How much coffee do I need for how many cups?

in Brewing Coffee


June 5, 2015 update:
A few points as you read the article below first published several years ago…

- “Mug” is not a unit of measure.  I’m trying to keep it simple and we all serve coffee in mugs.  All mugs are different sizes, and I make the assumption that a typical mug holds two metric cups.  This was done intentionally so that you aren’t measuring water in ounces and coffee in grams.
- This is how I measure out portions in my kitchen when I make coffee. Coffee is best served how you like it, so consider this a starting point only, and adjust to personal taste.

Not the most imaginative title, but I get a lot of questions about how much coffee to use -either ground or whole bean- depending on how many cups of coffee you want to make. There’s an excellent rule of thumb that is all too unknown, so I’ll tackle a few questions at once by giving you the ratio I like to use and the one I think is most universally accepted.

To me, a mug of coffee is the equivalent to two metric cups. You want a heaping tablespoon of whole coffee beans or a regular tablespoon of ground coffee for each metric cup you’re making. I make the distinction in tablespoon amounts since there is more air in between whole beans than in between the parts of ground coffee.

Or, you want two heaping tablespoons of whole beans or two regular tablespoons of ground coffee for each mug that you’re making. There is approximately five grams of coffee in one tablespoon, and 454 grams in a pound -most coffee is sold by the pound. That means 91 tablespoons per pound. Let’s see how it applies…

Question: To brew 24 cups in a farberware big pot, how much coffee do I use?

Answer: 24 cups means 48 tablespoons, or a little more than half a pound. The only thing I’d add is that many perculator users complain the coffee is weaker than if drip-brewed, so you might want to be extra generous in your tablespoons of coffee and use something closer to one and three-quarter pounds in total.

Question: How much ground coffee to the quantity of water for a 12-cup coffee maker?

Answer: For a full 12-cup pot, that means six mugs. Six mugs means 12 tablespoons of coffee. There are 16 tablespoons in a cup, so instead of counting out 12 tablespoons, why not spare your shoulder the work and simply go with 3/4 cup of coffee. How much water? 12 cups.

Question: How much coffee do I use for 25 cups?

Answer: Not far from the 24-cup question above. 50 tablespoons of coffee -three full metric cups of coffee- or well over a half pound of coffee in total.


  1. Here’s another…

    Joanne: I am heading up a church program and will be making 7 – 100 cup pots of coffee. How much grounds will I need for wach pot? Thanks for your time.

    Marc: No problem, Joanne. That’s 700 cups of coffee altogether. Your question is how much ground coffee per pot. 100 cups of coffee means 200 tablespoons of coffee. With 91 tablespoons in a pound of coffee, you’ll want a little more than two pounds of coffee per pot. Making seven such pots in total, I would recommend a total of 15 pounds of coffee.

    Comment by Marc — January 17, 2009 @ 11:42 am

  2. really? that’s a bit much. we do 1 heaping tablespoon per 2 cups of coffee. (which would be 1 per coffee mug) so for 12 cup pot we do 6 heaping tablespoons or coffee scoop. ur method seems like it would be a bit strong. if we want strong we add just 1 or 2 more scoops for 12 cup pot.

    Comment by angie newell hammond — August 25, 2012 @ 10:01 pm

  3. Hi Angie, You should definitely stick with the mix that you have. There is an endless list of ways to enjoy coffee, and it sounds like you’ve found your ideal coffee strength. By all means stick with the ratio that is making you good coffee!

    Comment by Marc Wortman — August 26, 2012 @ 9:22 am

  4. Is the coffee scoop equal to a TBL ?

    Comment by Keli Johnston — May 28, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

  5. Great question, Keli. As there’s no official coffee scoop, I consider it to be a heaping TBL of beans or a level TBL of ground coffee. I hope that helps.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — May 31, 2013 @ 11:47 am

  6. Above you say one regular tablespoon of ground coffee for each metric cup you’re making.

    Then in an answer to how much coffee for 25 cups, you say 50 TABLESPOONS. You might want to more carefully go over your answers. You are not correct.

    Comment by Jerry — May 20, 2014 @ 6:01 pm

  7. Also, better not to use the word mug. All mugs are different sizes.

    Comment by Jerry — May 20, 2014 @ 6:03 pm

  8. Ugh. Worse than trolls are those who don’t even realize they’re trolls.

    Anyway, thanks for a thoughtful, readable post that makes perfect sense and specifically addresses many of the ambiguities of the process.


    (And now I’m off for a MUG of some new Java Estate that I just ground.)

    Comment by Evan — August 30, 2014 @ 9:38 am

  9. Awesome, Evan! Enjoy, and thanks for the kind words.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — September 2, 2014 @ 1:20 pm

  10. this is real information, most restaurnts use .9 oz to 1.5 oz of coffee to make a 12 cup pot of coffee. At my church we now use 2 cups (16oz) of grounds for a 100 cup brewer and the people like it. remember coffee is sold by the pound so people who sell coffee tell you to use a ridiculous amount. i know because i have been there on both sides. if the need is for stronger coffee then use a stronger roast (not more grounds) but for most of the people a medium roast will do.

