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Essential equipment for espresso – the digital scale?

September 23, 2011

Essential equipment for espresso – the digital scale.


The New York Times recently headlined their food section with an article asking why every serious cook does not use a digital scale given how cheap and useful they are.  The question is equally appropriate for home baristas and professional baristas.


One of the most important factors in making espresso is the dose – in other words how many grams of coffee are being used.  A scale allows the barista to keep track of this down to .1 gram.  A 1 gram swing makes a big impact so this is a reasonable thing to aspire to.  The best part is that the cost in terms of money is low and in terms of time in the preparation ritual is equally low.


I find it amazing that you can order a digital scale mailed from china that will be delivered to your door for about $8 including shipping.  How can it possibly done for so little?  I would expect the shipping to cost more than that alone!


There are better quality scales (that may not be more accurate, but should last longer) available in the US for about $20 such as the Jennings scales here

http://www.oldwillknottscales.com/pocket-mini-scale.aspx


Coffee grinds are like flour in the sense that weight is a much more accurate measurement of dose for a recipe than volume.  This kind of quality control is amazingly helpful at least while learning to pull great shots.  


Then if you want to be able to talk with others about your espresso or inspect the output to input it makes more sense to talk about the weight of your shots than the volume because the volume depends on the bubbles and crema and this not only varies from one bean to another and one machine to another, but even from one moment to another for the same shot.


To me when learning to make espresso this is $8 and 10 seconds very well spent.  I would rather make due without a tamper than without a scale.






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