When it comes to measuring coffee grounds there are two ways of going about it.
- Team tablespoon – by volume
- Team scale – by weight
But which is better, coffee scales or tablespoons?
As with all things coffee, that’s up to the taste buds.
But let me try my best to coerce you into joining team scale by showing you the pros and cons of both methods and sharing some personal experiences along the way.
All though college, I broke all the coffee rules. Partly for because I was pinching pennies. Partly because I didn’t know any better.
I eyeballed my pre-ground (for a drip coffee machine) coffee into my french press, poured boiling hot water in, and crossed my fingers, hoping it would turn out well enough to chug on the way to class.
But I realized the error of my ways and stepped up my game to the typical measuring process.
The Tablespoon Method
I learned about the “golden ratio” while loading up a Mr. Coffee Pot when I was staying with some friends in South Carolina for a summer.
They often joked around about how strong and bitter I made my coffee. But never offered advice until they saw me eyeballing a batch for a Sunday brunch where lots of people were coming over.
The wife of the house grabbed a regular old tablespoon from the utensil drawer and said, “1-2 tablespoons per cup,” several times.
It seemed a little too vague for it to be a “golden rule.” But I wasn’t willing to risk looking even more dumb.
The bewilderment caused that to stick with me, “1-2 tablespoons per cup.”
1-2 tablespoons is A LOT of variance.
Even though stainless steel tablespoons come in a lot of coffee related gift sets, and we see them in every cafe that has a retail section, it’s not the best way to go about measuring coffee.
As we’ve discussed in my previous post “Blade Vs. Burr,” precision of the taste is always directly correlated to extraction time. This is the amount of time it takes for the water to soak in all of the H2O soluble components of the beans.
Extraction time is tricky. It is determined, not only by the degree of grind (which should always match the method,) but also on the volume, or surface area.
More coffee = more surface area.
So without the proper amount of water to match the measurement, you will have coffee that is too weak or strong.
This is only one of the flaws the “golden ratio.”
It is also worth mentioning that the volume of each bean is different.
Not just because the shapes vary, but because they retain the carbon dioxide (CO2) as they are roasted.
So blonde beans are smaller than dark beans because they are not in the fire as long.
1 tablespoon of blonde coffee is different than 1 tablespoon of dark coffee.
Not only that, but after they are roasted, there is a slow release of CO2. So the volume of beans diminishes as they age .
So what’s the solution?
Step 1) Freshly roasted beans (which you can read about in my French Roast Coffee article.)
Step 2) Beans ground for the specific brewing method, just moments before making your cuppa.
Step 3) Grounds WEIGHED, not scooped.
Why you should weigh your coffee
Although you could just dismiss this as an extra tedious step, it is a step toward having consistency, which (as I’ve mentioned in all of my articles,) is the key to having good coffee.
Because of the varying factors like age and roast of the bean, you’re likely getting a different cup every time you brew.
It’s a relatively easy step to add into your morning coffee routine.
All you need is a couple of good containers for the water and the freshly ground coffee, your scale and your brew method of choice
With these tools, it will be so much easier to experiment with different roasts and ratios because you can tweak to your specific preferences.
Here are the standard grind and weight to water ratios for typical brewing methods.
Pour over/ drip- 1.6-2g of grounds medium : 1 fl. oz of H2O
So for the 3 cups that the average American drinks daily, you’d measure : 4.8-6g of coffee : 24 fl oz of water.
Click here for a run down of our favorite pour over maker!
French press- 1.8-2.2g of grounds medium course : 1 fl. oz of H2O
For the easy to find French press French Press size of 34 oz , you’d measure 61.2-74.8g of grounds : 34 fl oz of water.
Click here to see some different French press option.
Espresso- 18g of fine grounds : 36 fl oz for the perfect shot.
Click here to see our moka pots (stove top espresso machines.)
Now that we have those recipes memorized, or saved to the notes app on our phones for later, let’s check out some of the best on the market at different price ranges..
The Best Coffee Scales
Measurement options: ounces, grams, pounds
Max weight: 11 pounds
Con: Battery powered
Hario V60 Scale- $$
Measurement options: grams, ounces
Max weight: 4.4 pounds
Pro: timer, a part of a whole line. So you can get the companion grinder and pour over.
Con: Battery Powered
Jennings CJ4000- $$
Measurement options: grams, ounces, pounds, and piece
Increments: .1 g
Max weight: 8 pounds
Pro: quick and sensitive, disable automatic sleep timer, ac adapter
Con: some reviews say that the scale is too low, which makes it difficult to see the screen.
Acaia Lunar Scale- $$$
Measurement options: grams, ounces
Max weight: 4.4
Pro: chargeable with a micro USB, has a timer, has an app that you can use to keep a journal of recipes, H20 resistant, touch screen, super-durable
But by taking this big step forward and purchasing one of these incredible models, and following those recipe guidelines I mentioned above, you can have the perfect cup every time you brew.