The Perfect Cup

Jul 06, 2011

The Perfect Cup

Over the holiday weekend, we found ourselves in an interesting debate: how do you brew coffee the right way?

Essentially, the argument broke down to two sides: those that thought that not much coffee was needed, and those that thought that a good portion was needed. Anything else that could have been considered was put aside, such as the quality of coffee or method of brewing, since we were focusing on the actual ratio of water-to-coffee.

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Since we couldn't come to an agreement, and with both sides thinking their way was correct, I decided to do some research and compile the opinions and thoughts of regular people, experts, or anyone else enjoys a great cup o' Joe.

Here are some suggestions on the proper ratio of coffee-to-water:

"Ratio of Coffee to Water"

Use the proper amount of coffee for every six ounces of water that is actually brewed, remembering that some water is lost to evaporation in certain brewing methods. A general guideline is 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water. This can be adjusted to suit individual taste preferences. Be sure to check the 'cup' lines on your brewer to see how they actually measure.

– How to Brew Coffee, National Coffee Association

"Add the Coffee Grinds"

As soon as the coffee is ground, place it in the filter and begin the brewing process as outlined in the brewer's instructions. Make a few pots using the same coffee-to-water ratio and procedure you used with this pot. Once you can make the coffee so that it comes out the same every time, decide if it is to your liking. If it is too bold for your taste, try slightly decreasing the coffee-to-water ratio (if you have been using ten tablespoons, decrease it to nine). You can also adjust the grind a bit more coarse to make a cup with a little less body or a finer grind for a deeper, richer taste.

– How to Brew a Perfect Pot of Coffee, 1st in Coffee

"Use Enough Coffee"

The biggest mistake that people make when making coffee in a drip coffee maker is using too little coffee. You should use a full tablespoon of ground coffee for each 8 ounces of water. Measure it out the first few times and you’ll be surprised how much coffee that actually is.

– Drip Coffee Maker — How to make perfect coffee with a drip coffee maker, Talk About Coffee

"Best Answer"

I make coffee every morning, and the key elements to making the perfect pot of coffee, is as follows. First, the equipment should be cleaned. A simple scrub with a vinegar and water solution will do the trick. Always use cold water when filling the machine. And grind your own beans. Chances are, you have stale grinds. I grind right before I brew, and only the amount I brew. You can find a bean grinder where they sell coffee makers at walmart for about $13-$20. I measure 1/3 cup of whole beans, to grind for 8 cups. Roughly though, about 2 Tbsp of grinds, per brewed cup of the already ground stuff. Also, never use instant in a drip machine.

– Please help me make a good pot of coffee?, Yahoo! Answers

"Amount of Coffee"

Amount of Coffee - Using the right ratio of ground coffee to water is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a good cup of coffee. Use enough coffee, and don't use too much or too little! If the below measurements sound like a lot, then you have probably been making less than full strength coffee. Make sure to spread the grounds evenly in the coffee filter so full brewing is achieved.

Professional coffee tasters use: exactly two (2) tablespoons (7 to 9 grams or 2 scoop of a standard coffee measure) of ground coffee beans for each six (6) ounces of water.

For 4 cups (6 ounces each) of coffee, measure out 8 generous tablespoons (30 to 35 grams) of fresh ground coffee beans.

– Coffee Time - Java Talk, What's Cooking America

"Measure the Coffee"

This is arguably the most important step in brewing great coffee...and where most errors are made.

The rule of thumb is:

  • 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for each 6 ounces of water, or 30 ml of coffee per 180 ml of water This ratio is appropriate for most manual and electric brewing systems but there are some exceptions (see Step 2 Tips).
  • A "cup" from most automatic drip makers measures 5 ounces, so adjust accordingly. For instance, a 12 cup automatic would require 20 tablespoons of ground coffee. Note: many coffee scoops measure 2 tablespoons.

– Learn2 Make a Great Pot of Coffee,


The amount of coffee grinds you use will make the coffee stronger or weaker, so feel free to experiment and find the measurement that tastes best to you. As a general guideline, use 1 to 2 tablespoons of grounds per every six ounces of water.

– How to Brew the Perfect Pot of Coffee,

And last, but definitely not least, is an opinion I regard upon very, very highly:

"True Brew"

Regardless of method, brew using 2 heaping tablespoons of coffee for each 6 ounces of clean (filtered or bottled), cool water. If you prefer a milder cup, brew to full strength, and then dilute with hot water. Brewing with too little coffee will result in over-extraction, and that means bitterness.

– True Brew, Alton Brown at Food Network


After all that research, this is what I have concluded:

  • Depending, a cup of coffee should be brewed with between 1 and 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds.
  • A "cup" of coffee is generally between 6 and 8 ounces of liquid (a teacup).
  • Obviously, depending on how you like your coffee, you can vary the amount of grounds that you use.
  • If your coffee is turning out too bitter, you might need to add more grounds, not less. Using too few causes over-extraction, leaving your coffee bitter.

I have been brewing my coffee with approximately 1 tbsp. per cup. I think tomorrow morning I may try upping that to two just to see how much of a difference it makes, and whether or not it makes enough of a difference for me to keep doing it that way.

How do you brew your coffee? Any tips or tricks to share?