Just how much ground coffee do I need for x amount of coffee?

The best answer is: 10 grams of ground coffee per 180 ml of water (180g of water). 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 easy answer for most home coffee brewing is 2 Tbsp. (10.6 g) of ground coffee beans per 6 oz of water. A standard coffee measure should be 2 Tbsp (2 Tbsp = 1/8 cup = 10.6 g).

How much coffee for 8 cups? Simply multiple 2 Tbsp per cup by 8 cups and you get 16 Tbsp (1 cup, or 85 grams).

Be warned some coffee equipment deviates from the 2 Tbsp. standard. Some are even as small as 1 Tbsp.

The correct answer at the end of the day 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 disregard it. Your coffee is yours to enjoy, not for some self-righteous snob to judge.

How Much Coffee for 12 Cups (Coffee Makers)

Here are the recommended measures that we could find online for some top brands of coffee makers:

  • 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)
  • Mr. Coffee Coffee Maker – 7.5 tablespoons (10g/each) per 10 cups (50 fl. oz)
  • Cuisinart 12 Cup Coffee Maker – 1 tablespoon (10g/each) per 12 cups (60 fl. oz)

You’ll notice that major brands of coffee makers deviate from the norm of using 6 ounces as a “cup” as defined by the coffee association – this is likely a relic of copying competitors measures, or may be flat out false advertising. Do yourself a favor and figure out how many milliliters their pot is, then divide that number by 18 for the grams of coffee you should use. For example, 60 fl oz. = 1,800 mL would require 100g of coffee or 10 Tbsp (106 grams if you want to be extra precise).

What the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) has to say:

A cup is defined as 6 ounces of water before brewing. This will produce 5.33 ounces of brewed coffee. Or 125 ml & 110 ml for Euro style coffee makers.

The SCAA defines 10 grams or 0.36 oz per 6-oz 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 1/2 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)

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.

Additional Tips

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.

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.

Mistake your decaf coffee for regular coffee and have too much caffeine? Check out our how to get caffeine out of your system tips.

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.

Saving Money

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 (16 ounces) will brew about 100 (6 oz) cups, and is typically very strong. That translates to roughly 0.15 oz per cup (6-oz fluid) of coffee. If you take a hypothetical Costa Rican Coffee at $10/lb, you end up with a cost per cup around $0.10 for 6-oz – most people will drink coffee in a 12-oz cup though, which puts you at $0.20/cup. Not bad!

62 thoughts on “Just how much ground coffee do I need for x amount of coffee?”

  1. how much ground coffee per cup

    Thank you for solving what always seems to be a difficult answer to what should be a simple question

    1. Starbucks and White Castle

      Starbucks and White Castle says 2 tablespoons per 6 oz. Looked like way too much but I tried it just to experiment. I like strong coffe but that’s ridiculously strong. I can easily use half of that. The other people in the house use 1 1/2 tbl spoons for the whole 4 cups…instead of the 10-11 suggested in the directions.

      1. The better way to “brew” a

        The better way to “brew” a less strong cup is to brew the coffee at full strength, then dilute the fully brewed coffee with hot water. This provides a better tasting cup. Brewing with addtional water causes too much water to pass over the coffee grounds & overextracting, which results in a “bitter” tasting cup.

        1. coffee measure

          I’m looking for something even simpler: 1/2 cup? 3/4 cup?…to a 12-cup mark on the pot. I shouldn’t have to measure out per cup. Of course I COULD measure out per cup, using everyone’s suggestions and then convert THAT to cup measure. I just want to measure once.

          1. RE:coffee measure

            Assuming 2 T of coffee per cup and 12 cups you need 1.5 cups of grounds per pot. This may be a tad strong but I would not go below about 1.25 cups for 12 cups of coffee.

      2. what is a tablespoon?

        more likely than not you did not use a correctly sized leveled off tablespoon. My tablespoon is exactly 1/2 oz, and I level it off with a breadknife insuring perfect measure. Then I weigh the number of scoops that I use for a given amount of water, and use the scale from then on. For 8 cups of coffee in my Cuisinart (42 oz) I use 16 tablespoons (53g) and it’s perfect.

  2. Ground Coffee per Cup

    Two tablespoons per 6 oz cup is awfully strong, unless you really, really want to make yourself a brutal, bitter, caffeine-monster of a drink.

    If there are 15 grams to a (flat) tablespoon, for instance, and the SCAA standard is 10 grams per 6 oz drink, then a typical mug of coffee (i.e. 12 oz) will need 20 grams of grounds — or one heaping tablespoon of ground coffee.

    That’s for drip-brewed coffee, too. From my experience filterless brewing methods (French Press, Vacuum Syphon, Percolators etc.) require even less grounds per cup.

