If you’ve spent any time browsing the specialty coffee corners of the internet, you will no doubt have come across the term ‘brewing ratio.’
Brewing ratios can seem a little confusing at first. What do ratios have to do with coffee?! What are the benefits and why should you use one?
Here is a complete guide— everything you need to know about coffee brewing ratios.
What Is a Coffee Brewing Ratio
A coffee brewing ratio tells us the amount of ground coffee and water we should use when making coffee. It’s that simple. Each brewing method, whether a shot of espresso or a V60, has a recommended brew ratio. Following the recommended brew ratio will lead you to tastier, more balanced, and sweeter coffee.
But why does each method need its own brew ratio? Because each brew method extracts coffee differently.
For example, espresso uses hot water and high pressure for its brewing. This means that it can use more coffee than other brew methods. In addition, the pressure from the espresso machine helps extract the coffee grounds with a relatively small amount of water, producing a super strong shot of coffee.
A French press, on the other hand, relies solely on hot water. Without the espresso machine providing pressure, the water has to do all the work extracting the coffee.
That means that these two brewing methods need to use vastly different brewing ratios to both be tasty. For example, if we were to use an espresso brewing ratio for a V60, we’d end up with a sour, under-extracted cup of coffee.
How Does a Coffee Brewing Ratio Work
Brewing ratios usually in coffee brewing recipes as a set of numbers. A few of the more common brewing ratios you’ll come across probably look like this; 1:15, 1:17, or maybe even 1:2, in the case of espresso.
Let’s take a look at what these actually mean.
A 1:15 coffee brewing ratio means 1 part ground coffee to 15 parts water. This might mean that we are using 20 grams of ground coffee to 300ml of water in a brew. So when brewing a V60 with a 1:15 brewing ratio, we’ll grind and place 20 grams of coffee in the V60 cone and pour 300ml of water over the coffee.
A ratio of 1 part coffee to 15 parts water (1:15) is popular for pour-over coffee makers. It uses enough water to properly extract the flavor from the coffee without diluting the brew too much.
Other brew methods, like espresso, use much lower brew ratios. For example, where a pour-over might use a 1:15 coffee to water ratio, a shot of espresso will use a ratio closer to 1:2. In practice, this will look like 18 grams of ground coffee into the espresso machine, resulting in a strong, 36 gram shot of espresso.
To work out your brewing ratio, we need to use a little math. Don’t worry, though; it’s super easy. Multiply your coffee dose by the amount of water. Let’s try it with a 1:15 brewing ratio.
Say we want to use 20g of coffee beans. That means we’ll multiply 20 (grams of coffee) by 15. 20 x 15 = 300. We’ll use 300ml of water to 20g of coffee beans.
You can also do it the other way, deciding first on the amount of brewed coffee you want to make. If you want to make 500ml of brewed coffee at a 1:15 ratio, divide 500 (the amount of brewed coffee you want) by 15. 500 ÷ 15 = 33.3. That means that for a 500ml batch of coffee using a 1:15 brewing ratio, we need to use 33.3 grams of coffee.
This can be done with any brew ratio. 500ml of brewed coffee at a 1:17 brew ratio— 500 ÷ 17 = 29.4 grams of coffee beans. Easy!
Methods of Measuring Coffee
Using a scale will lead to better-tasting coffee. It’ll give you more consistency and much more precise measurements. If you make a delicious AeroPress one day, so long as you measure your coffee with scales, you’ll be able to repeat that same brew time and time again.
Using a tablespoon will be your second option when it comes to measuring coffee. While it won’t be exact, a tablespoon might get you reasonably close to your goal. Tablespoons can be ok for measuring coffee for certain brew methods, such as Vietnamese coffee drippers. The freshly brewed coffee flavor of Vietnamese coffee is strong and intense, not requiring precision coffee and water measurements.
The tablespoon is a measurement of volume, not taking weight into account. This is an issue in specialty coffee because dark roasts are less dense, therefore weigh less than light roasts. For example, one tablespoon of dark roasted coffee might weigh 5g, while the same tablespoon of a light roast might be closer to 8g. Using tablespoons as our measurement of choice, we might end up using 20-30% more coffee beans than we actually need to.
Of course, there are certain situations where tablespoons might be a better choice than scales. Not necessarily for precision, but for the life of the scales….
Camping is the perfect time to bust out your trusty tablespoon and explore the incredible impact resistance of stainless mugs! If you do opt for tablespoons, try your best to level out each scoop to improve consistency.
Liquid Measuring Cup
Like tablespoons, the measuring cup is not the most precise measurement for something like coffee beans. They are, however, perfect for measuring water.
