What’s the Perfect Coffee Water Ratio? 5 Tips For Legit Tasting Coffee

Sep 21, 2017 @ 10:49 pm

Are you confused with the coffee water ratio per cup you should use? Or what water temperature is considered too hot or too cold to brew coffee? Or maybe you don’t care, and just want your coffee any which way.


We understand what you are going through. We had the same questions early on and learned from many mistakes in our quest for a perfect cup.


Once we started experimenting, we finally understood how important each detail was when making coffee, especially the coffee water ratio. Coffee grind levels, differences in brew methods, type of coffee, all impact the final cup.


The experiments made a difference, not only in our daily coffee habit, but for our customers too.


There are a ton of tips online to brew the perfect cup of coffee, and we have our own philosophy. However, it all starts with getting the right coffee water ratio in each cup depending on the brew method used.


Luckily for you, we’ve had plenty of time to test out all our philosophies in our day to day interactions with customers.


Try out our 5 favorite tips on efficiently using the right coffee amount to brew your best cup of coffee. You are on your way to becoming a specialty coffee loving snob. Now keep those coffee squirrels away.


1.) Use the Correct Grind Size for Your Brew Method

Brewing a great cup of coffee is an unusual thing. Do everything right and you can brew a cup you don’t enjoy. Do everything wrong, but get a cup of coffee that’s perfect for your taste. Start from a building foundation, and explore what works for you.


The most important thing to build a solid craft coffee foundation is to understand what coffee grind level to use based on the brew method you choose.


The pour over method will take a different grind level than French press. Grind level within each brew method,  will depend on which specific coffee bean you use. Consistency is key, and once you figure out what works for you, make sure your coffee grind consistency is the same each time.


Different Grind Levels For Different Methods of Brewing


Illustrates different grind sizes use, an important step in a brew's coffee water ratio


Invest in a good burr coffee grinder. If you have never done research for a good home burr grinder before, we recommend you check out our Ultimate Guide to Burr Grinders. The guide contains reviews of the 15 best burr grinders on the market and is a culmination of determination, hard work, late nights and gallons of caffeine.


It covers every price range imaginable so we’re sure you’ll find a burr grinder which is suitable to your lifestyle.


A good burr coffee grinder versus a blade coffee grinder will give you a consistent uniform grind each time. When the coffee is ground more uniformly, the surface area of the coffee is larger. This means more of the coffee is exposed to water during the brewing process and makes for a consistently better cup of coffee.


On the other hand if the grounded coffee bean is a chunky, inconsistent, bulgy mess, the overall surface area is smaller and you will not consistently extract all the precious coffee flavors.


Think about it, how is it possible to get a consistently good cup of coffee, when the coffee grounds are smashed to bits instead of ground properly.


Importance of using burr vs blade grinder in getting the right coffee water ratio


It’s like having the Incredible Hulk try to sew a missing button back on your favorite shirt. In the end he would get the job done, but you would save more time and avoid an angry mess, by doing it right the first time.


Once you have a coffee grinder you can trust, whether that is an existing one or a new burr coffee grinder (use a burr grinder please), get to grinding.


Professional baristas will tell you that the coffee grinder is the most important piece of equipment in your coffee making arsenal by far, so if you have to remember anything, remember this tip.



2.) Understand Your Brew Method’s Coffee Water Ratio

The method that you use to brew your coffee will determine the amount of beans you use. In other words, your coffee water ratio will change from brew method to brew method. There are many brewing guides out there that tell you to use an exact gram amount per cup, but it is more art than science.


What you consider to be your perfect cup of coffee, may not be my perfect cup of coffee or it may not be your friend’s favorite cup of coffee.


What is important is that you keep track of the coffee water ratio for your perfect cup of coffee.


Then, be sure to keep that your little secret.


Like a mad scientist.


The wonderful thing about coffee is that it is a product of our earth. This means beans from different regions have different tasting profiles. It also means beans from the same region, same coffee farm and even same batch of coffee have subtle differences.


All of these factors affect your final cup of coffee.


This sounds frustrating, but it really is one of the curiosities of coffee which make it addicting. For now, we’ve put together a basic guide to help you get started.


Coffee water ratio to use based on brew method


coffee water ratio illustrated by brew method


3.) Use a Scale for Your Coffee Water Ratio Measurements Per Cup

Trust us on this one. Invest in a good coffee scale. It will bring your brewing experience to a whole other level.


I know what you’re thinking, do I really need to spend time measuring out precise grams of coffee per each cup that I brew?


Yes, you really do.


We know in the previous section, we said brewing the perfect cup of coffee is more art than science, but what the coffee scale will allow you to do is fine tune your art.


Brewing coffee per cup without a scale in search of the perfect cup is like an artist, without their tools. Ok, maybe that’s a bad metaphor, but you know what we mean.


We’ve tried many coffee scales for our small and large batch orders. From cheap scales to the high end scales. The one we come back to time and time again for measuring our coffee water ratio per cup, is the Hario Coffee Scale With Timer.


