The Best Coffee To Water Ratios For Balance And Flavor
Meet The ‘Golden Ratios’ for French Press, Aeropress, Pour Over and more...
Brewing a delicious cup of coffee is a balancing act of sorts. If you use high-quality beans, a good brewer, and tasty water, you’ll come out with an excellent brew. But there’s a big area where most people don’t even try to keep things balanced…
The coffee to water ratio.
Just throwing in “five or six scoops” of coffee is going to result in inconsistent and unbalanced coffee. But if you take a few extra seconds each morning to find out how much coffee you should use, your brew will taste so much better.
So here’s what you’re going to learn in the next couple minutes:
Why you NEED to use specific ratios if you want balanced coffee
How you can calculate those ratios without much effort
How to actually measure your coffee and water easily and accurately
Seriously, your morning mug is going to taste so much better starting tomorrow!
Why Ratios Are A Non-Negotiable If You Want Amazing Coffee
Many people think that making coffee is as basic as “add more grounds for stronger coffee”. Except, it’s not quite as simple as that—and this thinking will result in some pretty bad coffee.
To understand why the Golden Ratios are golden at all, let’s look at how coffee flavors are actually made and why ratios even make a difference to that process.
When you make coffee, there’s a “sweet spot” of extraction where all the flavors are in harmony and there’s no overwhelming bitterness or acidity. Stop the brew before this sweet spot and you end up with overly sour coffee. Let the brew go beyond this sweet spot and you get bitter coffee.
The Single Bean Scenario
Imagine trying to brew a whole cup of coffee with only one coffee bean.
It would taste weak—obviously—but it would also over-extract (go beyond that sweet spot) since there’s so much water trying to pull flavors out of that one bean. It would be over-brewed and all the pleasant flavors would be overpowered by the bitter notes.
Result: Super weak coffee that’s overly bitter.
The Bathtub Of Beans Scenario
Imagine trying to make just one cup of coffee with a bathtub full of coffee beans.
There would be so many beans that the water can’t extract a balanced amount of each flavor from each one. So it would taste super concentrated (strong), but it would also be very sour since each bean is technically under-extracted (not yet to that sweet spot).
Result: Super strong coffee that’s overly sour
These are extreme examples, but they demonstrate a truth when it comes to coffee brewing: ratios have a huge impact on flavor, balance, and strength.
Meet The ‘Golden Ratios’
Scientists and coffee professionals years ago learned that there’s a specific range of coffee to water ratios that people generally agree make the most balanced and delicious coffee.
We call the ratios within this range the ‘Golden Ratios’.
Golden Ratios By Weight
1:14 to 1:18 (1 gram of coffee per every 14 to
18 milliliters of water)
Golden Ratio By Volume
1 Tbsp to 3oz
(1 tablespoons of ground coffee per
every 3 ounces of water)
With these ratios, the flavors are more developed, the flavors are all balanced, and the coffee’s strong but not too heavy.
Please Note: these ratios are proven to be enjoyed more bythe average person, but it doesn’t make them objectively better in every single case. You may enjoy a 1:14 ratio or a 1:20—it all depends on your unique taste preferences.
Generally, we suggest trying to brew within the Golden Ratios. Chances are, you’ll love your coffee so much more.
How To Calculate Your Golden Ratio In Seconds
Here’s the good news… now that you know what the Golden Ratios are, calculating the ratio for your daily coffee is actually very easy.
Let’s see how you can easily calculate how much water or coffee to use. For this example, we’ll assume you’re using a 1:17 ratio.
Finding Golden Ratios By Weight
Starting With A Target Brew Size
Total Brew / Ratio = Coffee Beans
(500 milliliters mug of coffee divided by 17 equals 29 grams of coffee)
Starting With Coffee Beans
Coffee Beans * Ratio = Water
(20 grams of coffee times 17 equals 340 milliliters of water)
Finding Golden Ratio By Volume
Starting With A Target Brew Size
Total Brew / 3 = Ground Coffee Tablespoons
(12oz mug of coffee divided by 3 equals 4 tablespoons of ground coffee)
Starting With Ground Coffee
Coffee Beans * 3 = Water
(5 tablespoons of coffee times 3 equals 15 ounces of water)
These easy and fast calculations can transform your coffee’s flavor!
So if you discover you like to make 3 cups of coffee in the morning at a 1:16 ratio, do the math when you’re feeling energized, write it down, and the next morning you won’t even have to think about it—the measurements will just be right there already finished!
Tools For Measuring Coffee And Water Like A Pro
It should be obvious now, but we strongly suggest you don’t “wing it” when measuring out your coffee and water. Instead, you should use a couple tools that’ll improve your accuracy without wasting time.
Measuring By Weight
Using a kitchen scale is the most accurate way to measure your coffee, since it’s very precise, no matter what kind of coffee bean you use.
You can use the same scale for both coffee and water, which keeps things pretty simple but still requires you to buy a scale (unless you already have one).
Measuring By Volume
Measuring by volume is pretty accurate, but it’s not 100% precise because some coffee beans are bigger than others, which results in a small amount of variation when you’re measuring by scoops.
Use the same tablespoon coffee scoop every day for consistency. Water can be measured precisely with a liquid measuring cup.
To keep things simple and affordable, here are two of our favorite coffee measuring scoops that you can use to brew better, more balanced coffee.