Coffee to Water Ratio Calculator: How Much Coffee Grounds Per Cup?
Fractions and ratios first thing in the morning? And you can barely string together two words…
No, thank you.
Converting coffee to water ratio into USABLE COFFEE MEASURES can be a mathematical pain in the butt.
That’s why we’ve made this coffee calculator:
You should bookmark this article if you’d like to use this calculator frequently.
What’s the best coffee grounds to water ratio?
Knowing your preferred coffee to water ratio will help you brew better coffee. But there’s no absolute “best” coffee-to-water ratio. And, trust me, this is great!
You get to decide what ratio “tastes” best for you.
For example, if you were to brew a regular strength pour over coffee with a V60, the calculator above will use a ratio of 1:17 to calculate how much coffee you need based on the number of cups of water you want to brew with.
A 1:17 ratio translates to 17 grams of water for every gram of coffee. For a weaker or stronger V60 brew, you will need a ratio of 1:18 or 1:16, respectively.
And if you want to do it the other way around, i.e. calculate how much water you need for X ounces/grams of coffee, the ratio will help you figure that out too.
Or, let our alternate calculator do the calculation for you. Ta-daa!
You don’t even have to follow the recommended ratios. If you want to use 20 grams of coffee for 350 grams/mL of water (1:17.5 ratio), go ahead. Adjust the amount of coffee and water to get your brew to taste the way you like it.
The brewing ratio is just an indication of the strength or intensity of your brew. It affects the taste of your coffee, but so does extraction. They are related, but not the same thing (1).
Strength is the amount of coffee material in the cup compared to the amount of water, while extraction relates to the percentage of coffee grounds dissolved into the water.
We’ll get into extraction further in this article, but first, let’s make sure that you get your coffee-to-water ratio right.
How many tablespoons of coffee do you need per cup?
Or rather, the wrong unit of measure
You should always weigh your coffee beans (or grounds) using a kitchen scale.
So, “why” should you measure coffee using a scale, and not cups, scoops, or tablespoons?
The answer is: Coffee beans are quite different from other dry ingredients, like all-purpose flour. For example, 1 cup/tablespoon of all-purpose flour will always weigh the same.
However, the same volume of different beans can have different weights. And we have proof of that. Steven demonstrates this with some Ethiopian beans, Colombians, and a couple of blends in this video:
That’s why our calculator is set up to tell you how much coffee you’ll need in grams or oz. This will help you brew consistent coffee every time.
And once you start brewing with more than one method or switching beans regularly, you’ll appreciate the calculator and kitchen scale even more. Because…
Different brew methods call for different ratios
Our coffee to water ratio calculator asks you to select your brewing style first. And you might have noticed that you get a different amount of beans based on your answer, even if all other variables are the same.
And that’s because… Well, I’ll let one of the coffee industry’s most recognizable faces explain this one:
However, there’s a wide variety of coffee brewing methods. And some of them use completely different coffee to water ratios.
Brewing ratio for Moka Pot (aka, stovetop espresso)
Moka Pots are a fuss-free way to make a cup (or three) of robust coffee. If you’re planning on using one, all you need to do is add water and coffee to capacity based on your brewer’s size.
A Moka Pot brew can have a coffee to water ratio from 1:10 to 1:8. The only things you can really change are the dose (amount of ground coffee) and the grind size. For more details, you can check out our Moka Pot brewing guide.
The higher ratio means stovetop espressos are stronger than immersion or drip brews.
That’s why most people like to dilute Moka Pot coffee with water or milk.
But the best part of using a Moka Pot is that you don’t need to be exact with your coffee and water measurements. As long as you have the size of your grind nailed down, you’re good to go.
Brewing ratio for Aeropress
The Aeropress is a portable and extremely versatile coffee maker. And because of that, you can find hundreds of recipes (aka, brew ratio) for it. Confoundingly, though, Aeropress’s official instructions recommend using… (2)
…one rounded scoop of fine drip grind coffee…
But what does that mean? Even assuming you’re using the provided scoop, what is a rounded scoop? And what is a fine drip grind?
You can now understand why everyone makes Aeropress coffee differently. Some put in as much water as the Aeropress can hold and adjust the coffee quantity. Others use the bypass method (3) to make a coffee concentrate, diluting with water before serving.
So in terms of ratios, an Aeropress brew can vary from 1:16 to 1:4. Personally, I use 12 grams of coffee per 75 grams of water (which works out to a 1:6 ratio) to brew with the inverted Aeropress method.
But if you’re just starting out with an Aeropress, don’t worry about all that. Find a recipe you like and start adjusting from there (more on that below).
Brewing ratio for espresso
This is a tricky one.
Espresso machines are primed to deliver water at a certain temperature and pressure. This leaves you with the ability to manipulate three other parameters to get the perfect espresso shot:
- dose (amount of coffee)
- yield (amount of espresso)
- brew time (self-explanatory)
Brew time is self-explanatory, but what about dose and yield (4)?
Yield is often communicated in relation to the dose e.g. 1:2 which means that with 20g dose your yield would be 40g
So, in a way, the yield is similar to the brew ratio. But unlike other brewing methods, espresso yields typically vary between 1:1.5 to 1:2.5.
That might sound like an extremely concentrated dose of coffee. But espresso is its own thing, and you should take a look at our espresso guide for more information.
As you saw, different brewing methods call for different ratios. But there are too many of them to remember, so here’s a chart showing the most common ratios for popular brewing methods.
The amount of beans and water required might vary from one method to the next. But the key ingredient — coffee beans — always remains the same.
Yet, the coffee beans can exhibit different flavour notes based on their origin and roast profile. So even if you use the same brewer, you’ll probably need to fine-tune your brewing parameters to extract all the right flavours from a new bag of beans.
