Master the Perfect Coffee to Water Ratio with This Ultimate Guide

Brewing coffee can be an intricate process. Too much water can produce bland coffee, while the opposite can give you an overly-concentrated one. This is where the knowledge of the coffee-to-water ratio plays an important role. 

I’ve been brewing coffee for a long time and found my magic ratio through endless research and tests. Because of that, you can find yours, along with some troubleshooting methods, with just this article.

What is “coffee-to-water ratio”?

As the name implies, the “coffee-to-water ratio” is the proportion of the coffee used to the amount of water added in a brew. Usually, we denote it by “1: X”, read as “1 to X”. One means a single unit of coffee, and X is the portion of water you should add. 

For example, the ratio 1:18 translates as 1 part coffee to 18 parts water.

It is often used to describe the coffee’s strength or concentration. A ratio of 1:15 produces a more concentrated brew, whereas a ratio of 1:18 makes a lighter brew.

The Golden Ratio in Brewing Tasty Coffee

As suggested by the National Coffee Association and the Specialty Coffee Association, the perfect coffee ratio is 1:18, or the golden ratio. But there are better ratios for me and some other coffee lovers. The suggested ratio often produces coffee lacking in intensity. 

That is why a range of 15 to 18 grams of water per gram of coffee is commonly followed for most brews, except espresso. It uses a unique ratio of 1:2 due to its concentrated nature.

How Brewing Techniques Influence the Ratio

One of two mechanisms is often involved when brewing coffee: percolation and infusion.

For percolation, water passes through a bed of coffee. Some examples are drip coffee and pour-over coffee. On the other hand, infusion happens when steeping coffee beans or grounds in water for some time.  French press and Aeropress are typical infusion coffees. 

I recommend you use a higher ratio when making coffee-infused drinks, as they would need more coffee beans in water to reach the same extraction level as percolated beverages. 

Coffee-to-water Ratios for Different Brews

Different brewing techniques would need different amounts of water for the same amount of coffee beans used. This section will explore the perfect ratios for the most common brewing methods. 

Note: Following the ratios below would produce a cup of coffee with a standard taste. Adjust this according to your preference. 

coffee to water ratio

Drip Coffee, Pour Over Coffee

Following a 1:16.67 ratio, use 12 grams of coffee with 200 grams or ml of water to make a standard 6-fluid-ounce serving of these percolated coffees. For a more potent pot of coffee, use a coffee-to-water ratio of 1:15; apply 1:18 for a milder taste.

French Press, Aeropress, and Siphon 

These techniques fundamentally use infusion to make coffee. As a result, you need to enhance the coffee-to-water ratio a bit if you want to reach the same intensity of taste. A 1:15 brew ratio is a good starting point.

Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew coffee is often prepared in two ways: concentrate and ready-to-drink. 

Cold brew concentrate follows a 1:4 ratio of beans to water, while a ready-to-drink cold brew coffee uses a 1:16.67 ratio. If you plan to steep a ready-to-drink cold brew overnight, the ratio 1:18 is perfect.  

Moka Pot 

Depending on your gear size, a Moka Pot serves about 1 to 12 cups of delicious coffee, which is 2 to 25 ounces. To make a standard serving, you‘ll need around 6 g of beans and 2 ounces or 60 mL of water.


The magic ratio for a standard single shot of espresso is 1:2, which is 1 ounce (30 ml) of water and 15g of beans. But if you plan to make a ristretto or a lungo, use the brew ratio of 1:1 and 1:4, respectively. 

Hot Tips

Although the coffee-to-water ratio is crucial in how your coffee will turn out, you must also consider other factors. Here are some tips that you can use to better your coffee game!

Weighing Coffee Beans. 

You’ll notice that coffee pros talk about everything in grams rather than tablespoons or scoops. That is because there’s no standard for these volumetric measurements, considering the mass measured fluctuates depending on factors such as the density of coffee beans.  

For example, light roast coffee is denser than its dark roast counterpart. Measuring one cup of light-roasted coffee would give you 82 grams, while one cup of dark-roasted beans would give you approximately 75 grams of coffee. 

I recommend investing in a digital scale to measure your coffee more precisely. It makes your coffee journey 100 times more convenient.

Avoid Adjusting the Coffee-to-Water Ratio First when the Taste is Off

Always remember the brew ratio is not the most significant factor influencing your coffee taste.

If you brew a cup of coffee and think it’s sour or not delicious. More often, you must change your extraction method, grind the beans a little finer or coarser, or steep a little longer. Fix these things first before you diverge from the standard ratios.

Bottom Line

Although there are suggested coffee-to-water ratios. I want you to know that there is no actual “right ratio” because these ratios are based on the preferences of the many.  So, feel free to find the balance that best satisfies you.


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Mesphird Yang

I have been brewing and drinking coffee for almost 6 years now. At first, I was just dazzled by how baristas look and that's why I started learning. In the long run, I became obsessed with its charm. I have tried many coffee brewing methods, with different kinds of beans in various roast levels. If I could have more than 4 cups of coffee a day, I definitely would!

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