If you don’t have scales for your coffee brewing, using a tablespoon to measure the coffee and a liquid measuring cup for the water will help you improve the repeatability of your brews dramatically.
Important Factor When Determining Coffee Brewing Ratios
What a wonderful world it would be if brewing ratios were all it took to make a delicious cup of coffee! But for better or worse, brewing ratios are just one part of making a delicious brew. Grind size, water temperature, and brew time all affect the brew ratio that we choose.
In general, the finer you grind your coffee, the more of the coffee you can extract. This is because water can dissolve a tiny particle of coffee much easier than a huge chunk. So if we grind our coffee fine, we can use less of it because we are extracting it more efficiently.
That’s not to say that finer is always better. Using coarse coffee grounds results in a totally different cup than one brewed using fine grounds. It’s not uncommon to find delicious brew recipes using coarse coffee grounds and lower brew ratios.
To fully make use of grind size, you’ll want to have your own burr coffee grinder. Not only will a grinder allow you to buy whole beans, which will keep your coffee fresh for a long time, but it will also allow you to explore different grind sizes.
As with grind size, the brewing water temperature has a big effect on how coffee is brewed. Hot water acts as a far better solvent than cold water does. Using hot water, we can brew a cup of coffee in under 3 minutes. Using cold water, on the other hand, we’d need to make it closer to a full day!
While water temperature might not be directly tied to the brewing ratio, it is closely connected through grind size and brewing time.
Another important factor to consider when choosing a brewing ratio is brew time. How long will the coffee and the water be together?
Except for espresso— the lower the brew ratio, the longer you might want to brew for. If we use more coffee for a brew, we need to allow the water an adequate amount of time to dissolve all the good stuff from the coffee grounds.
Coffee Brewing Ratios for Different Brewing Methods
Each brew method has a certain brewing ratio that works well. A coffee brewing ratio that works well for a premium Keurig coffee maker might not go so well in a Chemex. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular brewing methods and their recommended brewing ratios.
Unlike all other brew methods, cold brew coffee uses cold water rather than hot. Using a very low brew ratio and a long-brewing time, cold brew coffee can be rich, full, and tasty.
Typically, a brew ratio of 1:5 is used for cold brew coffee. However, this depends entirely on taste and what you think is delicious. A brew ratio of 1:5 will create a cold brew concentrate, excellent for cutting with milk, ice, or tonic.
Most French press coffee lovers use a brewing ratio of 1:15. Combining this brewing ratio with medium-fine grind size, very hot water, and around 4 minutes of brewing time, you will brew a delicious, well-extracted coffee.
The siphon has to be, by far, the coolest-looking coffee brewer around. Part coffee brewer, part science experiment, the siphon brews a super clean, very tasty cup of coffee.
Most brew recipes you see for the siphon will utilize a 1:16 brew ratio. Feel free to play around with this recipe, using a finer grind and less coffee. However, a 1:16 ratio is a good place to start.
Thanks to the high pressures produced by an espresso machine, we can efficiently extract fairly large amounts of ground coffee using very little water. Espresso, with a ratio of just 1:2, uses the lowest brew ratio of all the brewing methods.
In practice, to brew a shot of espresso, we might use 18 grams of coffee, resulting in a strong 36-gram shot. The amazing taste of a flat white coffee is largely thanks to such a low brew ratio. Try this type of ratio in a V60 and it won’t be a delicious experience!
Like the French press, full-immersion coffee brewers require a little more coffee than the V60 or Chemex. When brewing a pour-over, we have a constant stream of fresh water to use for our extraction. With a French press, all the water and the coffee are together from the get-go, making it harder for the water to do its job. But we can help the water out by providing more coffee!
A good place to start for a French press is a 1:15 ratio— that’s about 33g of coffee for a 500ml French press. Of course, you can use less coffee, closer to a 1:16 ratio, but if you do, be sure to adjust your grind size a little finer to make up for it.
The Moka pot is an incredibly popular stovetop espresso maker. It produces a super-strong, espresso-like coffee that goes great with milk. Like espresso, it uses some pressure to aid the brewing process. However, thanks to its use of steam, it can take advantage of a fairly low brew ratio.
Brew ratios for the Moka pot range far and wide. While some swear by a 1:7 ratio, others prefer a 1:3 ratio— bringing it closer to espresso. If you want more of a filter-style coffee, go for a 1:7 or even 1:10 brew ratio. If you want something strong, closer to espresso, go for 1:3.
With the ability to build around 1 bar of pressure, the AeroPress can utilize high and low brew ratios. Like the Moka pot, the AeroPress can brew a strong, espresso-like coffee or a regular filter coffee.
To brew a short, espresso-style coffee, try a brew ratio of between 1:3 and 1:5. For a coffee more closely resembling a pour-over, try a ratio of between 1:15 and 1:17.
