Would You Like to Clear Up the Confusion About Coffee Brew Ratio?
Updated: Nov 24
Coffee Brew Ratio
The ideal coffee-to-water ratio can make or break a cup of coffee.
I made coffee at home for the first time; I guessed how much to use based on hazy memories of what I had seen others do.
If you care about perfecting your cup, try something else.
Consider instead these two alternatives: You'll need to know, one, how much coffee you want to make, and two, if you like your coffee strong or weak.
The intensity of your cup is directly related to your coffee brew ratio (the amount of coffee to water you use).
Keep in mind that the concentration of coffee compounds in the brew influences the mouthfeel of your coffee.
Increasing the coffee-to-water ratio makes the brew stronger.
Coffee's strength is proportional to the ratio of coffee grounds to water. Remember, strength refers to the concentration of coffee compounds present in the brew, which affects the mouthfeel of your coffee, or how it feels in your mouth.
If too much coffee is used in the brewing, the coffee has a heavy body, conflicting flavors, and an overwhelming aroma.
If too little coffee is used in the brewing process, you will get a watery beverage with a lackluster flavor and a barely perceptible aroma.
Many will tell you two tablespoons of ground coffee to six ounces of water is the ideal brewing ratio.
It is said that Beethoven used precisely 60 whole beans per cup of coffee.
You can get started with either of these approaches if that's more convenient for you. However, I (and most professionals) use a slightly different method of measuring coffee because consistency is essential to replicate the desired results. The approaches described above need to be more consistent.
How Much Does Accuracy Matter?
The two-tablespoon method calls for ground coffee, but if you're using fresh, whole beans, you must first grind the beans to get an accurate reading.
Which is both time-consuming and wasteful (not to mention costly, given the high price of good coffee beans).
Although beans come in a wide range of sizes, Beethoven's method helps cut down on waste.
Sixty beans from one coffee plant variety would yield significantly less coffee than the same number of beans from another.
What's the fix?
Make your brew with a weight-based ratio.
The standard coffee brew ratio in the United States is between 1:15 (1 gram of whole coffee beans to 15 g of water) and 1:17 (1 gram of whole coffee beans to 17 g of water).
That's close to the sweet spot on the control chart for brewing coffee. That's right; instead of the volume measurement with which you're probably more familiar, we'll be using the weight of the beans and the water.
Still, since you only need one piece of equipment for this step—a cheap kitchen scale—because both items are measured with the same unit of measure, the procedure is greatly simplified.
How Crucial Is It to Be Accurate?
Many of you will probably go with the two-tablespoon approach, which is acceptable. However, measuring by weight and sticking to a brew ratio is essential for advanced brewing for three reasons:
1. It's more accurate.
2. It makes it easier to troubleshoot/adjust your cup.
3. It accounts for the variability in devices.
It's important to note that the amount of coffee that can fit inside a measuring spoon can vary significantly in mass, which only some know.
That is not something the coffee industry has invented to make it seem not very easy; instead, it is based on scientific research.
For this reason, most seasoned bakers use weight instead of volume.
If you accidentally pack the second cup more than the first, you will have more mass than in the first cup you measured.
Even a tiny amount of extra flour can have disastrous consequences when baking.
Coffee presents an even greater opportunity for variation. As I've already mentioned, the size of individual coffee beans can vary considerably.
Just look carefully at your next bag of blended beans.
One tablespoon of this bean may have a different mass than one tablespoon of that bean.
It's the equivalent of switching from white flour to whole wheat in a recipe calling for one cup of flour.
Even a one-gram discrepancy in these masses can make a big difference when working with such minute quantities.
The grind size also matters when determining how much coffee grounds to use.
There is no doubt that the density of a tablespoon of finely ground coffee is different from that of a tablespoon of coarsely ground coffee.
The difference between the ideal cup and a subpar one can be as little as half a gram, making precise measurements essential.
Try weighing tablespoons of water and see how often they come out to be the standard 14.8 grams for a tablespoon of water.
The only way to guarantee precise, consistent brew ratios and cups is to measure by weight, which may initially seem strange.
Even if you can brew a tasty cup by chance, you won't recreate it without writing down the exact proportions.
Considering coffee only requires two ingredients, any change in proportions can drastically alter the flavor.
Maintaining a pattern allows you to gauge any necessary adjustments better.
When you take a sip of coffee, it feels very heavy and intense (thick); you may be drinking too much.
You can use more coffee the next time if it seems watery (weak) to you.
Finally, the ratio of water to coffee that works best will change depending on the brewing method and equipment you use.
Devices are built to maximize extraction, but their creators have various strategies.
The brew ratio (or ratios) that work best with your device will depend on how it extracts coffee.
What Factors Affect Dosage?
A dose is the amount of coffee used in a brewing recipe.
Dosage is a mathematical process that requires some calculation. I have a deep-seated distaste for mathematics, but I can figure out the dose. The good news is that once you determine your dosage, you can keep using the same numbers indefinitely.
The other good news is that you can easily use my brew ratios because they allow you to measure both water and coffee by weight in grams, as I mentioned before.
A round of applause for the metric system! The first step is determining your brewing device's dimensions and the desired final amount of coffee.
Refrain from brewing too little or too much coffee using an inefficient appliance.
Take, for instance, the BeeHouse mini dripper. The maker claims it can store enough coffee beans for 1-2 pots of brew.
Imagine you only needed one cup. The volume of one cup is eight ounces.
The mass of 29.57 grams is equal to one fluid ounce. First, consider what a brew ratio of 1:16 means for your coffee dose.
For simplicity, I've rounded all measurements to the nearest whole number.
The coffee dose is easily determined by dividing 237 grams by 16 to get the sixteenth part of the ratio, which you have already calculated.
This amounts to 15 grams (about 14.8, but I find it easier to adjust my dose if I start with whole numbers).
To experiment with this method, you could begin with 15 grams of coffee beans and 237 grams of water, grind, brew, and evaluate the results.
You can adjust the dosage, usually by about half a gram at a time, based on how you like the flavor.
Please note that 15 grams of coffee may be significantly more than you are accustomed to consuming.
Using a large enough dose of coffee is a common mistake when brewing at home.
You should see what happens if you use a 1:16 brew ratio and the resulting dose looks like too much coffee.
The chart can be used for a wide range of quantities and implements. Using the chart, you can determine that you need 1,419 grams of water and between 83 and 95 grams of coffee beans to brew six cups using a large Chemex.
However, if you have more than one device, you should know that the brew ratio may work differently.
I recommend using ratios ranging from 1:12 to 1:17, depending on my preferred coffee strength and brewing method.
Once I've found my preferred coffee-to-water ratio for a given brewing apparatus, I jot it down and stick to it every time I prepare a pot of coffee.
Most specialty coffee shops also use this ratio, which is now technically part of the device's "base specs."
Creating something completely new every time you brew defeats the purpose. Instead, you can build off of the minimum requirements.
The term "dialing it in" refers to the process by which a coffee shop fine-tunes its settings to achieve optimal quality, which could occur as often as once per day or whenever a new batch of coffee is being prepared.
Usually, I don't mess with mine at home. The minimum requirements are generally adequate.
Choosing the right dose is less of an art and more of a science, and the least recommended approach is Guessing the ratio. Next is an Okay method: two tablespoons of ground coffee with six ounces of water. But if you want to hit the nail on the head, weigh 115 to 1:17 whole beans to water in grams.