Last Updated: 6th July 2021
You may be wondering how much coffee and water you need for the perfect cup of coffee.
For a quick answer, you might refer to our Coffee Calculator. Just enter in any amount of coffee to get the appropriate amount of water.
The commonly accepted gold standard 1 part ground coffee to 15-18 parts water (1:15-1:18). Since brewing methods are unique and require different techniques, finding the best ratio gets a little more complicated.
Grind size, water temperature, brewing time, skill, and palate are all necessary factors to take into consideration. For example, a fine grind is likely to extract more flavour, in a shorter time than a coarse grind.
This guide will discuss these factors to help you determine the perfect coffee to water ratio.
= grams of coffee
As we mentioned, 1:15-1:18 is the best bet for a good overall coffee ratio. It provides the best chance for optimum flavour extraction.
This is a happy medium because it avoids coffee that is too watery, or overly bitter and dry. You want just enough coffee grounds to get the right amount of flavour in your coffee. You also want the right amount of water for the coffee to extract into.
However, since the best ratio depends on how you make your coffee, there is no set number.
Not only are you accounting for brewing time, grind size, and other factors. You also have to factor in milk and creamer. Unless you’re drinking it black, you should be mindful of dilution in your coffee when you add these ingredients.
To explain how much coffee and water you need, first, we’ll need to determine the desired coffee strength. There is a scientific way to calculate this, which will help put things into perspective.
Total dissolved solids (TDS) is the amount of coffee extract included in the beverage itself. For example, a TDS of 2% means your cup is 2% coffee and 98% water. To measure TDS, you would need special equipment such as a TDS meter.
Extraction yield explains the percentage of the coffee grounds that got extracted into the water. The recommended extraction yield is 18-22%. With higher extraction yields, you’re likely to get bitter flavours from the coffee that make the coffee less enjoyable. This happens when you use too much coffee grounds.
You need special equipment to get exact with TDS and extraction yield. Let’s use them to understand what counts: the ratio between coffee and water, and what extraction yield that ratio’s coffee parts are made of. For a simple way to get a great ratio, take the following into account:
If you’re aiming for a 1:16 coffee ratio, that would mean 1g of coffee for every 16g of water. As a rule of thumb, 1 levelled tablespoon = 5g. So if we use 30g of coffee, divide by 5 to get 6 tablespoons.
If you want a consistent cup, your best bet is to buy a kitchen scale. This makes it easier to weigh out proper amounts of ground coffee.
A scale is beneficial if you’re starting with whole bean coffee, as these are inconsistent to measure with spoons. To not only weigh but grind them perfectly, you can grind them using one of the 10 best coffee grinders for 2021.
You can also use this to determine how many grams are in your scoop. A standard coffee scoop should hold 2 tablespoons, which is 10 grams of coffee.
The other key factor in determining the ideal ratio is the brewing method.
If you’re working with a basic coffee maker or pour-over drip filter, you’ll want a medium grind. A good ratio to aim for is 1:15, or 66g of coffee per litre of water. You can get away with a smaller ratio like 1:17 if you use a finer grind.
With a French press or any other immersion method like cowboy coffee, the coarse grind is the way to go. Water does not pass through the grounds. Instead, the grounds sit in the water and extract their flavour. For this reason, you want a stronger ratio, at 1:14 (71g of coffee per litre of water).
With espresso brewed in machines, it’s difficult to say for sure how much water they used. People who brew espresso don’t worry about the amount of water, though.
If you used 18g of ground coffee and ended up with about 36g (1 oz) of brewed espresso, that would be a 1:2 ratio. This is typical for a shot of espresso. It is made up of more dissolved solids than other types of coffee and is much more concentrated.
With most conventional brewing methods, you’re working with hot water. Cold brew is a different beast. It requires a much longer brewing time because it is lacking the hot water which uses heat to extract and dissolve the coffee compound.
Using coarse ground coffee, you’ll want to aim for a ratio of 1:4 to 1:8. So if you were making a litre of cold brew coffee, about three quarter cups of coffee grounds should do the trick. This brewing process will take from 12 to 24 hours.
Now for the next big question. Are you just brewing for yourself, or are you having people over? Using the ratio you determined, you’ll have to adjust the amount of water and coffee accordingly.
Let’s assume 1 cup of coffee is 240 ml since this is a standard serving. 1 litre can serve four. So for 1 litre of coffee that is strong enough to withstand milk without being too diluted, you’d use 70g of coffee.