How much coffee do I use? This is one of the most common questions we hear from people when they’re first learning how to make their own pour over coffee, and for good reason. The pour over coffee ratio, while not complicated, is an incredibly important factor for brewing a cup of pour over coffee that is balanced and smooth while still highlighting some of the more nuanced flavors of the bean. And sometimes it can take a couple of tries before dialing in the ratio to your preferences, but this guide will give you a head start.
If you haven’t heard of pour over coffee before, it is a style of brewing coffee where you pour water over the coffee grounds. It is a more manual brewing process, and therefore more controllable so that you can fine-tune the taste to your preference. There are a multitude of pour over devices out there. Some styles sit on top of your mug, some double as both a filter holder and a carafe, and there’s also single-serve pour over, which is what Kuju Coffee is known for. For more information on pour over, read this article on pour over and why it’s a big deal.
What is the best pour over coffee ratio?
First off, it should be made clear that your perfect pour over coffee ratio could vary from our recommendation. Everyone likes their coffee different, so use this as a starting point for finding your perfect pour over coffee ratio.
“the recommended coffee-to-water ratio for the Golden Cup standard is 55 g/L ± 10%”
Let’s get straight to it. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), one of the leading authorities in the world of specialty coffee (aka fancy coffee), the recommended coffee-to-water ratio for the Golden Cup standard is 55 g/L ± 10%.
That means you would use 55 g of coffee for ever 1 L of water. We agree that this ratio, particularly for pour over coffee, results in a great tasting cup, but the ratio itself can be hard to read for practical use, so we broke it down into a simple chart below.
To use it:
- Find the amount of coffee you want to brew in fluid ounces or milliliters on the left side of the chart
- Follow the chart horizontally to find the amount of coffee to use in either oz, g or estimated tablespoons of whole bean coffee. If you don’t have a scale, we find that the tablespoon amounts work well for yielding a good cup.
An example - if I want to make 12 oz (355ml), I’ll use 19.5 g or ~3 tablespoons of coffee. Or if you’re looking to make coffee for two people, you’ll find the 24 oz of water line and use 39 g (or 6 tablespoons) of coffee.
Why does the ratio matter?
The pour over coffee ratio matters because it is one of the primary factors of making coffee that makes the biggest difference in the final cup. The other factors of making coffee are temperature of the water, grind size, time and pressure. The amount of coffee you use determines how strong your coffee will be and is one of the factors that is also easiest to control. In other words, if you’re looking to fine-tune your pour over coffee, pay attention to the ratio. It’s the first factor that can make the biggest impact.
In terms of why it matters for the flavor of your coffee, each coffee bean has a finite amount of flavor that can be extracted and if you use too little coffee, you will have a diluted, watery cup. If you use too much, you’ll have a caffeine-loaded cup of coffee that may lack in the flavor nuances of fine specialty coffee. But like we mentioned up top, everyone likes their coffee different, so start with the ratio recommendations above and adjust by a few grams until you find the perfect ratio for you.
Lastly, the ratio matters because it affects how much coffee you use, which can change how much money you spend on your coffee. The more coffee you use, the more coffee you have to buy.
Other factors for brewing coffee
In addition to the coffee-to-water ratio, there are four other primary factors of brewing coffee, and in this case – pour over coffee. Each factor will have its own effect on the coffee and it’s all about balancing the different factors. Below we summarize each factor and indicate what we recommend for pour over.
Ratio - How much coffee you use to brew
Temperature - The temperature of the water when brewing
Grind size - How fine or coarse you grind your coffee for brewing
Time - How long the coffee comes into contact with the water
Pressure - How much pressure the coffee and water are under when they are in contact
Each of these factors plays a unique role and changes with every brewing method. How these play a role in the pour over coffee method are summarized below:
Ratio - 55 g of coffee for every liter of water
Temperature - 195°F to 205°F (or just below boiling)
Grind size - Medium fine
Time - 3-4 minutes
Pressure - No added pressure, just that applied by gravity
Standard Pour Over vs Single-Serve (Portable) Pour Over
Everything written above is in regard to the standard pour over method using brewing devices like the Chemex or Hario v60, but as a company, we make what we call single-serve (or portable) pour over coffee, which is a filter with anchors attached already filled with the recommended amount of coffee. Why is this good? Because it takes out all the guesswork when brewing pour over coffee and also makes it so you don’t need a scale, grinder, or extra brewing equipment.
First let’s talk about how they are similar. We call both of them pour overs because they both use the same method of manually pouring hot water over your coffee grounds that are sitting in a filter and letting it drip through. More importantly, both result in a similar-tasting cup of coffee – clean with no residual coffee grounds (like in french press) while highlighting the full spectrum of flavor.
So how are they different? The two images above show a standard pour over and a single-serve pour over side-by-side. Already you can see there is a stark difference in the size of each of the methods.
Standard pour over devices are bigger in size, meaning they can hold more coffee. This makes them more flexible because you can choose the amount of coffee you want and generally brew between one to two cups at a time. However, because they are bigger, they also take up more space than single-serve pour over which can make it harder to store and take with you if you are traveling.
Our single-serve pour overs contain the recommended amount of coffee according to the pour over coffee ratios to brew a single cup of coffee. While you can brew up to a 12 oz cup, we generally recommend brewing 10 oz of coffee for optimal flavor.
Sits above vs below the mug
Another stark difference is that standard pour over usually sits on top of your mug and lets the coffee drip below. Single-serve pour over sits inside of your mug and peaks right over the top. This better secures the filter to the mug and in situations where you may be in the great outdoors, prevents the pour over device from falling over. Note that when you brew single-serve pour over, the filter touches the coffee, and this is a good thing because it results in a stronger cup of coffee.
Last but not least is the portability between the two different pour over methods. Standard pour over comes in all shapes and sizes, but more often than not they are rigid in structure and require extra filters to be carried along with it. This can make it more challenging to travel with this kind of set up. However, there are some pour over devices that can collapse.
On the other hand, single-serve pour over is completely compact and the coffee comes sealed inside the filter, so you don’t have to carry any other extra equipment like a scale or coffee grinder. The final size of your pour over “kit” is about the size of a tea bag and can fit in your pocket!
No matter what pour over method you choose, the pour over coffee ratio above still applies. It will be a great starting point as you figure out what ratio you prefer for your cup of coffee.
If you're looking for the simplest way to make pour over coffee (i.e. no measuring beans, grinding coffee, and no mess), then you might be interested in trying out single-serve pour over - available in 6 different roasts.