How many ounces in a cup of coffee sounds like a simple question. However, the oz per cup of your coffee is going to depend on some different factors including how you like your coffee, the size of the cup that you are using, and how many cups of coffee you are making. Ounces and cups are clear measurements that are generally easy to understand and whatever you need to measure shouldn’t change them. But, when you are brewing coffee, it’s become common to use a different definition of a cup when you are referring to a cup of coffee.
A cup of coffee is only 4oz, however, when it comes to how many ounces is in a regular cup, 8oz is the standard. And to make things even more confusing, when you brew coffee, it uses slightly more water by volume than the amount of coffee that you will actually end up with, so to brew a four ounce cup of coffee, you will need to add an extra oz of water. While it seems confusing at first, the good news is that it’s not difficult to figure out once you understand it. Keep reading to learn more about the ounces in cup of coffee, how many ounces in a standard coffee cup, and the history and details of coffee cups.
How Many Ounces in a Cup of Coffee?
In the US, 8oz is the standard cup measurement that most people use for baking and cooking. This is technically known as a customary cup, and they are simply eight ounces of whatever fluid you are using. One cup is equal to 240ml for labeling purposes – slightly larger than the exact conversion of 236.6ml. This means that if you have a bottle that is labeled to contain one cup but pour it into a measuring cup, it will fill to slightly below the cup line.
However, all you really need to know is that a measuring cup will measure things in customary cups and customary fluid ounces. If you are confused when using a container that appears to have less fluid than you expected in it, it is usually because it has been labeled in legal cups or nutritional fluid ounces.
It is also worth noting that there are different conventions in other countries. For example, one cup refers to a metric cup or 250ml of fluid in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. While you’re unlikely to come across metric cups in the US, it’s worth knowing just in case.
Now you have a better understanding about the cup measurements, coffee cups throw a bit of a curveball. Generally, a cup of brewed coffee is accepted to be four ounces, which is half the amount of a customary cup. However, if you are brewing 4oz of coffee, you will need 5oz of water since the coffee grounds absorb some of the water while brewing, so you will always end up with a little less water on your cup.
To make this easier, most coffee machines like automatic drip coffee makers will come with two lines on the carafe. One is for measuring the brewed coffee and the other is for measuring the water. For example, if you brew a carafe of drip coffee with 20oz of water, you will end up with around 16oz of coffee once it has brewed.
If you want to make two 8oz coffee mugs, for example, then you will need to brew sixteen ounces of coffee, which means that you’ll need to use 20oz of water.
The History Behind it All
Like most people, you might agree that this is all a bit unnecessarily complicated when all you want to find out is how many oz in a cup of coffee. It can be traced back to the early 1970s when a coffee maker was introduced by popular coffee brand Mr. Coffee. It used 5oz of water as the standard measurement and came with a carafe that had markings in increments of four and five ounces to make it easier to compare pre-brewing water levels with the brewed coffee. Since the model was successful, it led to lots of copycats and, unfortunately, this conventional yet confusing way of measuring a cup of coffee stuck around.
Getting the Ratio Right
You might be wondering why it matters to figure out the ounces of coffee per cup. It is an important variable since it helps you get the ratio of coffee to water right. When you are making a cup of coffee, knowing what is meant by a ‘cup’ is important to help you avoid adding too much water and not enough coffee grounds, and messing up your brew with the wrong ratio. Rather than simply the amount of coffee you use or the amount of water that you use, it’s the ratio of the two that will make your coffee taste either delicious or nasty.
The good news is that there are several ways to measure your coffee. To get a better ratio and be more exact, then you can use a scale instead of your measuring cup. A coffee to water ratio of 1.5-2g of whole bean coffee per 28g of water is a good ratio to aim for, to avoid all the confusion with cups. So, if you want to make 16oz of coffee or two standard 8oz cups of coffee, then you will need around 26-32g of coffee depending on how strong you like it. Using a scale will help you get your coffee right, especially if you are using whole beans as it can be difficult to measure them accurately with a measuring cup since they will not sit evenly.
How Many Ounces in a Cup?
How many ounces in a regular coffee cup will depend on whether you are using the standard or the metric system. If you are using the standard system, one cup is 8 fluid ounces. However, for coffee, many find it easier to use the metric system. If you convert ounces to milliliters, one fluid ounce equals 28.41ml.
What is the Best Coffee to Water Ratio to Use?
Whether you’re making a standard 8oz cup of coffee or a larger batch, understanding the coffee per oz is important for getting the ratio just right. Ideally, you should use 1.5-2g of coffee per 26g of water as a standard ratio, but you can experiment with this if you want your coffee to be a bit stronger or a bit weaker. If you use a coffee brewing method that allows you more control over how much coffee and water you want to add, then there is nothing wrong with playing around with different ratios until you find one that works well for you.
Why Is Measuring Coffee Beans With a Cup Difficult?
When it comes to measuring coffee beans, it’s always best to measure by weight rather than volume. A kitchen scale is an inexpensive piece of kit that will help you get a more accurate coffee to water ratio and help you make better tasting coffee no matter what brewing method you decide to use. Using a measuring cup to measure your coffee beans might be faster, however, it is likely to lead to inconsistent and sometimes even bad tasting coffee since when measuring, there will be open spaces in the cup. This is because coffee beans are different sizes and shapes and will not measure evenly. When you pour coffee beans into your measuring cup, you will end up with slightly less than an actual cup of whole coffee beans, which ultimately reduces the amount of coffee that you use and can mess up the ratio. While it may be easier to get an accurate measurement of coffee grounds with a measuring cup, a kitchen scale will still get a more exact result. It is also easier to use a kitchen scale to replicate your coffee preparation method every time for a consistently great tasting brew.
Standard Coffee Sizes
To make things simpler, most coffee shops and coffee makers that offer different brew sizes will offer a set of standard sizes. Starbucks, for example, offer tall, grande, and venti for most coffee drinks including filter coffee, Americano, latte, cappuccino, and mocha. Espresso sizes are much smaller, which is why they are typically referred to as a shot rather than a cup of espresso.
If you want a standard size coffee, then you will usually be able to expect to be served an 8oz cup of coffee. On the majority of coffee makers that offer different brew sizes, a ‘travel mug’ size will generally refer to a 16oz cup of coffee. Of course, if you want a completely different size of coffee to the standard amount, then you can use a manual coffee brewing process like pour over coffee that gives you complete control over how much you brew.
Coffee cups, regular cups, and size conversions can all be quite confusing. In general, 8oz is a standard cup of coffee, although this might be 4oz on some coffee machines. Overall, the main reason behind understanding the size of your cup of coffee is so that you can get the ratio right.