| If you tell someone that you bought a scale, they figure you are going to weigh stuff. If you tell the same thing to a barista (home or pro), they will likely direct their thoughts towards either espresso or pour over. If you tell them that you purchased the Brewista Smart Scale, then at least one of the people in the conversation (you) will be thinking both espresso and pourover!
While wandering the SCAA 2016 exhibition floor I stopped by the Brew Global booth and had a talk with Rob Jason again who just happened to be at that booth. Rob was talking to Christian Krause, the Brewista Brand Manager. I joined in and received a Brewista Smart Scale for my review here.
After opening the package and doing some reading of the included set of instructions and quick guide, it is quite clear that this scale was made for use around coffee brewing, and around those who may not be.. well, let's call it fastidious. The weighing platform appears to be stainless steel, and the base portion has a water repellent "Nano-coating," a silicone-like surface designed for easy cleaning. It also makes it easy to grip the scale even with wet hands. The battery compartment comes with a silicone sealing gasket and they include two spare gaskets as well. There is no option for external power; it can only be powered by two AAA cells which are also included.
Further reading indicates that not only is the scale water resistant, but it is made to be rinsed off under running water! It does state the the scale should not be submerged as it will extend the drying time. Nice to know that if you accidentally drop it at Zero-dark-thirty into the dish water in the sink that it shouldn't harm the scale. But I would suggest avoiding submersion.
The battery cover is held in place by two screws. The Silicone gasket is shown here partially displaced.
After inserting the batteries and verifying that the silicone gasket is in place I replaced the cover. Note the use of machine screws and metal inserts- a nice touch to assure an effective seal.
I pressed the "ON/OFF" button and found the display very easy to see and read. The small size (approximately 4.25" x 5") makes it easy to position on an espresso machine's drip tray as well, and the diminutive height of .75" to the top of the platform means that it should still allow placement of most cups under the group.
The Brewista is named "Smart Scale." My first question when talking to Christian was, "Does it have Bluetooth or WiFi?" His reaction seemed to indicate that this was not the first time he had answered, "No," to that question. It does not have any communication ability. No wireless, no Bluetooth. And my silent thought to his response was, "Why 'Smart' scale then?"
On the keypad are four buttons that control all functions and settings. First thing to do is set the Auto-Off function. In seconds, the choices are 0, 60, 120, or 180. The choice of zero means that auto-off is defeated. It comes set to 180.
It has a built in calibration mode that uses a 500 gram weight (not included). Capacity is 2000 grams and they state that it is accurate to 0.1grams.
There are three warning messages that can appear on the screen:
•"LO" - indicates a low battery condition. Replace batteries.
•"EEEE" - The scale has been overloaded. Something to avoid with any scale.
•"UNST" - means that either the scale is on an unstable surface or there is water in the scale and it should be allowed to dry before use.
HOW SMART IS IT? It's so smart that...
So we have smart phones, smart TVs, and a few of us are fortunate enough to have a smart spouse. So "smart" in this case denotes a scale that can take care of some functionary activities as well as do some thinking for you. The Brewista Smart Scale has six different modes which can be selected from the keypad. Let's take a brief look at them:
The first four are "Auto" modes and numbered as such, Auto 1, Auto 2, etc. These are designed to work with the brewing of espresso. All four of these modes have these things in common:
• Placing the cup on the scale will tare the weight and set time to zero.
• After cup is removed the display retains reading for five seconds then all data returns to zero.
In addition to the above common functions, here are the four auto modes and the details as to how they differ:
• Auto1: Cup placement causes display to flash and timer starts automatically. Weight is displayed as brew progresses.
• Auto2: Weight is displayed as brew progresses. Timer is manually started when desired
• Auto3: Weight only is displayed as brew progresses. No timer function. For machines with built-in timers.
• Auto4: When espresso hits the cup the timer starts automatically. Weight is displayed as brew progresses. Removing the cup stops the timer.
The last two modes are the "Hand" modes:
• Hand1: This is specifically written to use with pour over methods of brewing. Add brewing vessel to scale and the weight display tares. Add coffee grounds and when the platform is stable for three seconds the weight will tare once again (handy for weighing the mass of coffee!). Start pouring water and the display will flash, the timer will start, and weight of brew will be measured. Remove vessel and data is displayed for five seconds then weight and time go back to zero.
• Hand2: Manual mode. User tares weight and starts timer as desired, or not. Call it "scale mode" if you like.
Each mode is denoted by a small symbol or letter on the far-lest side of the display. All of the user settings and functions, including detailed washing and drying directions, are detailed in the two fold-out instructional sheets that come with the scale.
It would be a nice addition if a brief outline of the modes was printed onto (into?) the nano coating on the bottom of the scale. Possibly a spreadsheet grid with the basic functions of each mode checked off.
The Brewista scale responds very quickly to changes in mass, and stabilizes quickly as well. Its sensitivity and accuracy seem very consistent throughout its range. I added different weights in succession in an ever-increasing pile on the scale, then after each large item I then added the same coin each time to that mass, and the scale was accurate all the way through its range during this unscientific test.
The Brewista scale does what it is designed to do, and it does them well. The negatives are few. The ON/OFF button is the same color as two of the other buttons. The "TIME" button is bright orange with black print and stands out. Maybe a white button with black print would have been better for the ON/OFF for those of us who are farsighted.. and forgetful (left my glasses in the other room).. and old. That nit has been picked. Moving on..
The ability to select the auto-off time is very nice. I would like a similar choice as to how long data remains displayed before the scale automatically reverts to zero. Five seconds is likely a short eternity for a professional barista, and while I can only speak for myself, by the time I put the cup on the saucer at the table behind me, then reach for pencil and paper to make some notes, the display has reset itself.
While it would add a user programming complication as well as a computational and display design change, it would have been nice if the scale could compute the extraction ratio. Obviously, the user would have to enter the mass of coffee being used.
The Brewista Smart Scale (model BSC2BNVWP) comes with a one year warranty. It is currently priced at $60 and it is available at that price shipped. With six different modes, from manual to fully automatic, for espresso, pour over, or just plain weighing stuff, you are bound to find a mode that works well with your style of brewing. With all of that, let's go ahead and call it a smart scale.