    1. Strength of Brew

      As stated in the FAQ the amount of grounds you use is primarily a mater of taste. If you like week over extracted coffee you can get by with much less coffee. But if you like a good cup of “coffee house style” coffee you are looking for something in the range of about 2 teaspoons (volume) or 10 grams (weight) per cup. This is what I use but that has not always been the case. I used less in the past. I encourage people to experiment with the amount of coffee they use. You may prefer less coffee per cup. Feel free. Personally the last thing I want to have is a weak cup but that is exactly what some people prefer.

      If you are using canned coffee (yes I know the worst coffees no longer comes in cans but I can’t think of another euphemism for cheap supermarket coffee) you probably will want to use less because it is actually produced with the intent of being over extracted. But I have not experimented with this. A good strong cup of cheap blend may be better than a weak cup of cheap blend. I would also concede that flavored coffees may be better is brewed slightly weaker. I think that will be primarily an issue of how strong the flavoring agent is. If the flavoring agent is very strong the artificial flavoring may be overpowering in a properly brewed cup. I can’t get past the chemical smell of most flavored coffees so I won’t be trying any experiments.

      1. Submitted

        Submitted by:PigeonMan

        Shouldn’t the 12th word of the 3rd sentence read “10 g.” instead of “10 mg”?
        — And here you probably thought that nobody REALLY reads this stuff!


      2. If you like coffee with

        If you like coffee with flavor but do not like the chemical smells of flavored coffee, try flavoring after brewing or flavored creamers. Really delicious!!!!!!!!

        1. Way better

          I agree, it’s way better that way. It’s more natural, it tastes good and we can leave all the chemicals behind. As a girl, when i was 15 maybe, i remember the first coffee that i liked being made that way by my father!

  3. Whoever said “If there are

    Whoever said “If there are 15 grams per tablespoon….”

    Coffee is roughly 5 grams per level cooking/measured tablespoon, not 15.

  4. coffee weight

    I was reading this thread and thought the weights per tablespoon were way off. I just ground 3 batches, 1 coarse for french press, 1 medium fine for drip, and 1 extra fine for espresso. I weighed them using a digital scale that is calibrated and accurate to .01 grams. The results were, 2.8,3.1, and 3,3 grams per level tablespoon. I use 185ML (roughly 6 Imperial OZ per cup) and 1 tablespoon per cup.

  5. 1 tablespoon expresso = 5 grams confirmed

    Just to check how much a tablespoon of coffee grounds weighs, I pulled out my OHAUS 1010 reloading scale. These have to be very precise otherwise the person reloading rifle cartridges will blow the gun apart and OHAUS could perhaps be sued.

    I used two different tablespoon sized measures.
    And pulled a knife across the spoon top to level the measure of coffee.
    The coffee was Folgers Brazillian in their standard grind which is courser than expresso, and intended for the common drip grind American coffee brewers.

    First tablespoon weighed 71.5 grains
    Second tablespoon weighed 72.2 grains.
    Grains is the measure of weight used by gunpowder manufacturers.
    1 grain = 0.648 grams.
    So the first tablespoon weighed 4.63 grams
    The second weighed 4.68 grams

    Now if we use the comments by “Scott”, he says that the ratio of expresso to drip grind he found to be 3.3 to 3.1, the expresso being heavier than the drip. So taking an average of my two weighing as 4.65 grams, then we have 4.65 grams x 3.3 /3.1 = 4.95 grams.

    Variables, there are many.
    But a tablespoon of expresso will indeed weigh about 5 grams as far as I’m concerned after my experiment. Which I never have to do again, I did it once to be sure, that’s enough for me!

    Personally, in a drip coffee maker I use 4 tablespoons for 40 ounce pot. Folgers advises 1 tablespoon per 6 ounces, but 6 and 2/3 TBLS per pot is way too much for me.

  6. coffee mass in grams

    I love coffee. I enjoyed strong coffee yet have discovered that it is not always best for me to indulge- or overindulge.

    I had been using 60 grams of ground coffee ( I buy the roasted beans and then grind them as and when needed ) for a 1050 ml.

    this makes a truly strong coffee.

    much too strong actually.

    a more reasonable coffee amount for the average coffee drinker would be 25- 30 grams.

    I have a scale that I use to measure the amount.

    My scoop contains 25 grams of ground coffee.

    So i have been using that amount now to make my coffee.

    This amount of coffee with it’s caffeine is much easier on my system than drinking coffee made with twice that amount.

    The comment about a tbsp being 15 grams refers to the fact that a tablespoon is equivalent to 15 ml. Based upon it’s density , 15 ml of water has a mass of 15 grams.

