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If you don't have a kitchen scale you should get one! Total baking game changer. If the recipe isn't in grams or ounces I don't trust it! I have this one for super precision, but you can get ones with bigger scale surfaces. And you can get cheaper ones too.
> ideally you want a 0.1g scale?
You need 0.1g to accurately weigh your dose, because a 1 g. change in dose can have a massive impact on the taste of the shot. For weighing yield, 1g. is fine. I suggest a scale like AWS SC 2kg which has 0.1g resolution with small enough size and for also weighing the yield.
My AWS SC 2kg has always worked fine. I never calibrated it, but I've since gotten 2 other scales and they all read within 0.2g of each other at varying weights.
My only complaint about the AWS is that it can take a couple of seconds to respond to very small weight changes, i.e. adding a single coffee bean.
If you want to up your budget a bit, check out the Timemore Black Mirror scale.
There are grinders that grind by weight and by time. A/u/menschmaschine5 said, those that grind by weight (Baratza Vario-W and Forte) are available, but they're pretty expensive. Grinding by time is inexact, but might work for you.
The Baratza Virtuoso has an analogue timer knob, so once you figure out the volume of ground coffee you want, just remember to crank the knob that same distance, and you'll generally get similar results.
Alternatively, there's the Breville Smart Grinder Pro. You select the grind fineness and number of cups you want, but it still uses time to calculate the output, not weight. So if your beans are of different densities from bag to bag, your results won't be consistent. But, it's better than no timer at all if you don't want to single-dose.
If you're happy with your Cuisinart and don't want to get a different grinder, then just invest in a $20 scale from Amazon with 0.1g resolution (like this one)
For a cheap, easy set up at home, you could get a french press. Getting freshly roasted coffee is pretty important, so look up if there are any roasters near you. Grinding at home with a burr grinder is ideal, but if you aren't ready for that yet you can have them ground for you. Ground coffee gets stale much quicker tham whole beans. You also do not need to get the coffee super course ground like a lot of people say, it can be just a little coarser than your normal store bought preground coffee. Look up the James Hoffman French Press technique, it truly works. I usually like a 1:14 ratio of coffee to water. So for one person, 20 grams of coffee to 280 grams of water. I think medium roast coffee works well with a French press. That being said I prefer to use a V60 for my coffee making. A Melitta or Aeropress would be good options for someone starting out. Also would recommend getting a cheap scale like this
A different model than the other American Weigh Scale, the American Weigh Scales AMW-SC-2KG has the same range and capacity as the Coffee Gear scale and is ~$21. It receives lots of mentions for coffee use, lots of folk like them, some report easy to break or issues with accurate weights.
It seems like you're at least brewing long enough. There is a possibility that the coffee grounds might be too coarse. As for the ratio of table spoons to cups of water, it might be hard for me to help you there. The old rule of thumb was 2 Tbsp:6oz water. I started out using this and eye-balling everything when I first got into doing manual brew coffee. I use scales and weigh everything now. I will be honest, trying to trouble shoot with Tbsp and oz is difficult. I know this may not be the answer you're looking for, but I would recommend buying a cheap scale. Once you have a scale, you will eliminate a lot of guessing and be more exact.
This is the first scale I got which was recommended by Blue Bottle as a great entry-level scale:
I still use this scale at work and for travel. My main scale I use is the Acaia Lunar. You don't need to buy an expensive scale with all the bells and whistles, you just need something that gets the job done.
I love mine. Can be tossed in a bag, it comes with a lid that is kinda loose, so adding a rubber band would make it perfect.
American Weigh Scales AMW-SC-2KG Digital Pocket Scale [link]
Here is a good pocket scale to consider adding to your setup, so you can control your ratio. This is important, as you will learn what works for your taste. Different beans have different densities, but a gram is always a gram.
With a timer, I don't really have a good suggestion. I originally went with the hario scale, but it was slow and not very responsive, and ate batteries. I switched to an AWS [link] and it's great with batteries, responsive. Starting to drift a little now, though...
