Coffee Glossary

There are many terms and expressions in the coffee world that may be difficult to understand to the coffee novice. To help you along we have compiled a list of the most commonly used coffee terms for you to use as a "coffee dictionary".

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A

Acidity: A primary coffee sensation, created as the acids of a coffee combine with the natural sugars, to increase the overall sweetness of the coffee. A pleasant quality that points up to a coffee's flavour and provides a liveliness, sparkle, or snap to that drink. It is tasted mainly oo the tip of the tongue. The acidity of a coffee may be assessed as lively, moderate, flat or dull. Acidity is a characteristic of coffees grown at high altitudes such as Guatamalan, Costa Rican, and Kenyan. It is NOT, however, the same as bitter or sour. Coffees are low in acidity, between 5 and 6 on the pH scale.

Americano: A shot or two of espresso that has been poured into a glass filled with hot water.

Arabica: A specific variety of coffee (Coffea Arabica). Considered to be the best variety of coffee. The majority of the world's commercial coffee is Arabican. Nearly all speciality coffee is Arabican.

Aroma: The fragrance of brewed coffee. The smell of coffee grounds is referred to as the Bouquet.

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B

Bag: A burlap sack of coffee. In various countries it is a different weight. For example, in Brazil a bag is 132 pounds, Colombia it is 154 pounds and in Hawaii it is 100 pounds. The most common weight, however, is 132 pounds.

Barista: A person who makes coffee drinks as a profession.

Batch Roaster: A machine which roasts a given quantity at one time. It does not continually roast beans. There is an identifiable start and end time to the roasters capabilities.

Bitter: A characteristic of over-extracted brews (too little coffee at too fine a grind) as well as over-roasted coffees, and those with various taste defects; it is a harsh, unpleasant tasted detected towards the back of the tongue. Dark roasts are intentionally bitter.

Bland: The pale flavour often found in low grown robusta coffees. Also caused by under extraction (too little coffee or too coarse a grind).

Blend: A mixture of two or more individual varieties of coffee.

Bodum: This is a trade name of a specific brand of french press/plunger pot. Though common usage, the name has become somewhat synonymous with the term french press pot. Also commonly called a Cafetiere. See French Press/plunger pot.

Body: The tactile impression of the weight and consistency of the coffee in the mouth. May range from thin to medium to full to buttery and syrupy.

Bouquet: The fragrance, aroma, nose and aftertaste of brewed coffee.

Breve: cappuccino made with light cream.

Bright: Tangy acidity is often described as bright.

Briny: The salty sensation caused by excessive heat after brewing.

Buttery: A rich and oily flavour.

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C

Cafetiere: Another name for a french press pot. See also Bodum and French Press/plunger pot.

Caffeine: The drug contained in coffee and tea. This is the stuff that makes coffee so addictive. It stimulates the central nervous system and, in the right amounts, causes adrenaline to be released and can enhance heart function. It helps with intellect, defends the body, and can even enhance sex! See the caffeine section of Coffee World for more information.

Caffe Creme: A velvety smooth coffee, brewed fresh from the bean which results in a thick moussy head called a crema. The crema is sometimes mistaken for cream, but is actually an indication of the freshness of the coffee bean. Delicious with or without cream and served in a conventional coffee cup.

Caffe Latte: A shot of coffee, with a healthy covering of hot steamed milk and up to a quarter of inch of foamed milk on top.

Caffe Mocha: Chocolate syrup on the bottom of the cup, topped with espresso, steamed milk, whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.

cappuccino: A shot of coffee, followed by less than half a cup of steamed milk and a big head of foamed milk spooned on to contain the warmth. The proportion of espresso to steamed and frothed milk for cappuccino is typically 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 frothed milk on top.

Caramelly: An aromatic sensation created by the sugar compounds that produces sensations reminscent of caramelised sugar.

Chiaro: An espresso drink prepared "clear" by adding more milk.

Chocolatey: An aromatic aftertaste of unsweetened chocolate or vanilla.

Crema: The tan foam that forms when you brew espresso. The crema makes a 'cap' which helps to retain the flavours and aromas of the espresso within the cup. Crema is due to colloids and lipds forced out into an emulsion under the pressure of an espresso machine.

Cupping: A term used by coffee professionals to describe the activity of sipping brewed coffees to assess their qualities.

