We all know what it’s like to have that first-thing-in-the-morning fog.
You crawl out of bed and try to make your breakfast, but before you’ve had your coffee, you’re capable of doing things like putting your t-shirt on backwards or putting the cornflakes box back in the fridge.
Before that first caffeine hit clears your head, tasks like brewing coffee can be a challenge. We don’t need to be thinking about measuring coffee out into the machine, we just want matters to be simple. That’s why we have things like coffee scoops to help.
But how many scoops do you need? And how much coffee is in a scoop? Here, we’ll answer questions like these – so you won’t need to think about it first thing in the morning.
Making coffee: the basics
Have you ever wondered why coffee in your favorite coffee shop always tastes so good but when you make it at home it’s never the same? Is it because of the beans they use? Or perhaps it’s because they have expensive equipment? What’s the difference?
Well, it might be partly down to the beans or the equipment, but making coffee – or at least making great coffee – is a fine art. Top baristas are highly-trained, and making the perfect cup takes time and practice to master.
There are a lot of variables involved in making coffee and if you mess any of them up, the brew you produce will be of inferior quality.
Check out this video for a few tips.
You need to use fresh beans that have been roasted recently and stored properly and you need to grind them to the right consistency for the brewing method you are using.
The grind of the coffee is one of the most important factors we use to control extraction, and coffee made using a French press, for example, requires a different grind from coffee made using the pour-over method; pour over coffee similarly uses a completely different grind from espresso.
The steeping time is also important; if you leave the coffee to steep for too long, it will be over-extracted and bitter. The temperature of the water is vital; too hot and you will “scald” the coffee; too cold and it will turn out under-extracted and insipid.
And then, of course, there is the coffee grounds to water ratio.
Coffee to water ratio
Although no more important than any other aspect of brewing coffee, it is easy to see why using the wrong amount of coffee grounds will produce a poor drink.
If you use too much coffee, the drink will be too strong. The flavor will be overpowering, and the caffeine content may even leave you feeling jittery and “wired”.
On the other hand, if you use too little, the drink will be too weak. It will just taste like dirty water and you won’t be able to detect the full flavors of a properly-brewed cup.
For this reason, you should ensure you always use the right amount of coffee when you brew.
How much is the right amount? There is no definitive answer to this since drinking coffee is a very personal experience, and what might be too strong for one person may be too weak for another.
However, the generally accepted guideline for brewing coffee using most brewing methods is “two tablespoons of coffee per cup”.
And this is where our problems begin.
How large is a tablespoon? How big is the tablespoon in your drawer? How heaped is the coffee in the tablespoon? Even using the same utensil, two people could end up with a vastly different amount of coffee.
And how big is a cup? How big is the cup you are using? This at least is slightly easier to answer since a “cup” is usually considered to be 6oz – although, to some, a cup could be 8oz.
According to the NCAUSA, the “Golden Ratio” is 1-2 tablespoons per 6oz cup, but this is hardly a precise guideline.
By now, it should be clear why there is an issue. For something as vital to making the perfect cup as the precise amount of coffee and water you need to use, these measurements are far too vague. We need something more accurate.
This is where a scoop may help.
How many tablespoons in a coffee scoop
By using a scoop, you can measure more accurately. This is because, with a scoop, you can level the coffee on the top. Because of this, you know exactly how much is in your scoop and this allows you to use exactly the same amount of grounds each time.
But then there is another problem since not all scoops are the same size. How much is a coffee scoop? How many tablespoons are there in a coffee scoop?
If you are trying to make coffee following the guidelines we mentioned earlier, you need to know how much coffee there is in your scoop – and you need to know if the scoop you are using is the right size.
A proper coffee scoop or coffee measuring spoon is supposed to contain two tablespoons of coffee. But this leads us back the same problem as before. How much coffee is there in a tablespoon?
The answer is, a coffee scoop should contain 10g of ground coffee, equal to 0.36oz. If you have a coffee scoop that holds exactly 10g of grinds, you can use it to measure the amount of coffee you need to use.
If you follow the guidelines we mentioned earlier, you should use two tablespoons – that is, one 10g scoop – of coffee per 6oz cup.
With most brewing methods, you will be able to measure how much water to use for a certain number of cups and then you just need to use the corresponding number of scoops.
For example, if you are using a drip coffee machine that makes a 12-cup carafe, you know you need to use 24 tablespoons which you can measure exactly by using 12 scoops – one scoop per cup.
If you want to use the same machine to make eight cups, simply fill the water to the 8-cup line and use eight leveled scoops of coffee.
With experience, you will begin to learn how you prefer your coffee and whether you need to use more or less than this recommended amount. You will also become better at judging by eye how much you need.
And always remember, the best way to make coffee is the way you like it. If you like it much stronger or weaker than these guidelines suggest, then, by all means, make it your way.
More accuracy needed
For some true coffee aficionados, however, all this talk of scoops and cups will still sound a little imprecise.
Spoons and scoops might be fine if you are using regular beans or pre-ground coffee bought from your local store, but if you have some real premium quality coffee with a delicate and complex flavor profile, you might want to be even more accurate in your brewing.
If you want to take your quest for the perfect cup to an even higher level, you should consider investing in a set of scales. This will allow you to measure exactly how much coffee you use every time, meaning you can make the tiniest adjustments each time you brew.
When you hit upon a formula you like, you will also know exactly how much coffee to use to reproduce the same brew.
How good does your coffee need to be?
It all comes down to the quality of the coffee you are brewing and how particular you are over the taste. If you just want a cup of the black stuff to help start the engine in the morning before you leave for work, spooning coffee into your machine is fine.
However, the question we started with was how to make coffee as good as in your local coffee shop. If you want the best possible coffee, you have to pay attention to every step in the brewing process, and the more attention to detail, the better the result will be.
If you are dedicated to pouring the perfect cup, a set of scales will allow you to measure out 10g for every cup with perfect accuracy, and you can go on to experiment from there. If you find that using a 10g coffee scoop brews the perfect cup every time, then there’s no need for this level of detail.
Check out this video on dosing espresso.
Make it the way you like it
If you are new to brewing coffee at home or if you are trying a new brewing technique, it is understandable that you will need some help and guidance overdosing and other parameters at the beginning.
Knowing that a scoop should contain 10g of coffee and that you need one scoop for a 6oz cup is a great place to start. However, after a while you will become the expert on brewing coffee the way you love it – and that’s the only way to go!
How do you measure coffee, with a spoon, a scoop or scales? What are the best brewing ratios for you? And which method do you prefer? Please leave us a comment as we always love to hear from you. And if you enjoyed the article, please don’t forget to share!
My name is Kathy Gallo, Editor of Ag Ferrari, a Coffee buff. The guide you find here is designed exactly for you, and it is our hope that you find it not only interesting but also actionable.