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Ignore the instructions on the label! (Or: How much coffee should I use?)

Some friends bought me some branded coffee as part of a gift bundle. I still have some of it in the cupboard because - well, where do you think I get most of my coffee from?!

I was cleaning out the cupboard the other day (read - I was moving some stuff around a bit) and I saw the instructions for making it. Here they are:

No. No. No. NO. NO!

That is way too little coffee for 250ml of water. I don't know the science behind it, it just is. No decent coffee shop around the country would ever give you that little coffee and expect you to enjoy it. 

How much coffee should I be using?

Take what I say with a pinch of salt if you like. "Guy selling coffee says you need to buy more coffee - riiiiiight." But try this yourself and see how you get on.

But before I tell you how much coffee you need, can I recommend one piece of equipment? Some decent scales. Just some jewellery scales from eBay or Amazon which measure to 0.01g. All great coffee starts with precise measurements in and precise measurements out.

As a guide, for filter coffee only, this is how much coffee I like to use, and which gives me a tasty cup of coffee no matter what I use:

For a V60/drip filter: 16g of coffee with 200g of water. 

For a cafetiere/French press: 30g of coffee with 500g of water.

Why is the ratio a little less for a French press? I'm not a scientist, but it's basically because in French press the coffee is steeping in the water (and so more coffee is extracted), whereas with a V60 the water is passing through the water (and so less coffee is extracted because it's in contact with the water for less time).

So, in short:

  • Get yourself some scales.
  • Use more coffee.
  • Don't be scared to mess around with the weights a little bit and see where it takes you.

If you follow the above guidelines then I promise that even the coffee you get in your local supermarket will taste better and you'll enjoy it more.

If you want to hear a bit more detail from somebody who is much more well-informed than me, then here's a video from coffee superstar James Hoffman

Until next time - keep it casual!
Gareth