Simply, if there is more matrix to extract from, then the solvent is likely to extract a larger number of solutes. Most people understand this implicitly: if the ratio is lower (less water, more coffee), the coffee is stronger, whereas higher ratios (more water, less coffee) produce brews that are weaker.
Like all aspects of coffee quality, there is no one true brew ratio. If we return to Dr.Lockhart’s work, he found that most people preferred a water to coffee ratio of about 18:1.
However, that means people also had preferences with higher and lower ratios. Generally, when decreasing the ratio, the taste of the resultant brew becomes increasingly burnt/smoky, more fruity/citrus, more acid, more salty, more astringent, and its body (viscosity) increases. In other words, most flavors become more intense.
MIT chemistry professor E.E. Lockhart studied coffee preferences in the 1950s and determined that most people preferred a water-to-coffee ratio of about 18:1. In other words, weigh your water, divide by 18, and use that much ground coffee when you brew.
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