    Many people assume thereafter that a tablespoon of anything has a mass of 15 grams.

    The amount of caffeine that was in my original recipe ( 60 grams of ground coffee ) would have been closer to the far end of the scale of reported caffeine amounts per 175ml.
    the ranges I have read state amounts anywhere from 70- 150 grams.

    based upon the effects, I would hazard a guess that i was getting 150 grams minimum per cup of coffee. ~ 175 ml – 220ml suggested serving size.
    I don’t know anyone who drinks that piddly amount of coffee. maybe 9 year olds do. I don’t know.

    The cup I use is larger than that. It was about 425 ml.

    I was having 3 of these per day.

    So my caffeine intake was 450- 600 mg per day. minimum. quite possibly more than that.

    After a week, I realized that something wasn’t right. and adjusted accordingly.

    Now the 25 grams works. Friends can enjoy a cup of my coffee without using excessive amounts of cream and sugar.

    I am working on getting my coffeine consumption down to one of my cups per day.

    it is a hard habit to break. ( chicago sings a song of the same name about something else yet it applies equally well to coffee )

  7. Measuring for 5 oz Coffee Carafes — Important FYI

    WARNING! Nowadays with more people grinding their own coffee and potentially using finer grinds than are optimized for an automatic drip coffeemaker, users are heading for trouble if they apply the 2 TBSP per 6 oz cup “standard” because not every coffee machine uses that definition of a “cup”. There are several brands on the market that use a 5 oz per cup definition. So if you were to fill up your 10- or 12-cup coffeemaker that brews 5 oz per cup using the 2 TBSP guideline intended for a 6 oz cup/carafe measure, that could result in the dreaded overflow situations people complain of in many a coffee machine review. To be precise, such overflows can *also* be caused by not aligning/snapping things in place, putting in too much water, not having the lid on the thermal type carafe free of grounds/limescale or by the pause-serve mechanism “stuck” with spent coffee grounds. So when people complain that they “did everything right” and still their ADC overflows, it is important to address the potential that one is adding too much grinds to brew a full pot of coffee. In short, users are asking for trouble if they add 2TBSP per cup with the intent to brew a full pot into a smaller 5-oz per cup carafe. The advice on so much of the web doesn’t take this caveat into account, and it never occurs to some coffeemaker owners that their coffee decanter is designed to hold 5 oz per cup, not the standard 6 oz or even a conventional 8 oz cup.

    If my math is not mistaken, a 5-oz-per-cup carafe such that you find on some CUISINART and KRUPS models is going to take a 1.6TBSP per cup measure to equate to the 2 TBSP recommendation per 6 oz carafe cup. But even at the 1.6 TBSP per cup equivalency, manufacturers using a 5 oz carafe measure often suggest a TABLESPOON per cup guideline rather than a “coffee scoop” (1/8C). With a partial pot it may be possible to add the “ideal” measure, but with a full pot at that quantity of grounds, watch out!

    Here’s how it breaks down: One standard 8 oz measuring cup is equivalent to 16 TBSP dry measure, or 8 standardized coffee scoops (1/8C). Suppose you were to take a 5 oz per carafe “cup” and brew a full 10- or 12-cup pot using the instructions provided here (2TBSP or 1/8C coffee scoop). That would be 1 1/4 Cup worth of grinds brewed into a 10-cup, and a whopping 1 1/2 cups worth of grinds brewed into a 12-cup model! Not only will the coffee taste too overpowering for the average person, but there are very few coffee machines that can accept this many grinds into their basket when brewing a full pot of coffee —— unless you don’t mind overflows!

    But wait, it gets worse! Even on a coffeemaker that uses the industry standard 6 oz cup-per-carafe measure, I would think twice about brewing a full pot of coffee at the 2TBSP per cup rate. That’s a LOT of coffee grinds to shove, say, into a #4 cone filter. Therefore, if you opt for that many grinds to a full pot of coffee, you *must* be particularly careful if using a permanent filter that the grind isn’t too fine or it will clog quickly and overflow rapidly. Bottom line: If you want to brew a full pot into a non-commercial home coffeemaker, don’t follow the advice shown here. Consult your user manual or the manufacturer website, instead.

    1. RE: Measuring for 5 oz Coffee Carafes — Important FYI

      I won’t argue your comment except to say:

      You mention people grinding too find and clogging filters causing overflows. That’s not a quantity of coffee issue. That’s a fines clogging the filter issue. Grind courser.

      You mention coffee manufacturers using a 5 oz cup instead of a 6 oz cup. That’s a manufacturers issue. You should take in into consideration but that does not make 2 tbsp per cup wrong. It makes 2 tbsp for 5 oz of water wrong. French presses often use a 4 oz cup. You have to take that into consideration also.

