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Coffee Ratios - Measuring Coffee

A few ground beans mixed with water should be all we need for our coffee cup.

But are things really that simple?

Well, if you want to rock your coffee brewing – not exactly.

What determines how good our coffee will taste depends on the quality of the coffee beans, water, but most of all - how we choose to mix them. That’s why the time has come to open a new chapter of our coffee world and teach you all about the secrets of an ideal brew ratio.

two bags of coffee beans

Why do ratios matter when it comes to brewing coffee?

It’s simple – imbalanced coffee tastes like misery.

Your coffee brew ratio is the base of your recipe. Many experts claim any ratio between 1:15 to 1:17 is a good one to follow. However, have in mind that adjusting this ratio will affect drastically other variables in the brew, so you should find the measure you like and stick to it until you become more skillful in experimenting.

coffee-beans   Let’s dig into the bean science a bit

Every precious coffee bean has a different mass.
During the process of roasting, the moisture level of
each green bean gets reduced. It drops from 3-5%. Why
– you may wonder. This happens because the water
that is released turns into steam, leaving beans
weighing about 15-20% less then they did before we
started roasting them.

Most coffee masters, including the SCAA (Specialty
Coffee Association of America), agree that the best
starting point for your ratio should be around 60 grams
of coffee per 1L of water.

In order to skip the trouble, go for the range 1:15 to 1:18
ratio. This way, you will have enough water to ensure
every single coffee ground reaches stage 3, but not so
much that it’s easy to over-extract.

For example: a brew ratio of 1:15 means 1 part coffee to
15 parts water. It may be 20g of ground coffee, brewed with 300g of water. This will produce around 300ml coffee cup.

coffee-beans   The 1:18 ratio

Some refer to 1:18 as the “Golden Ratio” but it’s really
down to your taste.
If you’re using spoons rather than measuring by
grams, the ratio is 1 tablespoon of coffee for every 4
ounces of water.

coffee 1.8 ratio background

#Pro Tip: Most coffee aficionados use scales to
avoid any mistakes. Measuring by weight is
more accurate. Since not all coffee beans are the
same size or weight, volume measurements can
vary. More about this coming up…

coffee flavors and taste

Brew Strenght

When we're talking about ratio, what we mean is brew strength.

Did you know that 30% of coffee solids can be dissolved in water but only 18%-22% of those are actually desirable flavors? That is why, you need to master the skill of finding the perfect balance between aromatics, acidity, sweet and spicy flavors. If your coffee tastes bitter or too woody it is over-extracted, while if it's too sour and you desperately miss some sweetness, it means the coffee was a victim of under extraction.

Depending on what you like, you can adjust the grind to get more or less out of your coffee, if you are within the Golden Ratio range.

Let’s learn two new tricky terms that can help out understand what our aim is. The amount of coffee particles extracted from the original dry grounds is what we call the percentage extraction. The percentage of total dissolved solids is the percentage of coffee solids actually in your cup of coffee or a "brew strength" that we mentioned earlier on. When you correlate these, the result is a Coffee Brewing Control Chart, with a target area in the center that highlights the optimal brew strength.

So how to reach the most refined flavor with the right ratio?

Try using this tactic: start with the Golden Ratio of 17.42 units of water to 1 unit of coffee. The ratio will get you into the optimal zone, plus it is unit-less, which means you can use grams, ounces, pounds or stones. The key moment should be not sticking strictly to the Golden Ratio while fine-tuning. Instead, adjust to taste. To make this game easier, invest in a good scale.

Try using this tactic: start with the Golden Ratio of 17.42 units of water to 1 unit of coffee. The ratio will get you into the optimal zone, plus it is unit-less, which means you can use grams, ounces, pounds or stones. The key moment should be not sticking strictly to the Golden Ratio while fine-tuning. Instead, adjust to taste. To make this game easier, invest in a good scale.

Golden Ratio by SCAA – The Foundation

Golden Ratio by SCAA – The Foundation

Golden Ratio stands for the perfect balance of coffee and water developed by the SCAA to ensure the best cup of coffee. This is a dream come true for every barista and coffee lover and confirmation that you have mastered the perfect way of coffee brewing! To achieve it, you need a decent amount of patience, a childish drive to play and a huge amount of love for coffee!

In this range the sweet sugars are pleasant and refreshing, the acids and bitter notes are proportionate and the overall taste of the coffee is balanced with all the elements in harmony.

The BIG question keeps emerging and that is – what ratio makes the best Golden Ratio?

If we want to make it simple, we would say it is 2 tbsp (10.6g) of ground coffee beans per 6 oz. of water. It makes a 1/8 cup. The SCAA also defines 10 grams per 6 oz cup as the best measure for brewed coffee, having in mind American standards.

Another advice would be to use 10 grams of ground coffee per 180ml of water, which requires a scale. We encourage the more ambitious ones to try it out and invest in this piece of equipment, as it is absolutely worthwhile.

