Right off the top we should clarify: a "cup" in this context is not related to the cooking "cup", relating to volume (1 cup = 236 ml = 8 oz).
It also does not refer to a physical cup (mug) of coffee.
Using the SCAA definition of 5 fl. oz as a "cup" and the "golden ratio" of 1:18, we need:
150 ml / 18 = 8.3 grams of coffee per 5 fl. oz cup
Note: This is different than the normal measuring "cup", which is 240 ml.
Most coffee machine manufacturers define a "cup" as 5-oz of liquid, which is 150 ml (milliliters).
|Cups (brewed, 5 fl. oz. each)||Grams of coffee||Tablespoons|
Note: we use approximate measure for tablespoons - a tablespoon of coffee is 5.3 grams, therefore 8.3 grams of coffee is 1.566 tablespoons, so we round to 1.6.
Interested in learning how much caffeine per cup?
From now on, we'll refer to liquid ounces (30 ml) as fl. oz., and 5 fl. oz as a "cup".
The golden ratio is a 1:18 ratio of coffee grounds (grams) to water volume (ml).
This definition comes from the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), and is generally considered the standard for coffee.
Adhering strictly to this requires a scale, which is a worthwhile investment if you care about the quality of your coffee, but a lot of people just want to keep things simple.
The Best Ratio
The best ratio to use is: whatever works best for you.
If you try any instructions or guidelines online or from the "experts" and it tastes worse for you, then simply ignore it. Your coffee is yours to enjoy, not for some self-righteous snob to judge.
Start with the golden ratio of 1:18, and adjust as needed.
Different terminology can become confusing - weights (grams, cups, tablespoons) versus volumes (milliliters, cups, tablespoons) are often used interchangeably without being properly defined.
The best thing to do is convert everything down to common measures - grams and milliliters.
1 cup = 16 tablespoons, or
1 tablespoon = 1/16th cup
A standard coffee measure should be 2 Tbsp (2 Tbsp = ⅛ cup = 10.6 g).
If you're interested in finding the perfect coffee beans, we recommend checking out our article on the best coffee in the world.
Scoops of coffee
A coffee "scoop" is typically 1 tablespoon (tbsp), which is 5 grams of ground coffee.
Some coffee machine manufacturers provide scoops which are 2 tablespoons (tbsp).
There are also double-sided coffee scoops, with 1 tbsp on one end, and 2 tbsp on the other. You'll have to verify what size scoop you're using.
Regardless of the type of scoop you have, you'll want to use 2 tbsp (10g of coffee) per 180 mL (6 fl. oz) of water.
How much ground coffee for 8 cups
Using the common definition of 5-ounces per "cup", we get a total of
- 5 x 8 = 40 fl. oz
- 40 ounces = 1200 ml
Using the 1:18 golden ratio, we get 67 grams of coffee for 8 cups.
67 grams of coffee per 8 cups
Be warned some coffee equipment deviates from the 2 Tbsp. standard. Some are even as small as 1 Tbsp.
How much ground coffee for 10 cups
- 5 x 10 = 50 fl. oz
- 50 fl. oz = 1500 ml
Using the 1:18 golden ratio, we get 83 grams of coffee for 10 cups.
Note that some coffee machine makers differ from this measure.
How much ground coffee for 12 cups
Here are the recommended measures that we could find online for some top brands of coffee makers:
- 5 fl. oz x 12 = 60 fl. oz
- 60 fl. oz = 1800 ml
Using the 1:18 golden ratio, we get 100 grams of coffee for 12 cups.
Here are some brands and their machine-specific recommended brewing ratios:
- BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker KF7150BK - 12 tablespoons (10g/each) per 12 cups (60 fl. oz)
- Hamilton Beach CoffeeMaker 46202C - 12 tablespoons (10g/each) per 12 cups (60 fl. oz)
- Mr. Coffee Coffee Maker - 9 tablespoons (10g/each) per 12 cups (60 fl. oz)
- Cuisinart 12 Cup Coffee Maker - 10 tablespoon (10g/each) per 12 cups (60 fl. oz)
Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Standards
A cup is defined as 6 ounces (180 ml) of water before brewing. This will produce 5.33 ounces of brewed coffee. Or 125 ml & 110 ml for Euro style coffee makers.
