Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The first time I saw someone brew a pourover with a scale, it blew my mind. As a barista, I weighed coffee out to the exact gram, but the water was measured loosely by volume (or in less ideal situations, just eyeballed). By actually setting the whole pourover rig on top of the scale, you get immediate feedback on the coffee-to-water ratio. All of a sudden, the coffee I brewed drastically improved—and it was clear that a ratio of 1:15 coffee to water resulted in a much different cup than, say, 1:17. If you’re only using 20 grams of coffee to make a single cup, however, that difference is only 40 grams of water. This is pretty much impossible to track accurately without a sensitive scale. 

Now, scales designed for coffee brewing have become more commonplace. Most include a timer and a sensitive weighing surface for improved accuracy, but some higher-end models even have built-in brew guides. So when I heard that Fellow, makers of some of our favorite coffee gear, debuted a new scale with smart capabilities—the Tally Pro—I knew it was worth putting it through the paces to see if could, well, measure up. 

The Tests

Serious Eats / Jesse RaubCalibration Test: I used a 100-gram calibration weight to see how accurate the Tally was compared our our favorite coffee scale, the Acaia PearlBaseline Accuracy Test: I placed a single coffee bean on the scale to test for accuracy and its ability to register small amounts and checked the results against the Acaia Pearl. Speed and Accuracy Test: I placed 10 coffee beans onto the scale and timed how long it took to settle on a final weight. I also noted if this weight was accurate, and how it compared to the speed and accuracy of the Acaia Pearl. Pourover Coffee Test: I brewed pourover coffee following these parameters and evaluated the scale’s ability to read brew water weight quickly and accurately. I also looked at the scale’s control panel: Were the buttons responsive and did it manage weight and time simultaneously? Usability Tests: Throughout testing, I evaluated how easy the scale was to use and how simple its control panel was to read. I also tested its Brew Assist feature along with its weight and timer modes. 

What We Learned

The Scale Was Incredibly Responsive and Accurate

The Fellow Tally Pro can accurately read a single coffee bean.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

In all of the tests, one aspect of the Tally stood out: It was the most responsive coffee scale I’ve ever tested. Whether it was dropping a handful of coffee beans onto the platform or pouring water over coffee grounds, the Tally immediately gave me an accurate readout. Most other scales have a slight delay…even a fraction of a second. The Tally, however, instantaneously displayed 1.7 grams. I saw the same responsiveness when making a pourover, too.

Every pour of water I added to the coffee grounds registered instantly, which helped me hit exact targets for total brew water (even when they were extremely specific—more on that later). But also impressive was the Tally’s ability to read the weight of a single coffee bean. Coffee beans usually weigh between 0.1 and 0.2 grams, which is usually within the margin of error for many scales. This allowed me to weigh out precise amounts of coffee to ensure exact brew ratios. 

Brew Assist Mode Was Surprisingly Handy

Brew Assist mode shows your brew time, current weight, and target weight.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The Tally has three modes: weight, timer, and Brew Assist. The latter was surprisingly helpful. Like most coffee scales, the Tally has a weight mode and weight and time mode. In weight mode, you can switch between grams, ounces, pounds, and milliliters for a variety of kitchen tasks. In weight and time mode, the scale shows, well, your weight and time side by side for easy pourover brewing. Brew assist mode is where things get interesting. You start by turning the dial to select the brew ratio you want—anywhere from 1:1 to 1:20 (though we recommend 1:16 for pourover and 1:15 for French press). Once you select your ratio, you zero the scale, then add ground coffee. The scale then automatically calculates the exact amount of water you should pour to meet your desired ratio, and shows it on the right side of its display over the word “water.” When you push the timer button, the scale zeroes itself out and waits for you to start pouring water. As the first drops of water hit the coffee, the timer automatically starts, and your brew water shows up in the middle of the screen. Keep pouring until you reach your desired water weight, and the number flashes white to let you know you’re right on target. 

