Coffee to Water Ratio: Brewing The Perfect Cup

coffee to water ratio

Confused about the right amount of coffee vs water you should use for your next brew? You’re not alone! The coffee to water ratio is crucial in making the perfect cup of coffee. Although I’ve been drinking coffee every day since I can remember, it took me quite some time to figure out why my coffee wasn’t turning out to be as awesome as I knew it can be.

After asking around and doing a bit of research, I learned that the issue was the coffee to water ratio I had been using in my brews. Today, I’m here to save you a lot of time (and disappointment) by introducing you to the perfect coffee to water ratio you should follow for every brewing method so end up with a consistent cup of coffee each time.

As a general rule of thumb, the best coffee to water ratio is 1:17 water to coffee. This means that for every 1 gram of coffee, you should add 17 grams of water. This ratio makes for the best chance of extraction with a strength that is not too weak or too intense.

However, with so many different brewing methods and measuring units, the coffee to water ratio will surely vary. Let’s discuss how we came to the 1:17 ratio.

What is the Best Coffee to Water Ratio?

Many people call it the Golden Ratio – a certain amount of coffee vs water that brews the perfect cup. While that would make life so much easier, unfortunately, it’s too good to be true.

There isn’t some kind of ideal ratio for every cup, simply because people are different as are brewing methods. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a system you can follow, don’t worry, it’s not total chaos!

For most brewing methods, you can work with a ratio ranging between 1:15 and 1:18. The decision is up to your intensity preference. The lower the number, the stronger the flavored, and the higher the lighter.

Author Note: To figure out what you should use, my go-to advice is to experiment. Try different ratios side-by-side to determine your own perfect ratio using various roasts and brewing methods.

That being said, you should probably avoid going stronger than 1:12 for most methods because you’ll just get a cup that’s too muddy. Going lighter than 1:20 also isn’t the greatest idea unless you like drinking watery, bland coffee that’s too bitter.

What is the Best Coffee to Water Ratio for French Press?

Composition and proportions for making Dalgona coffee. Coffee, sugar and water in a ratio of 1:1:1

The French press is an immersion brewing method. This means that the coffee stays in full contact with the water -immersed- the whole time.

Since the same water stays covering the coffee throughout the brewing process, it tends to saturate the grounds, which prevents efficient extraction like with drip methods. You can stir the grounds to counter such a problem, or you can just use more coffee to boost the flavor.

If you’re someone who prefers a stronger and bolder brew with heavy, full-bodied flavors, try starting between a 1:10 to a 1:12 ratio. People who like the taste of lighter coffee should start with a 1:15 or a 1:16 ratio.

You can use these values as guidelines to reach your ideal intensity.  If you don’t roll with a scale (seriously, it’s a game-changer), start with a 2 tbsp to 6 ounces coffee to water ratio and just adjust the amount of coffee from there.

But because French press brewing requires a more coarse grind, which results in a lot of space between grounds, weighing using a scale is going to be way more accurate than any other measuring method.

What is the Best Coffee to Water Ratio for Pour Over?

Pour-over coffee is on the more artful and exact side of the spectrum when it comes to brewing methods. While you can probably get away with ditching the scale for drip or cold brews, you really should stick to the book for this one.

Top Tip: A nice starting point for your pour-over coffee cup is using a 1:17 coffee to water ratio. This translates into 1 or 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water if you haven’t invested in a scale yet.

This tablespoon measurement won’t achieve a consistent brew every time, but it’ll get the job done anyway.

What is the Best Coffee to Water Ratio for Drip Coffee?

Drip coffee is probably the most common brewing method among coffee drinkers in the United States.

It’s both easy and efficient because there’s a constant supply of new water running through the coffee. This helps extract all of the flavors without over-saturating the grounds.

Thanks to its efficiency, drip brew usually requires less coffee. A ratio between 1:15 and 1:17 will take you from strong to standard.

What is the Best Coffee to Water Ratio for Cold Brew?

Mixing the ingredients for making dalgona coffee

Next up is the refreshing, laid-back summer drink – the cold brew.

The cold brew also falls in the immersion method category, but it’s a bit different than typical methods because you don’t heat the water. So unless you want to end up with brown water and not coffee, you need to adjust the ratio.

Before we discuss the proper ratios to use here, you need to keep in mind that this way of brewing results in a concentrate instead of a finished brew. This means that you’ll dilute the end product later down the road, so don’t freak out over the ratios I’m about to suggest.

Compared to other brewing methods, cold brew is much less volatile and it takes a longer time to complete. This corresponds to a higher chance of saturated grounds, so you’ll need to use plenty of coffee to get a satisfying flavor.

If you’re not familiar with this brew, a 1:8 coffee to water ratio can be a good place for you to start. It’ll produce a nice, mid-level strength with a standard intensity that’s acceptable for most people.

But if you already know you’re going to want to drink something bolder, try starting at a 1:5 ratio.

As for how to dilute the concentrate, this mainly depends on your unique taste so you may be better off mixing it up for each cup in your first batch to help your tastebuds make a decision.

To have as many options as possible, you should dilute the coffee concentrate as you drink it, not when it’s in the carafe all at once.

Start with a 1:2 ratio of coffee to dilute with ice. If you don’t want to add ice, just pour in a bit more water. Taste the brew and tweak the ratios from there.

What is the Best Coffee to Water Ratio for Aeropress?

The Aeropress is a crowd favorite thanks to how easy it is to master using this rather unique brewing device. By switching up your ratios, you can make anything from an espresso-like shot to something resembling the average drip coffee brew.

However, this tool comes with a valuable edge that you can’t typically find in other coffee brewing machines. The Aeropress is equipped with a built-in measuring system so you don’t need to use a scale or any measuring spoons to apply a certain ratio.

The Aeropress itself has oval markers on its body, labeled 1, 2, 3, and 4, with a scoop included in the package. The numbers refer to how many scoops you’re using or servings you’re making, whereas the label markers serve as guides for adding water.

The brand recommends filling the press even to the 1 or 4 numbers if that’s the number of scoops you want to use. But if you’re going for 2 or 3 scoops, either fill the press to the bottoms or tops of the ovals.

Filling to the bottoms will give you a richer brew for beverages such as cappuccinos and lattes, while the tops will weaken the brew so it’s better suited for an Americano or Long Black.

What is the Best Coffee to Water Ratio for Espresso?

Cropped shot of Barista pouring a hot coffee after drip in a glass cup of coffee

Technically speaking, espresso is an infusion brew. However, it’s quite different from drip coffee because of the amount of pressure involved.

Espresso also creates an entirely different type of brew, characterized by much less volume and way bolder flavors.

Since espresso machines available on the market can widely vary, it’s somewhat tricky to pinpoint a ratio.

Not to mention, the amount of coffee you use for each shot stays constant. It’s the length of the pull that makes the difference. For example, a shorter pull needs less water, and you’ll end up with a stronger shot.

In general, a 1:1 ratio yields a ristretto shot. A ratio of 1:2 or a 1:3 is normal, whereas a 1:4 ratio is a lighter, lungo shot. These are based on a consistent grind quality.

Wrap Up

So what’s the best coffee to water ratio? Well, as you can tell by now, the answer varies according to the brewing method you’re working with. But as a general guideline, a 1:17 water to coffee ratio is your best bet in most cases.

Stay caffeinated friends!

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