When you watch a skilled barista at work in your local coffee shop, preparing your drink always appears so effortless.
They seem to know instinctively just how much ground coffee to use, exactly how long to brew and precisely how much milk to froth.
Appearances can be deceptive. This expertise only comes with training and lots of experience. For brewing at home, knowing about doses and timings can be more of a challenge. Here we look at how much coffee for 10 cups to help make sure you know the right amount to use.
How many tablespoons for ten cups of coffee?
This might seem like an easy question and on the surface, it is. There is a simple answer and then there is a more in-depth answer.
So, the simple answer first.
The suggested amount of coffee to use to brew one cup is 1-2 tablespoons for 6oz water. This means that for 10 6oz cups, you should expect to use 10-20 tablespoons of ground coffee. This is known as the “Golden Ratio”.
There, done! Couldn’t be simpler, right? As long as we are talking about 6oz cups of coffee, we have our figure. But there’s more to it than that.
First, not everybody drinks 6oz cups of coffee. In some coffee shops, a “regular” coffee is an 8oz cup, and some places offer coffees so big they might as well be served in buckets.
When you are brewing coffee at home, you might be used to drinking larger cups than just 6oz, so we’ll calculate for you.
If you drink 8oz cups of coffee, you should be using something like 13-26 tablespoons to make 10 cups. If you prefer 12oz cups of coffee, the numbers will be 20-40 tablespoons, double the amount you would require for 6oz cups.
Some other considerations
Another important variable to consider is you. The reason that the Golden Ratio is so vague is that people have different tastes. Some like their coffee strong, some like it weak. Some add sugar and milk while others prefer it black.
The NCAUSA guidelines take this into account, stating that coffee is personal, and the right way to make it is how you like it best. If you enjoy it, then you’re making it right and you don’t need to worry about following other people’s guidelines.
The brewing method is also important. While most of the commonly-used brewing methods people use at home follow the rule of 1-2 tablespoons per 6oz of water, the method you choose may affect exactly how much you use per cup. We’ll come to this later.
Then there is another problem. A “tablespoon” is not a precise measurement. It depends on the size of the spoon you are using as well as how heaped the coffee is. A “tablespoon” is only a visual estimate.
(In the US, a “tablespoon” is actually a precise measurement of volume. A tablespoon is 0.5 fluid ounces, 14.7ml – or three “teaspoons”. However, when we talk about tablespoons of coffee, this is not really applicable.)
To arrive at a more precise answer, we need to accurately measure the mass (weight) of the coffee we are using rather than just guess.
How many cups of coffee in a 12oz bag of ground coffee?
Professional baristas making specialty coffees are much more likely to measure coffee using scales than to estimate the amount using a spoon. Let’s try to calculate using quantities rather than visual approximations.
Another widely-quoted source for making coffee is the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the SCAA. According to their best practice guidelines, the recommended ratio of ground coffee to water is 55g to 1l – they call this the “Golden Cup Standard” (1).
Depending on how accurately you do the conversion from metric, according to this ratio, a 12oz bag of ground coffee should give you around 34-36 cups of coffee. Allowing for some wastage, we can agree to call it 34 cups.
How does this compare to the NCAUSA guideline?
Since, as we noted before, a tablespoon is not an accurate unit of measurement, it is difficult to compare. If you search online, many values are given for a tablespoon. If we take a tablespoon to be equal to about 5-10g, we can do a calculation to try to compare the two.
12oz is 340.5g in metric. If we use two 5g tablespoons, we can expect about 34 cups per 12oz of coffee, pretty much the same as when we calculated according to the SCAA guidelines. If we only use one, we get twice as many, 68 cups.
However, if we use two 10g tablespoons, we can only expect about 17 cups of coffee from a 12oz bag. This is a huge difference!
Too many calculations – bottom line!
If you are planning to open a coffee shop, you will need to know about calculations like this when you write up your business plan, but if you just want to make yourself a brew at home, this is probably whole level of detail you don’t need.
Instead of losing ourselves in the numbers, let’s try to give some bottom line answers from what we’ve looked at so far.
Most people enjoy coffee made with a ratio of about 1-2 tablespoons of coffee per 6oz of water. Taking a tablespoon to mean 5-10g of coffee, this will make you 17-68 cups from a 12oz bag of ground, but probably somewhere between the two extremes is best.
If the numbers and math made your head spin, you don’t need to worry about anything else, just remember this: a 12oz bag of coffee should give you about 34 cups give or take, depending on how strong you prefer to drink it.
Other factors affecting the yield
One thing we alluded to earlier was the differences due to the brewing method. While there is some variation between different methods, these also fall within the limits of personal preference.
When making coffee with an electric drip machine, you should follow the NCAUSA guidelines of 1-2 tablespoons per cup. At home, many people will prefer two tablespoons rather than one, but it is up to the person drinking the coffee to decide.
The same is probably true with pour-over drip coffee. According to the SCAA guidelines, you should probably tend towards 5g tablespoons rather than 10g ones, but the quantities fall within the limits we have mentioned.
With French press coffee, some people suggest a ratio of 1:12 coffee grounds to water. You can experiment with this, but this is also within the same range. The same could be said for percolator coffee.
However, other types of coffee do not follow these rules; examples might be Moka pot coffee, espresso, and Turkish coffee. Each of these is different and we won’t look at the details of each; we can just take espresso as one example.
According to the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano, the National Espresso Institute of Italy, the correct amount of coffee grounds for one shot of espresso is 7g±0.5 (2).
12oz in metric is 340.5g, so using this guideline, you should expect about 45-52 cups of espresso from a 12oz bag of grounds. This is slightly higher in terms of cups than you can expect if you are using the other methods mentioned before.
Remember, though, that espresso is a far more concentrated form of coffee. A cup of espresso is usually 1oz, so if you want to compare the volume of coffee produced, you would end up with 7.5-8.5 6oz cups of espresso – although you would never drink a 6oz cup of espresso!
How much ground coffee for 10 cups? A summary
Let’s bring all this together to make it as easy to understand as possible. You want to make 10 cups of coffee – how much ground coffee should you be using?
Too complicated? Not really!
Whew, we made it! We hope you managed to follow our calculations – and we hope we didn’t make any mistakes – but if you didn’t manage to get your head around it all, it doesn’t matter too much.
Our advice is simply to refer to the figures at the end for a place to start and after that, just trust your taste buds. If you love the coffee you’re making, then you’re making it right! Remember, coffee is all about personal preference and nobody can tell you the coffee you love is “wrong”!
How do you measure your coffee? How much do you use? We’re sure this is a hot topic and you’ve got loads of comments for us. If so, please drop us a line as we love to hear from you. And as always, if you enjoyed reading this article, please don’t forget to share!