The Often-Debated Coffee-Water Ratio

in Brewing Coffee

Question: “I just read the process on making a good cup of coffee,however; I did not see anything about measuring, how much coffee or water to use, that’s my BIG problem.” – Nita

Answer: It is a very common question, Nita.  I get lots of emails from people telling me how many cups of coffee they want to make and asking how much coffee to use.  The first thing is that a mug or glass of coffee to me is made of two metric cups.  When the carafe of your coffee maker says it makes 12 cups, I consider that 6 glasses of coffee.  For each glass of coffee I’m making, I use one even “coffee scoop” of ground coffee or one generous scoop of coffee beans – generous, because of the amount of air in between coffee beans versus in between ground coffee.  How big is the “standard” coffee scoop?  It is equal to two US tablespoons.  That means you using two tablespoons of coffee for each mug you’ll be brewing, or one tablespoon per each metric cup.  If you’re making yourself a couple cups of coffee (or four metric cups), scoop four generous tablespoons of coffee beans to grind (or two coffee scoops).  One cup of coffee = one generous coffee scoop.  One metric cup of coffee = one generous tablespoon.  I love coffee, that’s why I keep saying generous.  I hope that helps.

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.