      If you have a pot that is overflowing what a proper grind and quantity of coffee (small cups taken into consideration) then you should probably consider a different pot not just use less coffee. If you love the pot and it overflows just make fewer cups of coffee at a time.

      I have never had overflow issues using proper amounts of water and coffee in a good coffee pot. On the other hand I have seen cheap pots that would not even hold the correct amount of coffee when the coffee was dry. To some extent you get what you pay for.

      Two tbsp of coffee per six oz of water is a strong cup of coffee but it also means you get a cup of coffee that is smooth with less undesirable flavors extracted. If you wand something weaker I would recommend adding water. If you must brew weak coffee and you like it feel free. But don’t claim that using less is categorically better.

      Having said all that you do have to tweak the ratios a little bit (say +/- a scoop per pot) according to the pot you are using. For half pots I add a little coffee. I suppose if I was making giant pots I might add a little less. Some people might like the coffee better with a little less coffee included but when you start talking about 1 tbsp per cup (5 or 6 oz cups) you are talking about weak off flavored coffee.

      1. The Manufacturers Don’t Follow the Standards

        First off, it is not a manufacturer issue if it becomes a consumer problem — or an overflow! Secondly, we’re talking Cuisinart and Krups, both of which dominate the market alongside Mr. Coffee. These aren’t off brands by any means. My gripe is that standards need to be standards that are adopted across the board — or they aren’t standards at all. Third, I would not categorically claim that weaker coffee is better. I am saying that the *manufacturer* is making that decision for us to a greater extent then most people appreciate. The workaround is to brew partial pots. But some households and office environments go through more than one pot per day so it is a big deal. Unless the manufacturer directions endorse the 2TBSP standard, brewing a full pot using the proper measure is risky. Better to let people know that such limitations exists on a good many of these machines than not.

        I’ve literally read hundreds of reviewers while shopping for coffeemakers and it is astounding how many overflow complaints exist across all makes/models. Having recently purchased one of these “problem” designs, the Cuisinart DTC-975, one reviewer astutely pointed out that there is an upper limit, something like 16 TBSP, to avoid troublesome overflows. A lot of machines use a #4 filter, but many of the 5 oz carafes cut off at 10 cups, so even if you accidentally measure for a 6 oz cup you’re upper limit is a 10 cup brew so there’s some measure of safety built in. The problem arises when trying to add enough coffee for what you mistakenly *think* is a 6-oz measure for a 12-cup (5oz) carafe, in part because the filter is the same size filter that they use for the 10 cup models. (The paper or permanent filter hasn’t gotten any bigger to accommodate those 2 extra cups or 4TBSP that users following this standard are pairing to 10 oz more water vs. 12.)

        This sounds confusing, but it boils down to this: The manufacturer would “endorse” the 2TBSP per cup measure if 1) it would fit at full capacity, 2) the specific coffeemaker in question used a 6 oz carafe. But go download a couple of owner’s guides and you will be shocked to find that many of these manufacturers aren’t using 6 oz at all. And that doesn’t even take into account that there are a whole host of people who assume that a “cup” of coffee as marked on the side of a carafe is equal to the 8 oz variety.

        I don’t claim weaker it is better. This isn’t about how I measure my coffee but how *they* measure theirs, and in turn the limitation that puts on us. If you read some of the terrible reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, the common denominator in complaints is overflow issues. Moreover the split between people who assign a positive rating to a coffee machine, even those costing over $100 is about 60/40, and sometimes 30/70 on *name brands*, not the drugstore makes nobody has ever heard of! Those are lackluster marks overall, and it can’t be that there are so many lemons so what else explains it? Just possibly, confusion over this very point. Where else, except the BUNN website that I know of, are you even going to get a hint that you need to downscale that measure depending on what machine you own?

        The reality is that people new to this information don’t know what they don’t know so the awareness isn’t going to be there —— just the frustrations of not knowing why these machines are sometimes prone to overflow and other times not, why some coffee is good and other times not (because somebody is following their user manual and it doesn’t mention using 2TBSP). Meanwhile, the people who DO know the “proper” way to measure out coffee in all likelihood aren’t going to think they need to brush up on coffeemaking by using an owner’s guide as a reference because, well, they already *know*. That’s two camps of people who, for different reasons, aren’t going to be pulling out their calculator and doing conversions. Instead they’ll either suffer bad coffee or frustrating overflows — hence the value of an FYI to first and foremost follow the directions that come with your machine because those directions will vary.

