Coffee is the world’s favorite caffeinated hot drink that’s brimming with versatility and personality. However, if you love coffee, you’ve likely been to a friend's house or a coffee shop and had terrible coffee. Although you may not like the bean, roast, or flavoring, the chances are they miscalculated the brewing ratios for the coffee. Working out how much coffee per cup to use is essential for making delicious coffee. There are countless brewing techniques, and not all of them call for the same ratios of coffee to water. Throughout this article, we will be telling you how much coffee you should be using, no matter which brewing method you go for.
Why Are Coffee Brew Ratios Important?
If you’ve ever been into a coffee shop and watched the baristas get to work, you will have noticed that they use measures, scales, and timers. This is to ensure that you get a great-tasting cup of joe every time. The amount of coffee per cup is essential, and even the slightest adjustments can alter the flavor, mouth texture, and strength. Businesses would not be able to make consistently fantastic coffee if they didn’t have a method of portioning ingredients.
To get the correct ratios, you will need to understand the “Golden Ratio”, which is detailed below. However, you need to bear in mind that all coffee beans hold different rates depending on their type and roast. This means that some coffee beans can’t be measured using teaspoons alone - you will need to use scales.
The “Golden Ratio” for Brewing
If you’ve ever looked into brewing before, you may have seen the “Golden Ratio” phrase being thrown around. This is essentially a method for baristas to eliminate the need for guesswork when it comes to portioning their ingredients. Typically, for every gram of coffee that you use, you should use 15-18 grams of water (1:15-18).
The reason we have this ratio is easy, and it guides us towards the perfect cup of coffee. If you were to have a truck full of coffee grounds and you tried to pass through a bucket of water, you would end up with an extreme and overpowering taste. Alternatively, if you have a bucket full of beans and a truck full of water, you are going to have a weak and tasteless cup. The golden rule is used to make sure that we have a richly flavored cup of coffee without overpowering our senses. This doesn’t mean that people don’t enjoy straying outside of the rules - we all have different taste buds, after all.
How Many Tablespoons of Ground Coffee Per Cup
If all that math gets the better of you, you don’t need to worry. Even if you don’t have any scales in your kitchen, you can still follow the golden rules. The ratios can be adapted to account for milliliters of water to tablespoons of coffee grounds. For the sake of this article, we will take 200ml of water and use one tablespoon of ground coffee. Therefore, if you wanted to make 1L of coffee, you would need to use between 5.5-7 heaped tablespoons. If you’re using a leveled-out measuring tablespoon, you will need to use around nine of them for 1L of water. The reason that the number of required tablespoons changes is to do with the heaping of the spoon. As mentioned earlier, every bean will grind differently, which means that you may need to alter the tablespoon ratio to taste.
Now, putting this tablespoon conversion into practice, let’s see how many tbsp of coffee for 4 cups of your favorite caffeine. On average, a standard-sized coffee mug is 350ml, which means that 4 of them will add up to 1400ml (1.4L). When you’re brewing your coffee, you will need to use at least 7-9 tbsp of ground coffee. How much coffee to use per cup will depend on the size of your cup. For best practices, you should use a measuring jug to find out the desired capacity.
Different Brew Method and Amounts
There are many different ways of brewing coffee, and each method will have an additional capacity for ground coffee. As well as capacity, each of the other brewing methods will require a different type of grind. For example, an espresso needs to have finely ground coffee so that it can be compacted with a tamper. Further, French press coffee needs to be coarser. Altering your coffee amounts to account for brew type will help you extract an even taste. Below are the different brewing methods and how much ground coffee you should use for them.
- Espresso machine. If an espresso machine uses 40g of water, you will need 17g of coffee, which is the equivalent of around 1.5 heaped tablespoons.
- Bayreuth pot. Typically holding 350ml water, which means you will need 22g of coffee or 2.5-3 heaped tablespoons.
- Chemex. With a 600ml Chemex, you will need to use 38g coffee, which equates to 3.5-4.5 heaped tablespoons.
- Hand filter. With a water quantity of 500ml, you will need to use 32g coffee or 3-3.5 heaped tablespoons.
- Espresso maker. This one is easy because you simply need to fill the valve with water and the sieve with coffee.
- French Press. With a 1000ml capacity, you will need to use 65g of ground coffee or 7-8 heaped tablespoons.
- Coffee maker. Assuming a whopping 1250ml capacity, you will need to use 75g of coffee or 6.5-8 heaped tablespoons.
Dosing Made Easy with Kitchen Scales
If you use the ratio recommendations above, you will never have to guess how much coffee to use. Naturally, everyone’s eye is different, and the taste of the coffee may vary if accurate measures aren’t used. To avoid this problem, you should just invest in a cheap set of kitchen scales. You pick them up easily for around $6-7. Obviously, you can spend more if you’re going to be particular about the amounts. However, with a little trial and error, you will know how much coffee to use on your scale.
The most beautiful perk of having kitchen scales to weigh out your coffee brewing ratios is that no matter who makes your coffee, they will be consistent. You will no longer need to grin and bear it as your loved ones hand you intolerable cups of coffee.
How Much Coffee Per Cup of Water?
This is a difficult question to answer using exact math because all cups come in different shapes and sizes. However, if you need to guesstimate, keep in mind that the average cup contains 350ml. If you’re in a pinch and don’t have a measuring jug, you can use your eye and add on a guessed amount of water. Then, all you need to do is grab a tablespoon and measure out your coffee. If the coffee is still strong at the end, there’s nothing to stop you from adding a little more hot water into the mix. Eventually, you will have the perfect pour down in your favorite mug.
What Impacts the Ratio?
We’ve touched on this already, but there are many things that impact the golden ratio. For example, the dosage will impact the taste of the coffee and therefore needs to be measured out correctly. How you grind your coffee will alter the flow of water through your coffee, which will, in turn, change the taste. Further, how much time you take to brew an espresso will impact the taste. If you’re making coffee professionally, you need to ensure that your machine is calibrated regularly to guarantee consistency. When you’re making espresso, you will need to tamp the coffee. However, you need to bear in mind that over-compacted coffee grinds can alter your entire drink.
As well as the tamp, grind, time, and the dose, you need to take into consideration the type of beans. Different beans will grind differently, which means you need to learn how to alter the grind settings on your grinder. Typically, light coffee will yield the best results in a fine grind. Alternatively, dark roasted coffee lends itself well to coarse grinds. The reason for this is that the dark coffee has been through a longer roasting process, and is, therefore, less dense. Again, like most barista activities, you will need to demonstrate trial and error.
The Take Home
The fantastic taste of coffee is heavily reliant on the brew ratio being correct. Minor changes to the formula can have an enormous impact on the taste of a coffee. Typically, you will need a 1:15-18 ratio of coffee to water in grams. If you are using tablespoons, you will need to use 1 for every 200ml of water. Remember, when you are scooping out your coffee grinds, you should use a heaped tablespoon. You should use the ratios in this article as a guide; you will likely need to play around with the amounts to get the perfect cup of coffee to your taste.