One of the biggest “aha” moments I had in Specialty Coffee was when I realized there was actual thought behind the ratios used to brew a cup of coffee. The older books I had on espresso would read: “Fill the portafilter with finely ground espresso beans.” Not great books, I’ll give you that. And also not great information. How much was really supposed to go into the filter? How much coffee to water will really give the best tasting cup?
Even when experimenting with the Bunn brewers in many work place kitchens, I realized that someone, somewhere has an idea for the numbers: How much coffee to how much water makes the best cup? There are three basic coffee principles to adhere to, but it really does depend on the brew method and the type of roast. With all things being equal, I currently enjoy a 15-1 ratio in my morning brew.
For every 1 gram of coffee, I use 15 grams of water. Technically, it’s the read out onto scale and water is actually measured in milliliters, but nobody cares much about that, right? Moving on, I’d like to examine an iced brew recipe I found on from prima-coffee.
Their recipe is as follows:
- Start heating 500 grams of water.
- Start with your favorite pour-over device, complete with filter and brewing vessel (or carafe).
- Pre-rinse the filter (unless using Blue Bottle’s new device), but there’s no need to pre-heat the cup.
- Place 200 grams of ice in the vessel (they recommend large cubes- it hasn’t mattered much for me).
- Add 60 grams of medium ground coffee to the pour-over (I prefer medium-coarse).
- Use the heated water (195-205 degrees) to make a pour over, per your device’s method.
- Use normal extraction time of three to four minutes, and use add 500 grams of water.
- Serve coffee in a glass of ice (I used 100 grams of ice).
So, let’s add the water up in this recipe. 500 grams of water, plus 200 grams of ice=700 grams. But the recipe calls for more ice to add the iced pour-over to. How much? Probably 100-200 grams or so. That brings us to 800-900 grams of total water to 60 grams of coffee.
700 grams of water-60 grams of coffee is an 11.6 to 1 ratio.
800 grams of water-60 grams of coffee is a 13.3 to 1 ratio.
900 grams of water-60 grams of coffee is a 15 to 1 ratio.
I’ve used the recipe and it’s worked out well for me. Not all my ice melted, and your’s likely won’t either. At these ratios, it’s gonna give you a slightly stronger cup and that’s okay. If you’re making the iced coffee to take with you, you want to make sure you don’t add so much ice the drink gets watered down.
I also like to make my own simple syrup to sweeten my iced coffee. Just boil one cup of water, reduce heat once boiling, add one cup of sugar, and stir until dissolved. Voila! Done. Now you can add a little half and half and end with mighty tasty and refreshing iced coffee.
Using your pour-over to make iced coffee will also give you a more flavorful cup than cold-brewing it overnight. Cold brews have muted flavors, but it’s brewed cold. Got it. So, with iced coffee, you need to cool it as quickly as possible without watering it down. The pour over onto ice does that. There are also other methods available that we’ll look at another time.
Until then, enjoy!