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The Best Coffee To Water Ratios For Balance And Flavor

Meet The ‘Golden Ratios’ for French Press, Aeropress, Pour Over and more...

The Best Coffee To Water Ratios For Balance And Flavor

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.

Making great coffee is all about controlling extraction

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 by the 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!

Try our Water Ratio Calculator

As you can see, there’s a small amount of math involved, but it’s so basic and fast! This effort will go such a long way when it comes to upgrading your coffee experience.

Play around with some ratios and see which ones you like the most. Maybe you’ll prefer the slightly more subtle flavor of a 1:18 ratio - or maybe you’ll fall in love with the stronger 1:15 ratio.

Pro Tip: Write down your favorite ratio on a sheet of paper by your coffee setup so you don’t have to do any math in the morning

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.

Try our Water Ratio Calculator


Frialing Scoop


Frieling Steel Coffee Scoop

This durable and classy tablespoon scoop is perfect for measuring coffee consistently, but it also doubles as a coffee stirrer since it’s made with food-grade stainless steel. 

View All Coffee Scoops and Scales

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