    Comment by Ed Kawaleski — September 27, 2014 @ 11:06 am

  11. Very interesting, Ed. Would you say there is any difference in quality between coffee from a 100-cup brewer, and a more conventional kitchen size? I’ve never even seen a brewer that big, but I’ve heard of them and have always wondered how the coffee turns out in such a large quantity.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — October 9, 2014 @ 2:20 pm

  12. my new perculator instructions said 2cups of ground coffee to make pot for 36 cups. ugh. was like mud. next time i taste it first.. will try 1/2 that next time.

    Comment by jim — December 17, 2014 @ 2:54 am

  13. Everyone is right. Coffee, (like beauty) is in the eye of the beholder…or in this case, the tongue of the drinker…
    The problem is, there are too many variables that will determine how the coffee ends up tasting. Variable one….the roast…..if its a cinnamon or light to medium roast, you do not get a strong taste even with double the amounts listed here…if the grind is course…but if the grind is fine, and you are using a percolator…that changes everything….follow?? How long it sits after brewing, that will change the flavor…many many variables, including the type of coffee, weather a Robusta, Excelsa, or Arabica, or one of the many other varieties…coffee for the masses should only be done by a Fully Trained and Experienced Barista, otherwise…it is just a roll of the dice….Good Luck!

    Comment by Michael McFadden — February 19, 2015 @ 7:04 pm

  14. Thanks for taking the time to post this. Greatly appreciated!

    Comment by Nadine — March 26, 2015 @ 11:55 pm

  15. I just tested my “14″ cup coffee pot.
    And it only took 8 cups of water for “13″ cups!
    UGH! No wonder my coffee has been tasting weird.

    So for 8 cups of water, you will need how many tablespoons of coffee? 1/2 cup?

    Rocket science! LOL.

    Comment by Rachel — October 4, 2015 @ 3:57 pm

  16. What’s a metric cup?

    Comment by alek — November 2, 2015 @ 12:28 pm

  17. How many cups of grounds for a 30 cup percolator?

    Comment by Margie Bell — November 7, 2015 @ 3:42 pm

  18. so 12 tbs for 12 cups but 48 tbs for 24 cups. What math formula did you use for that Jethro?

    Comment by Hyde — January 6, 2016 @ 8:29 am

  19. Hello, great website. I have a 12 cup filer coffee maker here at our B&B in Devon and have to cater for different tastes. I initially followed the makers instructions and used 7grams per cup of water (6 cups = 42 grams) but this doesn’t always taste right. One of our guests told me she uses half of what the makers instructions use and I tried that too, still not right. Will definitely try your method, but still unsure how many grams of ground coffee to use per cup (also numbers aren’t my strong point!). Thanks, Jan

    Comment by Janina — February 18, 2016 @ 1:17 pm

  20. Hi Janina, the standard advice is 1-2 tbsp per 6 oz of water. I have a few points that I would add. I like coffee flavor, so I would favor 2 tbsp over one. Second, if you are measuring beans, make them heaping tablespoons. If you are measuring ground coffee, make them level tablespoons. From there, adjust to taste but if for all your adjusting, you still don’t like the finished product, it may be the machine. In that case, I would suggest running a water and vinegar cycle through the machine to clean it, followed by a couple water cycles to rinse out the vinegar. And if that doesn’t work, it may be time for a new machine, in which case I recommend a Black and Decker or Cuisinart, depending on your budget. I hope this helps!

    Comment by Marc Wortman — February 23, 2016 @ 2:01 am

  21. thank you i do not drink coffee and i got alot of people comming over tomorrow that do so i do not make it for me so i do not know how to make coffee in a big coffee pot a 30 cup coffee pot .

    Comment by bernice — March 3, 2016 @ 12:00 pm

  22. So I consider myself to be a math dropout (sadly, cuz I love math). I french press my coffee and tried to figure out my cost per cup of coffee. I can’t follow all the above, so here’s how I did it, and would love for someone to tell me if this is right or not…

    4.75 cups of coarse grind per 1 pound of whole beans
    I use 1 C of grind for each french press I brew
    I get 4 cups of coffee from each brew (my mug size)

    If the first data point is accurate, I calculate I get 19 cups of coffee per pound of whole bean (my mug size using my french press).

    And, at $10 USD/pound that’s $0.53 USD per cup of delicious coffee :)

    Comment by Drew — May 18, 2016 @ 7:11 pm

  23. I am a fellow math loving math class dropout. Your numbers add up to me, and my question was what you consider to be a mug size. This is what I struggle with in the above post. The recommended ratio is 1-2 tablespoons of level ground coffee per 6oz of water. My challenges with it are that 1-2 tablespoons is a big spread, especially for the amounts that you are calculating. I tend to favor the lower end of the range, although I thought I liked my coffee “strong”. The other part is that 6oz is a strange measurement. Nobody’s mug is that small. What I consider a conventional mug is 12oz but you don’t fill it to the brim so it’s probably closer to 10oz.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — May 27, 2016 @ 11:07 pm

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