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Everything You Need to Know About Coffee Brew Ratios


Everything You Need to Know About Coffee Brew Ratios

We know there are only two core ingredients needed to make coffee: ground coffee beans and water. But the simplicity of two ingredients doesn’t mean it’s easy to brew a perfect cup of joe. From water temperature to grind size, many factors can influence how well your coffee turns out, including the brew ratio. Also known as the coffee-to-water ratio, the brew ratio is a guide to help you determine the right amount of coffee and water for brewing. Let’s take a look at why brew ratio is important, if there’s an ideal ratio, and the recommended ratios for different brewing methods.


Why is the Brew Ratio Important?


When you add or decrease the amount of water or coffee, you can drastically change the end product’s flavor, strength, and mouthfeel. That’s why our baristas at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® utilize scales and timers. We want to ensure your favorite drink consistently tastes great every time you come to one of our locations. Brew ratios are one of the factors that help deliver that promise.


Is There an Ideal Brew Ratio?


It’s a tough question to answer because coffee is so personal. Some drinkers prefer their coffee on the lighter side, while others enjoy a strong brew. What’s even trickier is that many coffee manufacturers call for using volumetric measurements such as tablespoons, scoops, cups, etc. Using volumetric measurements can be problematic because they can have fluctuations in weight. For example, a normal scoop can be anywhere between 7-12 grams. This may seem like a tiny variance, but it makes all the difference when it comes to achieving your perfect cup of coffee.


According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the “golden ratio” is 1:18 – 18 ml of water per gram of coffee. Of course, this ratio depends on your brew method, coffee choice, and personal taste preference. For example, if you want a more intense flavor, you would use less water. If you like a weaker cup of coffee, you’ll increase the amount of water.


Different Brewing Methods and Their Ratios


There are three main ways to make ground coffee and water interact: percolation, immersion, and espresso. Here are some recommended ratios for each brewing method.


Percolation: Percolation is the process of water passing through a bed of coffee grounds (e.g., drip and pour-over). It’s an efficient way to brew coffee because there’s a continuous supply of water going through the coffee. Due to its efficiency, you typically don’t need to use a lot of coffee. Experiment with ratios between 1:15 and 1:18 to get started.


Immersion: During immersion, water is mixed together with ground coffee while brewing (e.g., French press, AeroPress, cold brew). Immersion requires a coarser grind and longer brew time. Also, for the immersion method, you may need less coffee. This is because there’s more time for extraction to occur, so less coffee can help balance out the flavor. A ratio between 1:11 and 1:17 is a good starting point.


Espresso: An espresso machine forces boiling, pressurized water through ground coffee. Technically, espresso is a form of percolation, but it’s distinguishable enough to be in its own category. For espresso, you’ll be using a very fine grind and little water. Espresso also yields a short brew time at around 20 seconds. Therefore, a ratio between 1:1 and 1:3 is a good starting point.