American Weigh Scales AMW-SC-2KG Digital Pocket Scale
I just got this and have been using it for the past couple weeks. I used to have a Hario scale. This one is much more responsive and sensitive. It's half the price. It doesn't have a timer like the Hario does but I just use my phone or a kitchen timer anyways.
I bought this one years ago - it's perfect. It also comes with two flat bottom ingredient bowls which store with the scale so it's compact as well. Highly recommend.
I use this: American Weigh Scales AMW-SC-2KG Digital Pocket Scale [link]
Also, any cheap luggage scale will work for when you have your whole pack packed up and wanna know the total weight.
Followed your advise and this is what I got. Can't wait to step up shots.
When should I start messing with the extraction temperature?
Typically, I go with just around 16-17g per 8 oz (or around 250 ml). Do yourself a favor and get one of these. Use it to accurately measure out the amount of coffee you brew, adjust to taste, and stay consistent.
Honestly though, it could be any number of factors that are causing the issues. The main ones are water quality, brew temperature (best at 195-205), freshness of grind, quality of beans, grind size, and water/coffee ratio. Try to play with one factor at a time and see if you can improve the cup quality to an acceptable amount. That machine should be capable of making a pretty decent cup of coffee given the right factors, assuming it maintains a good brewing temp range.
Several others pointed out the scale might not be the best choice & I agree. The AWS scale works well for me under my PF for espresso because of its size, & also works just fine for my chemex.
A scale really is important, and cheap. For a long time I used the AWS SC-2kg, which is $16.
Someone did a study here a few months ago, depending on roast level and country of origin coffee can fluctuate in density by over 100%. I've had the 2 Tbsp scoop that comes with the aeropress be anywhere between 8g and 20g of coffee beans.
This is a great scale. It is stupidly accurate from what I have used it for. I generally use it for espresso but it could also be used for an aeropress or pour over.
You could spend $150-$220 on an Acaia if you have the spare cash floating around... or you could spend less than $20 on an American Weigh Scale. It's svelte enough to weigh your espresso, but the platform is also wide enough to fit your portafilter or Chemex.
It may not be as water-resistant, and there's a ~2 second delay to reach the final measurement, but mine's held up for over 4 years and I've only had to replace the batteries twice.
Saw you weren't using a scale, a cheap one that's lasted me for the past 3 years without fail is this little guy, AMW-2C
Just to help a little more. What is your brew technique? My typical method is using the Kalita Wave, which is very similar to your Melitta. On my beans a week and under, I bloom for 30 seconds, just under double my coffee weight (30 grams of coffee = 50 gram bloom). Beans over a week I'll bloom for 45 seconds. Then it's business as usual. A tight controlled pour and I try to limit my brew time to under 2:30 (I make 30g batches). SOMETIMES, depending on the coffee, I'll add in some agitation during the bloom, just depends on how I feel that morning.
Acaia, for sure. I use a Pearl at my current job to dial in and it's unbelievable.
At home, I use a small AWS scale for all of my coffee making, baking, and calorie tracking. It's weighing something at least 15+ times a day and hasn't let me down.
Well, I was only asking those questions to try and field if there were any specific issues that you were having.
If what you're doing is (a) working and (b) consistent, then keep it up. Since there are a lot of variables that are out of your hands (e.g. type of bean, grind size, freshness), then I'd suggest focusing on making the variables that you can control the best possible.
Filtering the water, or maybe even using bottled water, will likely make your brew better. Since you can't control what beans are being used, I'd recommend investing in a cheap gram scale to repeat your results in the event that your office gets a different type of coffee from the same roaster.
Also, do you have a refrigerator? I know you don't have a freezer, but I found that brewing for 18ish hours in the refrigerator greatly increased flavor and mouthfeel over 12ish hours at room temperature. Something to try/think about, especially during those times when your schedule requires you to brew it for a longer period of time.
