Tools of the Trade
A scale in coffee brewing is the equivalent to measuring spoons for a baker. Scales improve consistency by measuring two of the most important variables in brewing – throw weight (the amount of ground coffee) and brew weight (how much water is used).
Beginner: AWS SC-2KGA – $22. A simple scale, precise to 0.1 grams. This scale is commonly found in the home brew kits of professional baristas.
Intermediate: Hario V60 Smart Scale $51. This scale adds timer functionality in a neat and accurate package.
Pro: Acaia Pearl Scale – $129 An easy-to-use but feature-rich scale with Bluetooth connectivity, the acaia Pearl allows you to track cutting-edge indicators like flow rate with the Brewmaster app, as well as store recipes for later review and comparison.
An electric kettle is most convenient for daily coffee brewing, but a good old-fashioned pot or kettle will work as well to heat your water. For pour overs, the pouring techniques are executed with ultimate precision by using a gooseneck-pouring kettle. Some of these recommendations are combined into a single product, others will require a heating method and pouring method
Beginner: Bonavita Pouring Kettle – $35. This kettle is built to last, with an elongated spout for better pouring precision. It is not electric and requires another heat source, but is safe to use on a stovetop.
Intermediate: Bonavita Variable Temperature Electric Kettle – $73. This is the same pouring form factor as the beginner kettle, but adds an insulated handle and the ability to hold water at a temperature below boiling for up to an hour. Control over brewing temperature is important when setting a recipe for your coffee, and this scale enables you to track that with consistency.
Pro: Kalita Wave Kettle – $110. This kettle is not electric but is a beautiful, heirloom piece. Its aesthetics and ergonomics enhance the ritual of manual brewing.
One of the most important things about home brewing is grinding your coffee fresh. Coffee is full of flavorful compounds that degrade over time; grinding coffee exposes its flavor to its environment, dramatically shortening its shelf life. By buying coffee that’s freshly roasted and only grinding what you need before you brew it, you will ensure the freshest cup of coffee. Once you commit to grinding fresh, then grind size and consistency is key.
Beginner: Hario Hand Mill – $25. This is the most economical way to get fresh ground coffee with consistent size particles. Blade grinders, which are about the same price, slice and shatter coffee beans without regard for consistency, leaving you with a lot of coffee “fines” that will over-extract in the brewing process and add a bitter, muddied flavor. With a bit of elbow grease, the Hand Mill can grind about 50 grams at a time, enough to brew about 27 ounces of filter coffee.
Intermediate: Baratza Encore – $129. The Encore offers grind size consistency across a range of brewing methods, from pourover to cold brew. Upgrading from the manual Hand Mill to the Encore will save time and energy in your morning ritual.
Pro: Baratza Vario – $499. The Vario is a professional-grade grinder for home use, with precise grind adjustment enabling it to serve as an espresso grinder as well. This level of precision ensures you get the most out of every coffee you brew.
The brewing device you choose affects the flavor in the cup. Each brewing method uses a different grind setting (size of coffee grounds) and has a different brewing time. The fun thing about coffee is that because of all of the variables, you can achieve a variety of different results from each brew method. Generally speaking, here are some general guidelines to help you chose your method.
French Press: For darker roasted coffees, big body, oily, sludgy cup
Hario v60: Nuanced, full bodied, sweet
Kalita Wave: Sweet, well-rounded
Chemex: Clean, highlights brighter flavors, more delicate body
Aeropress: Lower acidity, rounder profile
Always buy coffee in small amounts – just enough to consume in about two weeks. Look for a roast date on the package. Fresher is better! Every coffee NobletreeCoffee.com sells is roasted to order.