The quick answer, according to the Specialty Coffee Association, to the best coffee to water ratio is 1 to 18, which is 1 grams of coffee to 18 grams of water.
When it comes to making the perfect cup of coffee there are certain arguments that always unfold. The first argument is where the best coffee beans in the world are grown?
This ultimately comes down to a matter of taste. Much like fine wines, coffee beans are nuanced and exhibit unique flavor profiles indicative of the region of the world where they are grown. The second biggest argument? What is the “Golden Ratio”- the amount of water to ground coffee- that makes the perfect cup?
The introduction of coffee into traditional tea drinking countries throughout Asia has seen global demand skyrocket. As more and more coffee shops and lounges open up, brewing the perfect cup on a consistent basis is absolutely mandatory for coffee shops to stay competitive in an increasingly crowded café society.
So how does the coffee aficionado achieve the perfect cup without having to leave the comfort of their own home? The key is in the water, and the ratio of water to coffee.
Good Coffee Needs Good Water
Good water is essential to brewing a fine cup of coffee. If your water contains strong flavors or odors such as chlorine or Sulphur, it will be reflected in your coffee. Whenever possible, use filtered or bottled water to ensure that your coffee won’t suffer. If you are using water from the faucet, always let it run briefly before filling your coffee pot.
If you’re using tap water, let it run a few seconds before filling your coffee pot. Make sure to use cold water, and avoid distilled or softened water. When you heat your water, the sweet spot is 195-205 degrees. Any colder, and the coffee will lose its extraction ability and will take on a flat flavor.
Too hot, and the flavor will be lost, leaving with a burned, bitter profile. Always bring the water to a boil, and then remove it from the heat for 30 seconds before pouring over the grounds.
What is the Golden Coffee to Water Ratio?
The “Golden Ratio” is what is considered to be the ideal ratio of water to ground coffee. Too much water and your coffee will end up tasting diluted and not at all what you want for your morning cup. Too little water, and you will be off like a rocket!
According to professionals, the “Golden Ratio” states that for every one unit of coffee, you should prepare approximately 17.42 units of water. That equates to approximately one to two tablespoons of ground coffee per six ounces of water.
Naturally this ratio can be adjusted to suit the drinker’s taste, making it stronger or weaker. A true 1:17 coffee to water ratio is difficult to achieve consistently at home unless you have a good coffee scale.
This of course doesn’t even take into account the actual brewing style being used to make the coffee. Different brewing styles require adjustments to the ratio to achieve an ideal cup.
Using the Coffee to Water Ratio Calculator
To get an accurate coffee to water ratio you are going to need to use a coffee scale as I mentioned earlier. For best results try to use one that measures in grams, but if it doesn’t you can still use volume measurements.
To find the equivalents of different measurements, remember the following
- 1 millilter is equal to 1 gram of water.
- 1 Tablespoon is equal to approximently 5 – 7 grams of coffee
To put that into practice, lets say you want to go with ratio of 1 to 16 and you will measure in grams, you would the use 1 gram of coffee for every 16 grams of water. Therefore if you wanted to make a single cup of coffee, you would typically use 250g.
To find out how much coffee you will need (without using this handy calculator) then simply divide 250 / 16 and will find that you will need 15.625g grams of coffee.
Now lets look at the reverse.
Say you want to use 20 grams of coffee and you want to know how much water you will need for a 1:16 ratio.
Simply multiply 16 x 20 and you get that you will need 320 grams of water.
French Press and Immersion Brewing
True coffee lovers tend to gravitate towards the French Press or Immersion technique for brewing coffee. Immersion brewing is the process of brewing the coffee directly in the water, or “immersing” it, while it is allowed to brew for a set amount of time.
Because the grounds are saturated for a predetermined amount of time without contact with anything else to inhibit flavor distribution- such as a filter- the true flavor is more pronounced.
The French press is the most popular type of this method (although the clever dripper is getting more popular), whereby the water is pressed out of the grounds, thus extracting the maximum, typically bolder, flavor.
The preferred ratio is once again 1:17; although purists who like their coffee stronger will aim for 1:15 or even 1:13.
Traditional Drip Method
Few things are more traditional when it comes to brewing coffee, then the automatic coffee maker. The Drip method is by far the most common methodology used, favored in diners and homes around the world.
The process is fairly foolproof, given machines can be preprogramed and even have their own built in grinders to take out the guesswork. Because so much of the process is automated, it allows the home brewer the ability to adjust coffee strengths and ratios to find the ideal cup.
Pour Over Method
Another relatively simple process that allows for ample experimentation at home, is the Pour Over method. Unlike the traditional Drip method, in this process, the brewer can control the flow and temperature of the water and how long it’s left to brew.
For the true coffee lover who really wants to experiment with water ratios, temperatures, and brewing times, this method allows for the most creativity to find the ideal taste profile. Like all methods, the ideal ratio is 1:17, with stronger coffee brewed at a 1:15 ratio.
Cold Brew Coffee
The latest method to have become popular at home is Cold Brew. As the name suggests, the difference here is even though the process is still an Immersion brewing style, the water that is used is not heated.
This means in order for the flavor to be truly extracted it is a much longer brewing process, with the cold water poured directly over the grounds at room temperature, or better yet, in the refrigerator. The ratio for this process is much tighter, with a 1:7 or 1:5 for stronger coffee.
It’s a Matter of Taste
No matter what methodology you decide to use to brew coffee at home, consistency is the key. The quality of the water you use for brewing is almost as important as the quality of the beans you settle on. Whenever possible, try to grind the beans as closely to brewing time as possible to ensure absolute freshness and peak flavor extraction.
Be mindful of the water’s temperature so you don’t scorch your coffee. Achieving the “Golden Ratio” of water to grounds is not always easy, but finding a consistent manner to achieve it will allow you to experiment to find your perfect