The main reasons this scale is better than others is because of these reasons:

  • Value: The Hario scale is not cheap. However, it is of incredible value. Not only is it priced fairly, but the scale is also durable, has a big enough base for your largest Chemex batches, touch sensitive buttons and a timer. Out of all the features, the integrated timer is the one that made us buy it.
  • Integrated Timer: I can just use my phone as a timer right? The short answer is no. We did this at first. We bought a smaller scale without a timer and used our phone, but the integrated timer made it much easier. During the brewing process, the integrated timer makes it incredibly easy to time your bloom and overall pour time correctly. This is very important if you’re using a manual brew method. Oh yeah, and you won’t risk ruining your phone
  • Auto Power Off: The scale’s auto power off is set to 5 minutes, but is automatically turned off when the timer is on. This. Is. A. Big. Deal. The auto power off feature saves battery life in the long run, if you’re forgetful like us. However, when the timer is on, you can focus on brewing your coffee, without having to worry about turning the scale back on again. Trust us, turning the timer back on in the middle of brewing is extremely annoying.


To read a more in depth comparison of the different coffee scales available and why we choose the Hario Coffee Scale With Timer, check out our post 5 Best Coffee Scales and Why You Need One.


4.) Grind Your Coffee Right Before Brewing

When we say grind your coffee per cup right before brewing, we really do mean right before.


Like a second or two before. I know what you’re thinking again.


Do I really have to go through all that trouble of buying whole ground beans and then on top of that, grind each portion of coffee per cup at the utter last moment before brewing?


You guessed it, yes, you really really do need to do this if you want a perfect cup of coffee. If you don’t believe us, just look at the science of coffee.


Roasted coffee in whole bean form is a vessel that protects the oils which contain the flavors, intricacies and uniqueness of each coffee bean.


Did you know that the original method of coffee involved boiling the roasted coffee beans whole to extract the flavors?


We won’t get into that topic now, but you will definitely lose many of the benefits and beautiful aroma of a good coffee if you grind your beans in advance. Or buy pre-ground coffee. Just don’t do it.

When you grind your coffee, you are exposing the bean to the these things:

  • Loss of Aroma: Once you grind your coffee, the aromas and oils contained in the bean will be disturbed and along with oxidization, will dissipate. A great example is an apple. Once you cut into an apple, the apple turns brown in a short amount of time because of oxidation. The same thing happens to your coffee and to make it worse, the most fragrant of aromas are also the most delicate. Don’t drink old shriveled up coffee grounds. Just don’t.
  • Shortened Shelf Life: Most of you will not be roasting your own coffee. Green coffee (unroasted coffee) has a crazy long shelf life, but once roasted, it is best to consume the coffee within a couple weeks. However, once you grind your coffee, oxidation and dissipation occurs rapidly enough, that you only have a few minutes before much of the original aroma is lost.
  • Coffee is Hygroscopic: We just want to sound smart here. What this means is that coffee beans absorb moisture, odors and tastes from the air around it, which surprisingly makes it a great odor remover. What this means for you however, is that once the beans are ground, it is much easier for them to become contaminated with unwanted flavors. Do you really want these types of unwanted flavors to be in your final cup of coffee?


Grind your coffee per cup. It’s the only way to do it. Not to mention, it’s the penguin way to do it.


5.) Use the Right Water Temperature

Ok, ok, hear us out here.


We’re not here to make your coffee brewing experience a multi legged obstacle course, with a rope swing portion over killer whale and shark infested waters. Killer whales and sharks are pretty cool, but these whales feast on penguins. And we don’t want that.


Come on now, you made it this far. You have made precise measurements of your brew method’s coffee water ratio by the cup, ground the beans at the precise last second and have done so much good work


Don’t give up now.


To get the optimal tasting coffee, the water temperature for brewing needs to be between 195° F (91° C) and 205° F (96° C). The closer the water temperature to 205° F (96° C), the better for your cup of coffee, as it will extract the flavors better.


Do not use boiling water 212° F (100° C), or water that is hot off the stove to brew coffee. It will burn the grounds and all your hard work will be ruined. Ok, that’s a little harsh.


If you use boiling water, the coffee will still be ok, especially if you have used fresh coffee. But you won’t reach perfect cup level status here. On the low end, don’t let the water temperature below 195° F (91° C). The coffee will not properly extract at this temperature and you’ll lose much of the wonderful aroma.



There are many ways to make your coffee. This is both exciting and confusing at the same time. Seeing that you’re here, we’re guessing you’re people like us who find this stuff extremely exciting. 


Yeah, coffee nerd dance time!


If we just bored you to death, we don’t know what to say


Brewing coffee right, really is an art form and like any art form, it will probably take your whole life to master.


Here is a secret among the most seasoned coffee connoisseur though.


You don’t need to go to a coffee shop, wait in line and pay $5 to get a great cup of coffee.


You can get great coffee at a fair price, right at your home without expensive coffee making equipment. All you need is:

  • patience
  • good coffee
  • right tools
  • solid foundation in what makes a good cup of coffee


Use these 5 tips to get you started on the perfect coffee water ratio per your cup and you’ll be well on your way to coffee god level status.


Don’t be surprised if your friends, family members and co-workers come knocking on your door for some coffee advice soon.


Do you have any secret tips you’d like to share?

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