batteries, which are easily accessible.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Acaia brand.  These scales are the fastest and most precise currently available.  They are the most expensive type out there, but an added feature set makes them far more useful for the intended purpose.  They are USB charged, and have a long battery life.  Built to be extremely water resistant, they are durable and quite honestly very aesthetically pleasing.  With a free app on your smartphone you can see the brewing results, save profiles (recipes) and make notes on that brew.  Total nerd zone.

As an alternative, you could buy an inexpensive digital scale, and a digital egg timer.  These don’t have all the added benefits of the above two, but they are easy to obtain and they can be less expensive.   Downsides are having to use more batteries, and having two pieces of gear instead of one integrated unit.

In future posts, I will share thoughts on brewing recipes and look at the different methods and philosophies for brewing coffee using equipment that I am familiar with.  The next post will concentrate on terms that we should all be using to make sure that the recipe instructions make sense for us all.