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Factors to have in mind

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coffee-beans   Grind Timing

Ground your beans with love and
attention just before brewing! This
way you will extract the freshest
flavor and obtain minimal air
contact.

coffee-beans   Water Temprature

Make the water temperature around
93°C (plus minus 5°C variation) at
the time of contact. Water that is too
cold will produce under-extracted
beverage, while coffee made with
water that is way too hot will ruin
the overall flavor.

coffee-beans   Brewing Time

This depends on the brew type. Drip
brew requires around 5 minutes, for
example, while the best contact
time for French Press is 2-4
minutes. More about this in the
segments to come…

Measuring Coffee

Measuring Coffee

Knowing how to measure your ground beans is a crucial detail for making the best coffee ratio. It can be done in several ways with several tools. Again – the point is freeing your mind to experiment, play and enjoy and after a while you will figure out exactly which method suits best for you. Then all you have to do is stay persistent in practicing it until you become a coffee ratio virtuoso!

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Volume Measuring

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In case you are a fan of this type of measuring, there are two tools you can use.

coffee-beans   Liquid Measuring Cup – It’s easy and simple if you have in mind that 1g of liquid water is exactly 1ml of liquid water. The two units of measurement are based on each other so you can use this fact in your brew calculations.

Liquid Measuring Cup
coffee Tablespoon

coffee-beans   Tablespoon – A level tablespoon of whole coffee beans is roughly 4-7g of coffee. Keep it simple - assume it’s 5g each level scoop and go!

The biggest flaw of this type of measuring is imprecision.

Coffee beans come in all sizes, so a bean from one part of the world can be tiny while the one from the different zone can be twice the size. You have to have this in mind while measuring, as it can significantly affect the final coffee taste. Density matters as well. A tablespoon of one coffee may just be 4g of coffee. A tablespoon of a different coffee can be as much as 7g of coffee, even though the beans can often look the exact same size.


Nearly 2 grams difference per tablespoon will throw your whole recipe out of whack.

That is why you can always opt for the second method we recommend. And that is….

coffee bean in shell
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Measuring with a Scale

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Using a scale to measure is a lifesaver! It can change everything and it facilitates the whole process greatly! Here is why:

coffee-beans   Accuracy Is Mama! – Different beans can be more or less dense, making measurements inaccurate compared to weighted measurements. Using a scale will help you measure with precision, which will result in finding the right ratio of ground coffee to water and perfecting your skills.

coffee-beans   Test & Repeat – Once coffee and water are measured, a scale enables you to repeat this giving you the same result every time! No fuss and too much testing, triumph with the tested recipe!

coffee-beans   Reducing Waste – By using a grinder we often grind more coffee than needed. It is such a coffee waste! Using weighted single doses can reduce waste almost completely. And it’s a good thing, right? We want our beans IN the coffee mug, not away from it.

coffee-beans   Play & Experiment – Using a scale allows you to play around with different brew ratios so you can find that perfect shot. You can test it with all different methods of coffee - French Press/immersion, pour overs, iced coffee, AeroPress, etc.

The scale does not have to cost a fortune. Do your research and purchase the more affordable one. Once it finds its place on your kitchen counter you will say goodbye to inconsistency for good and learn how to brew with fun and ease.

pour over coffee

Gadgets Matter

Before we jump onto the ratio tips and tricks, let’s share a few words about the equipment you need to have. In order to make a pour over coffee, you will need a brewing device, filters and a kettle.

A dripper is a device that holds the coffee filter and grounds. Get yourself a nice Chemex, Kalita Wave or Melitta. The advantage of using any one of these devices is that they are easily available, simple to use, and most of all – each has a specific design that affects the flow and extraction process.

As for the filters, you can use either paper filters or cloth filters. Make sure your filter fits the dripper properly. Cloth filters are slightly more desirable because they do not affect the final taste of the coffee as the paper ones. In order to avoid the odd smells, rinse your paper filter and the problem is gone.

Do your online research before buying a kettle. There are many types - electric, stove-top or a batch water heater will be just fine for finalizing your heavenly drip drink.

The Ratio Harmony

Drip typically requires less coffee. A ratio between 1:15 and 1:17 will get you from bold to standard, but let’s agree that 1g of coffee to 17g of water is an excellent starting point.

Try changing the ratio of coffee to water. If your brew lets you down with a watery note, this means it’s time to add more coffee without changing other factors and assessing if it tastes better. If your cup seems to be too intense, reduce the amount of coffee. An important detail is to use filtered water only, because tap water can contain contaminants that affect flavor.

Always note or remember the changes you have made, so you can recreate your mastered brew recipe!


coffee-beans   Fun Fact: Did you know that the first pour is also called the bloom pour? It is essential for an even extraction because it soaks all of the grounds. To make the most out of it, pour in slow and steady spirals, then stir gently. Give it some love for about 30-45 seconds.