How to adjust your brew & make it taste perfect
The coffee brewing process is a simple matter of mixing coffee with hot water and extracting the desirable flavours.
Less than a quarter of the total coffee grounds contribute to the amazing aroma and fantastic flavours in your final brew. The remaining is thrown out with the used coffee grounds.
A difference of even one or two in extraction can completely change how your brew tastes.
Earlier in this article, we talked about how the coffee ratio is responsible for your drink’s strength and how extraction affects the taste. So let’s dive into how to adjust the extraction and make your coffee taste better.
Basically, there are three things you can change that will have a SIGNIFICANT IMPACT on your brew taste.
1. Adjusting grind size to get perfect coffee extraction.
Coffee grind size is the first thing you should be fine-tuning because it’s the one thing you have total control over. But only if you’re grinding your beans at home. Which you should.
As a simple rule-of-thumb, the finer the grounds, the more flavours you extract from the beans. But not all flavours in a coffee bean are desirable (5).
A fine grind has the potential to create a more bitter flavour because a lot of compounds can be extracted quickly. A coarse grind size means more acidity. If the grind is too coarse, you could get a weak, flat cup because not enough compounds were extracted to create depth of flavour.
So you should aim for that goldilocks zone where the deliciousness ends up in your cup, and the nasty bits get left behind in the grounds. Again, that depends on your grinder, the beans, and the brewing method you’re using.
Once you’ve picked your grinder, beans, and a brewing method, make sure you note down the size of the grind for each brew. You will need it to dial in the right grind size for your coffee. And it will be helpful whenever you’re switching beans or after cleaning your grinder.
2. Controlling brew time for better tasting coffee.
The longer you brew, the more flavours you extract from the ground beans.
Too short or too long of a brew could result in under or over-extracted coffee.
If you’re using an automatic drip coffee machine, you won’t be able to control the brew time unless the coffee maker has that feature. With manual brews, though, you can adjust the brew time to fine-tune your coffee’s taste.
For example, if you find your coffee is sour, you can brew for a little longer. Or, if it’s bitter, brew for a shorter time. But make sure you’ve got the size of the grind dialled in first.
3. Brewing water temperature can also change extraction.
Theoretically, brewing with hotter temperatures can extract more flavour components faster. But cooler temperatures can help avoid extracting undesirable flavours by slowing down the brewing process.
Yet again, according to this research… (6)
When extraction is controlled through other means, and over the range we tested, the temperature of the brewing water plays a minimal role in the sensory properties of the coffee.
So most of the time, sticking to the SCA recommended brewing temperature (7) of 200°F ± 2°F (92.2 – 94.4°C) should be good enough.
We’ve covered a lot about extraction and how to control the parameters that influence it. So here’s a summary:
You can also use some brewing cheat sheets like the coffee flavour wheel and coffee compass to further improve the taste of your brew. Now you know how to alter the taste of your brew and make it taste perfect.
And that brings us to…
The key to brewing great coffee at home
If you want to use your preferred type of beans and brew them up in your automatic coffee maker in the morning, you only need to figure out the right grind size.
But if the idea of trying out different beans and brewing them in various ways sounds like fun, you’ve got yourself a new hobby — brewing speciality coffee at home.
And as much fun as it is to taste beans from different origins and roast profiles and research the right coffee gear to use with it, the ultimate goal is to brew better coffee.
Nay, brew great coffee in the comfort of your home.
All it takes is some high-quality beans, an inexpensive brewer, and the willingness to experiment. Sure, you will brew some bad cups of coffee (and probably end up dumping them down the drain). But each time you learn something new, and apply it to your next brew.
And as former barista champion Chris Baca says, to create coffee you really love to drink… (8)
You need to take notes on what you’re doing and what you taste.
So whether you’re trying new coffee beans or getting a new brewer, you’ll need to keep track of your past brews to use as a base and start experimenting.
Bottom line: your coffee, your choice
Brewing craft coffee at home is a fun activity.
When you get up in the morning, you shouldn’t feel intimidated by the prospect of making a cup of coffee. It should provide you a sense of joy and relaxation.
If at any point you feel that you’ve fallen too far down the rabbit hole, just take a step back.
Enjoy and appreciate your coffee. And if it means switching to instant coffee, so be it.
If you feel boredom setting in, try something new. A bag of exotic beans that you wouldn’t usually buy. Or take a cupping/tasting class. Maybe even try roasting your own beans.
Remember, it’s your coffee, so you decide how you want to make it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Whatever path you choose, we’re here to help you brew and enjoy coffee at home.
- Coffee Extraction And The Ideal Brew. (2019, February 21). Retrieved from https://urnex.com/blog/coffee-extraction-and-the-ideal-brew/
- Getting Started. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://aeropress.com/use-it-now/getting-started/#steps
- Mills, A. (2019, October 02). My Aeropress Competition Recipe. Retrieved from https://alexandermills.ca/blog/my-aeropress-competition-recipe
- Korhonen, J. (2019, July 22). Creating The Perfect Espresso Recipe. Retrieved from https://www.baristainstitute.com/blog/jori-korhonen/july-2019/creating-perfect-espresso-recipe
- Boydell, H. (2018, November 22). Understanding Coffee Extraction For Your Perfect Cup. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/11/understanding-coffee-extraction-for-your-perfect-cup/
- Batali, M.E., Ristenpart, W.D. & Guinard, JX. Brew temperature, at fixed brew strength and extraction, has little impact on the sensory profile of drip brew coffee. Sci Rep 10, 16450 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-73341-4
- Coffee Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://sca.coffee/research/coffee-standards
- Real Chris Baca (Producer). (2018, February 26). Budget Coffee Brewing Basics – Top 5 Home Coffee Brewing Tools [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/y2FVAp7ezck