Whether you’re a coffee shop, a coffee truck, or a special event popup, an organized workflow is key for successful shifts and happy customers. Espresso scales are one of the highest-leverage ways to optimize espresso quality and create a consistent workflow for baristas.
There are dozens of coffee scales out there, but few that are designed to work specifically for espresso. Our whole job is helping coffee businesses find the right gear, so skip the research—here are our top picks.
In this article, we’ll look at.
- The differences between normal coffee scales and espresso scales
- Our four top picks for espresso scales in a cafe/cart setting
- How to evaluate budget vs premium scale options
Whether you are preparing espresso-based beverages or filter coffee, you want to make sure that everyone in your café follows standard recipes or brews coffee in the most accurate way possible, and that those recipes can be replicated as many times as required. With these scales, you’ll get there in no time.
Selecting an Espresso Scale for Your Coffee Bar: 3 Things to Consider
- Coffee Volume: How many espresso drinks will you prepare during the day? If you have a high-volume café, you want to have specialized espresso scales that allow you to work at high speed. This means being able to reset your scale between every shot quickly, having accurate weighing features—ideally down to the 0.1 gram, and an adequate size that fits under your drip tray to avoid accidents.
- Data and Training Features: To help monitor the performance of your baristas, some scales collect data and can create graphs for you to analyze on how closely your staff are keeping to the standard recipes.These quality control features can help trainers and managers maintain a high standard of quality using objective measurements.
- Espresso Purpose: Do you offer exclusively espresso-based drinks? Or do you also sell filter coffee? You might want to have different types of scales for each type of brewing method in order to optimize your workflow. Scales built for espresso service tend to be more precise in their measurements, offer more granularity (weighing to 0.1g vs 1g), and are typically smaller so they can fit right onto the espresso drip tray.
Next, onto the best espresso scales we love to recommend to baristas and coffee shops that are powerful enough to work in a professional, demanding setting.
The Best Espresso Scales for Coffee Shops
Acaia Lunar: The Best All-Around Espresso Scale for Cafes
Acaia is a longtime brand in the specialty coffee industry and has a very well-earned reputation for cutting-edge scale technology that’s designed just for coffee. The Acaia Lunar is your best choice for an all-around espresso scale.
The latest model was released in 2021 with some impressive features that you won’t find anywhere else, like a flow-rate indicator, which allows you to understand your shot flow variations, improved weighing technology for better accuracy, a faster response time, and other features that make it easier use in high-volume settings that serve specialty espressos or during rush hour.
Very notably, it has water and spill-resistance making it durable and easy to clean. It’s designed to withstand hot espresso being dripped and poured on it all day, every day.
We also love the USB-C charging, bright display, and customizable espresso workflow parameters. The built-in espresso modes will automatically start and stop a timer or tare the scale to help you speed up workflow.
Acaia designed the Lunar scale thoughtfully to be used when pulling espresso shots. This is why it includes the flow rate indicator function, so you can better understand what is happening with your shot, if there is any channeling and assess the barista’s tamping skills. Despite the larger size of the 2021 edition, the scale fits perfectly on the dripping tray and under the grouphead of any espresso machine.
The newer features come in handy when baristas need to practice their shots or when you need to fine-tune a recipe, for example, when you get new beans, or a different roast.
These top features come at a cost. In order to make it a worthy investment, you have to make sure you will maximize the use of each one of its functions in order to get all the advantages.
“I've used some cheap scales, and yes they have worked, and have also failed. I love how skinny it is and how it's automatic and easy to use and clean. Charge has lasted over a month. I really love this scale. It was hard at first to justify the cost, but now I'm wondering why I took so long to get it.” — Daniel, Espresso Parts Customer
The Acaia Lunar comes in three colors: Black, Silver and white, and features a Lithium-ion rechargeable battery, with a life of up to 27 hours.
