In its simplest form, coffee is just ground beans and water. The bean and water quality and how they are combined determine whether we get a balanced, complex, and aromatic cup of coffee, or one that is bitter, sour, and nasty. The combination involves various different factors including the grind size, water temperature, brew time, and the coffee maker used. The coffee brew ratio is also important. This is the ratio of ground coffee to water, and has an impact on the strength, mouthfeel, and more when making coffee.
Why the Brew Ratio is So Important
The flavor of the coffee will vary a lot depending on the recipe, with the amount of each ingredient that you use playing a key part. By simply decreasing or increasing the amount of coffee or water that you add, you can alter the taste and viscosity of the coffee. Because of this, many baristas and people who make their own coffee at home will use scales and timers to get this just right when brewing.
No matter the coffee to water ratio that works best, keeping it consistent is key, since this allows baristas to work more efficiently and effectively. Along with this, keeping the brew ratio consistent makes it easier to replicate the cup in the future if you like the way that it tastes.
Different Brew Ratios for Different Brewing Methods
The optimal coffee to water ratio will vary depending on the brewing method that you are using. If you have a high-quality, specialty coffee that has been roasted well to bring out all its best characteristics, there are many options to consider when choosing how to brew it. For example, filter coffee is an ideal way to taste all the nuances in the coffee for many people, while an espresso is shorter and more intense, making it an ideal choice if you want to really highlight just two or three main coffee flavors. Because of this, it’s important to consider how you plan to brew your coffee when you choose the best coffee to water ratio to use.
For espresso, for example, you will be using extremely fine coffee grounds and a short brew time of around 25-30 seconds, with very little water. For this brewing method, the best ratio is usually somewhere between 1:1 and 1:3. Or, you may want to add more or less water if you are making a ristretto or lungo, short and long versions of the espresso.
On the other hand, a course grind and longer brew time is used when brewing coffee using immersion methods such as the AeroPress or French Press. A 1:15 or 1:18 coffee ratio to water is typical for these brewing methods, while drip or pour over coffee usually requires less coffee and more water.
However, while there are guidelines to help you determine the best coffee to water ratio for your brew depending on the brewing type that you are using, the best way to find out what really works best for you is to experiment with trying different brew ratios with different coffees.
Espresso Ratio: Depending on the coffee basket, you should put between 13-22g of coffee in the portafilter when making espresso. The general brew ratio is 1:2 with a 25-30 second brewing time.
French Press Ratio: A 1:15 ratio will generally make good French Press coffee, while 1:18 might work better for you if you don’t want your coffee to be very strong.
Pour Over Coffee Ratio: Also known as drip coffee or filter coffee, a 1:13 or 1:15 brew ratio will usually work well for this brew type. If you like to start your day with an extra strong coffee, use a 1:10 or 1:12 ratio.
Cold Brew Ratio: The best ratio for a full-flavored cold brew is 1:5. 1:8 works well for a more moderate taste or go with 1:4 if you like it to be stronger.
The Ideal Brew Ratio
You may be wondering, is there an ideal brew ratio to use? And the answer to this is both yes and no. You might find it helpful to learn more about how coffee is prepared by different countries and cultures. In some parts of the world, more delicate brews are preferred, while in other areas, more intense brews tend to be the go-to, which ultimately affects the brewing ratio used.
So, how do you decide which brew ratio to go with? When making filter coffee, for example, a ratio of 1:10 would be extremely intense, while 1:20 would be very weak and diluted. The main aim should be to find the right balance for the cup based on how intense you want it to be and how well you are able to perceive all the flavors, aromas, fragrances, and acidity.
The Golden Ratio for Coffee
The Golden Ratio refers to the perfect balance of coffee and water as developed by the Specialty Coffee Association to ensure the perfect cup of coffee. To achieve the Golden Ratio, you’re going to need two tablespoons of ground coffee beans per 6oz of water.
Other Important Factors to Consider
While there is no denying that the brew ratio is an important part of getting your coffee just right, there are many other factors that are also crucial to think about when making a good cup of coffee. Some of the most important variables include the type of water that you use, the water temperature, size of the coffee grinds, and even how you are pouring the water for some methods. If your coffee does not taste right, then the best thing to do is change one variable at a time and keep everything else consistent. The first and easiest variable to change is the size of the coffee grinds.
If your coffee tastes sour, salty, or is lacking body, it is likely under-extracted. This is often the result of using coffee grinds that are too coarse, so you can grind finer to see if this improves the cup. A finer grind will increase the contact area which speeds up extraction, allowing you to get more flavors into the cup.
On the other hand, coffee that tastes very bitter may be over-extracted. This might be the result of using a too fine grind, so opt for coarser grinds that will reduce the surface area and slow the extraction rate down, preventing too much bitterness from ending up in your cup.
When your coffee beans are ground can also have an impact on the final taste of your brew. Ideally, you should grind your beans just before brewing to ensure that the contact with oxygen is minimal, which helps you ensure that you extract the freshest flavor from the coffee.
Getting the water temperature right is also an important part of brewing the perfect cup of coffee. If the water is too hot, the coffee may become over-extracted. On the other hand, water that is too cold may not be warm enough to extract all the flavors from the grounds, leading to an under-extracted cup. For the best results, warm your water to between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit.
How long you brew your coffee for is another essential factor to keep in mind, and this will depend on the brewing method that you are using. A drop coffee requires around five minutes, while 2-4 minutes is recommended to get the best results from French Press and other immersion brewing methods. For espresso, a short brew time of 25-30 seconds works best.
Measuring Your Coffee
To get the coffee to water ratio just right no matter what kind of brew you want to make, it’s important to know how to measure your ground coffee beans. This can be done in several ways and there are several tools available to help you achieve this.
Liquid Measuring Cups
When you bear in mind that 1g of liquid water is the same as 1ml of liquid water, you’ll find that it’s actually quite easy to use a liquid measuring cup for your brew calculations.
A simple option for measuring your coffee beans is your kitchen measuring spoon set. A level tablespoon of coffee equates to around 4-7g.
A coffee scale is the best way to measure your coffee to get the right brew ratio and get the best results. Since different coffee beans can be more or less dense, it can often be difficult to get the measurements perfectly accurate without using a scale. Using a scale is essential if you want to achieve the most precision when measuring out your coffee. Along with this, being able to use the scale to measure the exact weight of your coffee beans before you put them into the grinder means that there will be less waste.
How much coffee and water you combine to make the perfect brew will vary depending on the brewing method you use and the intensity that you want for your coffee.