Once you start brewing pour-over coffee, it's over for you — there's really no going back to drip coffee. And one of the most important, yet underrated tools, of making pour over is the coffee scale. When it comes to pour overs, accuracy is key. From the weight of coffee to the time it takes for water to get through the bed of coffee grounds, a good coffee scale will ensure not only do you have a great cup of coffee, but whether or not you can replicate that cup over and over again with other factors (i.e. beans, grind size, method) staying constant. So do you need a fancy $150 coffee scale, or does a $50 model do enough? Here's how the two compare.
Price (Hario): $57 | Price (Acaia): $150
Full disclosure: Hario's drip scale is not the cheapest coffee scale on the market. It is, however, the scale that all other models are typically weighed against.While it's made of plastic, it doesn't feel cheap like the sub-$20 offerings you may find on Amazon. It has an elevated weighing platform, which unlike cheaper models, doesn't drastically wobble around. Instead of using tactile buttons, the Hario uses touch-sensitive contorls. While creating a sleeker interface, some may find that it's not as responsive, or satisfying to touch, as a tactile button. It has a non-backlit LED display, and it runs on two AAA batteries.
The Acaia Pearl scale is also made of plastic, but it doesn't have a separate floating weighing platform. It's a sleeker, more streamlined scale that also makes it easier to transport. The Pearl runs on a rechargeable lithium battery, and features a brightly lit LED display. Neither scale is waterproof, but Acaia does sell a pricier waterproof model, the Luna.
The Hario does the bare minimum when it comes to a coffee scale: it weighs and it times. It won't weigh anything less than 2 grams, and for weights between 2 and 200 grams, the Hario will display in .1 gram increments.
Between 200 and 500 grams, it'll display in .5 gram increments and 1.0 gram increments between 500 and 2,000 grams. Its filter takes a couple seconds to boot up, and there's a slight delay in registering weights. There's an auto-off feature after five minutes, but if the timer is on, the scale will stay on indefinitely.
The Acaia, on the other hand, is a beast of a coffee scale. It does what it has to, but it does it efficiently and effectively. The scale detects weights — both grams and ounces — much faster than the cheaper competition, and it displays weight in .1 gram increments or 0.005 ounce increments making for a more precise measurement readout. The scale features six modes — weighing, auto tare, auto start, timer, espresso and beverage mode — which all utilize the timing and weighing functionalities in different capacities. And the scale's biggest selling point is its ability to connect to the Acaia app, which essentially helps brewers hone their pour abilities. It tracks prior brewing recipes, and it helps concoct the right water-to-coffee ratios pouring timeline based on your brewing apparatus.
If you're just getting into pour overs, the Hario makes the best coffee scale you can buy. It's accurate and reliable. It'll ensure you nail your water-to-coffee ratios, and the built-in timer means you don't need an external means of tracking elapsed time. Coffee nerds will still appreciate it, but they will surely find more fun with the Acaia. But is it worth nearly three times the price of the Hario? Yes, but only if you take advantage of the Acaia app. If you're not tracking your brew records or trying to master your pour over techniques, you'll be fine with the Hario.