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How Many Scoops Of Coffee Per Cup? Brew Better Drip

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If you’re like most people when brewing coffee in the morning, you prioritize convenience over precision.

It’s ok. Sometimes just getting out of bed feels like a win, so if you manage to get out the door with a decent cup of coffee, you’re seriously ahead of the masses.

If you need a quick drip coffee ratio to use with a scoop to make brewing that much simpler on busy days, we’ve got you. But drip coffee measurements can vary, so how many scoops of coffee per cup will yield the balanced brew you’re after? 

Let’s look at drip coffee brewing and get you on your way with a quick reference for coffee scoops per cup.

How many scoops of coffee per cup?

Before we get to drip coffee measurements and how many scoops of coffee per cup, let’s take a closer look at how it differs from other brewing methods.

Technivorm Moccamaster coffee maker

What is a drip coffee maker?

Drip coffee is most commonly made using an electric drip coffee maker. When people use the term “drip coffee,” this is what they’re typically referring to, rather than other manual brewing methods that also involve dripping coffee.

A drip coffee maker is a commonly used brewing apparatus with a water reservoir, heating element, cone or flat-shaped dripper, and carafe for the finished brew. The carafe may be made of stainless steel or glass with a hot plate beneath.

However, the term drip coffee refers to coffee made by slowly dripping near-boiling water through ground coffee. Drip coffee can technically refer to several different brewing methods, including pour over.

For more information on other drip methods, check out our pour-over coffee articles.

Ok, we’ve settled on a definition for drip coffee. But before we get to how many coffee scoops per cup and the ratio for drip coffee, let’s examine some other factors that affect the flavor of your brew.

Grind Setting For Drip Coffee

While knowing how many scoops of coffee per cup is a critical piece of the puzzle when brewing delicious drip coffee, we’d argue that using the correct grind size is equally important. 

The size of the grind determines the rate at which the drip coffee is brewed. An incorrect grind size will result in two potential outcomes: under-extraction or over-extraction. Under-extraction occurs when the grind is too coarse and the water moves through the coffee grinds too quickly. The resulting cup will taste sour and acidic.

Over-extraction occurs when the grind is too fine, resulting in a bitter and dull brew devoid of defining characteristics. So while using the right amount of coffee scoops per cup is helpful, it will do you little good if your grind setting for drip coffee is off.

The best grind setting for drip coffee is medium. The ground coffee should resemble regular sand.

Getting a precise, consistent grind is critical to brewing the best cup of drip coffee possible. To get the grind just right, you’ll need a burr grinder.

fellow opus grinder
The Fellow Opus Grinder

Fresh Ground vs Pre Ground Coffee

Fresh is best for coffee; just like other fruits, coffee does expire. Coffee beans begin to oxidize immediately after roasting as the outside of the beans is exposed to air. 

Once the coffee is ground, more of the bean is exposed to air, thus speeding up the oxidation process (ground coffee becomes stale almost immediately).

When you purchase pre-ground coffee, it’s already stale before you even open it (gross, right?). Grinding coffee beans just before brewing ensures maximum freshness and the best possible flavor from your beans. 

Pre-ground coffee is typically ground to medium grind size. While this is the correct grind size for drip coffee, buying pre-ground limits your brewing options. Grinding the beans yourself with a burr grinder allows you to experiment with several different brewing methods, which is way more fun.

So always buy whole coffee beans and grind them right before brewing. Store your beans in an airtight container or in their resealable bag. Once opened, peak freshness lasts about 2-3 weeks.

Airscape coffee storage canister in turquoise
Airscape Stainless Steel Coffee Canister

Coffee Scoops Per Cup

Now that you know how big of a role the grind size plays in brewing epic coffee, let’s get down to how much coffee per cup for drip coffee. 

But first things first: when referring to the capacity of a drip coffee maker, a cup is not 8 ounces. Using standard drip coffee maker measurements, a “cup” is typically 5-6 ounces

And considering most Americans consume coffee in a 10-12 ounce mug, one “cup” from a drip coffee maker equates to half a mug of coffee. So keep this in mind when calculating how many scoops of coffee for one cup or how many scoops of coffee for half a pot.

Using a scoop-to-cup ratio is somewhat inaccurate when measuring the coffee water ratio. Another problem with using a scoop to measure coffee is that there is no standard coffee scoop size.

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How big is a coffee scoop, after all? A tablespoon? Two tablespoons? How can we determine how many coffee scoops per cup when there isn’t a standard coffee scoop size?

It’s simple. Either determine the size of your scoop by measuring the amount it holds in tablespoons or switch to using an actual tablespoon to be sure you’re getting the proper ratio for drip coffee. 

So, how many scoops of coffee per cup are ideal when using a tablespoon? The best ratio for drip coffee using a tablespoon scoop is 1:4, or two tablespoons of coffee for every 8 ounces of water.

