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ratio of coffee to water?

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When you make drip coffee, what ratio of water to coffee do you use?

I've been experimenting, and I'm finding something very counter-intuitive: sometimes, coffee using a lower ratio of grounds-to-water tastes as good as, or maybe even better than, coffee made with a higher ratio!

I'm doing some experiments, prompted by a recent piece by McGee in the Times food section, about how to get maximum taste from beverages such as whisky (etc), coffee, and others.

He pointed out something counterintuitive: sometimes, a watered-down beverage provides more flavor than a full-strength one!

This morning, for example, I made some coffee in my old-fashioned, manual Melitta pot. I used 4 scoops of New England Dark Roast Columbia Supremo to 5 full cups (i.e., 5 X 8 or 40 oz) of water. it had a full, rich taste. Later i took 2/3 cup of that coffee and added 3T of water to it, and it still had a full taste.

I'm gonna keep experimenting with this, (and will report results here), but I'd sure like to hear from others who've done any experimenting or scientific work on this.

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  1. A "good" cup of coffee is truly a matter of individual taste. Coffee formulas include water temperature, water chemistry, type of coffee, type of grind, duration of water/coffee exposure. When I replace a coffee maker or change the type/grind of coffee I decide to use, I always have to make adjustments to obtain the flavor profile I prefer.

    1. You're going to get answers that are all over the map. I know people that insist on coffee strong enough to etch concrete and others that barely have any taste at all.

      I was raised on Folger's. I can't handle good coffee. It's too strong as far as I am concerned. If you are interested, I use 4 scoops for 32 ounces of water.

      1. A good ratio to start with is from SCAA: 10 grams coffee for every 6 ounces (177mL) of water. For larger amounts 3.75 ounces of ground coffee for 64 ounces of water. But the important thing is to adjust to your individual taste. I was raised on motor oil strong coffee but have friends who only drink D&D (which I consider more of a coffee flavored water than actual coffee).

        1. So, what did you learn? I have always read 2 tablespoons ground coffee per (6oz) "cup" of water. But I just bought a coffeemaker, and the instructions with it call for 1 tablespoon per cup.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sallysadie

            I use 1 rounded T. per 8 oz cup, plus one for the pot, as with tea. This particular measurement seems to be an industry standard for drip coffee makers. We drink Robusta dark roast, and I can't handle it too, too strong, but that's my go to measurement for my coffee grind, machine and water type.

            As todao posted above, there are many variables with coffee making and you will have to make adjustments to get it to your taste.

          2. I have gotten it to 5 scoops for maximum fill ten cup pot (slightly over the full line with water to account for absorption) . This works for me, my step son likes his stronger.

            1. The flavor you taste must be related to the quality of the coffee you are using. I can't tell you how many cups of dishwater coffee I've drunk in my life because some little old lady at a potluck made the plain old Folger's too weak. I had one of these lovely elderlies tell me that she always used less coffee, because it tasted better. (What is operating here is thriftiness, not taste.) I like a Starbuck's Americano, please. Leave room for one cream.

              1. 1 tablespoon for every 6 ounces of water (which I think is standard coffee pot measurement for a cup - not the standard 8oz. measure we use in cooking).

                1. I make my daily dose using a Melita cone, Melita paper filter, and a regular tea kettle. Currently, I'm using 21-22 g of fairly finely ground per 300 ml of water--a higher ratio than the SCAA guidelines specify (thanks to Klunco for pulling them into the discussion).

                  I generally use light-medium roasted beans from places like Four Barrel, Blue Bottle, and Arizona's Cartel Coffee Lab. If I used darker roasts, I'd probably scale back to something approaching the SCAA-endorsed ratio.