From time to time we like to highlight some alternative brewing methods to help you enjoy a better cup of coffee. For example just a few weeks ago, Gabe demonstrated the Toddy brewing method for a great way to cold brew some delicious summer drinks. Adam also recently demonstrated the simple elegance of the Aeropress for brewing a great tasting cup on the fly.

This time around though, I wanted to change things up a bit and address a critical factor in brewing that can make or break even the greatest brewing methods out there. Without getting this component right, even the best Chemex pour over can come out tasting bad, yet so often we glance right over it.

So what am I talking about?

I’m talking about how much coffee you use.

It may seem simple. I mean if you buy a tub of coffee at the store it just comes with a scoop, right? The instructions tell you how many scoops to use and away you go.

Even with Mission Arabica coffee, for the longest time I would just use a tablespoon to measure out my coffee. However, I was getting frustrated that so often I seemed to be getting different taste results when it seemed like I had duplicated my same brewing processes.

Sometimes my coffee tasted rich and chocolatey.

Other times I would taste sweet fruit flavors.

And still other times it would taste like I just mowed the lawn and shoved a handful of grass clippings in my mouth. (side note – that was my fault – not the coffee’s 😉 )

All the same coffee – yet dramatically different results.

How could this be?

Well something I found out is that a tablespoon of coffee is not always a tablespoon of coffee.

What?

I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out.

Imagine filling a bucket with baseballs vs filling it with sand. Same bucket, but you can fit quite a bit more sand in the bucket then you can baseballs due to the difference in size between a grain of sand vs the ball.

It is kind of like that with coffee. Sometimes a change in the coarseness of the grind can make a big difference in the quantity of coffee you are using.

But grind size isn’t the only factor, there are also a myriad of other reasons like did the coffee get compacted in your scoop (aka: more coffee), or is the variety of bean you are using more dense than a different bean (changes based on roast levels and origin of coffee).

I know… I know… I can just hear you saying, “Thanks Chris for taking one of the easiest aspects of brewing coffee and making it stupidly complicated.”

I’m sorry.

However, think of this conversation as a heart to heart intervention. I just care too darn much about your coffee experience for you to not know the truth 😉

So with that said… There is hope.

I do have a solution.

And that solution is: The scale

Huh? A scale?

Yeah, that’s right.

A scale.

Instead of measuring coffee in terms of tablespoons or your jumbo scoop of choice, start weighing your coffee in grams to get a consistent result every time.

Now, I am not the first to come up with this idea. When I first heard about it, I have to admit weighing coffee seemed pretty stupid to me. I mean, I like coffee, but weighing it seems to be just a bit overboard on the coffee geek front.

However, the inconsistencies I was getting were really starting to frustrate me and I wanted to be able to guarantee a great cup every time, so I figured I would take the plunge and get a scale.

My Hario Coffee Scale

My Hario Coffee Scale

Now that I have tried it for a month though, I would have to say that it is one of the most important coffee purchases I have ever made to improve the quality of my coffee and I wish I had picked one up long ago.

What’s even better is that they are really not expensive at all. For example I found the Jennings CJ4000 on Amazon for just over $25 and it has great reviews for coffee use.

Check Out The Jennings CJ4000 Here (Amazon Affiliate Link) [Opens In New Window]

You can find cheaper scales on Amazon around the $10 range, but a lot of these are designed for measuring jewelry (small quantity gold/diamonds) and seemed to have a low max out range (1 lb).

Whereas coffee scales in general have a bit larger surface area that you can set something like a Chemex on. They ideally will be able to hold several pounds (the CJ4000 holds nearly 9 lbs which is plenty) and preferably have an accuracy of at least 0.5 grams.

I personally splurged a bit and got the Hario scale which is specifically designed for coffee preparation with a large flat surface, built in timer, and 0.1 gram accuracy. Costs about $45 though. You can check it out at the following link.

Hario Coffee Scale (Amazon Affiliate Link) [Opens in New Window]

So lets say you pick up a scale. Now what?

Well I have found a few different recommendations in terms of how many grams of coffee to grams of water to use. I am still experimenting a bit, but the ratio I have been using lately is 30 grams of coffee and 454 grams of water (16 oz).

To help give you a better idea of how it works, I also put together this video to show an example of using the scale with a Chemex.


If video doesn’t show up – click here

Hario Coffee Scale (Amazon Affiliate Link) [Opens in New Window]

Jennings CJ4000 (Amazon Affiliate Link) [Opens In New Window]

As you can see, I can get the coffee measured out to 30 grams (almost – my bad, lol). Reset the scale, and add water to 454 grams. Voila. Coffee Bliss.

Still on the edge about picking up a coffee scale?

I don’t blame you. It took me a while to be convinced too. However, something else I learned about scales is that they are not just limited to coffee prep. For example, people that do a lot of cooking/baking like to use scales all the time because they are much more accurate than measuring cups. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I bake cookies I get a great result and sometimes they are just so-so. Well think just about the difference that would be caused in a batch of cookies if the flour in a measuring cup was compacted vs non-compacted. With a scale it eliminates that problem and you can have those award winning cookies every time! (Not to mention getting all the other ingredients just right as well)

So with that said, between perfecting your morning brew and the plethora of other kitchen uses, I highly recommend picking up a scale. You will definitely not regret it because I know I sure haven’t!

Check Out The Hario Coffee Scale Here (Amazon Affiliate Link) [Opens in New Window]

Check Out The Jennings CJ4000 Here (Amazon Affiliate Link) [Opens In New Window]

I would love to hear from you! Have you ever used a scale to help brew coffee or to make something in the kitchen? Tell me about your experience in the comments below and weather you think picking up a kitchen scale is worth while.

Lastly, help me spread the word that people should pick up a scale to help brew better coffee! Just click on that like button below and then share this article with your friends! Thanks for your help in getting the word out!

[PSA: If you have not heard – we have started selling coffee from Laos! This is a big step forward in accomplishing our goals so check it out at the shop!]

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