So if you’re wondering how many scoops of coffee for 4 cups, that means you’ll need eight tablespoon-sized scoops of coffee for 32 ounces of water. This will yield four 8oz cups. If you wish to brew larger cups of coffee, simply adjust the ratio accordingly.

Ok, now we have an idea of how much coffee per cup is ideal, but does the type of coffee used affect the measurements? In short, yes.

There is no one-size-fits-all ratio for coffee scoops per cup. Coffee densities and weights vary from bean to bean, so the scoop method will never be accurate even if you carefully measure coffee scoops per cup.

hand scooping coffee from bag

Ratio Coffee Water: How much coffee per cup?

So, measuring the automatic drip coffee ratio using the coffee scoops per cup method isn’t going to yield a perfectly balanced brew. But for speed and convenience, that’s acceptable to many home brewers.

But for those who wish to get a little more granular and who wonder how you can accurately measure how many scoops of coffee per cup, this next section is for you. 

To be more accurate and simplify the math, we recommend using a scale and measuring coffee and water in grams, regardless of the brewing method. 

So for our 1:4 drip coffee ratio (or one coffee scoop for every 4 ounces of water), we’ll transition to a ratio that makes sense when measuring in grams.

We prefer to use a 1:15 coffee water ratio for drip coffee. We use 60 grams of coffee and 900 grams of water. This recipe for drip coffee yields about 32 ounces of coffee.  

Bella 14755 12 cup coffee maker

This ratio is totally adjustable to suit your preferences. If you prefer a more potent brew, reduce the water. If you like things on the lighter side, add more water.

When deciding on a coffee water ratio, consider how you, or your guests, prefer to take the coffee. If the coffee is diluted with cream, this must be considered in the ratio for drip coffee.

A higher coffee to water ratio is a better place to start for those who take cream and/or sweetener in their coffee. If the coffee is consumed black, there is more room to play with the ratio. 

We find that a 1:17 coffee water ratio works exceptionally well for black coffee, as more flavor nuances are drawn out with the additional water.

Another point to consider is the type of coffee bean. While a lighter roast may taste better at a 1:15 ratio, you might find that your favorite medium-dark roast is better extracted at a 1:16 ratio. 

But, for most people, a coffee water ratio of 1:15 will work well. Start here and adjust as needed.

coffee dripping in pot close up, ratio coffee water

Drip Coffee Maker Cleaning

While knowing how many scoops of coffee per cup is essential to brewing delicious coffee, cleaning your drip coffee maker is another critical step in ensuring the best brew possible. 

Drip coffee makers should be cleaned regularly to avoid the growth of bacteria and mold on any of the components. Think about it: mildew and bacteria thrive in moist and warm environments. Aka, your coffee maker.

The best way to keep your drip coffee maker fresh is to clean it daily (sigh). But it’s easier than you think. After use, wash the pot, reusable filter, and other removable components with warm water and dish soap.

Ensure the water chamber is completely empty and leave the lid open to let the chamber dry completely. That’s it!

We also recommend a monthly deep drip coffee maker cleaning for the internal parts that soap and water can’t easily reach. To do this, pour about 4 cups of undiluted white vinegar into the water chamber. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

Run the brew cycle with the vinegar, then follow this cycle with 2-3 cycles of water. Dry the machine completely, and you’re all set.

hands scooping ground coffee into top of aeropress on white counter, how big is a coffee scoop

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my coffee watery?

If your coffee tastes watery, and this isn’t your preferred profile, there are a few adjustments you may try to improve your brew.

Watery coffee is under-extracted, meaning that the water passes through the ground coffee too quickly or too much water passes through an inadequate amount of ground coffee.

Under-extraction occurs when the grind size is off. If your grind is too coarse, the water will move quickly through the ground coffee and won’t have time to properly extract all of the nuance and flavor from the coffee. Try adjusting your grind size to a slightly finer grind and see if it improves. 

Remember, the ideal grind setting for drip coffee is medium, and it should resemble regular sand.

If the grind size isn’t the culprit, your drip coffee ratio is off, and you’re using too much water. Try reducing the water or increasing how much coffee per cup you’re using, and you should notice a considerable difference in the flavor of your brew.

Phillips 4300 series fully automatic espresso machine with LatteGo
Philips 4300 Fully Automatic Espresso Machine w/LatteGo

How big is a coffee scoop?

While there isn’t a standard size for coffee scoops, which is part of the challenge in determining how many coffee scoops per cup, most coffee scoops are two tablespoons.

You can quickly determine the size of your scoop by using a tablespoon to measure how much it holds. We recommend switching to a tablespoon to ensure accuracy if it isn’t an exact number. You’ll need to adjust your ratio depending on the coffee scoop size per cup.

So how many scoops of coffee for 4 cups? If you’re using a coffee scoop in lieu of an actual tablespoon, we’d recommend four scoops for every 32 ounces of water.


Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters