Is a coffee scoop the same as a tablespoon?

Quick Answer

No, a coffee scoop and a tablespoon are generally not the same. A typical coffee scoop holds around 2 teaspoons of ground coffee, while a tablespoon holds 3 teaspoons. So a coffee scoop usually contains about 2/3 the amount of a tablespoon. However, scoop sizes can vary, so you need to check the capacity if you want an exact measurement.

Measuring Coffee

When brewing coffee at home, most recipes will specify the amount of ground coffee to use by volume, such as in tablespoons or cups. This differs from commercial coffee production where weight is more often used.

For accurate home brewing, it’s important to use standard measuring spoons and cups designed for dry ingredients rather than random spoons from your silverware drawer. Using the right tools helps ensure your coffee tastes as intended in the recipe.

Many coffee makers, grinders and bags of coffee include a small “coffee scoop” for portioning out grounds. These scoops are meant to hold roughly 1-2 tablespoons depending on the size, but capacities can range from about 5-12 grams of coffee. On the other hand, a standard US tablespoon is defined as holding exactly 15 ml or 1/2 oz by volume.

Typical Coffee Scoop Sizes

Here are some common coffee scoop capacities:

– Small scoop: 5-7 grams, ~1.5 teaspoons
– Medium scoop: 7-9 grams, ~2 teaspoons
– Large scoop: 9-12 grams, ~2.5 teaspoons

So most coffee scoops hold less than the standard 3 teaspoons (15 ml) of a flatware tablespoon. The exact amount can vary based on factors like the scoop depth and grind size of the coffee. Finely ground coffee tends to pack down more into a scoop compared to coarsely ground.

Does it Matter?

For basic coffee making, using a typical coffee scoop rather than a real tablespoon for portioning grounds may not make a dramatic difference in the final brew. The brewing process can compensate for some variation in coffee amounts. However, there are some things to consider:

– Taste – Using too much or too little coffee can overextract or underextract, resulting in more bitter or weak coffee. The tablespoon amount in recipes provides a baseline for the intended flavor profile.

– Strength – More ground coffee will result in a stronger concentration of coffee compounds extracted into the final brewed product. This impacts the caffeine level as well.

– Budget – A scoop that holds less coffee means you may use up bags faster than expected.

– Consistency – Measuring precisely with tablespoons means your coffee tastes the same every time according to the recipe.

For those who want exact 1:1 conversions, here are some tips when substituting a coffee scoop for a tablespoon:

– For a small ~7 gram scoop, use 2 scoops per tablespoon.
– For a large ~9 gram scoop, use 1 scoop per tablespoon.
– For a jumbo ~12 gram scoop, use 3/4 scoop per tablespoon.

When in doubt, you can manually check how many grams your coffee scoop holds using a small scale. Then match that weight of coffee to the 15 grams of a tablespoon.

Specialty Coffee

When brewing specialty third wave coffee, such as single origin light roasts in a pour over, more precision is advised. Small variations in coffee quantity can impact the flavor when emphasizing delicate tasting notes.

For example, competition baristas often weigh doses to 0.1 gram accuracy. So for specialty coffee, a coffee scoop is likely not a good 1:1 substitute for a leveled tablespoon measure.

Weighing Coffee

Using a kitchen scale to weigh whole bean coffee or ground coffee by grams can lead to more consistency. This removes the variation of scoop or spoon volumes. A typical recipe might call for 30 grams or 150 grams of coffee, making the conversion easy.

Digital kitchen scales designed for food with a capacity around 5-10 lbs and a resolution of 1 gram or 0.1 gram accuracy are ideal for brewing coffee. Some even come with built in timers.

Best Practices

To get the most consistent coffee:

– Use standard dry measuring spoons and cups. Level off the top.
– Avoid packing scoops tightly which compresses the grounds.
– Tap or shake the scoop to level it off before portioning.
– Scrape scoops level with the back of a knife.
– Weigh coffee with a kitchen scale for ultimate precision.
– Adjust to taste if you notice flavor differences between scoop and spoon.
– Stick to one scoop size rather than mixing large and small.


While a typical coffee scoop holds around 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee, the exact amount can vary. For most basic coffee brewing, a coffee scoop can substitute for a tablespoon measure with minor differences in flavor. But those seeking consistency and precision are better off using actual tablespoons or weighing out coffee by grams. If substituting scoops for spoons, you may need to make adjustments to account for the smaller size. By following best practices and understanding the capacity of your coffee scoop, you can achieve great tasting coffee either way.

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