If you want espresso on a budget, the Breville Infuser is a much better machine than the Silvia. I honestly don't understand how the Silvia is still around at that price point. No PID, no pre-infusion, bad customer service if any. If you want to go down the espresso road, the Infuser and a Baratza grinder would be a good match.
For scales, I would go with this one from American Weigh Systems:
I use the American Weigh Scales AMW-SC-2KG. It has a 0.1g resolution and you can disable the auto-off if you plug it in.
It doesn't have a timer like the Hario, but it's a whole lot cheaper.
This scale is pretty great. It's accurate to .1 gram. If you don't need it to go up to 2 kg (I weigh food on mine too) the same company sells ones that max out at 1 kg for less than $10 USD.
AWS 2kg. $20.50. Has 0.1g resolution. Mine works great! Its often recommended here by others.
I haven't seen much about this scale in this sub, so I thought I'd post some feedback on mine.
I have 2 other scales: an AWS and a Bonavita. Both have served me well. Recently I spilled some coffee on my AWS which entered the LCD display. It's still usable, but the LCD display is stained on the inside. So I decided to look for a water resistant scale suitable for espresso. I considered the Brewista Smart Scale II, but reviews were mixed at how well its auto-tare and auto-start features worked. I decided to look for a fully manual scale at a lower price, and the Timemore seemed to be the one.
I got mine on AliExpress. This was my first purchase on AE, so I had to give myself a crash course in how to use it. Anyone using AE for the first time needs to check out the FAQ's on r/Aliexpress.
The dealers with the most sales of this scale on AE are Jaffee (reputed to be the only official Timemore dealer on AE) Lvxiao, and Coffee Talk. They are also the most expensive. I decided to take a chance (in retrospect probably a dumb idea although it worked out fine for me) and chose Vogvigo. Prices from all of these dealers fluctuate daily, and at the time I ordered Vogvigo was about $15 cheaper than the major dealers (not true today). AliExpress orders usually take 2 to 3 months to arrive in this era of Covid, so I was amazed that mine arrived in 2 weeks!
The scale is also available from a few vendors on Amazon (example) for a few dollars more. You still have to wait a couple of weeks for shipping from China, but you will have Amazon to help you in case of any problems with the vendor. At the time I ordered, Amazon was considerably more expensive than AE. At today's prices, I would have bought from Amazon.
I don't have any calibration weights, but at lower weights around 30g., all 3 of my scales give identical readings to 0.1g, so I am confident weighing my dose. At heavier weights, around 500g, my 3 scales give 3 different weights, but all are within 0.5g of each other. For heavier weights, the Timemore gives slightly different readings (but all are within 0.5g) depending on if the object is placed in the center of the scale or close to an edge. My other scales read a constant weight regardless of where the object is placed.
The Timemore is definitely the most responsive of my 3 scales. When single-dosing, the AWS can take a few seconds to register the addition of a single bean, while this is happens within a second on the Timemore.
The capacitive touch buttons on the Timemore take a bit of getting used to. Tapping a button pushes down the scale and changes the weight reading. This can be a bit unnerving when starting or stopping the timer, but it doesn't appear to change the measured weight once the scale recovers. There is an optional "beep" that can be enabled by holding down the timer button. I find it useful to keep the beep enabled so I know when the scale has registered my touch. I'll probably turn the beep off once I am more used to operating the scale.
The Timemore is the largest of my scales, 15.2 × 13 × 2.6cm or 5.98 × 5.12 × 1.02". It is much deeper than the drip tray of my Profitec Pro 500, so the front of the scale dangles over the edge of my drip tray when weighing my shots. This doesn't appear to have any effect on the measured weight. It's large enough to easily weigh my portafilter. It is a perfect size for pour over.
I love this scale and I highly recommend it. It looks great, works great, and is well priced.
this one from AWS is a start, weighs up to 2kg to 0.1g
Is it this one ?
