This site has one goal: to identify the best coffee scales sold today. If this was an easy task we'd locate the best coffee scale but given the larger number of uses cases we'll try to just get it down to the top scales in a few major categories.
Those categories can be quite blurry: Is a particular scale for home or professional use? What happens if it's great for pourover coffee but bad at espresso? What if it's a fine scale but disproportionately expensive, fragile, or large? Questions like these will be taken into consideration as we review and point out our top coffee scales.
Please note: For reasons of practicality this site will be restricted to digital scales. For coffee scales we looking for scales with at least a 1000g capacity, so that it can accomodate something like a Chemex or press pot if the need should arise.
Everything on this site technically has to do with "coffee" but for our purposes we'll differentiate between brewed coffee and espresso. This section will be for scales that are ideal for producing a cuppa joe, regardless of if it's a pourover, press pot (french press), drip machine, or anything else you can come up with.
Espresso scales are all about accuracy. With the home baristas (and professional baristas) of the world geeking out about a tenth of a gram of coffee going into their grinder, measuring again after the grind, and then measuring the weight of their shots, you know the scale is going to be critical tool.
|Brand||Color||Price (USD)||Top Feature||Link|
|Acaia Lunar||Black||$220||Smart auto tare||Best Price|
|Acaia Pearl||Black, White||$140||20ms response time||Best Price|
|Hario Scale||Black, Stainless||$40||Price||Best Price|
|Brewista II||Black||$90||Chocked full of features||Best Price|
We've covered the best, now let's review the rest. These are all OK to very good coffee scales -- and if one of them ends up being the right one for you, that's great! -- but we believe the average buyer would be better served with one of the options above.
The Pearl Black is our favorite coffee scale right now. It's the best all around scale for a number of reasons, and depite its steep price ($150 MSRP). The Pearl is large enough for use as a pourover coffee scale while being water-ressistant and sensitive enough for espresso use. It's also super quick to turn on, weigh, tare, and turn off, and has Bluetooth so you can utilize advanced features by pairing the scale with your phone and using your phone as a display for the scale.
The downsides of the Lunar Black (aside from the steep price) as few and far between, but they are: the height of the scale makes it too tall to be places under the portafilter of many espresso machines, the body of the scale is plastic so you need to be careful about putting hot objects on it, and the scale is not waterproof/espresso-proof.
The Acaia Pearl Black is general preferable to the original Pearl (the white one) as the Black is generally easier to read in normal to high light environments. Functionally the two scales are the same, but the white is $10 cheaper. The Pearl is older, much larger, and has no metal parts, which makes it less preferable to the Acaia Lunar to many professional users, but the Pearl is actually a better coffee scale, as the Lunar is too small to place a pour-over setup on top of. Some users even prefer the Pearl for espresso -- its larger size makes weighing a portafilter on top of it very easy, where the same task can be a challenge on the tiny Lunar scale.
The Jennings CJ-4000 is a popular scale that is basically the benchmark for quality in the digital coffee scale/kitchn scale world. Consistently priced around $25 the scale is afford, plus it's reliable and accurate. It's ultilitarian in design and light on functions but it has everything you need to do the job. It does not have a timer.
Key features of the CJ-4000 are that it has 0.5g precision (it's number one drawback), it runs on three AAA batteries (included) but includes an AC adapter, has a metal surface so it's OK with hot objects, and it's water-resistant but not waterproof. It has a long battery life, it's durable enough to last for years, and it can take a drop. The 4 kilogram (4000 gram) capacity means it's great even for large kitchen tasks. All told, this is a great all-round scale and it's a perfect buy-it-for-life purchase if you are focused on making coffee (as oppoed to espresso).
By the way, if the 0.5g precision of the CJ-4000 is a dealbreaker for you, then you want the CJ600, the 0.1 gram precision variety of the Jennings scale. The downsides are the the price jumps a bit and the capacity goes from 4000 to 600 grams
You might have noticed that few, if any, of the scales mentioned on this site were designs in 2016 or 2017 The demands places on a scale a relatively constant so the best coffee scale yesterday tends to be the coffee of today. That said, newcomers do appear occassionally.
The Voom digital scale is the most exciting new scale of 2017 (so far). The Voom is a Kickstarter product so it's not exactly a real product yet, but coffee lovers have high hope for this new Acaia alternative. The basic specs for the Voom are very solid, but relatively standard at the price: 0.1g precision, USB charging, 2000 gram capacity, and Bluetooth connectivity for use with a smartphone app. Sounds a lot like the Lunar, right? At an expected retail price of $199 it will have to do more than that though.
The Voom Smart Scale will attempt to set itself apart with its "smart" features. These include a real-time brew curve so you know how fast to pour your pourover water (in addition to how much water to pour), elapsed time since the pour began, and a dynamic coffee to water ratio, right on the read-out on the scale or app. The scale also has a handy knob, so you can interact with it quickly with some tactical feedback, as opposed to a contact-sensitive button, which you can only tell you pressed if you hear the "beep." Other features which sound cool (to be determined if we'll use them) include data analysis of the brew process, sharing of custom brew recipes, downloading expert/professional brew recipes, and recording coffee varieties. Wow, that really is a smart scale.
If all goes well with the Kickstarter and production, the Voom should start to ship in March 2018.
Whether you call it a "kitchen scale," a "food scale," a "brewing scale" or a plain old "coffee scale" the fact remains that a scale is a scale. These are all tools that measure that weight of objects. Almost all of them will have basic features like tare and be able to operate in grams or ounces. The differences between each scale type will come in the way of the more subtle differnces between them. For example, a food scale might have a higher weight capacity and a lower resolution (say a 4000 gram capacity and a 1 gram resolution), while a coffee scale rarely needs to measure more than 2000g but will generally need 0.5 gram or 0.1 gram resolution. And then a kitchen scale might be more of a general use tool with a larger surface that can fit a big mixing bowl on it, where an espresso scale doesn't have to be very large at all.
So, in summary: there is essentially no difference between the types of scales. They all serve the same function and they all work in place of one another. The scales only differentiate themselves by becoming more specialized and this tends to happen only as they get more expensive (a prime example being the Acaia Lunar, which is the best espresso scale, but really only works for espresso).
You might be surprised to see how many coffee scales include timers. These are used for brew processes that include a time component... which is almost all of them! The most popular application for a timer will be with a pourover, where following the correct pour timings can be the difference between a cup of hot brown water and an amazing coffee. With a French press timing is important as well: you are steeping the grounds in the pot for about 4-5 minutes (too short and you won't get the maximum flavor extraction, too long and your coffee will get bitter). Timing is also used for Clever brewers and other less popular methods.
Perhaps you've seen scales on an online retailer that look practically the same. For example the a number of scales on Amazon.com appear to be identical, but they are sold by different companies. They all range from $20-25 -- essentially the same price -- and have under 10 reviews. It's hard to know exactly what's going on, but chances are that they are the same scale, manufacturered by the same OEM, and then just branded and boxed up differently. They can then be marketed and distributed by different companies, all of which think they have the necessary expertise to sell their goods. While we haven't tested out these specific products and are just speaking in generalizations here, it's not a good sign if you see what seems to be a solid product, but it's from a oddly named brand and other sellers seem to be selling something remarkably similar.