You may be wondering how much coffee and water you need for the perfect cup of coffee.
For a quick answer, you might refer to our Coffee Calculator. Just enter in any amount of coffee to get the appropriate amount of water.
The commonly accepted gold standard 1 part ground coffee to 15-18 parts water (1:15-1:18). Since brewing methods are unique and require different techniques, finding the best ratio gets a little more complicated.
Grind size, water temperature, brewing time, skill, and palate are all necessary factors to take into consideration. For example, a fine grind is likely to extract more flavour, in a shorter time than a coarse grind.
This guide will discuss these factors to help you determine the perfect coffee to water ratio.
- 1:15-1:18 is the best all-around coffee to water ratio. This means 1g of coffee grounds for every 15-18ml of water.
- Grind size, water temperature, coffee blend, and brewing method help determine the coffee-to-water ratio.
- When you brew, water dissolves soluble compounds in the coffee bean.
- More coffee grounds doesn’t necessarily lead to stronger coffee. Using too much coffee leads to over-extraction, making the coffee taste bitter and dry.
- 1 coffee scoop = 10g (2 tablespoons) of ground coffee.
- The best way to measure coffee is with a scale. This is especially true if you’re working with whole bean coffee and grinding it yourself.
The Best Coffee to Water Ratio
As we mentioned, 1:15-1:18 is the best bet for a good overall coffee ratio. It provides the best chance for optimum flavour extraction.
This is a happy medium because it avoids coffee that is too watery, or overly bitter and dry. You want just enough coffee grounds to get the right amount of flavour in your coffee. You also want the right amount of water for the coffee to extract into.
However, since the best ratio depends on how you make your coffee, there is no set number.
Not only are you accounting for brewing time, grind size, and other factors. You also have to factor in milk and creamer. Unless you’re drinking it black, you should be mindful of dilution in your coffee when you add these ingredients.
To explain how much coffee and water you need, first, we’ll need to determine the desired coffee strength. There is a scientific way to calculate this, which will help put things into perspective.
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and Extraction Yield
Total dissolved solids (TDS) is the amount of coffee extract included in the beverage itself. For example, a TDS of 2% means your cup is 2% coffee and 98% water. To measure TDS, you would need special equipment such as a TDS meter.
Extraction yield explains the percentage of the coffee grounds that got extracted into the water. The recommended extraction yield is 18-22%. With higher extraction yields, you’re likely to get bitter flavours from the coffee that make the coffee less enjoyable. This happens when you use too much coffee grounds.
Determine Coffee to Water Ratio
You need special equipment to get exact with TDS and extraction yield. Let’s use them to understand what counts: the ratio between coffee and water, and what extraction yield that ratio’s coffee parts are made of. For a simple way to get a great ratio, take the following into account:
- Grind size – With finer grind, the hot water comes in contact with more of the coffee bean. The finer the grind, the higher the extraction yield and the stronger your coffee will be.
- Amount of coffee – remember that more coffee doesn’t necessarily mean stronger coffee. Soluble compounds in the coffee beans are dissolved in hot water when you brew, thereby providing the TDS. If you use too many grounds, you are over-extracting and making coffee that will taste bitter and dry. Too few grounds mean you haven’t dissolved enough of these compounds, leaving you with weak coffee.
- Water temperature – Colder water requires more time to extract coffee. For instance, cold brew coffee needs to brew for hours (more on this later) to give a high enough extraction yield. Water that is too hot will degrade the flavour quality, so try not to go past 93°C.
- Filtration – Are you pouring coffee through a filter, or pressing it with a screen in a French press? Are you using a filter at all? Some of the water will stay absorbed in the grounds, so this is important in determining grind level and amount of water.
- Not all coffee is the same – This is a critical factor for a coffee’s taste that can be easily overlooked. There are multiple different types of coffee beans and blends. Each one will have its own characteristics. One will be smooth, the other a dark roast, and so forth. For example, if your coffee is too dark, that’s the natural flavour from your coffee of choice. Using less coffee will only make it weak. For a lighter coffee, switch to a lighter roast.
Measure Your Coffee
Measuring your coffee is the only way to get consistent results and understand your coffee best. There are a few options to do so.
Grams vs Tablespoons
If you’re aiming for a 1:16 coffee ratio, that would mean 1g of coffee for every 16g of water. As a rule of thumb, 1 levelled tablespoon = 5g. So if we use 30g of coffee, divide by 5 to get 6 tablespoons.
Scale or No Scale?
If you want a consistent cup, your best bet is to buy a kitchen scale. This makes it easier to weigh out proper amounts of ground coffee.
If you need one, here are our picks for the 5 best coffee weighing scales of 2021.
A scale is beneficial if you’re starting with whole bean coffee, as these are inconsistent to measure with spoons. To not only weigh but grind them perfectly, you can grind them using one of the 10 best coffee grinders for 2021.
You can also use this to determine how many grams are in your scoop. A standard coffee scoop should hold 2 tablespoons, which is 10 grams of coffee.
Coffee to Water Ratio for Multiple Brewing Methods
The other key factor in determining the ideal ratio is the brewing method.
Regular or Drip Filter Coffee
If you’re working with a basic coffee maker or pour-over drip filter, you’ll want a medium grind. A good ratio to aim for is 1:15, or 66g of coffee per litre of water. You can get away with a smaller ratio like 1:17 if you use a finer grind.
With a French press or any other immersion method like cowboy coffee, the coarse grind is the way to go. Water does not pass through the grounds. Instead, the grounds sit in the water and extract their flavour. For this reason, you want a stronger ratio, at 1:14 (71g of coffee per litre of water).
With espresso brewed in machines, it’s difficult to say for sure how much water they used. People who brew espresso don’t worry about the amount of water, though.
If you used 18g of ground coffee and ended up with about 36g (1 oz) of brewed espresso, that would be a 1:2 ratio. This is typical for a shot of espresso. It is made up of more dissolved solids than other types of coffee and is much more concentrated.
With most conventional brewing methods, you’re working with hot water. Cold brew is a different beast. It requires a much longer brewing time because it is lacking the hot water which uses heat to extract and dissolve the coffee compound.
Using coarse ground coffee, you’ll want to aim for a ratio of 1:4 to 1:8. So if you were making a litre of cold brew coffee, about three quarter cups of coffee grounds should do the trick. This brewing process will take from 12 to 24 hours.
How Much Coffee Are You Serving?
Now for the next big question. Are you just brewing for yourself, or are you having people over? Using the ratio you determined, you’ll have to adjust the amount of water and coffee accordingly.
- But how much is a “cup” of coffee? Attention: In the US, a cup is a unit of measurement equal to 240 ml. For most others however (and this article), a cup is just a literal cup or mug with no strict size. It could hold anything from 240 to 360 ml of liquid. So, if you’re brewing with a 6-cup coffee maker but have 360 ml mugs, you can make enough coffee for 2 mugs.
- So how many scoops per cup? Let’s assume you’re working with a standard coffee maker. We would recommend a 1:15 ratio in this case, so 66g of grounds (around 6 coffee scoops) per litre of water. For a standard 240 ml (8 oz) serving, you’ll want to aim for 17g (about 2 scoops or 4 tablespoons) of coffee.
Let’s assume 1 cup of coffee is 240 ml since this is a standard serving. 1 litre can serve four. So for 1 litre of coffee that is strong enough to withstand milk without being too diluted, you’d use 70g of coffee.