        Whether the resulting coffee is weak or not is a matter of my personal taste. This is what a significant portion of the coffee manufacturing “industry” is TELLING people to do. A #4 cone filter, as I pointed out, won’t even hold 1.5 Cups worth of grounds comfortably. If that is “incorrect” the place to object is with the manufacturers for designing misleading carafes that are not compatible with official coffee brewing standards. I’m just the messenger here trying to help a fellow coffeemaker out. One of the reasons people are going to land on your site is that A) They want their coffee to taste better — chances are it is weak because they aren’t adding enough coffee because, just maybe, they read their owner’s manual and it didn’t clarify this; and B) They are trying to figure out what they did wrong if and when doing it the right way doesn’t “agree” with their machine and the coffee is all over the counter. I could have posted this to my own blog, but instead I decided this warning/fyi needed the exposure of your website. I hope the site owners/readers appreciate the effort because you aren’t going to find it spelled out quite so clearly somewhere else.

        1. RE: The Manufacturers Don’t Follow the Standards

          First of all please don’t take my disagreement as a personal attack. My comments are not meant to be anything other than a polite conversation.

          I agree that some coffee pots are badly engineered to a point that they can’t hold a proper amount of coffee. I can not talk about specific brands because that is not my area of knowledge but, I have seen the same complaints you talk about. Maybe some of that is user error but the manufacturer has to take some responsibility when a large proportion of their customers can’t get their product to work.

          I think we just have different directions for fixing the problem. I would rather see people not purchase these problem machines. This will force manufacturers to use a standard pot size and cup size and if need be increase the size of their filter baskets (see below).

          I have to assume part of the reason that manufacturers have gone to the 5 oz cup is because we all think bigger is better. If you re-mark a 10 cup (6oz cup) carafe (60 oz) as a 12 cup (5oz cup) carafe you still have a total if 60 oz. There is no need to re-engineer and you just gained 2 cups. It’s like magic. Of course now you have customers overfilling a basket that was probably just barely large enough to begin with.

          Your comment about the #4 cone filter does explain something I had wondered about. I noticed when I purchased my gold filter a few years ago that it came with an expander ring for the top that makes it about the size of a paper cone. The gold filter it replaced was the same height as my new filter with the expansion ring attached. This makes me wonder if some manufacturers are cutting the size of the basket back a bit to save a few cents. I honestly have no issues with using 20 tbsp of coffee in a #4 cone filter (paper or gold) in my coffee pot (a Technivorm) but I do think I might have issues with the gold filter if I didn’t have the higher expansion ring.

          I do think we diverge on how to fix the issue assuming the core issue is a small basket and not simply a re-defined measure. I would recommend making smaller pots and continuing to use the proper amount of coffee. If I am reading you right, your suggestion is to make a full pot and use a less than optimal amount of grounds. It’s ultimately a personal choice but if you are going to spend the money of good beans, as I want to assume anyone reading this page is doing, then why hobble the beans ability to create a good cup by brewing weak over extracted coffee by using to small a measure of grounds.

          As for companies that need to have a full pot, if it’s a pot per day going all day by all means do whatever you want to it. You can’t hurt that tar. If you are talking about needing the extra two cups from a full pot vs 48 oz. for a partial pot you probably need a second pot anyway. You are almost always better off brewing more frequently rather than larger pots of coffee. Thermal carafes help but ultimately freshness is measured in how long ago the coffee was brewed not how hot it is.

          I do think you bring up a good point that many manufacturers are playing fast and loose with the standards and then advising customers to use less coffee as a fix. I will add a warning at the bottom of this article to address that issue but, ultimately the manufacturers, especially the “good” brands, need to be held accountable for deviating from the standard that has held for years. In the meantime it does make sense to warn people that they may have to adjust their brewing to correct for these engineering and/or marketing induced problems.

          On a side note you can get some really great machine reviews over at coffeegeek.com.

        2. I use 2 tbl for a 10 oz cup,

          I use 2 tbl for a 10 oz cup, so my coffee is a little on the weak side. For a full pot of coffee (12 x 5 = 60oz) that’s about eight 8 oz. mugs, so use between 12 and 16 tbl, between 3/4 and one cup of ground coffee. Anyone who thinks a “12-cup” maker needs 24 tbls of ground coffee and puts any more than a cup of ground coffee into the filter is crazy! The measures on the side of a coffee carafe are not cups, they are small measures of liquid coffee.

      1. i cant relax! ive had too

        i cant relax! ive had too much coffee..  but seriously.. there is no such thing as too much coffee…

    2. Measuring for 5 ounce coffee carafes

      If your coffee pot is overflowing, you might have put in too much water. The ground coffee stays in the filter and also absorbs some of the water. The amount of ground coffee to put in varies according to taste.

  8. Weak coffee if just weak coffee and can not be fixed.

    Weak coffee IS just weak coffee and can not be fixed.