Ratios for types of coffee

espresso cup
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Espresso

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Playing around with brew ratio, time, and the temperature is very important as every single of these factors are crucial for the final taste of your coffee. So, keep reading and feel free to take notes.

The dose of dry ground coffee that you put into the basket of the portafilter should range from 13 to 22 grams, depending on the coffee basket. The weight of the liquid espresso should be somewhere between one and three times the weight of the dry coffee. The most common brew ratio is two times the dry coffee dose, meaning: if you decide to use 18 grams of dry coffee, you will get 36 grams of coffee in your cup.

Aim for the brew time to be between 25 and 35 seconds. If you start with 18 grams of coffee and your target brew ratio is 1:2, then it should take about 25 to 35 seconds for the espresso machine to produce a 36-gram shot of espresso.

Water temperature is one of the crucial factors for a good recipe. The ideal one should be between 195 °F / 91 °C and 203 °F / 95 °C. Most professionals go for 200 °F / 93 °C but don’t let this give you too much of a headache. Beginners can always use the default brew temperature on the coffee machine.

french press
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French Press

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During the French Press method, the coffee is immersed in water while it brews (for more details on this brewing method see our French Press 101 guide here).

We’ll teach you how to go from light to strong and make three different variants of brew, following simple coffee ratio instructions.

First of all, let’s do a recap of what the ratio actually represents - a 1:15 ratio describes 1 gram of coffee to 15 milliliters of water, while a 1:18 ratio would be 1 part coffee and 18 parts water and will be more diluted. These are the three different ratios we encourage you to try out and see for yourself which type of brew you'll most likely fall in love with.

light brew coffee
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Light Brew

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If you prefer just a bit of coffee with your water, start with a 1:16 to 1:18 coffee to water ratio, or approximately 18g of coffee to 300 ml of water.

normal brew coffee
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Normal Brew

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For the indecisive ones, the best option would be a moderate one. The everyday coffee drinker will generally use a 1:13 to 1:15 ratio or approximately 20g of coffee to 300ml of water.

strong brew coffee
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Strong Brew

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To kick off a new day with a wonderful bold cup of coffee, we recommend you use a 1:10 to 1:12 ratio. This means, if you’re making 12 oz of coffee, that would equate to around 30 grams of coffee with 300 ml of water.

Dear lazy ones – if you wish to measure your ratio having in mind the cups, voilà:

coffee-beans   3 CUP or 1 serving – use 17-19g of coffee to 290g of water
coffee-beans  8 CUP or 2-3 servings – use 50-56g of coffee to 850g of water
coffee-beans  12 CUP or 4-5 servings – use 82-88g of coffee to 1350g of water

coffee-beans   Don’t forget: Although they may look alike, have in mind the density of your beans will always vary. For that reason, ditch that spoon and use the scale! The only way to ensure the accuracy of your measurements is to measure by weight, not by volume.

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Pour Over Coffee

This method involves pouring hot water through coffee grounds in a filter. The water drains through the coffee and filter into a carafe or mug. Pour over, also known as filter coffee or drip coffee, is clean, consistent and we love it because it accentuates intricate flavors.

flash-brew-pourover-small-image-2_3b6b39a9-1da7-4073-85c8-d7bd7d2e2cf5_large1
cold brew coffee art

Cold Brew & Ratios

We call cold brew every coffee that is brewed by steeping coffee grounds in cold or room-temperature water for an extended period of time. This method is specific because we use water that is not heated, so adjusting the right ratio is a crucial step for getting the desired flavor. That is if you are not a fan of consuming brownish water looking and tasting like a swamp.

To make this type of brew, you will need some basic gadgets like a glass jar and a quality filter. With the key detail – tons of patience! We all know cold brew takes time.

We can say with confidence that a cold brew coffee ratio of 1:8 is an ideal measure for a balanced preparation. Since in this method specifically, brew times can make a huge difference, experimenting is key.

So, there you go – we are pleased to give you some insights that will help you play the right way!

Cold Brew coffee to water ratio
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Cold Brew coffee-to-water ratios

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1:8 Ratio

This is a great ratio for all the lovers of moderate taste. If you don’t want your coffee too strong or if you’re doing the French press method of cold brewing, use this measure.

1:5 Ratio

This is the best option for a full-flavored cold brew and a ratio for impatient brave ones hoping to immediately drink it straight rather than making a concentrate.

1:4 Ratio

Can be an option too. Still, have in mind it is a bit strong to drink and a bit weak to use as a cold brew concentrate ratio. Again, it all depends on personal taste.

1:8 Ratio

The most perfect option for the courageous ones! It will be a pure delight for the fans of extremely bold coffee. Consider this ratio for a very powerful concentrate.

Now it’s time to play!

Don’t be afraid to test, experiment and fail. After all, the greatest pleasure is hidden in the practice and joy of discovering new ways to make and consume the world’s most wanted, most adored drink – coffee.

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