I like scales! Forget measuring cups, tablespoons, and cocktail jiggers — gram scales are a must for me when working in the kitchen or coffee bar.
I’ve amassed (sorry!) a tidy collection of these weight-measurement gadgets, and have my go-to’s for every situation. But as far as coffee-making is concerned, I think I’ve found my current favorite: the supremely handy Timemore Black Mirror Nano.
Things To Consider When Buying Coffee Scales
Coffee scales come in all shapes and sizes. Take a look at these factors that might weigh into your decision:
How You Brew Coffee
If you’re a coffee lover who mostly makes espresso, choose a small scale that fits well on your espresso machine’s drip tray. The scale should also be responsive and accurate to one-tenth of a gram (0.1g) since you’re weighing a small amount of coffee.
For pour overs or French presses, pick a scale with a larger platform that can comfortably fit your brewer. For large brewers, choose one with a high weight capacity.
Charging and Battery Life
Most scales on the market are powered by AA or AAA batteries. You can use disposable alkalines or splurge for rechargeable NiMH cells that last longer.
Newer models contain internal lithium-ion packs that charge with micro-USB or USB-C cables, which are commonly used for charging mobile phones. These scales charge faster than external batteries in most cases, using the same cables and plugs you may already have for your other gadgets.
Keep in mind, though, that integrated batteries are difficult to replace when they stop working and doing it yourself will likely void your scale’s warranty.
Importance of Extra Features
Many coffee scales come with a built-in timer to help you keep track of the brewing process. Some higher-end models feature smart capabilities that automatically tare the weight or start the timer, allowing you to brew hands-free.
More advanced features on top-of-the-line scales include flow rate tracking and the ability to save and load brew profiles via Bluetooth or WiFi.
More About Timemore
While their products have only recently begun to make a splash in the U.S., Timemore has been around the block for a while, manufacturing coffee equipment for Asian markets since 2012.
This Shanghai-based company makes high-quality and well-designed hand coffee grinders, pour over brewers, kettles, and yes, coffee scales.
Many of their models are attractively priced for the home enthusiast, yet are durable enough to be used by professionals in cafés and competitions.
A Quick Look at the Timemore Black Mirror Nano
The Black Mirror Nano is a compact scale that features a unique, angled front end with a black-out, back-lit display. Side-mounted capacitive buttons free up the splash-proof platform to support virtually any brew method.
This scale holds up to 2000 grams and is accurate to 0.1 grams. It also features a brew timer and flow rate display that you can toggle between using two buttons on the left. On the right are a capacitive tare button, a physical on-off switch, and a USB-C charging port.
There are also two smart modes — one for pour over and another for espresso. When specific brewing cues are detected, both modes automatically reset the weight to zero and start the timer.
In the box, you get an anti-slip silicone mat that protects the scale from hot water splashes. Additionally, a USB-A to USB-C cable is provided for charging duties.
Not to be confused with Timemore’s first scale, the similarly-named Black Mirror. The Nano one is half the size of its older brother.
Features and Benefits
Here are some of the things you can expect from the Timemore Black Mirror Nano:
Compact and Versatile Design
The Black Mirror Nano is a compact scale that works great for both espresso and manual brew methods.
It might be sized closer to a scale specialized for espresso use, but the angled display and side-mounted controls mean that the entire 4” x 4” weight platform can be used to hold even large-capacity brewers and serving carafes.
The scale’s small dimensions and low profile should fit most espresso machine drip trays.
My 500ml serving carafe, 20oz French press, and six-cup Chemex all fit comfortably on top of the weighing platform. Use the included silicone mat to avoid brewer slippage!
Great Build Quality
Another thing I’m impressed by is the Nano’s build quality. I was fooled into thinking that the entire chassis was made of machined aluminum. Only the bottom is metal, while the top is a high-quality textured acrylic that does a decent job of hiding fingerprints.
Beneath the hefty base are two of the chunkiest rubber strips I’ve seen on a scale. These are pretty effective at keeping this small scale from sliding around.
No unsightly gaps, no creaks, and an overall premium feel make the Nano a scale you can move around your brew bar with confidence.
Top-Notch Response Time and Resolution
I’ve used a lot of scales, and, oh my, is this FAST! The Nano’s bright display registers weight changes quickly, rivaling expensive professional scales like the Acaia Pearl, which costs twice as much.
Why is this important? A rapid response time means you can fully control your water streams for pour overs and other brew methods. For espresso, this allows you to stop your shots precisely where you want them.
