Coffee to Water Ratios Explained

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So, you’ve bought a fancy espresso maker, you’ve got your freshly ground coffee, and somehow, you just cannot pull a great-tasting shot. What if I tell you that there is nothing wrong with either?

Before you start messing up the programs on your machine trying to figure out how the heck you can brew with success, read this article. 

Sometimes, the solution is simple – finding the perfect balance between your water and coffee grounds is what yields the most satisfying mouthfeel. 

Pinpointing the ideal coffee to water ratio is the crucial factor of brewing delicious Java.

Coffee Brew Ratio Basics

Okay, let’s admit it. We’re all guilty of sometimes dumping our water and ground carelessly into our pot/machine, not worrying about fine-tuning our brew. Because, who has the time, right? Well, wrong!

While it’s okay to give ourselves a pass for messing up our morning batch (hello, wrong-foot days), if we truly want to enjoy our morning coffee, then we do need to care about the details. And when I say details, I mean the numbers.

If professional baristas can follow recipes, why can’t we? We only have two ingredients, folks, coffee and water, so we better start measuring how much of each will be used for our brew. And that, my friends, is what the brew ratio basics are – learning to care for the weight.

Calculating Coffee Brewing Ratios Properly

First things first, for best results, you will need a decent kitchen scale. But since not all of us will have the luxury to measure grams and milliliters with precision at home, we will also take a look at a different approach to calculating our ratios.

The most straightforward thing is to measure both the water and coffee in grams. For instance, if you have a gram of coffee and a gram of water, you already have a 1:1 ratio. If you have 1 g of coffee and 15 grams of water, that is your 1:15 ratio.

Now, let’s take that 1:15 ratio and figure out how much coffee you will need for, let’s say 350 grams of water. To figure this out, you will need to divide the water mass by the portion.

And you don’t have to be a mathematical whizz to get it right. All you have to do is take the 350 grams and divide it by 15. That equals 23.33, which is how many grams of coffee you need for 350 grams of water to get your brew right.

And you can do it the other way, as well. For instance, if you already have 20 grams of coffee and need to figure out how much water is required, you can use the 1:15 ratio. All you need to do is multiple the coffee volume by the 1:15 ratio.

So, 20 x 15 = 300, which is how many grams of water you need per 20 grams of coffee.

Tip: While precision is needed, a little room for eyeballing is allowed. For instance, if you don’t have a scale, you can use cups and tablespoons. If you know that a cup equals about 8 ounces of water, and a tablespoon is approximately 5-7 grams of coffee, you can use that to figure out the approximate weight.

Coffee Water Ratio for French Press

French press brewing requires coarse and even grind. The coffee here is in contact with the same water, so the grounds can get saturated, failing to reach their extraction peak. While this can be fixed with some stirring, the secret to a perfect French press brew is to make the cup bolder and ensure more flavor.

For a bolder taste, we recommend a 1:12 (or 30 grams of coffee per 350 grams of water), but if you are not used to French Press sipping, then you may start with a standard 1:15 ratio and go lower as you get more used to the strong taste.

Coffee Water Ratio for Pour Over

Pour over and drip coffee makers are considered to be one of the most efficient brewers. Unlike the French Press, they can extract the beans better, which is why they require less coffee.

Anything from 1:17 to 1:15 will give you a nice cuppa, but we find that 23 grams of lightly roasted coffee combined with 350 grams of water is the ideal spot.

Coffee Water Ratio for Cold Brew

Cold brew is quite different from other brewing methods because the water here is not heated. That means that you don’t necessarily have to worry about over-extraction or adding too much bitterness to your batch, but cold brewing also requires measuring and planning. And not to mention, a lot more time than the other methods.

The ratio here is really up to preference and can depend on how much coffee the drinker prefers. As we said, there is not too much worrying about extraction, so there is more room for creativity. Anywhere from 1:5 to 1:8 ratio will do the job perfectly.

We recommend starting with ¾ cup of coffee per 4 cups of water and then finding the balance from there.

Coffee Water Ratio for Espresso

Unless you prefer a lungo, which requires a 1:4 ratio, or a really short ristretto, which is brewed at 1:1, the ideal espresso ratio that most cafes used is 1:2.

However, if you’re just starting out with espresso, and that is too harsh or strong for your taste, start with a lower amount of coffee, or a 1:3 ratio, then work your way up.

Conclusion

While many things are beyond our control, starting the day with a delicious cuppa is not one of them. Nailing down the right amount of coffee and water you need for brewing your morning Java is more than necessary – it is essential for a full-bodied, rich, and flavorsome Joe. So, measure your grounds and water each morning, and your consistent, well-balanced brew will always be there to wake you up the right way.

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