The market for coffee scales has been stagnant for a while.
It has either been a question of getting a simple digital scale with a timer or going all-in and investing in one of the pricy and extravagant smart scales from Acaia.
That’s not the case anymore. The Black Mirror from Timemore masterfully straddles the divide between these two extremes.
The TL;DR of this review is that I like what it brings to the table. Well, except for one glaring omission that might be a dealbreaker to you, depending on how familiar you are with the metric system. Read on for all the details.
Timemore is a relatively new brand in the Western world, but actually, their history goes back to 2012, where it was — according to the sparse information on the company’s website — founded by a group of coffee-loving friends in China.
Timemore produces a wide range of products, but it’s their manual grinders that have garnered the most attention so far.
As with numerous products from that part of the world, the branding can sometimes feel a bit off. Maybe it’s culture? Maybe something is lost in translation?
Timemore’s slogan is ‘Enjoy slow living,’ and there is a product called the ‘Fish kettle.’
However, questionable marketing aside, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Timemore is a serious and dedicated coffee brand that brings some innovative and well-designed products to the market.
The first thing people will notice about the Black Mirror scale is that it’s a beautiful thing.
The display panel is straightforward and easy to read. When it’s turned off, it becomes invisible, so the whole device is just a minimalist black square.
In spite of the name, there’s also a white model available.
The Black Mirror is big enough for manual brewing, while also being able to fit on the drip tray of many espresso machines due to its slimmer design.
The obvious comparison when it comes to design is, of course, the Acaia Pearl and Lunar models.
While I objectively think that those scales still have a slight edge in terms of pure design language and small details, the Black Mirror is not trailing far behind.
The Acaia scales rely on a design language heavily inspired by early-noughties Apple products like the plastic MacBooks and first generations of iPods.
The Chinese rival has a more futuristic design with sharp edges.
However, the Timemore scale seems less familiar, which is a good thing if you ask me. We have come to a point where it’s impossible to open Instagram without seeing carefully curated images of a nonchalant Pearl with a Chemex or Kalita Tsubame on top. At this point, it’s almost becoming a coffee cliche.
In terms of size, the Timemore gets another point in my book. It’s 5.98in x 5.1in x 1.02in, which means that it’s somewhere between the Pearl and Lunar.
This is good news because it means that you can probably get away with one affordable device. The Black Mirror is big enough for manual brewing, while also being able to fit on the drip tray of many espresso machines due to its slimmer design.
Most digital coffee scales are rather straightforward: they weigh coffee and also have a digital stopwatch.
However, if you look beyond the bare necessities, other features are nice to have:
- Is it reliable?
- Is it responding fast?
- Is it durable and water-resistant?
- Is it rechargeable?
Let’s see how it performs in each category.
- Reliability & Responsiveness: In the few months I have used the scales, I have never questioned the data, or felt that it was unresponsive.
However, because you have built-in buttons instead of ones that click, you have a slight lag from touching to action. It’s a matter of milliseconds but if I had to point to something that could be better, it would be this.
- Waterproof: The scale is not waterproof, but it’s more water-resistant than most coffee scales on the market. This is because it has the ‘shell’ design, where the exposed upper part, completely covers the weighing mechanism.
You can’t submerge it in water, but splashes of coffee or water, shouldn’t be a problem.
- Recharging: The scales charges via USB-C, which is faster and more futureproof than Micro-USB. A full charge gives you 7 hours of on-time, which should translate into about three weeks to one months of usage, depending on the user.
The display of the scale will always tell you the battery status so that you won’t get any nasty surprises.
Does it have any smart features?
The Black Mirror Single Sensor is NOT a smart scale. It doesn’t have any nifty apps that you can connect it to.
Whether that’s a pro or cons, should be up to you. I generally don’t see the appeal of so-called ‘smart’ coffee products with Bluetooth connection.
However, the big brother of this device, the Dual Sensor version, does have an app. For that reason, you might see incorrect information online claiming that the Black Mirror is a smart scale.
Now to the not-so-good-stuff. If you are born in the Land of the Free, you might have a problem with this scale since it follows the metric system.
That means that there will be no ounces, only grams.
Personally, I find it puzzling that Timemore hasn’t added this feature since it must be one of the most straightforward things to do when making a scale.
That being said, the metric system is dominating the coffee community. It’s quite rare to encounter recipes that are not using grams, so this might be a brilliant occasion to get more familiar with the system.
Another downside of the scale is that it could respond slightly faster when touching the on-screen button. But I understand that this is the price you pay for having that minimalist panel without real touch buttons. It’s not even something major; 150 milliseconds faster, would have been nice.
Also, just to be clear – I’m not talking about lag when adding weight to the scale – it’s very responsive. I’m only talking about using the buttons when taring.
The logo in the middle of the scale is also a bit annoying. Even though it’s covered by the rubber mat most of the time, I don’t think there’s any reason to have something white on something that aims to be a black mirror. I have seen models with a more discrete version of the logo, however.
The Timemore Black Mirror scale fulfills the most important duties of a coffee scale, while also looking cool enough for your Instagram feed.
The size is just right if you ask me; it works for all kinds of manual brewing, but you’d also be able to fit it on most drip trays.
(Pro tip: If espresso is a priority, you should probably measure the dimensions of your particular machine, before buying).
The inclusion of USB C is welcome, especially at this point, where it’s the standard on most phones.
Overall, I think Black Mirror represents the best value on the market at the moment.