Learning how to make great coffee and taking your skills to the next level include understanding the coffee to water ratio. Simply put, to make coffee you need basically ground beans and water - but how much coffee grounds and how much water you use for your preferred brewing method makes a huge difference in how your drink will taste, how strong it will feel, and more.
Brewing time, water quality, the grind size, and other factors that you can learn and master will turn a good cup into a great cup of coffee. The water to coffee ratio is one that is quick and easy to understand and start applying, so let’s dive into why it is important.
Why is the water to coffee ratio important?
You probably know someone who thinks they can only get what they need from coffee if they have a strong cup in the morning, and if it isn’t a strong one the coffee is bad or not even worth it. Because of that, they load up their coffee drippers, french press, or pour over with as much coffee as they can trying to achieve that desired taste.
I’m sorry to break it to you but that’s not how it really works. More coffee grounds don’t mean better coffee. It might sound counterintuitive because you’d think more coffee, more caffeine, should equal a bolder, stronger cup. But that’s not how you extract the best out of your coffee. The trick is in how water mixes with coffee and extracts the flavours from the beans.
The coffee flavour comes from how hot water mixes with coffee and absorbs its precious soluble compounds. Over-extracting will get you a bitter and flavourless cup while under-extracting will result in a flat, sour taste. You’d want to aim for the sweet spot, also known as the golden ratio to extract the perfect amount of taste from your coffee. Adding more beans becomes a waste because there’s only so much you can extract before going over the ratio and getting a subpar beverage.
Think of it as a recipe. That is actually the term experts use to recommend the best coffee according to different beans and brewing methods. Just like cooking or baking, you can probably get away with eyeballing measures, but following a certain ratio will give you the best result.
What is the golden ratio?
The coffee golden ratio is a broad guideline that says one to two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces (177ml) of water. The reason it is just a guide is that you can adjust it to achieve what is your preferred taste.
The golden ratio was defined by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, which is approximately 1:18. This means they recommend, as a rule of thumb 55 grams of ground coffee for 1000 ml (grams) of water. That’s a good starting point, but you’d want to adapt it to your preferred brewing method. For example, if you’re making coffee on a french press you’d want more coffee grounds than if you were making pour over coffee.
Coffee to water ratio per brewing method
If you have access to a coffee scale or a kitchen scale to measure your coffee grounds and water, follow the ratio below for optimal enjoyment. Coffee quantity is measured in grams of ground coffee and water is measured in grams or millilitres.
|Method||Coffee g : water g/ml|
If you don't have a precision scale you can use common kitchen utensils such as tablespoons to measure a coffee to water ratio that will result in a great cup of coffee.
Tablespoons range from 4g to 7g. For simplification, we averaged a tablespoon to 5 grams of ground coffee. We are also using an 8oz (240ml) cup as a standard cup of coffee.
|Method||Water (1 cup)||Coffee grounds|
|French press||8oz (240ml)||20g or 5 tablespoons|
|Chemex||8oz (240ml)||16g or 3 tablespoons|
|Auto drip||8oz (240ml)||16g or 3 tablespoons|
|Pour-over||8oz (240ml)||14g to 15g or 3 tablespoons|
|Aeropress||8oz (240ml)||18g or 3 and a half tablespoons|
How to read coffee ratios?
Like the golden ratio, you’ll find recommended coffee to water ratios in the format of X:YY. The first value is always ground coffee and it is measured in grams. The second value is the amount of water and measured in either grams or millilitres. The golden ratio for auto drip coffee of 1:15 means for each 1 gram of ground coffee you should use 15 grams or millilitres of water.
To be exact you’d need a coffee scale or a kitchen scale and if you’re not seriously into cooking, baking, or coffee chances are you do not own one. Don’t let this discourage you, you can get approximate results using something everyone has in their kitchen: a tablespoon.
Now note all tablespoons are not created equal and even using the same tablespoon you might get slightly different volumes. Most tablespoons range between 4-7 grams and here at Portfolio, we averaged it at 5 grams to make it simple. We also use a larger cup of 8 ounces or 240ml as standard.
Do I have to follow coffee recipes?Changing your coffee routine can be intimidating or sound like you’ll be wasting precious time. Learning a coffee recipe doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t necessarily need to buy more equipment. Although following a recipe to the dot will likely give you the best cup for your coffee, you can still improve your skills using simple kitchen utensils you probably already have.
Each brewing method has different coffee to water ratio and sometimes they even differ from coffee to coffee. We always recommend you check the suggested ratios of the coffee you purchase as they were created by a coffee expert to help you get the best experience in your cup. When you shop for Portfolio coffees you can see the coffee ratios in both expert values in case you have the equipment at home, or tablespoon measures for an easy and seamless brewing moment.