An age-old question that has bothered us coffee lovers for centuries is: how much coffee per cup strikes the ideal flavor and strength? How much is not enough, and how much is too much?
Knowing the ideal ratio simplifies the everyday coffee ritual once and for all, no matter how many cups you want to make. Besides, the flavor and strength stay consistent.
So, how many tbsp of coffee per cup is the standard?
The ideal ratio for a perfectly brewed cup of coffee is two tablespoons of premium ground coffee per six ounces of fresh cold water. Factors such as brewing time, type of coffee beans, and personal preference can also affect the ideal ratio.
So let us help you understand the golden ratio along with all the associated factors. No matter if you are using an espresso machine or a French press pot, this ratio will do the magic.
What is the Ideal Amount of Coffee to Use Per Cup?
For every standard 200 ml cup of coffee, you must put about two full tablespoons of premium ground coffee. But what if you are making coffee for five to six people?
If you are making a liter of coffee at once for your guests, this will be around 1000 ml of coffee. Using the standard two tablespoons for 200 ml, we will be using around ten full tablespoons of good-quality coffee powder.
Here is a chart for your reference.
Cup of Coffee
Ounce of Water (oz)
Approx Tbsp of Coffee
Coffee by Water Ratios (in Grams)
Two tbsp coffee per 6-ounce cup of coffee; but what if you are brewing by volume or grams? What if your cup size is different?
Here is a way to help you quickly determine the amount of water or the amount of coffee you need:
The golden ratio, according to the Speciality Coffee Association of America SCAA, is 1:18.
For 18 grams of water, you need one gram of coffee. Similarly, if you are brewing 180 grams of coffee, you will add 10 grams of coffee.
So for the perfect cup of coffee, no matter what volume of cup you are using, all you have to do is apply this ratio.
Factors that can Affect the Golden Ratio
Measuring coffee can be a tricky business, especially when making a genuine cup. Apart from the golden ratio, there are several factors that play a significant role.
1. Personal Preference
Obviously, the first and the most crucial factor you need to consider is a personal preference. While you may prefer a strong cup of coffee, your partner or some other person may prefer the mild blend.
Your friend might be happy with one tbsp per cup, while you, being a strong coffee lover, may like two to three tbsp per cup.
2. Water Temperature
Our experts recommend that temperatures between 195°F to 205°F are perfect for extracting the right amount of flavor from the coffee ground.
If you are using a brewing method that uses a lower temperature to extract the coffee, we recommend that you add 2 to 3 tablespoons of coffee per 6-ounce cup. On the other hand, 1-2 tablespoons of coffee are enough for brewing methods that involve higher temperatures.
3. Freshness Of The Bean
So if you are using fresh beans, you will be adding the standard 1-2 tbsp of coffee. However, for low-quality coffee powder or old coffee, use at least 3 to 4 tbsp to ensure that your desired strength and flavour are achieved.
This is simply because fresh beans contain more flavor and aroma compounds compared to older or low-quality coffee powder.
4. Size Of The Cup
Simply put, a larger cup will require more tbsp coffee to achieve the required strength. On the other hand, a smaller cup will require less.
A standard cup of coffee is around 6 ounces or 236 ml. So for a standard cup, you use 2 tbsp of coffee. For a larger mug, you can use 3-4 tbsp of coffee.
For different cup sizes, you must adjust the tbsp accordingly.
5. Brewing Method
Different coffee brewing machines require different amounts of water and coffee to prepare the best cup of coffee. So this is also a deciding factor.
We will discuss this in detail in the next section of the article.
6. Coffee Grind Size
A finer coffee grind will require less coffee per cup; on the other hand, a coarse grind will require more.
Simply put, using a finer grind, you can prepare your cup of morning joe with 1 tablespoon. However, using a coarser grind will require a minimum of 2 to 3 tablespoons.
The main reason behind this is that the finer the grind, more surface area of the coffee will be exposed to water, resulting in a stronger and more aromatic brew.
By taking all these factors into account, you can now ensure that your cup of coffee is both delicious and satisfying.
Different Coffee Brew Methods
Now as you are clear with the basics, let us explore some of the most popular coffee brewing methods.
Before you start making your perfect cup of coffee, you first need to understand the basic differences between espresso, drip coffee, an Aeropress, and the French press.
When you think about making coffee, the first thing that comes to mind is the drip coffee method. This is a classic coffee brewing method.
Drip coffee machines work by pouring hot water over coffee powder on filter paper. The hot water then drips through the coffee ground into a jar.
Usually, the drip brewing method requires 2 to 3 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water. This is because the drip brewing method allows a slower fusion of heat and water over a longer period. The end result is a lighter flavor than espresso.
The recommended ratio of coffee to water for drip coffee is 1:17
For making espresso, you only need to add one or two tablespoons of ground coffee per 1 ounce of water. Well, this is simply because Espresso is made using high-pressure extraction in a very short period of time.
