Why is a Cup of Coffee 6 Ounces?

deciding on the right amount of coffee

In America, when you read about serving sizes, 8 oz. seems to be the standard when it comes to drinks. At first glance, that makes sense. After all, 8 oz. is a cup. Then you realize that 6 oz. is actually the standard for coffee.

What Gives?

Why are the sizing standards different? More importantly, how can you make a great cup of coffee while thinking in terms of six oz. vs. eight oz. Ultimately, you should be able to make the ideally portioned cuppa without having to rely on your elementary school math skills.

The American Cup Measurement

Take a look at a liquid measuring cup in America. If it has notations for cups and ounces, then eight oz. will equal one cup. The exception to this is the standard, hot, mug-served cup of coffee. That is six ounces. Interestingly enough, other mug-served beverages such as tea and cocoa are also measured as six oz. servings in many cases.

So, cold beverages in most cases are eight oz. Hot beverages served in mugs are often six oz. Is that all?

Actually, no. Because there are even exceptions in those cases. Coffee drinks including, espresso shots (one oz.!), double espresso (two oz.!), and Turkish coffees which are often served in a ½ cup demitasse.

Then there’s the fact that standard cup sizes are different throughout the world, and they’ve changed over time. You’ve also noticed that coffee mug sizes have gotten larger. Think about the coffee cups with your grandmother’s china set. Now, look at your ‘I Love my Cat’ coffee mug. Bet yours is significantly larger.

However, for now, just think about a standard cup of coffee. How do you keep the ratio of grounds to water straight if you are used to thinking in terms of eight oz.? What if you are brewing by the pot, not by the cup?

Fortunately, once you know a few best practices, you can figure things out fairly easily.

Adjusting Your Ratio

It would seem easy enough to simply brew a six oz. cup according to the coffee maker’s instructions. But, let’s be realistic. That’s not how many of us drink coffee. So, we’d either find ourselves brewing more, or making a large amount of coffee by doubling or tripling the amounts. Choose the latter, and you could end up with cold, stale, insipid coffee. Worse, you could waste coffee. It’s best to figure out how you drink coffee, and learn to make the perfect, freshest amount for your needs.

If you just drink a single serving, traditional mug of coffee, the easiest option could be a keurig or other single serving option. The machine uses the cup to make the brew with the predetermined amount of water and coffee. All you have to do is pop in the k-cup, and make sure your mug is in place.

In other cases, your ratio of coffee should be 1.5 to 2 grams of whole bean coffee to every 28 grams of water. That would be just about one oz. of water. After you become accustomed to that ratio, you can make adjustments to create the perfect cup of coffee for you.

Your other option is trial and error. Of course, that could lead to you drinking some pretty awful cups of coffee along the way.

Deciding on The Right Amount of Coffee

How do you drink coffee? Are you the single mug at the breakfast table type, or do you fill a mammoth-sized insulated cup each morning to hold you throughout the day? Maybe you prefer one of those 12 oz. or 16 oz. refillable cups? Whatever you drink, be sure to use the ratios above as a starting point to make your perfect cup.

Brewing The Perfect Coffee

There are some other things that you can do to create the perfectly portioned cup of coffee.

If you are in the market for a home coffee maker, consider getting a programmable model. This will help you ensure the perfect ratios each time. Even a basic, drip coffee maker will help you get the measurements right.

If you prefer a French press, opt for one that produces a single serving or other specified amount. This is a good option if you limit yourself to a set amount of brew each day. You’ll be able to practice making your coffee with those set amounts until you get the right mix down.

Next, consider getting a decent coffee grinder. You’ll be able to produce fresh grounds quickly in the exact amount required. Many grinders have scales for ensuring the perfect measurement. A burr grinder may produce more uniform results, but it’s up to you to determine if that small difference is important enough.

Whether you consume coffee by the cup, jug, or thermos, use these tips to brew the perfect serving of coffee!