This is different than a "measuring cup", which is 240 ml.
The SCAA defines 10 grams or 0.36 oz per 6-oz (180 ml) cup as the proper measure for brewed coffee if using the American standards. If using Euro standards the measure is 7 grams per 125 ml (4.2 fl. oz).
To further confuse things I will add a few more measures of how many oz in a cup (coffee weight to water volume):
- 3.75 oz (106 grams) per ½ gallon (64 oz, 10.6 cups)
- 55 grams per liter (33 oz, 5.5 cups)
- 1 lb. (454 grams, 16 oz) per 2.25 gallons (288 oz, 48 cups)
- Percolator: 1 lb. (16 oz) per 100 cup (600 oz)
Note that the percolator is by far the most efficient use of coffee beans.
If you want to know more check the SCAA's web page at www.scaa.org.
It needs to be pointed out that some coffee pot manufacturers deviate from the 6 oz per cup standard. You should check the total water capacity of your pot before assuming that the pot will be measured in 6 oz cups.
Keep in mind that it may vary slightly from coffee to coffee and according to freshness and varietal.
If you have a pot that is overflowing the basket even after checking the cup size the chances are that you are either grinding too fine and clogging the filter or your coffee pot manufacturer has decided to make their filter basket a little smaller than normal.
If the issue is a small basket your best bet it to figure out how much coffee the basket will hold and add water accordingly. For example, if your filter basket only holds 8 scoops (16 tbsp) without overflowing fall back to 48 oz (8 x 6 oz cups) of water.
Ultimately the amount of coffee to use is a personal taste but I highly recommend at least starting with the standard and adjusting from there and don't forget as you move toward more water and less grounds you will extract more off flavors.
Most people that say they don't like strong coffee mean they don't like bitter coffee and weak coffee actually has more bitter compounds. You can always add hot water to weaken coffee. Weak coffee if just weak coffee and can not be fixed.
Coffee contains almost no calories per cup when drinking it black - the majority of the calories in coffee comes from additives (dairy, sugar, flavoring syrups).
Some brands like Starbucks may require less coffee by weight than a medium roast because the darker roast provides more of the roasted coffee flavor.
Going even lighter, to say a White Coffee roast, means you'll likely require even more beans, however we would recommend you try lighter roasted coffees as a new drinking experience, not actual coffee.
In response to a question in the comments below I grabbed a few antique coffee cans in my collection to see what the "historical" recommendation for coffee amount was and the recommendations are far from consistent.
Chase & Sanborn, Del Monte, Yuban, and Butter-Nut have no brewing directions of any kind.
Luzianne (Coffee and Chicory) suggest one heaping teaspoon per cup. The cup size is not defined. See my notes below.
Kaffee Hag Coffee (Decaf) recommends one "well rounded" tablespoon per measuring cup (8 oz) of water.
Maxwell House and Sanka (Decaf) both stipulate 2 level tablespoons per 6 oz of water.
One rounded and two level table spoons are not drastically different. I'd guess one "well rounded" tablespoons is maybe one and a half level tablespoons. The real outlier here is Luzianne at only one heaping tablespoon per cup.
Chicory would account for some of that but not the complete difference. I cut maybe 25% when using chicory coffees but not the ~75% this would seems to recommend.
My only guess would be that chicory is a historical coffee stretching agent so maybe there is also an element of people becoming accustomed to making weaker coffee to also extend the can of coffee but that is a pure guess on my part.
By far the most economical brewing method is the percolator, which runs and re-runs water through coffee grounds in order to extract as many solids as possible.
A single pound of coffee (454 grams, or 16 ounces) in a percolator will brew about 100 cups, and is typically very strong. A 100-cup percolator is typically 4 gallons, and at 128 ounces per gallon, yields 512 ounces, or 100 x 5 fl. oz cups
This is about twice as many as many cups as you'd get using the golden ratio in a standard coffee maker:
- 454 grams @ 1:18 = 8172 ml
- 8172 ml = 272 fl. oz
- 272.4 fl. oz / 5 fl. oz = 54 cups
If you take a hypothetical Costa Rican Coffee at $10/lb, you end up with a cost per cup around $0.10 for 5-oz - most people will drink coffee in a 12-oz cup though, which puts you at $0.24/cup.