I have an AWS and a Bonavita, and a Timemore Black Mirror. All 3 seem equally accurate. I've never calibrated them, but they all read within 0.1 g of each other at low weights, and 1g at high weights. The AWS can be a bit slow to respond, the other 2 are much faster.
The AWS is very small; the other 2 are quite a bit larger, but they work fine when overhanging the drip tray.
Many on this sub (including me) have had good luck with this one.
I recently purchased and currently use this scale and it has been great so far.
> Do they need to be waterproof?
Depends on how much of a mess you make when brewing.
What's your budget? Anything from a cheap scale on Amazon (just make sure it has at least 0.1g resolution) to an Acaia Lunar is possible.
American Weigh Scale SC Series
Tiny and awesome!
Alright, I'm just gonna power through everything feel free to ignore any items you don't want/need:
Let me know if I missed anything or if you have any questions.
Enjoy your machine!
This one is cheap, works great, and fits my 870.
Have this one and it works great.
I did have to order a replacement though as the first came miscalibrated (probably due to a fall during shipping). To avoid that, it may be beneficial to order a scale that includes a calibration weight, like this one.
This is the one that I got,, I also have a regular scale for measuring bigger stuff since this one only goes up to 2kg
I'm going to disagree with the Hario scale. Anecdotally, I found the measurements to have a significant delay when measuring slowly increasing amounts, such as water in a pourover. In addition to not very reactive buttons. Also, the $45 price tag is a bit high, when there are more responsive scales out there, I mostly think you're paying for the name here.
I like this AWS much better.
But if you want/need high end coffee nerd toys and cost is no object, the Acacia is the ultimate pour over scale. High reactive to weight changes, bluetooth compatiable, with the ability to track brew times and weights.
This one from Amazon.
The jennings and [link] are likely candidates right now. Something to plug in would be nice for my grandfather so he doesn't need to put batteries in
Depending in the size you want and if you want a timer, this American Weigh scale is great at its price point.
I have a cheap AWS scale and it works fine for me.
I’ve used this for 2 years, paid $17:
I also use it to weigh gunpowder charges. Gotta get my money’s worth.
American Weigh Scales AMW-SC-2KG Digital Pocket Scale [link]
A pour-over setup works best with a kettle, unless you have really fine motor control skills*, so like others said, a Hario hand grinder (~$30), a scale ($~20), and a Clever Coffee Dripper or an Aeropress.
A clever is like a French press in that you put ground coffee in, wait a few minutes, but it's also like a pour-over in that once you put it on top of a cup, the valve at the bottom opens and everything goes through the paper filter. Incredibly forgiving.
Have a look
Aeropress is fine too, since you only drink 1-2 cups.
For the scale, I use this AWS 2kg - compact and updates fast. Survived a couple explosions of water and coffee as well.
*I've seen a pianist pour a thinner stream of water than what comes out of a $100+ Takahiro kettle using just a ordinary tea kettle with a huge spout.
Probably the lowest price for all those:
good, cheap scale:
Gooseneck w/ thermometer:
If you want to be consistent, FIRST step is a scale.
Great starter scale. I also still use it for my espresso machine when pulling shots.
Get away from using tablespoons and ounces. It doesn't matter how perfect your brew technique is if your recipe( coffee and water) is constantly different every cup of coffee you make(and trust me, it is even if you don't think so). If you happen to make a great cup of coffee one day and want to keep replicating it, there is no you're going to do it exactly the next time. Even if you eyeball it. Also, if you happen to make a bad cup of coffee, you're going to want to know what went wrong. Without a scale, you won't know how much/how little and what to adjust.
For example: if you have a scale and you want to use a recipe for about a single cup of coffee -using a 1:15 repcipe - 20g coffee:300g water is fine. When the time is up and you pour yourself a cup of coffee, you notice that you want the cup of coffee a little "bolder" in taste. So one thing you can do is up the coffee dosage to 21g, or lower the water to 290g. Once you lock in a recipe that tastes perfect to you, you'll be able be able to make it every time. Since you're using a french press, one variable you don't want to adjust is grind size. You want a coarse grind size so that your grounds dont go through the screen.