  9. “cup”

    It should be noted that in any context other than coffee, a cup is 8 ounces.  Fortunately, tablespoons and cups are in the same measuring system, however when scooping coffee one rarely bothers to level off the top of the scoop, which throws everything off even more.  The measuring methods used in home coffee preparation are totally confusing and really don’t make any sense.  There should be a way of having a nice ratio of coffee to water, but for some reason whoever was in charge of that messed it up pretty bad.  Maybe they ran a restaurant and wanted to be the only ones around who could properly make coffee.

         Anyway..  in the coffee universe, i.e. in the units indicated by the numbers and lines on the side of a conventional coffee pot, a “cup” is 6 ounces.  Now, a tablespoon is 1/2 of an ounce.  I would say that most people like their coffee anywhere from 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee, per 1 “cup” of water.  Let’s standardize this by putting it into ounces (I’m a mathematician, so this is how I think…): that’s 0.5-1 ounce coffee per 6 ounces of water.  If we drop the units and turn it into a ratio of whole numbers, that’s 1-2 parts coffee per 12 parts of water.  Or better yet, it’s 1 part coffee to 6-12 parts of water (which I denote 1:6, 1:7, 1:8, …, 1:12).  If you are a complete nerd as I am, you can get people used to this convention and ask them how they like their coffee: “are you a 1:10 kind of guy? or do you like it a little stronger, maybe a 1:7 pot even?”

         So in conclusion, if you want, you can use the same measuring cup for the water and the grounds, and using this ratio it won’t matter what units you’re using.  Personally I like mine at about 1:9.  Hopefully this is helpful, I bothered figuring it out because that same question was driving me crazy forever.

    1. Coffe Ratio

      Thank you for finally making some logical sense of the coffee to water ratio dilemma. I am not a “numbers” person, but this formula made it possible to finally make a decent “cup” of coffee with my “5-oz-is-a-cup” coffee maker.

    2. mass of coffee vs volume of coffee

      A tablespoon of water @ ~4º C weighs about 14 grams. A tablespoon of ground or whole bean roasted coffee would typically not have the same mass as an equal volume of water. I measured the weight of whole beans that I have and these weighed approx. 6 grams per tbls. Thus, given the different masses of coffee types (esp. ground vs. whole bean), it is more accurate to use either a W/W (coffee/water) ratio or a V/V (coffee/water) ratio to fix the approximate strength of the resultant brew (using the same brewing method).

  10. Starbucks instructions on package

    I went looking on the internet for information about ounces, cups, tablespoons, etc., and sort of found it, but I’m still confused (and annoyed), I guess because I haven’t been in school for a long time and am now rusty when it comes to simple math calculations.

    Basically I’m annoyed that the back of the Starbucks package says “2 tablespoons per 6 ounces.” #1, why wouldn’t it say “1 tablespoon per 3 ounces”? And even better, why not “1 tablespoon per ___ cups,” since my coffeemachine, Mr. Coffee, is labeled to measure in cups?

    Why can’t we as a society/planet get this straightened out? It’s really annoying. Year 2011, people. We don’t have to be sentimental about old measuring systems. We should get it organized so we don’t even have to mentally make such comparisons between different types of measurements.

    1. starbucks directions.

      Starbucks was actually being smart on this.

      They say 2tbsp to 6oz of water because most coffee machines use 6oz as the general number for “cup”. so when you want to brew 4 cups, thats 8tbsp.

      You may ask, then why don’t they say 2tbsp to 1cup? because in actual measurement, 1cup=8oz. So some people would be measuring out water, others would be using the lines on the coffee machine.. and they would be off.

      So its not really Starbucks’ fault, its the coffee-maker companies who decided that their “cup” would equal 6oz.



      1. i wonder how long before a

        i wonder how long before a starbucks® cup is 6 oz? i mean its been getting smaller for years… remember when a tall was 10 oz? what is it now, eight oz? 7..? its like mr coffee®, krups®, braun®, et al knew something we didnt even back in the day… 

      1. Actually, it’s not for reasons you think


        The metric system is great for scientific purposes.

        Metric should be used in science, in math, and engineering.

        But the imperial system should be used in daily things, and human-related things.

        Same goes for the temperature scales. (Celsius, for example, is great for monitoring the temperature of water, but Fahrenheit is better for monitoring the temperature of humans, because that’s what they were made to do.)

        Both sides of that particular argument are wrong. Both systems of measuring have their purpose, and are good.

        You’d KNOW this if you actually studied both systems.

        As for coffee, my general rule is “percentage of basket filled with coffee grinds should be similar to the percentage of the carafe filled with water.” 🙂 Unless you’re doing single serve. Then I’ll default to about 1.5/2 tbsp per 6oz depending on how strong I want my coffee.

