If you drink your favorite roast using your go-to brewing method every day of the week, then you probably already know how to make a darn good cup of coffee. But if you’ve ever tried to follow a coffee recipe for a drink you’ve never made, things can get quite complicated.
Some recipes call for shots, while some talk in terms of cups, grams, ounces, or scoops. Coffee measurements vary, depending on what drink you’re making and how you’re brewing it. And unless you know every conversion, this can easily throw you for a loop.
So how much is a shot of espresso?
How many coffee beans do you need to grind to fill a “scoop”?
Is there a standard for how many beans should go in one cup?
Don’t worry — we’re about to explain it all.
Here’s our complete guide to common coffee measurements — shots, cups, ounces, and more!
The Different Ways to Measure Coffee
While these are big decisions about how you like your coffee, none of that matters if you don’t get your measurements right.
How do you measure beans and grounds versus brewed coffee and espresso shots?
Beans and grounds are dry ingredients measured in weight as ounces, grams, tablespoons, and scoops.
Brewed coffee and espresso shots, which are liquids, measure by volume in cups and fluid ounces.
It can get tricky because when most people talk about a “cup of coffee,” they’re referring to the vessel, the actual cup (or mug) they drink from. They are not referring to a one-cup measuring cup amount of coffee. That’s something totally different.
How you brew your coffee also matters
Some brewing machines require a certain amount of grounds, while others offer the flexibility to use as much or as little as you like. If your brewing method allows you to add as much as you like, you'll want to be sure to have a digital scale on hand. That way you can weigh out the proper amount of grounds for your preferred cup.
Digital scales display measurements in grams.
But what if your coffee recipe calls for a scoop or a tablespoon?
Here's a little conversion cheat sheet of common dry weight and standard liquid volume measurements.
Liquid Measurements Conversions:
One fluid ounce = two tablespoons
One cup = 16 tablespoons
One cup = eight fluid ounces
One tablespoon = 0.5 fluid ounces
Dry Measurements Conversions:
One ounce = 28.6 grams
One tablespoon = 14.3 grams
14.3 grams = 0.5 ounces
Two tablespoons = one ounce
But how much is a coffee scoop?
The little scoop that comes in a bag of ground coffee typically measures two tablespoons or 28.6 grams.
How to Measure to Make the Perfect Cup Every Time
If you’re serious about your coffee, you need a digital scale. This is the single best way to ensure that you’re adding the right amount of grounds to your brew every single time.
It’s also a good idea to have a set of measuring spoons.
Never rely on the tablespoon utensil you eat soup or ice cream with as an accurate tablespoon measurement. Do yourself a favor and have a standard set of measuring spoons on hand to ensure a precise measurement each time.
And, whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of measuring your coffee by counting out a specific number of beans.
Beans vary in size, depending on the type of bean and roast level. Twenty light roast beans will not produce the same amount of grounds as twenty espresso beans.
Having your own digital scale for brewing puts you directly on the path to becoming a Coffee Connoisseur!
Coffee Beans: Whole vs. Ground
Generally speaking, it takes about two tablespoons of ground coffee to make a standard six-ounce cup of Joe.
But how many beans do you need to put through your grinder to produce those two tablespoons of ground coffee?
For a classic cup of drip coffee, you’ll need about 0.38 ounces or 10.6 grams of whole coffee beans to produce two tablespoons of coffee grinds.
If you filled a measuring cup with whole beans to the one cup mark, you’d have about three ounces of coffee beans. If you grind those three ounces of coffee beans, you’ll have about 85 grams of ground coffee.
One cup of whole beans can produce approximately three liquid cups of brewed coffee.
Keep in mind, the amount of coffee grounds you need to brew a cup depends on what brewing method you use (as well as the strength of coffee you prefer).
Another cool thing you can do with those beans? Make coffee extract at home! Read our article: How to Make Coffee Extract for Flavoring to learn how.
It’s All About the Ratio
When brewing coffee, you need two basic things: water and coffee grounds. And there is a ratio between the two that makes the “perfect” cup.
There’s a good chance your favorite barista at your local coffee shop follows the Golden Ratio. (Which is one gram of coffee grounds per every 18ml of water.)
To make a standard six-ounce cup of brewed coffee, you’ll need 3/4 cups of hot water and two tablespoons of ground coffee.
Yes and no.
The Golden Ratio is a standard set forth by the Specialty Coffee Association. Yet, that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone or every brewing method. If you prefer a more robust cup, you can use more beans and less water. If you like your coffee weaker, you can use fewer beans and more water.
If you like a light brew, stick to the Golden Ratio of 1:18 (coffee to water). If you want a moderately strong brew, aim for a 1:13 or 1:15 ratio.
Prefer your coffee super strong with bold flavor?
A 1:10 ratio might be more your speed.
Do you prefer your coffee cold-brewed instead of piping hot?
Cold brew ratios are quite different and usually fall within a 1:5 to 1:8 ratio.
The brewing method you choose can also change the ratio a bit. For example, if you like a thick, bold flavor with a French press, try a coffee to water ratio of 1:10. For a lighter tasting pour-over, try a ratio of about 1:17.