I know you posted what YOU do when you brew with a French Press, but I suggest watching this instructional from a professional on how to brew with one. Why not learn the proper way instead of continuing to guess? You're not far off, but this will forsure help!
I don't want this to come off as me being a jerk. I truly want you to make a great cup of coffee from one guy to another. I would just hate to see you put in all this effort and then not get the results you're looking for.
I hope this helps!
I recommend an AWS scale. I've had mine for several years and it still works great.
I've used a ton of scales and this one has never let me down.
Suggestion for a budget scale:
These are great- stay calibrated and are very durable. 2kg limit and .1g resolution.
Don't get the V60 scale, go for this one: [link]
You're welcome! I used a $16 AWS for years and they work well, and come with a protective case.
thesweethome.com recommended this one [link] but I'll look into your recommendation as well. Thanks!
Works for everything. Measures grams. Seems accurate enough. Small though.
The problem trying to do that is that the weight of a specific volume of beans is dependent on roast. I'm brewing in my aeropress on top of this: American Weigh Scales AMW-SC-2KG Digital Pocket Scale [link]
I realized I live near a solid roaster, so I'm thinking about putting together a kit to make decent coffee at work.
I'm stuck debating between an electric (Baratza Encore) or a hand grinder (probably the Porlex JP-30). I like the idea of an electric in case I have company (admittedly, not often at the moment). Downsides of the electric - I'd have to grind at home in the morning. Will the ground coffee degrade in the 30-60 minutes it would take me to get to work and get situated? What would you do?
If you're looking for suggestions, I'm very happy with this one.
I also have this one, which can handle more weight and has a nice pull-away display, but it's not as precise (down to the gram instead of tenth of a gram).
I use this scale for my coffee and tea, fits a french press for example nicely, and is precise for weighing out beans etc.
Does your Silvia have a PID installed?
As far as gear goes, here are my recommendations:
Grinder: Baratza Vario - refurb if you can get it from Baratza's website.
Tamper: I like Clive Coffee's Tampers. They're around the same price as a Reg Barber, but I like the way they feel and look a lot more. Here's a link.
Knockbox: Rattleware has some good ones, but basically any knockbox will do.
Milk Pitcher: 12 oz. Rattleware for Capps and smaller drinks. If you're going to be making lattes, then you'll want a 20 oz. pitcher.
Beans: If you've got any good quality, local coffee shops in your area, then try their stuff. See what you like and what you don't. If there isn't much available locally, then there are plenty of online retailers. I've recently been buying from Sterling Coffee Roasters in Portland, OR because they offer free shipping and have great coffee. But like I said there are tons of choices for beans.
Scale: Definitely get a scale. Weighing each dose is probably the best way to pull consistent shots day after day. It's easy - just put portafilter on scale to zero before you grind into the portafilter. Then grind into portafilter and weigh when it looks close. I would start with 19 gram doses if I were you. I like this scale from AWS..
Get a thermometer - any good insta-read thermometer will do.
Get a stiff bristled brush for cleaning the group head, like this one.
Get some Cafiza for back flushing the group head every few weeks.
Get some Dezcal for descaling the boiler a couple of times per year.
Get a bottomless portafilter at some point.
You may want to look into purchasing one of the VST portafilter baskets. The ones that come with the Silvia are not very good.
Honestly, my real advice would be to take back the machine, get cash or store credit, and put that money towards a Breville Dual Boiler 920XL. The Breville comes with a 2 year warranty, and includes quality baskets, milk pitcher, tamper, and water filter. It's about double the price of the Silvia, but it has so many more features that it's more than worth it. I bought a Silvia as my first machine and it took me only a few months before I decided to upgrade. It's a fun little machine, but it's extremely outdated and way over priced for what you're getting.