How To Measure Coffee: Why You Should Ignore Scoop Sizes And Tablespoons

Vietnamese Coffee Exporter
How To Measure Coffee

How To Measure Coffee: You’ve made the decision to take your coffee brewing seriously and start measuring your grounds. But how do you measure coffee accurately? Should you rely on a tablespoon, scoop, or coffee scale?

Let’s clear up the confusion around the art of measuring coffee.

Understanding How Roast Levels Affect Coffee Mass

During the roasting process, the moisture content of coffee beans decreases significantly, dropping to around 3-5%. This reduction occurs because the water inside the beans turns to steam and escapes. Consequently, the beans end up weighing about 15-20% less than they did in their green, unroasted state.

Typically, the darker the roast, the lower the moisture content. Hence, darker roasted coffee beans weigh less compared to their lighter roasted counterparts.

Why Coffee Measurement Is Crucial

A key element in brewing excellent coffee is determining the right amount of coffee to use. Using too much coffee can lead to under-extraction, resulting in a sour taste, lack of sweetness, slight saltiness, and a lack of depth. Conversely, using too little coffee will produce a weak, thin, and watery brew.

Over-extracted coffee tends to be dry and bitter, while under-extracted coffee is sour and lacks complexity. Various opinions exist on the ‘correct’ amount of coffee, with no definitive right or wrong answer, just personal preference. However, many coffee professionals, including the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), suggest starting with a ratio of around 60 grams of coffee per liter of water (60g/L).

This can be achieved by using specific brew ratios.

A Guide to Using Brew Ratios in Coffee Making

A brew ratio is a straightforward guideline that indicates the amount of coffee and water to use. It provides a simple recipe to follow and serves as a great starting point for various brewing methods.

Brew ratios are typically expressed as 1:15, 1:16, 1:17, and so on.

For example, a coffee-to-water ratio of 1:15 means using 1 part coffee to 15 parts water. This could translate to 20g of ground coffee brewed with 300g of water, yielding approximately 300ml of coffee.

To apply brew ratios, you can approach it in two ways:

1. Start with the amount of coffee you want to use, or
2. Determine the amount of coffee you want to make and then calculate your brew ratio accordingly.

Let’s illustrate each approach with a French Press brew.

Beginning with Your Desired Amount of Coffee

Suppose we want to use 20g of coffee. By multiplying this by our chosen brew ratio of 15, we get:
20g x 15 = 300g (of brewed coffee)
Using a French Press, we’ll measure out 20g of coffee using a scale. Place the French Press on the scale, add the ground coffee, press tare to zero the scale, and then pour water until the total weight reaches 300g.

Determining Your Desired Coffee Quantity

I find it more effective to approach it this way: determine the desired quantity of coffee you wish to make, then calculate the appropriate brew ratio accordingly. The initial step involves deciding on the desired coffee quantity. While opinions vary on the standard size of a cup of coffee, for simplicity, let’s consider it as 10 ounces (300ml).

Thus, aiming to brew a 300g cup of coffee, roughly equating to 300ml in the cup, we proceed as follows to determine the brew ratio and the required amount of coffee:300 (grams or milliliters of water) ÷ 15 (our selected brew ratio) = 20.Therefore, 20 grams of coffee is the amount we’ll use to prepare our 300ml cup of coffee.

Ideal Brew Ratios for Different Brewing Methods

As a initial guideline:

– A 1:15 brew ratio is suitable for most immersion brew methods.
– A 1:17 brew ratio is suitable for most pour-over methods.

A coffee-to-water brew ratio of 1:15 indicates using 1 part coffee to 15 parts water. For instance, with a 1:15 ratio, you might use 20g of ground coffee with 300g of water. This combination typically yields an approximately 300ml cup of coffee.

However, it’s important to note that these ratios serve as starting points. If you prefer a stronger flavor, consider adding an extra gram or two of coffee. Conversely, if you prefer a lighter coffee, reduce the amount of coffee by a couple of grams.

Determining the Coffee Quantity for 6 Cups

This question is a common inquiry in coffee brewing discussions. By now, if you’ve followed along, you can easily calculate this using brew ratios.

Assuming a standard cup size of 10oz or 300ml, for 6 cups of coffee, we’d need a total of 1800ml (or grams). Employing a brew ratio of 15, the calculation is straightforward:

1800ml ÷ 15 = 120. Hence, to brew 6 cups of coffee (at 10oz per cup), you’d need 120 grams of coffee. Simple.

For quick reference, here’s a table:

10oz Cups (300ml) | Amount of Coffee | Amount of Water
1 | 20g | 300ml
3 | 60g | 900ml
6 | 120g | 1800ml
8 | 160g | 2400ml
10 | 200g | 3000ml

For those who prefer visuals, don’t miss our video explaining the importance and method of using scales in coffee brewing.

Mastering Coffee Measurement with Scales

The most accurate method for measuring coffee is by weight. While other methods may provide rough estimates, they are often inaccurate due to the varying mass of coffee beans.

A scoop of coffee can have different densities influenced by factors such as bean variety, size, and roast level.

Follow these steps to measure coffee using scales:

1. Place the scale on a flat, level surface and turn it on.
2. Put the container for the coffee beans on the scale.
3. Press the ‘tare’ button to reset the scale to zero.
4. Add the desired amount of coffee to the container (consult brew ratios for guidance).
5. Ensure precise measurement.
6. Always measure the coffee before grinding. Measuring before grinding ensures you have the exact amount needed. If you measure after grinding, you may end up with either too much or too little coffee, leading to waste or the need for additional grinding.

How To Measure Coffee: Concluding Reflections

While there are alternative methods for measuring coffee, such as using cups, coffee scoops, and tablespoons, these rely on volume-based measurements, which lack accuracy. As discussed earlier, various factors like a coffee’s origin, varietal, processing method, and roast level significantly impact its weight.

When using a coffee scoop, it’s easy to assume consistency with one scoop, but in reality, the actual amount of coffee can vary by up to 25% from one coffee to another. This inconsistency can result in under or over-extraction, compromising the quality of the brew. Moreover, without the use of scales, replicating a great cup becomes challenging.

In conclusion, for those serious about coffee quality, investing in a coffee scale is essential. Happy brewing!