The scale is rated to detect weight sensitivity starting at 0.5g, but during my testing, it was able to detect small coffee beans as light as 0.3g!
From the initial weight, the scale can weigh accurately in 0.1g increments up to a maximum weight of 1000g. Beyond that, you lose a bit of precision as the scale will register weight in 1g increments up to its maximum capacity of 2000g.
There are a few things about this scale that make it one of my favorites to use in a busy coffee bar:
- A physical on-off switch allows you to quickly reboot the scale if the display or buttons are unresponsive, usually caused by placing it on unstable or vibrating surfaces
- The auto-off feature gives you a generous fifteen minutes before shutting off, as long as no weight changes are detected within that time period
- The capacitive buttons produce audible beeps to indicate that they have been successfully pressed, and can be disabled if desired
- A reset button located at the bottom can be used to restore it to the default settings
Smart Features That (Mostly) Don’t Get in the Way
In most cases, I find it quicker to use a scale’s ‘standard mode’ where you are required to manually press the tare and timer buttons. But I do get the appeal of hands-free automation, like if you’re the type to hold a pouring kettle with both hands, for instance.
The guys at Timemore have skipped a dedicated ‘mode’ button on this model (a plus in my book!). But you do get two hidden ‘auto’ modes that you can cycle through by quickly pressing the ‘timer’ button on the left five times.
Some people might find this fussy, but I like how it’s hard to enter these modes by accident!
You’ll hear a long beep, every time you successfully change modes.
Auto Pour Over Mode
Your scale is in the Auto Pour Over mode when the encircled ‘A’ icon lights up. This mode is great for pour overs, but you can also use other manual brewers as well.
Here’s what happens in this mode:
- When the timer displays ‘00:00’, you are free to set up your brewing station (i.e. pre-wet your filter, toss the water, add your coffee)
- Press the ‘timer’ button once, and the scale will give you a three-second countdown, reset the scale to zero, and display ‘–:–’ on the timer.
- At this point, adding weight to the scale, such as water from a kettle, will start the timer automatically
Auto Espresso Mode
Your scale is in Auto Espresso mode when the timer briefly changes to the letters ‘ESP’, followed by the encircled ‘A’ icon lighting up and blinking. This mode allows you to track your espresso brew time and liquid espresso weight without pressing any buttons.
Here’s how it works:
- If you put something on the scale, like a cup, it will tare automatically, but the timer will not start. Even if you change the cup with a different one, it will keep resetting the weight to zero without starting the timer.
- If you add weight quickly, like pouring hot water into the cup for an americano, the scale will tare automatically after you are done, but the timer will remain at ‘00:00’
- The timer will start only when the scale senses a small increase in weight, like the first few drops of an espresso shot.
The Auto Espresso mode is intuitive and allows you to change your mind about the choice of cup to use. It’s one of the best implementations I’ve tried.
Flow Rate Tracking Mode
I did say the smart features were mostly out of the way. Not so true for the flow rate tracker, which is activated by pressing a second capacitive button on the left side of the scale, less than an inch behind the one that starts the timer.
I’m not the biggest fan of this one. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve accidentally switched the time display to show flow rate when I had intended to start the timer manually.
What’s this feature good for, then? It measures the rate of weight increase on the scale in grams per second (g/s), which means it’s good for two things: alternative visual feedback for espresso shots (though one can argue that a timer is more useful) or refining your pouring technique for pour overs.
It’s great for pour over practice, but not much else.
It was a pretty cool feature to show my friends, but one I stopped using immediately once the novelty wore off.
Alternatives & Wrap-up
For a coffee scale that can also do kitchen duty, check out the Bonavita Rechargeable Coffee Scale. It also has a 2000g weight capacity and 0.1g resolution, but has a much larger platform and the ability to switch between grams and ounces.
However, if you want to splurge on the best pocket coffee scale, look no further than the Acaia Lunar. It’s more than twice the price of the Nano, but you get a more premium aluminum build, slightly smaller footprint, better water resistance, and best-in-class smart features thanks to its wireless capability and app support.
The Timemore Black Mirror Nano is an all-rounder that certainly punches above its weight class. But this model isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re looking for some key features like Bluetooth, brew profiling, and alternative units of measure.
But for everyday coffee use and then some? The Nano is a well-priced, versatile upper-midrange model that earns every bit of its 4.5/5 rating.
Timemore Black Mirror Nano Scale Review: A Gamechanger?
Looking for a precise coffee scale? Check out our Timemore Black Mirror Nano Scale Review, where we analyze its features and usability.