16th of February 2017
I make good coffee, but here’s a confession. Sometimes it’s bad. Really bad. There are days when my morning brew tastes like dirty water used to rinse out ashes in a barbecue. Other days it’s so weak it tastes only of diluted milk. Why? I’ve always blamed my old espresso machine, creating wild theories about unreliable temperature gauges and water pipes and wobbly fixings in order to hide my shame.
Turns out I’ve been blaming the wrong piece of equipment.
The guilty party is me – and my little silver coffee scoop.
I remember the days when scoops were just scoops and coffee was just coffee. Those days are gone. Coffee is now an art and quantity is now a science. And the truth of the matter is this – scoops are not very accurate. It’s virtually impossible to make exactly the same coffee twice, even if you use the same scoop and coffee grinds. If you disagree, answer these questions: Do you know how many grams your coffee scoop holds? Have you calculated how the weight varies with grind size? Can you accurately switch between demands for a flattened, rounded and heaped scoop? If you’ve answered yes to all of the above, congratulations, you’re a miracle worker. Everybody else, please read on.
It’s time to talk about scales.
I’m not talking bathroom scales or the ones you inherited from your grandmother, or even the little digital ones you use to weigh flour when you bake. I’m talking about super-sensitive coffee scales, capable of measuring a tenth of a gram. Yes, a tenth.
But can such a tiny amount really make a big difference to your brew?
The simple answer is yes, of course it can.
It’s time to eliminate guessing. Scales allow precision, and all good baristas know precision is key in all aspects of the coffee-making process. They leave nothing to chance. And before you start scoffing at the price, take note: Coffee scales aren’t only used for weighing grinds. Experts use them to ensure accuracy during the water-pouring stage of manual methods –something that’s painfully hard to judge even with well-trained eyes and lots of experience.
But what will come of our beloved scoops? Maybe some of you will accept disappointment and frustration as part of your coffee adventure and keep scoop-scoop-scooping until the end of your days.
But if you’re looking for coffee consistency, only scales measure up.