Perfect your coffee game with our expert guide to coffee brewing, where our Director of Coffee explores the standard coffee-to-water ratio (16-20:1) and other expert tips! Learn how grind size affects your coffee how different methods like immersion brewing and cold brew are affected and more!

If you’ve ever found yourself puzzled over the perfect coffee-to-water ratio, you’re not alone. As a dedicated coffee lover, I’ve often been asked about the secret to a great cup of coffee. The answer? Precision in measuring, especially when it comes to the ratio of coffee to water. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you nail that perfect brew every time.

Why Weight Matters in Coffee Brewing

First and foremost, it’s crucial to understand why using weight, not volume, to measure your coffee is essential. This approach ensures consistency and accuracy in your brews. Coffee beans and grounds can vary significantly in size and density, meaning a scoop of one type of coffee might not equal a scoop of another. By using weight, you eliminate this variability.

The Standard Coffee-to-Water Ratio

Now, let’s talk about the golden ratio. Generally, the standard ratio falls between 16-20 grams of water for every 1 gram of coffee. This range provides a solid starting point for most brewing methods, whether you’re using a drip coffee maker, French press, or pour-over.

For instance, if you’re brewing with 20 grams of coffee, you’ll want to use 320-400 grams (or milliliters, since water’s density is close to 1 g/ml) of water. This ratio ensures a balanced extraction, not too weak and not too strong.

Personalizing Your Brew

But coffee brewing is not a one-size-fits-all affair. It’s an art that invites personalization. I personally lean towards a 20:1 water-to-coffee ratio, especially on weekends when I can savor my coffee a bit more. This ratio tends to produce a lighter, more nuanced flavor, perfect for those leisurely mornings.

However, the key is to start within the 16-20:1 range and then adjust according to your taste preferences. If you find your coffee too strong, increase the water ratio. If it’s too weak, reduce the water slightly.

The Impact of Grind Size

Another critical factor to consider is the grind size. A finer grind will extract more quickly and can often result in a stronger brew. Therefore, if you’re working with a finer grind, you might want to use a higher water-to-coffee ratio. Conversely, with a coarser grind, you might lean towards the lower end of the ratio spectrum.

Immersion Brewing and Cold Brew

It’s worth noting that these ratios can shift significantly for different brewing methods. For instance, immersion brewing methods like French press or cold brew often require a different approach. Cold brew, in particular, typically uses a much higher coffee-to-water ratio due to its extended brewing time and lower extraction rate.


Finding the perfect coffee-to-water ratio might seem daunting at first, but it’s all about experimentation and adjusting to your personal taste. Remember, start with the standard 16-20:1 ratio, tweak it as needed, and consider the grind size. With a little practice, you’ll be brewing coffee that rivals your favorite cafΓ© in no time!

About Adam Lees

Adam Lees is the Director of Coffee and Quality Assurance at Ellis Coffee. With over 20 years in the specialty coffee industry, Adam is a seasoned coffee roaster and taster, now leading our quest for consistently roasted blends and single origin coffees. A fan of the Donut Shop Blend for its chocolatey sweetness, Adam balances his professional coffee expertise with the joys of parenting his seven-year-old daughter and writing informative blog posts for this site.