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D

Decaffeination: Coffee with 97% or more of its naturally occurring caffeine removed is classified as decaffeinated.

Demitasse: A French term meaning 'half cup' and also referred to as a small coffee cup.

Doppio: A double shot of espresso. Also see solo.

Double Dry Short: A double shot of espresso in a short cup with no foam.

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E

Earthy: The spicy "of the Earth" taste of Indonesian coffees.

Espresso: A one-ounce shot of intense, rich black coffee made and served at once. A pump-driven machine forces hot water through fine grounds at around nine atmospheres of pressure. Comes from the Latin word Expresere which means "to press out".

Espresso Breve: Espresso with light cream.

Espresso Lungo: A shot that is pulled long for a bit of extra espresso. While many believe that this maximises the caffeine, in most shops it merely produces a bitter cup.

Espresso Macchiato: Espresso with a minimal amount of steamed milk on top.

Espresso can Panna: A shot of coffee topped with whipped cream.

Espresso Ristretto: Literally "restricted" espresso. A shorter draw. The goal being a thicker and more flavourful espresso.

Exotic: Unusual aromatic and flavour notes, such as berry or floral.

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F

Flavour: The total impression of Aroma, Acidity, and Body.

French press/plunger pot: A device for making coffee in which ground coffee is steeped in water. The grounds are then removed from the coffee by means of a filter plunger which presses the grounds to the bottom of the pot. Also referred to as a Bodum or Cafetiere.

French Roast: Dark Roasted. Bittersweet taste but not like burnt charcoal.

Froth/foam: The term given to milk which has been made thick and foamy by aerating it with hot steam.

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H

Hard bean: Coffee grown at relatively high altitudes (4,000 - 4,500 feet). Beans grown at these high altitudes mature more slowly and are harder and denser than other beans. They are therefore more desirable than others.

"A Harmless": A double shot of decaffeinated coffee and non-fat milk.

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L

Latte: A shot or two of espresso that has been poured into a cup filled with steamed milk and topped off with foamed milk (about 1/4 inch).

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M

Mellow: Full, well balanced coffee, implying low or medium acidity.

Mocha: A small, irregular bean. Has a unique acid character. Generally shipped from Mocha Yemen.

Monsooned Coffee: Coffee deliberately exposed to monsoon winds in an open warehouse to increase body and reduce acidity.

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N

Nutty: An aromatic sensation, reminiscent of roasted nuts.

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P

Peaberry: Normally, each coffee cherry contains two beans. Occasionally, a cherry will form with only one bean. These are called peaberries and are frequently separated from other coffee and sold as its own distinctive grade. New Guinea is one of the more popular ones.

Portafilter: The cupped handle on an espresso machine which holds the ground coffee during the brewing process.

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Q

Quad: An espresso drink with four shots of coffee.

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R

Ristretto: This is the strongest and most concentrated espresso drink. It is made with about half the amount of water but the same amount of coffee as a regular espresso. It is pure and intense. Ristretto in Italian means "restricted".

Robusta: Fine and aromatic type of coffee with igher acidity. High in caffeine and low in flavour. Grown between sea leven and 2,000 feet and processed using the dry method. Produced primarily in Africa and South East Asia. Robusta is cheap to process and used by commercial coffee companies as bases for instant coffee.

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S

Siphon method: A method that uses less finely-ground beans. Water is put in coffee and left to drip. As the water is less hot (than the espresso method), it goes more slowly through the grounds and results in a milder taste.

Soft bean: Describes coffee grown at relatively low altitudes (under 4,000 feet). Beans grown at lower altitudes mature more quickly and produce a lighter, more porous bean.

Solo: A single shot of espresso. See also Doppio.

Sourness: Unpleasant flavour which has a sharp, acid taste. Different from acidity, sometimes associated with over-fermented coffee.

Spicy: Aroma and flavour suggestive of spices like cinnamon and clove eg Ethiopian and Guatemalan coffee.

Stale: Coffee that has been exposed to oxygen for too long. It becomes flat and has a cardboard taste.

Sweet: Smooth and palatable coffee that is free from defects and harsh flavours.

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T

Tone: The appearance or colour of coffee.

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V

Varietal: A single or straight coffee from one region or country of origin.

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W

Winy: A term used to describe snappy and acidy flavour, such as Harrar and thick syrupy body, such as Sumatra. A flavour reminiscent of fine, red wine. Kenya is one of the most notable.

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