Top positive review
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Better than Salter, and a great multi-use scale
on August 26, 2011
I like these slim glass scales a lot, and prior to buying this one I used a very similar looking Salter scale.
Salter Gripe Session #1
I used the Salter initially as a postal scale... somewhat unsuccessfully, because the small scale and its display would sometimes be completely obscured by the package.
When I became a coffee enthusiast, grinding and manually brewing my coffee, I used the Salter to weigh the grounds in grams. But the button to switch from ounces to grams was underneath the scale, and it would always default to ounces when you turned it on. The scale had a relatively short shutoff time, so it would often turn off before I had finished grinding and pouring in all the grounds. Each time I would have to empty the grounds into another container, turn on the scale, pick it up to reset it to grams, put the empty container back on and reset it to zero, then pour the grounds back in. I didn't even try using it to measure the water for pour-over coffee brewing, as it would not stay on long enough to give me the final weight.
Skip forward a few years, and I was ready for a replacement that actually functioned correctly both as a postal scale and for making coffee. Not to mention other cooking needs.
Salter Gripe Session #2
I started by visiting one of my favorite brick and mortar stores (not too surly a table) to check-out their assortment of scales--some Salter, some other brands. I tested each scale by repeatedly weighing the same object on different surfaces. The Salter scales fared poorly, with very inconsistent weights depending on the surface and how long they had been on. My kitchen's tile counter top can be fairly uneven, and I realized that this was an important factor in evaluating scales. The Salters also drifted up in weight very rapidly over time. In general, I noticed that the more expensive scales did perform better. At that particular store, an OXO Good Grips scale performed the most consistently, but it wasn't particularly sexy.
Then I looked on coffee sites and even visited my local coffee house, which was setting up shop with their own brand new flotilla of very slim glass scales. They also bemoaned the lack of a good scale, although their American Weigh scales seemed quite nice. If you look on American Weigh's site, you'll see a huge variety of scales in practically every form factor. They have the thin glass-top scale that I crave. Just as an aside, there are so many other brands that look similar, that you have to conclude these are all manufactured at the same factory in China. They all have two buttons: On/Off/Tare (zero reset) and Units. At least the buttons are all on top. All these scales seem to handle the same weight limit, too: approx. 11 lbs. And they pretty much all have a 1-2 minute shutoff time, which isn't really adequate for my needs.
I kept looking... :(
Still More Scales
After getting a bit frustrated about the lack of a glass scale with a 5 minute auto shutoff, I started finding home baristas on the net sharing the same concern. One manufacturer of coffee accessories, Prima Coffee, even managed to talk a scale manufacturer into modifying the cut-off time of their scales. They mentioned one of their preferred scales, made by Escali. First I heard of that name. So I looked them up.
Escali Makes--er... Imports Scales
Visiting their website, at first I thought Escali was a major scale manufacturer. I saw a lot of scales. From fluffy consumer models to what appeared to be very heavy duty professional models. They seemed to be seriously into scales. What I'm saying is Salter they're not. So why hadn't I heard of them? Turns out they, and American Weigh, and who knows how many other companies are indeed just importers of Chinese products--you'll even see Escali on American Weigh's site. And in Escali's case (according to one consumer watchdog), they seem to have been in the business for only a few years, and whatever that implies concerning customer support.
But then there's the actual product. On the surface, Escali's thin glass kitchen scale, the Arti, looks pretty much like all the other thin glass scales.
* Except it handles 15 lbs.
* And its auto shut-off is a full 5 minutes.
* And its display is larger and brighter than the others.
* And it has a hold feature which allows you to just hit the hold button and then put a big package on it and when it stabilizes it beeps once, nice and loud and you remove the package and look at the weight that it HOLDS on the display for 5 seconds after you lift the package. The hold button does one other thing: it disables the touch-sensitive buttons so they don't get tripped accidentally.
And it costs a bit more than the other scales, which I don't mind one bit.
I've been using the scale now for over a month, and it works well in all the uses I originally intended for the Salter. I really like how it remembers the last units you set it to. And the touch sensitivity of the buttons is excellent (way better than the Salter). It's also a bit more stable than the Salter was, but I have to rely on my memory for that part.
You see, when the package from Amazon had arrived at my door, I eagerly unboxed the Escali and placed it next to my Salter for a trial comparison. The Salter chose that moment to die.
Maybe it was just the batteries.
Or maybe, looking sideways at its shiny red replacement from some monster manufacturer in China who is clearly paying attention, it knew it was time to make the big exit.
*** Addendum ***
I have since revisited my favorite coffee house. To my surprise, they swapped all their scales for the Escali Arti scale. I asked them how well it has held up, and they responded it works well, is accurate, and they like the 5 minute shutoff. I never mentioned this scale to them before.