    2. 6oz

      its just that 6 ounces is usually considered 1 cup.  Some people consider 1 cup to equal 8 ounces.  This makes it more accurate, your ratios are in ounces not undetermined cups.

    3. Cups

      A kitchen measuring cup is 8 fluid ounces, but a “standard teacup” (think of the tea set your grandmother or great-grandmother kept for special occasions) is only 6 oz. Your coffeemaker is not marked in kitchen cups, but in teacups. If they, in fact, wrote “2 tbsp per cup,” people would get quite weak coffee, because they actually need 2 2/3 tbsp for 8 oz of water.

  11. How much ground coffee per “cup”

    OK, given a cup of coffee is 6oz, and you get about 5oz plus/minus after brewing, and recognizing that coffee making is a personalized art (you learn to make what you like with the grinding and brewing equipment you own), but what about the factor introduced by the fineness or coarseness of the grind.?

    Should you add more coffee per cup when using coarser grinds (because you get less coffee per measure) or is that all part of the art? I know I can increase the amount of coffee in a 2 TBSP measure by 20% if I tap the newly ground jar of coffee on the counter. The grounds settle a lot, depending on how finely they are ground.

    Further, I pack the coffee in the filter cone gently but firmly to increase the dwell time of the brewing. Pack or pack not?

    And finally, is there a rule of thumb for grinding various coffees or is that, too, part of the art?

  12. coffees vary in density,

    coffees vary in density, partally with grind, so a teaspoon of different coffees can vary. I prefer, 7 Grams per 6 oz cup, when brewing a 6 “cup” pot (42 GM of grind). grind fine for paper filter, a bit coarser for metal. also, the finer the grind, the stronger the coffee, as it will retain the water longer.

    1. volume versus density

      You are absolutely correct that the amount of coffee in a given volume of grounds varies with the coarseness or fineness of the grind. However, the amount of coffee in a given mass (or weight) of grounds also varies, not with the grind, but with the moisture content of the coffee. Alas, neither volume nor mass is entirely reliable for accurately measuring most of the ingredients we use in making our foods and beverages.

  13. How much coffee to use for a 6oz Cup of coffe?

    In the original entry of this blog it says: ” the SCAA defines 10gram or .36oz  as the proper mearsure for brewed coffee”.  Since 1 TBLS = 1 ounce,  that would  meean .36 tablespoon per 6oz cup of coffee.  Which means 2 Tablespoons of coffee would make six 6oz cups of coffee.    So is the coffee manufacturers just trying to fool us into thinking that we really need 2 TBLS to make one 6 oz cup of coffee so they sell more coffee grounds?  or what am I missing here?  I actually use more like two TBLS per 5 cups.

    1. ounces vs. fluid ounces

      You are mixing incompatible units, although I can see why. 

      Grams are measures of weight (well, mass), which implies that the SCAA is using ounces in the sense of weight as well.  Tablespoons are measures of volume.  There are two tablespoons in a fluid ounce (again, volume), and one fluid ounce of water weighs one ounce—but dry coffee grounds are much lighter than water, so an ounce of coffee grounds by weight will be more than two tablespoons.  No one is fooling us, you’re just trying to make a conversion that can’t be made without knowing the density of coffee. 

      Also, two tablespoons for five cups is insanely weak coffee. 

      1. ounces vs. fluid ounces

        At 5 yrs. of age, I was taught, “A pint (16 oz. of WATER), is a pound (DRY WEIGHT), the world around.”

        EIGHT (8) tablespoons of MEDIUM grind coffee equivelent to Folger’s® ‘Black Silk’, (1/4 cup), to 53 ounces of water gives me a GOOD, not ‘overly-strong’ cup of coffee, regardless of the size of my coffee cup!

        1. Eight tablespoons equals 1/2

          Eight tablespoons equals 1/2 cup, not 1/4 cup. Not clear if you are using 1/2 or 1/4 cup of grounds with 53 ounces of water. Makes a big difference. 1/4 cup would be 4 tablespoons per approx. 9 6-oz. teacups, which is about 1/4 the amount suggested above (2 T per 6-oz teacup). When using coffee ground at Starbucks at work, we use a little over 1 tablespoon per 6-oz. cup and we like it strong. Two tablespoons per 6-oz. cup seems too strong to me.

    2. How much coffee do I need

      Just to show everyone that I need a life. I decided to measure the water in the carafe with a liquid measuring pyrex cup.  To my amazement—the carafe is designed for 6 oz cups, not the real measure of 8 oz.  Based on this scientific information, the type and quality of coffee used. I decided to use 2.5-3 tablespoons for each 12 0z or 6 cups of coffee.   Because I’m so brilliant, I try to use the best whole bean coffee, if one is using dark brew one might consider reducing the coffee.  Hum! wonder what brilliant experiment I can perform tomorrow or should I go shopping?



