Making great coffee is dependent upon many variables, one of the most important being the coffee-to-water ratios used when brewing. Too much and your brew will be watery and unappealing, and using too little won’t allow your beans to fully express themselves. In this guide, we share the perfect ratios for the 5 most common brewing methods.

What Is A Coffee To Water Ratio?

A coffee-to-water ratio is a weight-based formula that states how much coffee and water to use when brewing. The first number in the ratio reflects the amount of coffee to use and the second number in the ratio reflects the amount of water to use. 

For example, a ratio of 1:18 means that for every 1 gram of coffee use 18 milliliters of water (High School Science Flashback: Water is a constant weight and 1 gram of water always equals 1 milliliter of volume). 

Why Does The Coffee To Water Ratio Matter?

Using a water-to-coffee brew ratio matters because water and coffee are the only two ingredients in coffee and the ratio is essentially the recipe that explains how much of each ingredient you need to use. 

The ratio works so well because it is scalable, meaning you can use the same formula to make one cup of coffee or to make enough coffee to fill the world's largest coffee pot. It's also useful because it works whether you are using the metric system or the US imperial system. 

Dialing in the correct ratio is the first step to brewing great coffee. But, it is only one of the factors that matter. We recommend you check out two other posts we wrote on the importance of grind size and water temperature.

What Is The Golden Cup Standard Ratio?

The Coffee Golden Cup Standard Ratio is a ratio that was invented almost 100 years ago by an MIT professor. He had an entire laboratory devoted to coffee testing and research and his work led to many advances in brewing methodology and a deeper understanding of the beverage we all love. 

The golden ratio is the same one we shared in our example above, 1:18, and more specifically 55 grams of coffee to 100 grams of water. In more modern times both the NCA and SCA (two of the leading organizations for coffee professionals) have recognized the Golden Ratio as the default ratio for all methods of coffee brewing. 

As much as we respect the work of MIT, the NCA, and the SCA...we respectfully disagree with their stance on the Golden Cup ratio. We feel it is insufficient. It is simply too broad and not ideal for all methods. As we'll continue to explore in this post, we prefer to establish baseline ratios for different methods rather than one ratio to rule them all. 

What Is The Best Coffee To Water Ratio?

Instead of the golden ratio, most serious brewers use specific ratios that vary based on the brewing method and the coffee tasting notes they are targeting. 

Some quick advice before we get started:

  1. If possible, weigh your beans whole rather than ground. 
  2. Use a kitchen scale and tare it to zero before weighing

For each method, we'll include the ratio as well as the specific amount of beans you'll need for one 6oz (177mL) cup of coffee. 

Water Ratio For Drip Brewing

Ratio: 1:16

Coffee Needed For 1 6oz Cup: 0.40oz (11.25g)

Barista's Notes: This is the Lucky Goat recommended ratio for most drip machines. However, since each machine has a slight variance in how it operates feel free to make slight adjustments as needed. 

Water Ratio For French Press

Ratio: 1:17

Coffee Needed For 1 6oz Cup: 0.40oz (11.25g)

Barista's Notes: Most cafes and home brewers use a similar grind size when using a French Press, and there is less variance in this process than there is with drip, so this ratio will result in a consistently good cup. 

Water Ratio For Pour Over

Ratio: 1:16

Coffee Needed For 1 6oz Cup: 0.37oz (10.59g)

Barista's Notes: The pour-over method is one of our favorites and results in a magnificent cup of coffee. But there is a bit of skill involved and small variances in pouring technique and temperature can make big differences here. That said, this ratio is a great place to start. 

Water Ratio For Cold Brew

Ratio: 1:4 to 1:8 

Coffee Needed For 1 6oz Cup: 1.59oz (45g) to .79oz (22.50g)

Barista's Notes: As you can see, we have quite a wide range here. This is because some people prefer much stronger cold brews to others, and there also are many different ways of making Cold Brew and the ratio is going to be a bit different on each one. For more details check out our guide on DIY Cold Brew Coffee At Home

Water Ratio For Espresso

Ratio: 1:2 to 1:3

Coffee Needed For 1 6oz Cup: n/a

Barista's Notes: Brewing espresso requires a specialized pressurized brewing system and each is slightly different. We also don’t make 6oz pours of espresso in one brew so the specific amount you'll need to use will vary. Refer to your manufacturer's instructions on your espresso machine for specific recommendations.
January 26, 2023