I love coffee. I've made it every day for many years. But recently I learned that I've been making it wrong. Too weak. Damn you, Mr. Coffee!
Obeying the instructions on my Mr. Coffee drip machine, I've been dutifully using three tablespoons of ground coffee per 20 ounces of water (four 5 ounce cups, which to me -- and lots of other people these caffeinated days -- actually is one cup of coffee, a "Venti" in Starbucks terminology).
But that's just .15 tablespoons of coffee per ounce of water, whereas the Holy Commandment of coffee making is to use two tablespoons per six ounces, which translates into .33 tablespoons for every ounce of water.
Wow! All these years I've been drinking coffee that was only half as strong as it should have been. How do I know this? Check it out:
Jerry Baldwin, a co-founder of Starbucks correctly says, "Don't Be Afraid of Strong Coffee."
When people ask how to make better coffee at home, my first question is "How much coffee is in your coffee?" One of the common problems we professionals encounter away from our own brewing is weak coffee. And there is nothing that can be done to salvage weak coffee.
... on countless occasions I've served our coffee to people for the first time. On first sip, they say, "This is strong." By the third or fourth sip, they say, "This is good." The main surprise, I think, is that most coffee is weak and that's what people are expecting. But as soon as they actually taste the full flavor of fresh, freshly ground, full strength coffee, they have a coffee epiphany.
...We recommend at least a full coffee measure (two tablespoons) per six fluid ounces of water for all brewing methods except espresso.
This also is what my current coffee of choice, Trader Joe's Organic Fair Trade Wake Up Blend, says on the container: "Use approximately 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for each 6 ounces of cold water."
And almost every knowledgeable-appearing web site that popped up in a Google "coffee strength measures per ounce" search also advised the same Holy Commandment: 2 tablespoons for each 6 ounces of water, with a coffee scoop being defined as holding 2 tablespoons.
Of course, a coffee strength that appeals to one person may not appeal to another. My wife thinks that the coffee I make is a bit too strong, though she happily drinks it. I've come to realize, though, that the way I used to make coffee wasn't allowing the full taste of the beans to come through.
I have Trader Joe's to thank for my caffeinated enlightenment. When a store here in Salem, Oregon finally opened, I started drinking the free coffee samples. I liked the taste of them, noticing that they had a lot more oomph than the coffee I was making.
Observing the 2 tablespoons per 6 ounces advice on the Trader Joe's container, I changed my Mr. Coffee brewing approach.
Interestingly, when I used 8 tablespoons (4 measures) to make four cups of coffee in the Mr. Coffee carafe, the brew seemed too strong. So I switched to 6 tablespoons, which I figured was equivalent to 1.5 tablespoons per 6 ounce cup.
But before writing this post I decided to check the Mr. Coffee carafe to make sure that four cups really was 24 ounces, the standard way of measuring a cup of coffee being 6 ounces. I discovered that Mr. Coffee considers a cup to be 5 ounces.
This meant that the way I now was making coffee, which tasted great to me, was equivalent to .3 tablespoons per ounce of water (1.5 / 5 = .3). That -- coffee research drum roll, please -- was darn close to the .33 tablespoons per ounce Holy Commandment (2 / 6 = .33).
So in an aroundabout way I confirmed what expert coffee brewers had known way before me: using 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water produces an excellent cup of coffee.
Try it, if you're not already. I bet you'll like it.