June 16, 2016
Imagine This. You get up one morning to make coffee and it’s the best coffee you’ve ever made. You invite your neighbor over next morning and encourage them to check out your brew because it’ll be the best they’ll ever have as well. You prepare and serve it only to find it tastes nothing like you enjoyed first thing that morning. What happened? Same coffee, same everything right? Maybe. Was it the same amount of coffee? Was it the same amount water? Looks ABOUT the same right? Are you certain?
When I first started brewing coffee, I would brew by volume. I measured the coffee using teaspoons and measured the water using ounces. However, after consistently have inconsistent brews I decided to purchase a scale. A gram scale to be exact. By only using mass as the single measure, I was able to create the same brew, the same way every time. When I brew coffee in the morning, I measure the weight of the coffee and the weight of the water.
Why not rely solely on visual volume? Different kinds of coffee weigh incrementally different. For instance, there’s a variety coffee named maragogype. This variety of coffee bean is very large in size, but do not have a dense structure. Heirloom varieties from Ethiopia are the exact opposite. These beans are tiny in comparison, but are very dense. One takes up more space, but is light; the other is small, but heavy. A pound of feathers and a pound of rocks both weigh the same. However, a pound of feathers takes of more space. That same truth covers coffee. How do you eliminate the chance of there being a visual inaccuracy? Use a scale. Introducing a scale into the brewing process improves consistency and accuracy.
As with most things, all scales aren’t equal when it comes to brewing. First, go with a digital scale. A digital display is a lot easier to use and makes quick work of taring (zeroing-out) the scale. Next, look for a scale that weighs in grams. Ounces leave too much room for variance. The Jennings that I personally use, weighs in .50 gram increments. Others we use at the shop, weigh in .10 increments for even more accuracy. Finally, look for a digital scale that has an extended active display. Most of the digital of scales I’ve purchased at my local supermarket do well for weighing, but tend to shut-off about mid-way through the brewing process. Nothing’s more frustrating than to have everything dialed-in, only to have your scale shut-off when you’ve only poured about half of the water you need for your Chemex.
In conclusion, I’m absolutely sold on using a scale for brewing coffee. It’s a very useful tool to have on hand to improve your coffee experience. As a bonus, a digital scale is a great tool for baking, cooking and more, making it a great tool in the kitchen. Sounds like you’ve got a decision to weigh out (pun intended). Be blessed.