What is the 80-20 rule for coffee?

What is the 80-20 rule for coffee?

When you drink your cup of coffee, enjoying that familiar kick and rich taste, you don't really think about it. But did you know there's a rule that can completely change the way you brew coffee, giving you a better cup of coffee without having to adjust ten other variables? Based on the Pareto principle, I will tell you more about how you can make better coffee with 20% of the variables.

This seemingly simple rule, derived from the Pareto principle, states that 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes. Translated to coffee making, this means that you can create 80% of the perfect cup of coffee by focusing on the right 20% of the process. Consider the coffee/water ratio, the temperature of the water and, for example, the brewing time.

This rule not only applies to the taste of your daily caffeine shot, but is also relevant to several areas of your life, such as time management and business operations. But let's focus on how it applies to our beloved cup of coffee.

Application when making coffee

Let's apply the 80-20 rule to coffee making and look at which 20% of the factors are responsible for 80% of the outcome - the perfect cup of coffee.

The coffee to water ratio

It all starts with the grind ratio. Grinds that are too fine or too coarse can dramatically affect the taste of your coffee. But did you know that if you use the wrong coffee to water ratio, you will get very bitter coffee or very weak coffee. The ratio of coffee to water is critical to taste and consistency.

The 20% here is exploring and perfecting the ratio that works for you. This depends entirely on your brewing method. Are you going for a Pour Over or an espresso ?

At Pour Over I always start with a 1:14 ratio (1 gram of coffee to 14 grams of water). For espresso a 1:2 ratio.

The temperature of the water

The temperature of the water during the brewing process can lead to coffee that is too bitter or too acidic . Focus on a water temperature between 90°C and 95°C for optimal extraction levels. To measure this, a kettle with an integrated thermometer is your new best friend.

By experimenting within these temperature rules, you will find that your coffee can make a world of difference.

The brewing time

Just like temperature, the brewing time is important for extracting the full flavor from your coffee. A brew time that is too short can result in a weak, underdeveloped coffee, while a brew time that is too long can result in a cup of coffee that is too strong and bitter. The sweet spot is usually around 2.5 minutes for Pour Over and 30 seconds for espresso.

Also read: 5 most common beginner mistakes when making espresso


Benefits of the 80-20 rule for coffee

Mastering the 80-20 rule for your coffee brewing process not only produces a better cup of coffee, but has other benefits that can improve your daily routine.

Time saving

Perfecting just a few factors can save you a lot of time. Instead of making coffee becoming a complicated task, you can make a delicious cup of coffee in minutes by focusing on the most important 20% of the process. This gives you more time to enjoy your coffee and other things that are important to you.


Efficiency goes hand in hand with time savings. When you apply the 80-20 rule, you increase the efficiency of your coffee brewing. By being consistent in your grind ratio, temperature and brew time, you can make a cup of coffee as if it has become second nature. This not only saves time, but also ensures better quality and taste.


Not only do you save time, but also costs. Controlling those essential factors can result in less wasted coffee and fewer failed brews. By brewing the perfect cup, you only use the coffee you need and don't throw anything away.


And perhaps the most important benefit is consistency. It doesn't matter whether it's Monday morning or Saturday afternoon, you always make a top-quality cup of coffee. When you apply the 80-20 rule, you can rest assured that you'll enjoy the same great taste every time. This provides a better coffee experience and makes it easier to let others enjoy your coffee-making skills.

Quality of coffee beans

Finally, an important hint that is not directly related to the 80-20 rule, but does influence your coffee taste: the quality of your coffee beans. Even with the best grind, the right temperature and brewing time, you will never be able to make great coffee with bad beans.

Invest in quality. Look for freshly roasted beans from recognized suppliers. The beans are the heart of your coffee, and getting them off to a good start is half the battle.


The 80-20 Rule offers coffee lovers a simple, effective guide to improving their daily cup of coffee. By focusing on and mastering the right variables, you can transform your coffee experience without having to master the complexities of expert-level coffee brewing.

Whether you start your day with an espresso, enjoy a cappuccino at your favorite café, or relax in the evening with a slow-drip, the 80-20 rule can be a valuable addition to any coffee lover. So, take that extra time to perfect your coffee game, and who knows, you might soon be sitting down to a cup that will pamper your taste buds like never before.