Does it seem like every time you make coffee with a standard Keurig capsule your coffee is weak tasting? Or, are you new to using reusable K cup pods and want to do it right the first time?
Either way, you need the answer to the question of the hour: How Much Coffee is in a K Cup?
K Cups are filled with 8-11g (0.3-0.4oz) of medium ground coffee. This equates to 1.5-2.0 Tbsp. of coffee. The exact amount found in standard pods can differ depending on the brand and the roast with darker roasts generally having more dry matter in terms of volume and weight.
That's not the whole story though. Many people find this measurement brews coffee that would never be able to defend itself it a fight (you know, weak coffee). This is especially true when using higher settings like the 8, 10, or even 12 oz found in standard Keurig machines.
To get great brew and to do the beans justice, in most cases, you simply NEED more ground coffee, or multiple sequential steeping's of fresh coffee to attain the same taste consistency over a higher concentration of water. There's no way around it. First let's look into how I came to learn the weight of coffee in different pods.
Coffee by Weight in a Pod 1
I first cracked open an Eight O`Clock Hazelnut coffee capsule. If you're curious about this one, I did a full review of the best hazelnut flavored coffee and this one came out on top!
After carefully opening it and weighing every single ground, the final weight came to 9g.
Coffee by Weight in a Pod 2
Next up was an Italian roast by Barista Prima. This one not only took up more space (volume) in the K cup but also weighed 22% more at 11g!
Why the big difference between the two? I asked some experts but not one could give a definitive answer. It is possible that some roasters prefer to measure their coffee by volume whereas others stick to weight. The best conclusion I came to in this case was that the darker roast added more coffee grounds to make sure it truly did give a bold taste. Not a great answer but it's the best I could come up with.
Now that we for sure know how much is in a standard K cup, the big questions become:
- Are these enough grounds to brew a cold cup of joe?
- Is the coffee to water ratio a good one?
- If not, how much is ideal?
Let's explore more.
How full should I fill my reusable K cup?
If you're using either a standard-sized plastic or stainless-steel reusable K cup, a good rule of thumb is to fill it 80-90% full with medium to medium-fine coffee grounds. That means 1.5-2 Tbsp or approx. 10g. If it's too full, the lid won't close and can cause issues during brewing.
The longer answer is a little more complicated and depends on what size of drink you want and if you prefer a milder or bolder taste.
For a typical drip coffee machine (like what most households have and what the Keurig is) the most agreed upon ratio of coffee to water is 1:17 for a mild drink or 1:15 for a bold one. This is a number that is universally recognized and has officially gained the stamp of approval as the "Golden Rule" by the National Coffee Association of U.S.A. (1)
What this boils down to is that there should be 1 gram of coffee to every 15-17ml of water.
Put your calculator away though because I've done the math for you and put the answers in this handy table. **Please note that to be accurate to this standard, the purchase of a kitchen scale is recommended. I have included rough Tbsp amounts but the accuracy is much less that way.**
The columns represent water amount (3-4 standard settings you'll find on your typical Keurig machine) and then followed by amount of coffee (in grams) to use to make the strength you want. This is following that Golden Rule but of course, this can be adjusted to suit individual taste preferences.
Water Amount (Keurig Setting)
Coffee Needed (g) (1 TBSP = 6g)
11g (2 Tbsp)
10g (1 Tbsp + 2 tsp)
8 (235 ml)
15g (2.5 Tbsp)
14g (2 Tbsp + 1 tsp)
10 (300 ml)
20g (3 Tbsp + 1 tsp)
18g (3 Tbsp)
12 (350 ml)
23g (4 Tbsp)
21g (3.5 Tbsp)
If you're having trouble reading the table, let me explain this a little using our standard K cup amounts. As you recall, I weighed the grounds in several capsules and the average came to 10g of coffee.
Looking at second and third columns to find our amount, then over to the far left, we can see that's only good enough to make a mild 6oz drink.
That's right! According to the National Coffee Association, the amount of ground coffee in a standard K cup pod is only enough to make a 6oz drink! Any higher than it's considered watered down!
You might also be looking at the chart and thinking to yourself. Self "My reusable K cup is tiny; how do I squeeze up to 23 grams (almost 4 Tbsp) of coffee in a reusable K cup to make a bold 12 oz coffee?"
