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

a. Whatever seems right to you.
b. It may change slightly from coffee to coffee and according to freshness and varietal.
c. 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 .36 oz per 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.
To further confuse things I will add a few more measures:
3.75 oz per 1/2 gallon
55 grams per liter
2.25 gallons per 1 lb.
If you want to know more check the SCAA's web page at www.scaa.org.
d. The easy answer for most home coffee brewing is 2 Tbs. per 6 oz of water. A standard coffee measure should be 2 Tbs (1/8 cup) . Be warned some coffee measures deviate from the 2 Tbs. standard. Some are even as small as 1 Tbs.

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.

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.

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.

Comments

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.

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.

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!

THE REAL ANSWER

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

Office war

Just make it strong as possible and everyone
Can weaken(add hot water) to taste

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.

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. 

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