For all of the different ways to make coffee (espresso, pour-over, immersion, electric brewers, etc) there are seemingly countless pieces of equipment to get the job done. And while each has its own idiosyncrasies, benefits and affects on the final cup of coffee you end up with, there is one particular piece of equipment that you probably don’t have, but most certainly need: a scale.
For a long time, the marketing of coffee, whether it be roasting or brewing, has incorporated the romantic notion of “the art of coffee.” In reality, making a great cup of coffee has far less to do with art than it does with science. As we strive not just to make our coffee taste good, but make it taste good consistently, us industry folk have come to the conclusion that measuring absolutely everything is the only way to go.
So there are a few obvious necessities to make coffee: your brewer of choice, a grinder (burrs NOT blades) and hot water (more on this in a piece to come). Yes, you could figure out a way to “measure” things volumetrically (“If I put in two spoons full of coffee and pour water up to this line, it usually tastes okay.”), but coffee beans come in different sizes and densities, your grinder won’t always be consistent, and there are dozens of additional factors that can affect the consistency of your brew if you are just eyeballing it.
The benefit of measuring – and I’m talking about both your coffee AND water – is that you are taking a great deal of the guesswork out of brewing. Whenever I’m training a café or helping set up a coffee program, I always emphasize the importance of controlling all possible the variables. Once you know your recipe – the ratio of coffee to water (try 17:1 to start), grind size, time, brewing method, etc. – that gives you the cup of coffee you want, lock it in and repeat it every time.
Weighing your coffee and water while brewing may seem like over-the-top advice from a coffee geek, and I often hear from people that they don’t have the time. It quite literally takes an extra 10 seconds to do it right. So, whether it be a top of the line and beautifully designed scale like the Acaia, or a cheap jewellers scale from your local hardware store, it’s a relatively small investment for better coffee. There are so many things we can’t control in this world – the weather, the plot of next few seasons of Game of Thrones, the possibility of a Trump presidency… so why not at least do everything you can to make amazing coffee every day?
Originally Posted on Dine.TO April 2, 2016