Even though we’re nearly a quarter of the way into the 21st century, the question of how many cups of coffee a 12-ounce bag makes remains a perplexing one for many coffee drinkers.
Baristas are partly to blame for this as they’ll tell you that how many cups of coffee a 12-ounce bag of coffee grounds makes ‘depends.’ Of course, they’re right. How much water you’re using, how big the cup is that you’re pouring into, and your method of brewing all have demonstrable effects on the number of cups a 12-ounce bag of coffee makes.
That said, we can at least establish a rule of thumb. We can picture the average coffee drinker, with average taste and (why not?) a nice family and a job they love.
For the average coffee drinker, we’re going to run through how many cups of coffee a 12-ounce bag makes, discuss some different brewing methods, and how brewing methods change that number.
Calculating How Many Cups Of Coffee A 12-ounce Bag Makes
For the average coffee drinker, who likes their hot coffee strong but not too strong, how many cups of coffee does a 12-ounce bag make?
Luckily we have the internet and a calculator on our phones, so we don’t even have to do much work here to figure this out. In the first place, though, let’s define how we’re going to make this calculation.
Our primary coffee ratio is 1 cup of coffee to x amount of coffee beans. Then, we weigh those coffee beans, divide 12 ounces by that number, and see in real-time how many cups of coffee a 12-ounce bag makes.
We’ll begin with the oft-repeated statement in the world of coffee drinking: “2 tablespoons per cup, you’re in luck.” Okay, not everyone says that, but they definitely use two tablespoons of ground coffee per cup.
In any case, we’re left with the question, “how much do two tablespoons of coffee weigh?” Of course, this depends on the grind’s coarseness, but generally speaking, two tablespoons of coffee weigh about 10 grams.
Ten grams of ground coffee is the equivalent of 0.37 ounces. Now all that’s left is to calculate the number of cups.
12 oz / .37 oz = 32.4 cups of coffee
Now, you may be saying, “Wow, that’s a lot!” You’re right, but there’s one thing we need to remember.
The “cup” as a unit of volume is actually half the size of what we traditionally think of as a standard coffee cup size (that is, a 12-ounce mug). Therefore, our very last calculation is to divide 32.4 by 2. Take a sip of your coffee and see if you can do that calculation in your head.
So, we can make about 16 cups of coffee per 12-ounce bag.
Different Brewing Methods Impact
In short, the answer is yes. Different brewing methods impact the amount of coffee your 12-ounce bag will make. This is because alternative brewing methods have different optimal water-to-coffee ratios, and the grind of various brewing methods will be different.
French press, for example, utilizes a medium-coarse grind, whereas automatic drip, Aeropress, cold brew, and every other method has a unique coarseness that’s optimal to get the best flavor.
Let’s take an extreme example: espresso. Because espresso uses a very small volume of water relative to the number of beans it uses, the quantity of coffee you can produce per 12-ounce bag is significantly less.
If we assume that eight grams of coffee make a one-ounce shot of espresso, an entire bag of coffee will make about 42 shots of espresso. These 42 ounces are equal to just over five standard cups.
Luckily, however, espresso is so strong that you can heavily water it down, and it still tastes great.
Although the amount of coffee you can make with a 12-ounce bag depends on many factors, if you use a drip machine or French press like most Americans, you can bet on getting about 16 twelve-ounce cups of coffee from a standard 12-ounce bag.