    3. Weight to volume

      Actually, 1 oz is TWO tbsp, but only for water and similar liquids. (It doesn’t even hold true for alcoholic liquids, much less oils or solids). Coffee is FAR less dense than water, so 1 tbsp is, in fact, 1/4 to 1/2 ounce by weight, depending on the grind (finer grinds pack tighter and will weigh more). For a medium grind, there are about 3 tbsp per ounce.

  14. coffee measure

    Well I’ve been using 1 heaping tablespoon per cup and it works for me. If I care for a stronger cup then I add a bit more. 

  15. QA and Testing Tutorial

    I wanted to thank you for this great blog! I really enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.


    is figure it out yourself via trial and error.

    As a guideline: for a medium roast coffee, at a medium grind: 1 Tablespoon grounds for each 6oz cup of water will give you a medium brew.

    I do this with Starbucks pre-ground columbian coffee. It works perfectly. I will say that if you buy a cup of starbucks house in their store it is definitely stronger than 1T:6oz ratio.

    This 2 Tbs per 6oz is crazy; it will make a strong brew. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s strong and thick. 

    1. So totally agree!

      “figure it out yourself via trial and error”

      It is all a matter of PERSONAL TASTE! I don’t want anyone else dictating to me what my personal taste should be (in coffee or anything else). You have to be awfully anal-retentive to believe that there should be exactly one ‘best’ way that everyone should brew their coffee. That applies to every aspect of the process. Which coffee to use, how much coffee to use, whether to use  flavorings (either in the grounds or as post-brewing additives), whether to add sweeteners (sugar or artificial), whether to add ‘lighteners’ (milk, cream, or other), and so on.

      Asking someone else to define how YOU should prefer (and brew) your coffee is like asking someone else what color you should like or who you should marry. It’s PERSONAL PREFERENCE.

      1. Sometimes you do need a standard, a starting point.

        Our office is in the middle of a coffee war – how strong or how weak to brew? In this case, personal taste and trial and error is not serving us well, but referring to a standard and accepting everyone’s personal tastes as somewhere on the weak – average – strong continuum will help keep the peace. 

    2. 2 tablespoons / 6 ounces is

      2 tablespoons / 6 ounces is standard and correct. Your 1 tablespoon recommendation is based on you not liking a regular strength cup of coffee, not on the whole world liking extra strong coffee. Hint: Every recommendation from respectable brewers these days is at least 2 tablespoons / 6 ounces.

      I’m simply responding to the notion that the recommended amount is “crazy,” pointing out that it is not. To end on a similar note on your comment, nothing wrong with 1 tablespoon / 6 ounces. It just means you like weaker coffee.

  17. Passion!

    Love the passion for coffee and measurement! I dont think the metric system would help much. There is still preference. My “cup” holes 16 oz. I use 1/4 cup of dark roast and ~17 oz of water to brew enough to fill my cup. My girlfriend doesnt measure at all. just fills up the coffee pot with 12 cups (6oz?) of water, and fills the filter up about 3/4ths of the way. Looks to be about 1 and a half cups. She also likes to take the first cup (super, super strong) before brewing finishes. To each his own!

  18. 1 tbls vs. 2 tbls

    I have been using 1 tbls of grounds per 6 oz of water for years. I’m certain I got this ratio from the bags of whole beans I’ve been buying for all those years. I just noticed that all the available brands at my grocery store now say 2 tbls per 6 oz. That seems excessive to me, and I’m guessing it’s a change brought about by Starbucks’ changing the public’s perception of what coffee should taste like.

    Am I crazy, or does anyone else remember that the recommendation used to be 1 tbls of grounds per 6 oz of water?

    BTW, I fully understand that tastes vary and everyone should drink their coffee however strong they like it. I’m just wondering about the recs on the bags.

    1. RE: 1 tbls vs. 2 tbls

      Your question intrigued me so I grabbed a few antique coffee cans in my collection 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 teaspoon per cup. Chicory would account for some of that but not all of the reduction. I cut maybe 25% when using chicory coffees but not the ~75% this would seems to recommend.

      Thanks for the opportunity to take a few minutes to look at an interesting question. I’ll add the data to the main article as well.

    1. RE: Coffee

      That would be just over half the coffee in “3.75 oz per 1/2 gallon” SCAA recommendation. That would mean approximately 1 quart or 32 ounces. That comes out to 4 measuring cups or some larger number if you are using the measuring lines on your coffee pot since those can be anywhere from 4 -6 ounces per “cup”.

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