The Chemex is a classic pour-over coffee maker. Most people brew a delicious carafe of Chemex coffee using a brew ratio of between 1:15 and 1:17. A ratio of 1:15 will brew a stronger batch of coffee, while a 1:17 will be slightly more diluted, allowing the subtleties of the coffee to come through.
Brewing with Hario’s most popular brewer, the V60, is much like brewing with the Chemex. While everyone has their options about the brew ratio perfect for the V60, almost all recipes fall within the 1:15 to 1:17 range.
V60 recipes that require a coarse grind size will often use a lower brew ratio, usually 1:15. Meanwhile, brew recipes that require a fine grind size often utilize a higher, 1:17 brew ratio.
How to Choose the Best Coffee Brewing Ratio
Step 1 — Decide on your brewing method
The first step in choosing a brew ratio is deciding on your brewing method. For this example, we’re going for a V60. This means we’ll use a ratio of between 1:15 and 1:17.
Step 2 — Pick your preferred strength
Next, think about how strong you want your coffee to be. For a richer brew, go for a 1:15 ratio. For something a little more diluted, go for 1:17. For a balance of strength and clarity, a 1:16 ratio is great.
Step 3 — Calculator the amount of coffee and water
Let’s go with a 1:16 ratio. That means for every 1 part of coffee; we’ll use 16 parts of water. If we want to brew a 300ml cup, all we do is divide 300 by 16— which equals 18.75. That means we’ll use about 18.75 grams of coffee beans. Feel free to round up or down if your scale doesn’t measure down to .1 of a gram.
Step 4 — Brew your coffee
Now all that’s left to do is brew some coffee!
This is best done with a set of scales. Using brew ratios is an excellent way of making sure you are using the correct amount of coffee for your brew size. It’ll help you make tasty cups of coffee every single time!
Do’s and Don’ts When Determining Coffee Brewing Ratio
- Try different ratios for different brew methods. For example, while some coffees work great at a 1:17 ratio, others taste best at a 1:15 ratio. Play around and you’ll see what works best for you.
- Use a set of scales. Scales are the only real way of ensuring you are using the perfect amount of water and coffee. This will help you brew consistently tasty coffee.
- Do consider your grind size, water temperature, and brew time when choosing a coffee brewing ratio. A finer grind often allows for a larger brew ratio.
- Don’t worry too much about the rules. If a brew ratio you enjoy is different from the recommended ratio, that’s ok. Taste is simply an opinion and yours can’t be wrong.
- Unless you want a ridiculously strong instant coffee, don’t try to use an espresso ratio for freeze-dried coffee.
FAQ About Coffee Brewing Ratios
How do you calculate the coffee to water ratio?
Pick the amount of coffee you want to brew and the brew ratio you want to try. Let’s say we want to brew a 500ml V60 using a 1:16 coffee to water ratio. Divide 500 by 16— which is 31.25. That means for our 500ml V60; we’ll use 31.25 grams of coffee for our brew. Easy!
How much coffee do I use for 4 cups?
To make four 250ml cups of coffee, use 63 grams of coffee. If you like your coffee stronger, add a few grams, and if you like it weaker, use a few grams less.
How many scoops of coffee do I need for 1 cup?
One tablespoon size scoop of whole coffee beans is between 4 and 7 grams. Using a medium roasted coffee, you’ll want to use 3 scoops (about 15 grams) for one 250ml cup of coffee.
What is a 1/15 coffee ratio?
A 1:15 coffee ratio means that for every 1 part of coffee used, 15 parts of water should be used. So if we use 10g of coffee, we need to use 150g of water. Many people love the strong taste of coffee made with a 1:15 ratio. The world’s best black coffee probably uses a ratio very close to this.
What is the golden ratio for coffee?
The golden ratio depends on your brew method and your water temperature, grind size, and brew time. While the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) cites that the golden brew ratio is 55g per liter or a ratio of 1:18, not everyone agrees.
It seems that for most people, anything in the range of between 1:15 and 1:18 can produce delicious results.
Is a cup of coffee 6 oz or 8 oz?
It depends on where you live! In Australia, 1 cup is 250ml. In Japan, 1 cup equals 200ml. Meanwhile, in Canada, 1 cup is 227ml. There is no standard ‘cup.’ Most stylish coffee cups give their measurements in milliliters or ounces, making things far less confusing!
The best way of making delicious coffee repeatedly is by using brew ratios. Knowing exactly how much coffee you used, as well as the exact amount of water you poured over your coffee, allows you to recreate that same tasty coffee again and again. There is no guesswork and no need to write it down— all you need to know is the coffee brewing ratio you used!
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