“There is a beautiful paradox in the simplicity of brewing coffee and the complexity of its mastery.” For years this phrase was written on the back of our coffee bags as an acknowledgement that brewing coffee is rather simple, you just add coffee to water, but there is a world of nuance within that simplicity. Along with grind size and brew time, your coffee to water ratio is another major contributor to turning a subpar cup of coffee into a mug of pure bliss. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to dial in your coffee to water ratios to edge you ever closer to your perfect cup of coffee.
What is coffee brew ratio
Brew ratio refers to the amount of coffee and water used in a brew. It’s a weight-based formula that can be applied to brewing any amount, whether a single cup or large pot. The golden ratio for coffee, the ratio that tends to produce the most balanced cup, is 1:18 (or also written 18:1). This is translated as 1 part coffee to 18 parts water. We use brew ratio to describe the coffee’s strength. A lower ratio will produce a more concentrated brew whereas a higher ratio will make a lighter brew.
For example, a typical to-go coffee from a coffee shop is 12oz (340g) and is likely brewed at a strength of 1:17. This means there’s 20 grams of coffee used in that cup because 340 / 17 = 20.
What is coffee golden ratio
Though ratios are completely subjective, nearly all well-balanced cups of coffee are consistently brewed around a certain ratio. Coffee’s golden ratio is 1:18 (1 gram of coffee to every 18 grams of water). If you want a stronger cup, use a ratio of 1:15 or if you want a lighter cup, use 1:18. But somewhere between 15 to 18 grams of water to every gram of coffee is most common. Espresso on the other hand, uses a ratio of 1:2 (1 gram of coffee to 2 grams of water) because it is a concentrate that is typically diluted in water or milk.
Here are some formulas to help you quickly find the right amount of coffee you need to grind.
- Start with water. If you’re wanting to brew a specific volume of coffee, like a single serving for your favorite diner mug, divide that amount by your desired strength to find out how much coffee you’ll need. A standard diner mug holds 10oz (283g) of water. Divide that number by your desired ratio, like 17, to determine the amount of coffee you’ll need to grind: 283 / 17 = 16.5. So you’ll need to weigh and grind 16.5 grams of coffee.
- Start with coffee. If you only have a certain amount of coffee, multiply that number by your ratio to find out how much water you’ll need. So if you’re starting with 30 grams of coffee, multiply that by 15 if you’re wanting a strong brew. 30 x 15 = 450 grams of water needed.
Why coffee to water ratio matters
It’s a simple concept but with plenty of nuance, the more coffee you use in your brew, the stronger it will taste. But adding more coffee won’t necessarily get you to a desired flavor. Though it is one of the primary contributors to producing quality coffee, it’s not the only consideration.
What other factors impact brewing ratio and strength
Along with your ratio, grind size and brew time have the greatest impact in how your coffee will turn out. Ratio determines how much coffee is being brewed, but grind size impacts how much soluble material is dissolving during the brew time. The goal is to hit the bullseye of all your variables to produce a well-balanced and satisfying cup of coffee.
Learn more: How to Grind Coffee Beans
What gadgets do you need to get the perfect brew ratio
A simple kitchen scale is a necessary tool for any home coffee brewer. It’s more accurate than a scoop because scoops weigh by volume, whereas a scale weighs by weight. Without a scale, you will have a difficult time developing consistency as you’ll be unable to precisely control variables like your coffee to water ratio. We recommend a scale like Hario’s as it’s a digital scale that weighs in 1 and 1/10 grams for exact precision and has a built-in timer.
How to measure coffee beans
- Tare - Set a small bowl or something similar on your scale and tare it. Taring simply means you’re resetting the scale to zero so the scale isn’t also weighing the bowl, allowing you to weigh just the coffee beans.
- Fill - We always weigh whole beans, not ground. That way we only brew freshly ground coffee and there’s no waste.
- Measure - Add your coffee until you hit your desired amount.
Ratios for types of coffee
Drip coffee (normal, strong)
For your home brewer, we recommend a water to coffee ratio of 17:1. This translates to about 10 grams of coffee for every 6oz cup of coffee.
For a stronger pot of coffee, use a water to coffee ratio of 15:1.
For french press, we recommend a water to coffee ratio between 16:1 to 12:1, depending on how strong you want your brew.
For espresso, we recommend a water to coffee ratio of 2:1. This produces a very concentrated amount of coffee.
For pour overs such as a Hario V60 or Kalita Wave, we recommend a water to coffee ratio of 16:1, or 15:1 if you prefer a slightly more potent cup.
Brewing a cold brew concentrate allows you to store a smaller amount of liquid and dilute to taste. For cold brew concentrate, we recommend a water to coffee ratio of 5:1. When you’re ready to drink, dilute by doubling the volume or to taste. Pro tip, dilute with milk for a more creamy beverage.
While perfecting your golden ratio for coffee, selecting the right coffee beans can enhance your experience. Check out our selection of expertly roasted whole bean coffee.
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- How to Enjoy Black Coffee