How Much Coffee to Use for Multiple Cups (4-20 Cup Ratios)

We’ve all eyeballed the amount of coffee needed for more than one cup. But there is a better way to achieve great coffee for multiple cups and that is knowing the “golden ratio.”

The golden ratio is the standard for a good cup of coffee and if you’re unsure of how much coffee to use this is a good place to start. What is the Golden Ratio?

As a general rule, the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) along with many coffee aficionados agree that the best ratio to start with is about 2 tablespoons of coffee for each 6 oz of water. So, whether you’re making one cup of coffee or twelve, you can use this rule as a starting point.

However, before you go making that perfect cup for all your friends, learn the Golden Ratio and if it changes with brewing method or if you’re making coffee for a crowd.

Here are a few things to keep in mind!


How Much Coffee to Use Per Cup

The first thing we need to understand is that based on the American standard for coffee, the average “cup” of coffee is 6 oz. However, keep in mind that the average mug is 12 oz or larger.

So how does that break down in your coffee maker?

If you have a 12-cup coffee maker, you can expect to yield twelve 6 oz cups or six 12 oz mugs of coffee. If you are using the golden ratio, you would put about 24 tablespoons (1.5 cups) of coffee in that 12-cup coffee maker.

Using the standard 6 oz cup, you can use the table below to determine how much coffee to use.

ServingWater VolumeCoffee Volume
4 Cups 24 oz8 tbsp.
6 Cups36 oz12 tbsp.
8 Cups48 oz16 tbsp.
10 Cups60 oz20 tbsp.
12 Cups72 oz24 tbsp.
14 Cups84 oz28 tbsp.
16 Cups96 oz32 tbsp.
18 Cups108 oz36 tbsp.
20 Cups120 oz40 tbsp.

How Much Coffee for 4 Cups?

A 4-cup coffee maker is a very popular and compact machine designed with affordability and convenience in mind. Using the correct amount of 24 oz of water and 8 tablespoons of coffee can yield great-tasting coffee that you made in the comfort of your own home before shooting off to work.

How Much Coffee for 8 Cups?

Another popular option for most families of 2-4 is the 8-cup coffee maker. This unit holds about 48 oz of water, and you would simply need to add 16 Tbsp (or about 1 cup) of coffee if using the golden ratio.

How Much Coffee for 10 Cups?

While the standard coffee maker is typically 12 cups, you may have one that holds only 10 or you may already know that 12 is too much for your needs. In that case, you simply need to fill the reservoir with 60 oz (or 7 ½ cups.) of water and 20 Tbsp (or 1 ¼ cups) of coffee.

How Much Coffee for 20 Cups?

In total, sticking with the Golden ratio, you will need to add 120 oz (about 15 cups) of water and 40 Tbsp (2 ½ cups) of your favorite ground coffee. This is a good method to make 20 cups of coffee for a big crowd.

Most coffee makers that make 20 cups of coffee at a time are used commercially, but if you happen to be a business owner and looking to keep your guests satiated, or if you’re hosting an event, you will need a large pot!

Brewing Methods & How Much Coffee to Use

Determining how much coffee to use for each style of brewing method is made simple by following the Golden Ratio. Generally, the ratio will not change based on the brewing method of choice. The amount of coffee is mostly based on preference, not on the method of brewing.

So, if you prefer your coffee to be less potent, try using 1 tablespoon of coffee per 6 oz, giving more or less until you have achieved your preferred strength.

When looking at other brewing methods, you may simply need to consider the grind. For instance, if you are using a French press, you would want a coarser grind than if you were making an espresso. For more information on the grind, you can check out our Grind Size article.

How do you Make Coffee for a Crowd?

The type of brewing method you choose is completely up to you, just keep in mind the Golden Ratio.  However, making coffee for a big crowd may influence what type of brewing method you choose.

When you’re looking at making more than one cup of coffee, or if you’re making coffee for a group, the automatic coffee maker is the easiest to use.

STEP 1: Measure out the ratio of water needed for the coffee pot and add to the water tank.

Step 1 - Measure the water

STEP 2: Insert the correct coffee filter size into the filter holder.

Step 2 - Insert coffee filter

Step 3: Measure out the ratio of preferred ground coffee and add to the filter.

Step 3 - Measure the coffee

STEP 4: Turn on and wait for the coffee machine to percolate and drip coffee into the pot.

Step 4- Percolate the coffee with your automatic coffee machine

STEP 5: Serve to your coffee-jazzed guests!

How Much Coffee Per Cup

Now that you know the standard measurement of coffee to water, you are now equipped to make enough coffee for you and all your friends and achieve the same great taste every time.

Coffee-Making Science!

Making coffee is more than just adding hot water to coffee and voila – that is, if you want coffee that tastes any good.

There is some science involved, but there is also taste and coffee strength preferences to consider. You may like your coffee a little stronger or you may prefer a light roast which can affect how you make your perfect cup.

With the Golden Ratio under your belt, you have a solid foundation built on the ‘science’ to brew a great-tasting cup of coffee that you won’t be embarrassed to serve up. Enjoy!