Once you hit your brew weight target, the numbers are highlighted in white.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

When I first looked at this feature, I was skeptical. I’m a coffee pro with over 16 years of experience (and a serious home coffee bar), and I was pretty sure I knew how to calculate a brew ratio properly. But I make a pourover every morning and started to think back to sleepier times when I couldn’t remember how much coffee I added to the filter. With the brew assist mode, I’d never have to remember my target ever again—it’s right there on the screen. But the Tally also helped me realize something else: Most coffee grinders hold onto a little bit of ground coffee, so if you’re only weighing your coffee before you grind, you might be up or down about half of a gram. I normally would ignore that inconsistency when brewing, but the Tally helped point out that if I wanted to stay true to a precise ratio, I should adjust my water target based on how much coffee I’m brewing. It’s a hyper-picky thing to worry about, I know, but it’s also impressive that a simple ratio function could reveal something about coffee brewing that was new to me. 

It Was Easy to Clean

The glass-top base and removable weight platform were easy to wipe clean.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The weigh pan of the Tally is made out of a coated steel that’s easy to wipe down, but it can also be removed if you want to clean it more thoroughly. The surface of the scale is also easy to clean—it has a glass top and wipes off instantly. This is key for a coffee scale, where drips and spills happen aplenty, and if you’re going to invest in a coffee scale (and I mean invest—this thing is $185) it’s good to know that you can keep it looking sharp. 

It Was, Ahem, Expensive

The Fellow Tally Pro has excellent features, but it’s quite pricey.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

While the Tally’s performance is undeniable, so is its hefty price tag. Its brew assist mode is an excellent feature for anyone who is new to manual coffee brewing, but it’s hard to recommend a near-$200 accessory to anyone but a dedicated home coffee enthusiast. Other pricey coffee gear (like a high-end grinder or drip coffee maker) can make a dramatic impact on the quality of the coffee you’re brewing, but the Tally mostly offers a convenience upgrade from other, more affordable options. That being said, it’s an incredible scale with really great features that are worth the cost—as long as it fits your budget. 

The Verdict

The Tally Pro Coffee Scale is extremely responsive, accurate, and easy to use, but its high price tag makes it better suited for enthusiasts. 

Pros

If you’re looking for a sensitive coffee scale that can read weights quickly, has a built-in timer, and an incredibly useful brew assist mode, the Tally Pro Coffe Scale fits the bill. Its removable weigh pan is easy to clean (as is the glass surface of its body), and its controls are intuitive. Overall, it’s an excellent scale with some smart features that can simplify your morning routine.

Cons

The biggest issue with the scale is its price. It’s a good deal more expensive than any scale we’ve tested, and that’s likely a dealbreaker for a lot of people. We also wish its display was a little larger, but with a super bright OLED screen, it’s still easy to read.

Key Specs

Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.9 inchesBattery life: 13 hoursPrecision: 0.1 gramsMaximum weight: 2500 grams, or 5.5 poundsMeasurement units: Grams, ounces, pounds, millilitersPrice at the time of publish: $185

FAQs

Is the Tally Pro Scale worth it? 

Yes—if you’ve got the budget for it. It’s an extremely sensitive and accurate scale that has intuitive controls and is easy to clean. Its brew assist mode is also super helpful for anyone who makes a lot of pourover coffee or French presses. It’s expensive, though, and if it’s out of your price range, there are other coffee scales we recommend.

Do I need a coffee scale?

While any gram scale can help you brew better coffee, a coffee scale has a built-in timer and a more sensitive 0.1-gram resolution for convenience and more accurate brews. We highly recommend coffee scales for anyone who enjoys manual brewing (or even for bakers, since the weight platform is sensitive enough for small amounts of dry ingredients). 

Why We’re the Experts

Jesse Raub is the commerce writer for Serious Eats. He worked for 15 years in the specialty coffee industry and is our resident coffee expert, having tackled numerous coffee-related stories for the site, including reviews of small coffee and espresso machines and handheld coffee grinders.He previously reviewed coffee scales, and for this review, he tested the Fellow Tally Pro against the winner of that review, the Acaia Pearl to see how it stacked up. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *