When you’re thinking of purchasing a bag of coffee, you might be thinking, how many cups am I going to get out of this?
The answer is that it really depends on how you like it, and which method you use to brew it.
Coffee beans are usually measured in weight by grams, and are sold in various sizes of bags, for home consumption.
It’s not quite simple enough to give a single answer, because there are some variables affecting it – such as the type of brews you’re going to make.
Espresso machines, both commercial and domestic, come in all sorts of sizes, so there is a significant variation between the amount of coffee used. Furthermore, different countries will have different coffee-drinking cultures, so for example, a double espresso in Naples may use 14g of coffee, but in Auckland it may use 22g.
For home use, let’s work on the basis of 7.5g for a single espresso, 15g for a double, and conveniently, 15g for a mug of filter coffee too.
That means a 250g bag will grant you 33 single espressos, and a 1kg bag will make 133 single cups, give or take a few beans.
Double shots will therefore be made 16 times from a 250g bag, and 76 times in a kilo bag.
All that maths aside, we’re then looking at around 50-60 beans per single espresso, ad 100-120 for a double, or a mug of filter. (Rather than counting your beans per cup, it’s miles easier to get grinding and stop when you’ve got enough ground coffee for a cup). There are two coffee beans in each coffee ‘cherry’ – the fruit of the coffee plant – so depending on where & how the coffee is grown, we might be looking at the contents of a single branch.
Things get a little more complicated when you go cavalier with the grind. We’re all guilty of over-heaping a spoon when loading the cafetière or cold brew filter – these can result in stronger, punchier drink experiences, but are at risk of overdoing it. If you’re a stickler for technique and want to get it right every time, you’d be best either using a weighing scale, or a measuring spoon. We love scales, as they’re simple, repeatable and accurate!
Industrial espresso machines – the ones you see in cafés and restaurants – are standardised equipment, so the barista always knows how much coffee is going into their creations. This is good for a consistent customer experience, and for stock-keeping purposes.
However, at home, you might find things change as you try different things. Coffee preference is intensely personal, and the quantity of coffee can make the difference between a mediocre cuppa and a prize-winning brew. The more factors under your control (fresh beans, home roasting, home grinding, etc.) the more you can experiment and find what works for you.
The amount of equipment available is hugely varied – from Aeropress to Chemex to Moka Pots to Cafetières, you’ve a range to play around with. The other factors, such as water volume, temperature, brew time, and other ingredients you add, can all affect how the final drink turns out. So it’s unlikely you’ll get it perfect first time, but keep experimenting, make some notes, and enjoy the learning process – you’ll quickly figure out what you like and what you don’t.