Like the beans you choose, the ratio of coffee grinds to water directly affects your brew's strength and flavor. While the "experts" have declared the Golden Ratio to be the standard, it's all about what you prefer in your cup.
Looking for the perfect coffee to water ratio for your manual pour-over brewer? Check out our detailed brew guide: How to Use a Pour-Over Coffee Maker.
Espresso Single Shot vs. Double Shot
Okay, brace yourself because we’re about to throw espresso into the mix, and things are about to get a bit tricky.
If you’re looking to make a latte, a cappuccino, or any other espresso-based drink, forget the Golden Ratio altogether. Espresso brews in a totally different way, with a coffee to water ratio of approximately 1:2.
Standard espresso machines have a portafilter and a coffee basket that measures (usually) 58mm wide. Espresso requires that you grind the beans, tamp them in the basket, and pull the shot.
But how much is an actual shot of espresso?
A single shot of espresso requires approximately seven to nine grams of ground coffee and produces one fluid ounce. A double shot of espresso, called a doppio, requires 14 to 18 grams of coffee and produces two fluid ounces.
Let’s recap for a second … a single shot is one ounce. A double shot is two ounces. It’s pretty simple and straightforward until we start delving into the different types of espresso shots that exist.
The 1:2 water ratio refers to a standard espresso shot. But it varies if you want a regular espresso shot or a lungo.
The perfect coffee to water ratio for a lungo is about 1:3. The ristretto ratio is about 1:1.
No matter what strength or water ratio you prefer, making a great cup of espresso always starts with pulling the perfect shot!
Espresso Is Key to Many Coffee Drinks
Think you don’t need to know how to measure a shot of espresso because you don’t like that small, strong shot served in a tiny cup?
Well, the espresso shot is the basis for a whole array of coffee drinks, including some that you might not even realize use espresso as its base.
Here's a quick recap of some of the most popular espresso-based drinks.
All start with one fluid ounce (aka a perfectly measured shot) of espresso:
- Cappuccino: equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam
- Macchiato: espresso shot topped with a bit of foam (Yes, really. The macchiato you get at Starbucks isn’t a real macchiato at all.)
- Latte: one part espresso, two parts hot milk, topped with a layer of foam
- Americano: espresso shot with hot water
- Frappe: espresso with milk and ice
How Much Coffee Should You Buy At a Time?
No matter how you take your coffee, there’s one key thing to keep in mind:
The best way to make a great cup is to use freshly roasted beans.
While it can be more economical or convenient to buy in bulk, it is best to buy in small batches to ensure that your coffee is always fresh.
However, there are some ways to preserve your coffee and make it last longer. Check out our recent post on how to keep coffee fresher longer.
How Many Beans Go Into a Cup?
Wondering how many cups of coffee you can get out of one can of whole beans?
Let's be clear: everyone takes their coffee differently.
Some add extra beans to make it stronger; some use fewer grounds or more water to give their coffee more tea-like consistency. Everyone has their preferences and go-to brewing styles.
But we can use some basic measurements and ratios to come up with a rough estimate of how many cups you can get out of a bag or can of beans.
Let’s say you have a ten-ounce can of whole coffee beans. When you grind them, you’ll end up with ten-ounces of coffee grounds. The total weight is the same, regardless of if they’re ground or whole.
To figure out how many individual cups of coffee that will make, we’ll need to do some basic math.
Number of cups of coffee in a can of whole coffee beans:
- 10-ounce coffee can = 283 grams
- One six-ounce cup of coffee requires two tablespoons of ground coffee or 28.3 grams
- 283 grams divided by 28.3 grams (the amount needed per cup) = ten cups
If you brew two cups per day, a ten-ounce can of coffee beans should last you five days.
Buying a new can every five days is a great way to ensure optimum freshness!
Keep in mind that when we say two cups per day, we’re talking about two six-ounce cups (which are pretty small) brewed using the Golden Ratio for water. If you like to fill a thermos, drink from a massive mug, or make a more potent brew, you’ll probably run through a ten-ounce can of coffee pretty quickly.
If you drink more than two small cups per day or live with another coffee lover, you might want to step up your weekly purchase to a two-pound bag. With a two-pound bag of coffee, you can brew about 31 small cups.
Ready to try making a mocha, a macchiato, or an Americano? Excited to perfect the pour-over with your new Chemex?
Every coffee drink requires a certain amount of beans, or grounds, or milk, or foam. And every coffee recipe calls for a certain amount of coffee measured in grams, ounces, shots, or scoops.
But don’t let those recipe measurements confuse you.
Yes, there are guidelines and recommended ratios for water, coffee grounds, and other additives, such as milk, creamer, or foam. But how you like your cup of coffee is entirely up to you.
If you like it stronger, make it stronger! If you like it thinner or weaker, brew it with less intensity. Coffee is a personal choice, so don’t let anyone tell you how you should be drinking it. You just drink it however you like.
Ready to try some new coffee drinks this week?
If you’re near Sonoma County, stop by Taylor Lane and let our friendly baristas whip you up something special.