Coffee is a simple beverage made up of just two things: ground coffee and water. But what coffee to water ratio delivers the most satisfying cup? There’s an easy answer to this difficult question: it’s subjective.
We’re big believers in playing with coffee ratios – you brew you. But before you start improvising, it helps to start with solid guidance. Use the following suggestions as a starting point and then adjust, adapt and shift to your palette’s preference.
Our recommended ratio
If hearing the word ‘ratio’ brings back visions of 6th grade math, never fear. Ratios provide an infinitely scalable framework, whether you’re starting your morning with a pour over or brewing a French press for the family.
Our suggested coffee ratio is 1:16, which means one part coffee to sixteen parts water.
Weighing out the coffee and water will give you the best results (find a great scale here). For those without a scale, you can start with two tablespoons of ground coffee to six ounces of water heated to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Your main goal in brewing coffee is to optimize the extraction. This means providing enough water to dissolve all of the soluble compounds tied up in that ground coffee. And you’ll know it when you find it.
Do you remember the first time you had a coffee that really popped? The aroma, the taste flooding your palette? Perfectly extracted, leaving nothing in the filter. That’s our goal.
“For a long time, coffee was just a caffeine delivery system. But then someone brewed me a cup of Ethiopia Harrar, and that aroma, it smelled just like blueberries. That’s when I realized coffee’s potential,” said Elizabeth McCarthy, Allegro Coffee’s longtime training lead.
“My preferred ratio is 28 grams coffee to 453 grams or milliliters of water.”
Improvising on a theme
The 1:16 ratio is a solid starting point for most coffee brewing methods, but we have a full collection of guides for whatever method you plan to use. The amount of ground coffee needed varies based on how long the brew lasts and size of the grind.
Another factor to consider is what you add to your coffee. Do you take it black or dribble in milk or creamer? If you’re planning for add-ons, increase the amount of coffee in your ratio slightly.
“Sometimes I wake up and just feel like something warm and fuzzy, so I’ll add a splash of oat milk to my coffee,” says Elizabeth. “In that case, I’ll go as high as 32 grams so that I can taste the coffee better.”
Check out our brewing guides and suggested ratios below:
- French Press – 56 grams of coffee and 907 grams (32 oz) water
- Pourover – 28 grams of coffee and 453 grams (16 oz) of water
- Chemex – 45 grams of coffee and 750 grams (25 oz) of water
- Cold Brew – 1 cup of ground coffee and 1 quart of filtered water
If you’re just starting to experiment with coffee ratios, Elizabeth has great suggestions for distinct coffees that will make it easier to find your golden ratio.
“I often suggest single origins for brewing experiments because of the differences you taste in different countries and processing methods. When you find that strong milk chocolate note in a good Mexico or the blueberries in a natural Ethiopia, you’ll know you’ve got the brew that works for you,” says Elizabeth.
“On the flip side, if you’re experimenting with different brew methods, our Organic Espresso Bel Canto Blend is beautiful as a pour over or in an espresso, so you can use it with the various methods and you’ll taste different things.”
No matter what coffee you’re working with, the key is to remember that it’s all subjective. Ultimately, the goal is finding the ratio that works for you and your morning cup.