One of the most frequently dispensed pieces of coffee brewing advice around our roastery is “weigh your coffee” to achieve the correct dose. For some reason, however, Americans seem to have a resistance to many sensible things in the kitchen, chief among them weighing things, preferring instead to dispense based on a completely antiquated system of volume measures (I dare you to find a “tablespoon” outside the US or UK).
Why is it important to weigh your coffee instead of measuring by the scoop? Take it on faith that the amount of coffee you use to brew a cup matters. Given that, here are two reasons to switch to weight-based dosing:
- Different roasts will have different densities, with light roasts being more dense. Imagine it this way: scoop an equal volume of light and dark roast beans. Because the dark roast are slightly larger, and have less moisture (as a result of being dried longer in the roasting process), there will be slightly less beans in your dark roast scoop, and they will collectively weigh less than the same size scoop of light roast. When brewed, this will result in different extractions and total dissolved solids in the cup.
- You probably use a couple different scoops in your kitchen, each one of them being a slightly different volume, and/or, even with the same scoop you are not likely to be consistent.
Despite these good reasons to weigh your dose, volume-based dosing is still the norm, because for most people it’s inconvenient (or impossible, if they don’t have a good kitchen scale) to weigh their coffee every time they brew. Enter the Baratza Esatto as a possible solution to weight-based dosing.
What is the Baratza Esatto?
Esatto, in Italian, means exact, or precise. The Baratza Essatto, simply put, is an automatic weighing device designed to interface with certain Baratza grinders to dispense a pre-determined amount of coffee, ground on-demand at the time of use.
Essentially, the system consists of a base (think of something about the size of a shoe), the front of which contains a programmable interface to set the desired output of ground coffee. The heart of the system is a load cell positioned to rest in the bottom of the grinder once it’s installed. A special – smaller – coffee receptacle then replaces the one that came with the grinder. A short, slotted “arm” holds the grinder’s rotary timer switch in the “on” position so the programmable interface can control the on/off of the grinder to deliver the desired mass.
The unit has three buttons that can be programmed to output the desired mass when the Start button is pressed. I tested it with doses ranging from 7 grams to 60 grams output; I don’t know exactly what the lower or upper limits are.
Grinders that work with the Esatto
Several grinders in the Baratza lineup work with the Esatto accessory: the Maestro (discontinued), Maestro Plus, Virtuoso and Preciso. The Vario will NOT work with the Esatto.
How to assemble the Esatto to a grinder
The procedure is pretty straightforward and simple, as the following photos illustrate.
Using the Esatto
The Esatto is easy to use, as shown on the following photos.
So at the end of the day, the real question is, how accurate is it? The short answer is, very accurate. I ground approximately 100 samples, of doses ranging from 7 grams to 60 grams, and weighed them on an Ohaus Navigator balance (the Navigator is a laboratory-quality instrument with resolution of 0.1g). Every observation was was -0.1 g from the setpoint.
The $64,000 question then becomes: do I recommend the Esatto? Well, it depends. For sure a good kitchen scale is more versatile. But if you don’t have and won’t obtain a kitchen scale, this is a super way of dosing your coffee by weight.