What's the best coffee to water ratio?
Coffee to waterratios can be unnecessarily complicated, and the thought of doing that kind of math first thing in the morning is enough to put you off your coffee, so we've done the hard work for you. In this guide, we'll show you how to figure out the strength of coffee you like, and look at what ratios work best for different brewing techniques.
The 'golden ratio' of coffee brewing
How much coffee should you use to get the balance of your cup just right?
For a great-tasting coffee that suits most beans and brewing methods, coffee experts agree that you should use 1 gram of coffee for every 15 to 18mls of water.
This is known as the 'golden ratio' and it's usually written as 1:15 - 1:18.
How strong you like your coffee will determine where in this range you fit, and that comes with experimentation – we'll come back to this later. As a rule of thumb, the more coffee to water you use, the stronger your brew will be:
- With a ratio of 1:15 i.e., more coffee grounds per litre of water, you can expect it to taste concentrated, giving you a fuller mouthfeel.
- With a ratio of 1:18 i.e., less coffee grounds per litre of water, you can expect it to taste lighter while retaining a balance of flavours.
For espresso, we recommend using a ratio of 1:2 – one part coffee, two parts water.
Knowing these ratios is a great first step, but can they actually help you make a cup of coffee and do you really need a set of scales?
Measuring coffee - grams vs. volumetric
When it comes to measuring out your coffee, we recommend investing in a set of kitchen scales. Accuracy is key to making a consistently good cup of coffee everyday.
The first step to making coffee this way is to find out the total amount of coffee you want to brew, then divide it by the volume of water in your target ratio. This sounds complicated, so let's break it down with a quick example that uses easy math.
Let's say you want to make a 240ml coffee (8 ounces) using the ratio of 1:15. In this case you'd need to use 16 grams of coffee – this is the outcome of dividing 240 by 15.
If you don't have a set of scales, then you can use tablespoons, cups, or scoops to measure out your coffee and water. Volumetric measurements like these aren't as accurate but for people that prefer this method, it is still possible to use the golden ratio.
Ratios for different brewing techniques
Different brewing techniques require a slightly different coffee to water ratio.
As a rule of thumb, pour-over methods require slightly less coffee per unit of water than something like a French press that infuses the coffee with water.
This is because more water is lost in the pour-over method as it passes through the bed of coffee, so it finishes up being slightly more concentrated. We recommend using somewhere between 1:15 and 1:17 for a pour-over method, such as drip or filter coffee.
For a strong-tasting cup of coffee using a French press or an AeroPress, you may need to go as low as 1:11 or in other words more coffee per unit of water.
A large part of getting the coffee to water ratio right is experimentation. Only you know what strength of coffee suits you best, so when you've found something that you think is almost there, try writing down the measurements then tweaking them slightly.
Spotlight on: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee
Perfecting your coffee to water ratio is important, but if you want that hard work to payoff then you need to use high-quality, freshly roastedcoffee beans.
Our Yirgacheffe light medium-roast coffee is a firm favourite with our customers who like it for its fruity flavours, strong body and delicate balance of acidity. Yirgacheffe is an area of southern Ethiopia and is one of the best coffee-growing regions in the country.
Ethiopian coffee beans are known for their unique fruity flavour, which explains why this country's indigenous coffee varieties are revered by coffee lovers across the world.
Our best Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee is included in our African coffee gift set alongside two sumptuously aromatic coffees from Kenya (Kenya AA and Kenya Peaberry).
If raising standards of living among coffeeproducers is important to you, we also have a Fair Trade selection, that includes our much-loved Columbian Fair Trade coffee beans.
Coffee to water ratios - the key takeaway
When you're figuring out how much coffee to use, don't underestimate how important it is to experiment with different coffee to water ratios. The golden ratio is a great place to start but when it comes to getting the balance right, everyone's tastes are different.
For consistently great-tasting coffee, use a scale, write down your measurements so you have a baseline to work from, and most importantly use fresh, high-quality beans.