Hiroia Jimmy Scale: Best for Espresso Machines Without A Timer
You might not recognize the Hiroia brand name, but it’s actually an affiliate brand of Hario, the beloved maker of the Hario V60 and other coffee brewers. Their Hiroia brand scale is a well-rounded scale that can be used for both espresso and filter, even if it’s not as feature-rich as the Acaia Lunar.
The Hiroia Jimmy’s key feature is the detachable Bluetooth display, allowing baristas to place the weight and timer screen on top of the espresso machine, but leave the actual scale itself down on the drip tray. This means baristas don’t have to stare down all day to read the scale display—a pleasant alternative that’ll save them some neck discomfort.
The Hiroia Jimmy weighs in both a gram and 1/10th gram for precision. The espresso mode comes with an auto-tare and auto start/stop timer feature that adapts to your extraction habits
The Hiroia Jimmy scale is a great scale for training baristas. It comes with a mobile app that allows you to store your brews and recipes to be replicated frequently, and prepare consistent espressos. You can also duplicate the display in your smartphone, which allows you to train your team or make adjustments after discussing with your colleagues.
Acaia Pearl S: Best Flexible Brew Bar + Espresso Scale
The Acaia Pearl S is one of the top-notch and most flexible scales for brewing coffee with any method. Smaller than the Pearl model, it fits on the drip tray of most espresso machines, though it’s not quite as small as the Acaia Lunar.
The Pearl S is very precise, as it can weigh amounts as small as 1/10 of a gram. Featuring a portafilter mode, the scale automatically detects your portafilter. This can help you simplify weighing coffee grounds, something that is very useful for training your baristas, as it makes it easier to dial-in.
Additionally, the Acaia Pearl S is a great ally at the brew bar. The pour-over coffee practice mode allows you to train more consistency with filter brewing with a real-time flow meter. This means you can better standardize your recipes across baristas, so your customers will find consistent drinks each time they visit your café.
The coffee brewing guides featured in the Brewguide mobile app can also come in handy for this purpose and make your experience interactive, allowing you can exchange your brews with the coffee community and learn one thing or two from fellow baristas and café owners.
So, if you are looking for a multi-purpose, lightweight digital coffee scale that you can move around the bar according to your needs, and offers basic brewing and espresso features, the Acaia Pearl S may be your best bet.
Escali Primo: Best for Cafés, Carts, and Trucks On a Tight Budget
The humble Escali Primo is the best option if you don’t want to spend a lot of money for a higher-end scale, and need a pure scale that just works. This basic coffee scale is durable and easy to clean. The sealable control panel protects the scale against accidental spills and the occasional espresso drip.
Its two buttons make it very easy to operate for more efficiency. The Escali primo also has an automatic shut-off function, in case you forget to do so manually during a rush. Unfortunately, the scale’s weighing accuracy is only 1g, and doesn’t fit all espresso machine drip trays.
Overall, the Escali Primo is a scale that’s not really built for espresso, but performs well enough with the core features that it’s become a popular budget pick among coffee shops.
Breakdown of Our Top Pick Espresso Scales
Espresso and brew bar at high volume settings
Espresso machines without a timer
Flexible espresso + brew bar scale
Small cafés, coffee carts and trucks on a budget
We understand that choosing the best scale for your café will depend on the space you have available, the amount of coffee you serve and the arrangement of your espresso and brew bars, as well as your budget. Our team will gladly assess your needs and guide you through the best options.
You can contact us about a wholesale partnership for coffee businesses by calling at (800) 459-5594 or reaching out here.
Let’s Answer Some Common FAQs
What’s the difference between a coffee scale and an espresso scale?
Espresso scales are more technically sophisticated and have specific features that help you improve your extraction. Generally, they are also smaller in size as they need to fit most espresso machine drip trays. This way, the espresso shots pulled can be weighed as the comes out in real time.
How accurate do I need my espresso scale to be?
Ideally, you always want the best level of accuracy in order to get a great cup of coffee. We recommend picking a scale that allows you to measure to the 0.1 gram.