And the answer is, at least with Keurig 1.0 models, there's only one way to do it. And it's not super convenient.
If you want a bigger drink, a workaround is to brew two 6oz drinks into one large cup (or travel mug).
The tiny coffee pod sizes are a big drawback to using a Keurig 1.0. They're fantastic if you want a quick cup of joe but not so much if you want to take it to the next level.
However, with the next-gen of models from Keurig, the 2.0 line, you have the ability to use carafe pods. Because these are much larger, they can fit a lot more grounds and are thus able to brew a stronger coffee in one go.
If you're interested in upgrading your home unit to a Keurig 2.0, check out the latest models and prices on Amazon here.
What size coffee grind for reusable K-cup?
Use a medium grind when filling reusable K-cups. Keurig machines make coffee using the drip method where the contact (steeping) time is low. To extract the ideal flavor from the ground, stick with a medium to medium-fine grind size. As a reference, that size is in the range of sea salt to table salt.
In general, the longer the immersion (steeping) time, the coarser the grind. So, for French Press and especially cold brew (where it's immersed for a minimum of 12 hours!), you want a coarse or "chunky grind".
Are reusable K cups worth it? Do they save money?
By purchasing ground coffee and filling up a reusable K cup, you can save between 50-60% per cup of coffee. With standard pods costing in the range of $0.30-$1.00 that can add up significantly over the course of a year.
Yes, I know earlier in the post I was criticizing reusable K cups and the fact that they don't hold enough coffee to make a decent cup of joe but overall, they are worth it. This is especially true when comparing them in price to standard capsules.
Let's do some quick math.
A standard K cup capsule can cost you anywhere from $0.30 (like Amazon brand coffee) all the way up to almost a $1.00 for more mainstream premium brands.
Let's zero in on Peets Major Dickason's Blend - a very delicious blend and a brand that's more on the premium side.
Buying their K cups, they're asking $0.62 each.
For that same coffee in ground form, they're asking $0.72 per ounce. As we mentioned before, each capsule is only filled with about 10g of grounds. That means 28 grams per ounce, doing some math, that equals $0.25 for 10g (or equal to a standard capsule full).
If you're keeping track, that's less than half price of buying the capsule pre-made! Drink a few of those a day or maybe.... Like, a 1,000 a year? That's a significant savings.
How many cups of coffee does a K cup make?
Each pod is designed to make one cup of coffee. If you're more interested in exploring this, I recently did a post answering the question: can coffee pods be used twice? <LINK>
In this post, I did my best to answer the question: How Much Coffee is in a K Cup? This is great to know to understand how best to use your Keurig to brew a delicious and quality cup of coffee.
Did you expect K cups to hold more coffee than they do? What's your experience been with using your Keurig? Did you always suspect it was brewing watered down coffee? Comment below and let me know.
Liked your article a lot. Never realized making a 12 ounce cup from a pod was that watered down.
I weighed about 8 gr of coffee in a re-usuable k-cup with a paper filter. The paper probably reduced the coffee volume.
I figured 20 cents a cup with paper filter for coffee (8 gr), and 12 cents for filter paper. So 32 cents.
Read where paper reduces potentially harmful oils, that might increase blood pressure. Also read coffee tastes better without paper (Keurig supposedly has a paper filter in their single use pods, will have to look).
The paper filters are not cheap, $12 for 100, adding 12 cents a cup. But they also reduce grounds that make it thru re-usuable cup mesh.
Peets coffee in the ad is just under 80 cents a pod ($25.15/32). Which increases the savings when using re-usuable cups, especially if filter paper is not used.
Once again thanks for the info and discussion. Got me to weigh and figure.
My wife asked if running 12 ounces of hot water thru 9gr of ground coffee (in re-usuable k-cup) released 50% more bean content than 8 ounces thru the same 9gr.
So a 12 ounce cup might have the same amount of bean extract as 8 ounces per ounce.
Or is it diminishing returns, doubling the water thru the cup does not double the extracted bean liquid.
Just a thought.
Thanks for thought provoking article.
Thank you! I’ve been using refillable pods and getting hit or miss brews for about a year!