The Acaia Smart Scale: Now Keeping Time

12.03

acaia_scale_1

acaia_scale_timer

By now, you’ve most likely heard about the Acaia digital scale that’s raising funds on Kickstarter. The scale is beautifully designed resembling the minimal simplicity of an AppleTV device and it offers several delightful features. It has 0.1 gram accuracy, it’s powered by a lithium-ion battery that charges with a micro USB cable and uses an advanced, updatable micro-chip that’s usually reserved for commercial grade scales. It’s smart, powerful and splash proof—but originally it had one major flaw, it had no timer.

I wanted to praise it, I wanted to back it, I wanted it on my counter now, but If I had to pull out my non-splash proof smart phone to keep time after being spoiled by the Hario Drip Scale, I wanted nothing to do with it. For a Kickstarter price of $59 (and retail of $89 for the white model) the Acaia isn’t cheap. With a price point that high, it made no sense to lose a feature that seemed to “revolutionize” brewing scales just a year ago. So it was discussed on Twitter and in the Kickstarter comments and Aaron Takao Fujiki, the Acaia designer, listened.

Here is an exclusive first look at the timer function on the Acaia scale.

I spoke with Aaron who told DCILY this was only one solution for a timer, and that he is also testing a dual display that shows both the weight and time simultaneously (which you can see below).

Aaron also pointed out the additional “magic” provided by the mobile app that syncs with the scale via Bluetooth. Apart from displaying and recording the weight data, it also allows for advanced settings control. For example, with the app a user could toggle between the dual timer display or the manual timer function and even update the firmware of the scale if necessary.

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Currently all the possibility of this scale exists in a few prototypes and just like most Kickstarter products, there’s no guarantee it will work as advertised (or even be delivered). So if you have money to spare, like to support innovative designers, or are simply crazy over the latest coffee gadgets, this might be worth supporting now before the price jumps to its higher retail price. If you’ve been waiting for a better scale to come out, this offers a lot of attractive features and looks quite fast (responsive) based on the videos.

However, if you’re looking for something right now, or for a holiday gift—the Hario scales have come down in price, function well and look just as nice on your counter. If you don’t mind using a separate timer, there are loads of other capable scales that serve the important task of weighing your coffee and water without all the extras featured on the Acaia.

Learn more about the Acaia scale on Kickstarter

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posted by on 12.03.2013, under Design, Products

The Hario Drip Scale

11.18

At every coffee event I attended this year, the Hario booth always had some of the most lust-worthy products on display. The highlight of their product line was always the newly released V60 Drip Scale. In a departure from Hario’s specialization in glass, this scale represents the companies continued focus on the growing coffee market. The scale includes the simple but brilliant addition of a built-in timer, which may not be new, but it’s the first time I’ve seen one specifically made for coffee brewing.

The scale is beautifully designed and upon its release became one of the nicest looking available on the market. It has a small footprint (140mmX190mm), but is still large enough for a Chemex. Its clean lines, touch sensitive buttons and unique shape are finished in a lovely matte black that looks great, but emphasizes finger prints.

The scale has a 2kg (2000g) maximum capacity with 0.1g increments up to 200g and 0.5g increments up to 500g. After you reach 500g, the scale only measures in 1g increments. Powered by two AAA-batteries, the scale automatically turns off after 5 minutes of inactivity, so a mid-pour shut-down should never be an issue. The display is clear the scale measures accurately, but it’s not as fast as I’d expect for the price ($70).

What makes this scale different than others available, is that it was specifically designed with coffee brewing in mind and includes a timer right beside the weight display. This may seem like a trivial addition, but once you’ve used it, you’ll wish every scale had this feature. Best of all, you no longer need to lay your smartphone below a stream of water (freeing it up to take photos for Instagram).

Hario also designed a clear acrylic pourover stand and drip tray that pairs perfectly with the scale. While it’s obviously designed with the V60 in mind, any pourover cone from Kalita to Melitta would work just as well.

The scale and stand are sold separately from each other, and the stand isn’t necessary to enjoy the scale. The clear acrylic is easily scratched with cleaning and also costs nearly as much as the already pricey scale ($65). However, if money isn’t an issue and you feel the need to brew with a stand, go all in like Petraeus.

I’ve always been a fan of Hario’s design and the quality of their products. The new scale and drip stand are no exception, however I do believe they’re priced too high when compared to other quality scales on the market (i.e. Jennings CJ4000). That said, once design is factored into the equation the new Hario scale has little competition and will look better on your counter than most options available.

Shop for the Hario Drip Scale and the Hario Acrylic Stand

posted by on 11.18.2012, under Design, Products

The Power of the Scale

09.14

There are a few things a person needs to help them brew better coffee at home and the tool most often overlooked by beginners is a digital scale. Weighing coffee and water, rather than using scoops and cups, allow consistency when measuring your ingredients.

Different coffees have different densities depending on how they are roasted or the size of the bean, so one tablespoon isn’t equal for all coffee. You’ll also notice that many of the better coffee brewing tutorials found on the internet use grams as the common unit of measure. Since 1mL of cold water weighs 1 gram, it’s simple math to calculate your dose ratio and learn to measure and brew coffee this way. Most coffee shops concerned with quality use scales, if not for brewing, at least for weighing the proper dose.

When I make coffee for friends, the first reaction to my scale is usually, “whoa, you’re really serious about this, huh?” Well, yes, but the scale shouldn’t be an indication of that. The digital scale is a valuable tool that every kitchen should have (even the New York Times agrees) and cost between $10-$50. When it takes less than a gram of coffee or a milliliter of water to alter the balance of a good cup of coffee, the scale shouldn’t be reserved only for “coffee nerds,” but should be embraced for the consistency it adds to the brewing process and the quality it creates in the cup.

The NYTimes article, though specifically about cooking, shares this coffee revelation:

The scale also ensures repeatability. I once calibrated exactly the amount of beans that I need to make coffee the way I like. Now, every morning, I place my can of beans on the scale, and then scoop out 28 grams — allowing me to repeat the same pot every day.

You don’t need to buy a scale that’s super fancy, just something with accurate gram measurements and a tare function will do fine. After fresh-roasted coffee beans and a good grinder, a scale will help improve your coffee brewing the most. Understanding your dose and being able to consistently repeat it, will contribute to better coffee on a regular basis without much added effort.

Browse digital scales curated by DCILY on Amazon.

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posted by on 09.14.2011, under Coffee 101, Misc., Products