Posted Mon Jun 25, 2012, 8:04am Subject: Re: Water thermometer?
We have a Thermapen and love it. Fast and accurate. Never would have bought it (gift from my Mother-in-law).
I've also got a much cheaper OXO thermometer that's holding up well; I enlarged one of the outlet holes in the lid of my Hario Buono and just sit that thermometer in that hole while the water is heating. I only turn it on after the water is mostly heated (I've gotten really good at predicting 195ºF by sound) and this eliminates read-time lag. The lead is already hot, and it keeps up pretty well as the water continues to rise up to 200-207ºF (which I then use to rinse or pre-heat the vessels I'll use for brewing, and it cools down to brew temp). I think I paid $20 for it at BB&B, and you can certainly get by like this.
I have a friend who brews tea and can get within 5ºF by sight... puts me to shame.
It's expensive, yes, but it is ridiculously fast and accurate. It uses an actual thermocouple rather than a thermistor which is why it's more expensive, but also why it works so much better than the cheap ones.
That's a very nice looking probe. But thermocouples are not inherently more accurate or faster than thermistors. If anything thermistors tend to be more accurate and more stable over time. Thermocouples have a wider temperature range but that isn't important for coffee brewing. The main disadvantage with a thermistor is that its output is non-linear so the electronics have to be more complicated.
You can buy a tiny thermistor bead for $3 that is accurate to +/-1°C at brew water temperature and has a very fast response time. It can easily be made into a small, flexible, waterproof probe and still retain fast response. If you calibrate it the accuracy can be improved. For $10-15 you can buy one that is accurate to a fraction of a degree out of the package. All you need is an ohmmeter to read one. Admittedly, using a table to convert to the temperature would bug most people, but for cheapskates it's a viable option. And a small flexible probe can reach places that a rigid thermometer can't.
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