For the ratio of coffee to water, we recommend using somewhere between 1:2-1:2.5.
The end product is pretty strong and concentrated.
The Aeropress allows you to brew your favorite cup of coffee using various brewing methods like the espresso method or drip method and pour over.
This innovative appliance usually works by forcing boiling water through the coffee powder and a paper coffee filter using air pressure.
For an Aeropress, the thumb rule is to use one tablespoon of premium coffee powder for 6 oz of water or half a cup of water. So when you use an Aeropress, you must try all the available manual brewing methods.
We recommend using 1:15 or 1:16 if you are using the pour-over method on your Aeropress. Simply put, around 2.5 tablespoons of coffee per 6-7 ounces of water is what we use for this method.
You can experiment with the ratios and also customize your desired flavour. But if you are a beginner, the best way is to start with a full tablespoon of coffee.
When you use a French press coffee maker, you simply brew coffee by soaking the coffee grounds in hot water, and then press the grounds using a plunger to get the coffee. As this is a manual method, it is loved by many coffee connoisseurs.
So if you use a French press, we recommend adding two tablespoons of ground coffee for 6 ounces or one cup of water. We recommend using the ratio 1:12.
Now it is up to you to choose which method you want. However, remember that the quality and freshness of the coffee ground are as important as the ratio.
While using French Press, our experts recommend using a coarse grind. Now the coffee powder will soak for more time, resulting in a richer brew.
On the other hand, if you are making an espresso, you can use fine ground coffee. The water will easily pass through the coffee grounds, and you will get a concentrated and intense flavor.
Here is a table for your reference:
Tbsp of Coffee
|Drip coffee||1:17||2-3 tbsps of coffee per 6 ounces water|
|French Press||1:12||1-2 tbsps of coffee for 6 ounces of water.|
|Pour-Over||1:15 or 1:16||2.5 tbsps of coffee per 6-7 ounces of water|
|Espresso||1:2-1:2.5||1-2 tbsps of ground coffee per 1 ounce of water.|
How many TBSP Coffee per Cup of Cold Brew?
Till now, we were discussing the ratio for a hot cup of coffee. However, we also love a cold brew coffee every now and then as well.
So, as we know, you cannot use the same coffee-to-water ratios for preparing the cold brew. Here is a list of reasons:
- Cold brew usually has a weaker taste and flavour. This is why we need to strengthen the ratio to compensate for the flavour. This can be done by adding more tbsp of coffee than standard.
- Cold brew requires more soaking time. Coffee grounds must be soaked for around 12 to 24 hours to get the maximum flavour. Since the coffee grounds used and the brewing time is different, we need a different ratio!
- Cold brew requires a strong concentrate, which can later be diluted as per the taste and preference.
The Recommended Formula for Cold Coffee from Our Experts
If you are preparing cold coffee only for yourself, here is a list of formulas to try:
Prepare by Concentrate
The best part of preparing cold brew is that you can prepare large batches at one time and then dilute it to your desirable strength.
We recommend a 1:2-1:5 ratio to prepare a cold brew for 4 to 5 cups.
A full cup of cold brew is enough for around 4 to 5 servings. Make sure you divide it into equal parts and add water or milk and a sweetening agent for the perfect balanced taste.
Use a 1:10 Ratio
This is the ideal ratio for cold coffee if you want it strong. To achieve this ratio, make one part concentrate with four parts of water or milk.
Next, add ice sugar and see how it tastes.
Use A 1:14 Ratio
If you like your iced coffee a bit diluted, mix one part concentrate with six parts of water or milk. Next, add ice, a sweetening agent, and see how it tastes.
The desired ratio for cold coffee varies from one person to another. The best part of brewing cold coffee is that you can use the trial-and-error method to find out your designed strength.
For example, you can dilute it to 1:10, taste it, and see whether you like it. If you feel it is stronger, you can always add water or milk until it’s just about right for you.
Brewing a great cup of coffee anytime does not have to be hard. Well, the key factor to a nice cup of joe is the ratio of coffee to water.
So whether you are a caffeine novice or an aficionado, once you know the ideal tbsp coffee per cup ratio, you are guaranteed to make the perfect cup of coffee every time.
1. According to SCAA, what is the perfect amount of coffee for 1 L of water?
As per SCAA, the perfect amount of coffee for 1 L of water is around 55 grams. We came to this conclusion using the golden ratio, which is 1:18.
2. What is the optimal coffee-to-milk ratio?
The optimal coffee-to-milk ratio when you are using steamed milk is usually between 1:4 to 1:6.
3. How much are two tablespoons of ground coffee in grams?
Two complete tablespoons of coffee will be approximately around 0.36 ounces or 10 grams. However, this also depends on whether you are using a standard spoon or not.