Coffee Terms Glossary

  • 01/04/2019

It’s easy to get confused by a lot of the terms used by fans and enthusiasts in the coffee industry, especially if you’re a novice. That’s why we’ve put together this coffee terms glossary to help you better understand what people are talking about.

Sorted alphabetically, here’s an exhaustive list of key terms that can help bring you up to speed.

A

AA

Capitalized letters used to describe the size of the bean, so while AAA denotes the largest bean size in Peru, A does the same in India.

Affogato

Affogato is the Italian word for drowned. It’s used to describe ice cream that has been topped with a shot of hot espresso.

Aged Coffee

This is coffee that is stored in private warehouses for a certain period of time to improve its flavor and reduce acidity.

Aged coffee is not the same thing as old coffee, the latter would lose its flavor with time but aged coffee is carefully monitored to prevent the development of molds.

Alajuela

It’s coffee beans grown in Costa Rica that’s known for its great flavor and high acidity.

Americano

Also called Caffé Americano, it’s prepared by diluting espresso with hot water.

Aquapulp

It’s a method of processing coffee beans by removing the pulp with a machine called an Aquapulper.

Aroma

It’s the fragrance produced by freshly brewed coffee. The aroma is very important in cupping and is influenced by the acidity, flavor and brewing method of the coffee.

B

Balance

Coffee may have different flavors but balance is used to describe the situation where no flavor dominates the other. A balanced coffee is one with a nice blend of flavor, acidity and body.

Barista

That’s the name of the person who prepares and serves coffee in a restaurant.

Bird Friendly

It’s coffee grown under a shade canopy of trees without pesticides applied on the land.

Body

This refers to the thickness of the coffee as it settles on the tongue. The body is an important feature evaluated when cupping.

A coffee’s body can be light, medium or full. A full body coffee will have the richest flavor.

Burr Grinder

Burr grinder, also called a burr mill is a coffee grinder with two revolving surfaces called burrs. Burr grinders can be flat or conical.

It’s different from a blade grinder which has a blade in the center of the grinder for crushing the coffee beans.

C

Caffeine

It’s the stimulant found in coffee responsible for the physiological effects experienced after drinking.

Depending on the quantity of caffeine in the coffee grounds, anxiety, insomnia and increase in urination can set in.

Caffeol

Caffeol is coffee oil that’s produced during roasting.

Cappuccino

It’s a coffee drink made with espresso and foamed steamed milk.

Chemex

The Chemex is a coffee maker which uses filters that are 30% thicker than normal to produce coffee with no dominating flavor.

Clover

It’s a coffee brewing technology which produces coffee one cup at a time.

Cold-Brewed Coffee

This is a method of brewing coffee where coffee grounds are mixed with cold water and left for eight to twenty-four hours.

Filtration is then done to produce concentrated coffee that can be stored for up to two months.

Hot water can then be added to the cold concentrate anytime you need a cup of coffee. This method produces light body coffee and reduces the acidity of the final drink.

Continuous Roaster

Different from the batch roaster, the continuous roaster produces coffee at a fixed rate per hour usually measured in pounds per hour.

It’s used for commercial purposes.

Cortado

An espresso coffee topped with an equal amount of steamed milk.

Crema

The layer of foam sitting on top of an espresso, usually as a result of the amount of pressure produced by the machine.

Cupping

You can call it coffee tasting, professionals use this to evaluate the quality of coffee but non-professionals can also be invited to grade different cups of coffee.

Current Crop

This is coffee harvested during the current farming year. It’s shipped for roasting immediately after harvesting.

Old crop is used to refer to coffee harvested during the previous year. Old crop coffee is usually held in warehouses before shipping.

D

Dark Roast

It’s a term used to describe the method of roasting coffee beans until oil develops on its surface. You could also have a light and medium roast.

Light roasts are light brown, don’t develop oils on roasting and have a high acid content.

Medium roasts are darker than the light roasts but not the dark roasts and have a higher acid content than the dark roast.

Decaffeination

It’s the process of removing caffeine from coffee beans. Caffeine isn’t completely removed but it’s usually up to 97%.

This can only be done when coffee is in its green (unroasted) state.

The Indirect-solvent process, direct-solvent process, swiss water process and carbon dioxide process are some of the methods of decaffeination.

Degassing

It’s the release of gases like carbon dioxide trapped within the coffee bean during roasting. These gases can produce little bubbles during coffee brewing.

Demitasse

This is a small 60-90ml cup used to serve espresso. Demitasse means half cup in French.

Doppio

This is a double shot espresso, so it’s double the volume of a normal shot of espresso. A single shot espresso is called solo.

Doser

It’s a component of some coffee grinders that dispenses single servings or doses of ground coffee. Devices that do this are called dosing grinders.

DP

DP is an abbreviation for double picked. It’s used to describe coffee that has been hand-picked twice to remove pebbles, abnormal coffee beans and foreign matter.

Drip Coffee

Coffee made in an automated drip coffee maker. A filter is used to get finely ground coffee and then boiling water is slowly added.

E

Espresso

It’s a strong black coffee of Italian origin made by adding water under pressure through ground coffee beans.

F

Fair Trade Coffee

This is coffee that has been produced to fair trade standards. Fair trade organizations set prices called “fair price” for buyers and farmers.

Employing child or forced labor is not allowed by these organizations.

Fermentation

This is a stage in coffee processing where the pulp is detached from the coffee bean by natural enzymes when the beans are kept in tanks (to ferment).

Wet and dry fermentation are the two types. If water is added to the tank, it’s called wet fermentation.

Flavoured Coffee

Flavoured coffee is made by coating the bean with flavouring agents to improve its natural taste.

Flavoured coffees have a longer shelf life than raw coffee beans. The raw materials used in flavouring are coffee beans and flavouring oils.

The finished product is sealed in bags to prevent exposure to oxygen.

French Press

The French Press is a device made of a plastic or glass cylindrical beaker for brewing coffee, a base for storing the coffee grinds and a plunger for releasing prepared coffee.

Frothed Milk

This is milk that is heated while air is introduced into it, it’s used in espressos.

G

Green Coffee

Also called green beans, it’s coffee beans that have not yet been roasted.

H

Hulling

It’s a stage during coffee processing where the parchment skin is removed from the coffee bean.

L

Latte

A coffee drink made by mixing espresso with steamed milk.

M

Macchiato

It’s also espresso with steamed milk but different from Latte as it has a small amount of foamed milk.

Micro-lot

A plot of land set aside to produce coffee of high quality. Professionals usually separate them if they have a high cupping score.

Production isn’t done on regular land to avoid a blend in flavor.

Micro Roaster

This is a device used to roast coffee in small quantities to exact specifications. It’s also called a batch roaster.

Mocha

Also known as mocaccino, it’s espresso with chocolate flavor.

Moka Pot

It’s a stove-top coffee machine that creates pressurized steam which forces boiling water through ground coffee.

The pot uses a filter and produces strong coffee.

P

Percolation

A method of coffee brewing where water seeps through a bed of ground beans.

Polishing

It’s an optional stage during coffee processing in which the coffee beans are polished by friction to improve its appearance.

Portafilter

A component of some espresso machines that holds the coffee grounds before, during and after brewing.

Puck

Coffee grounds residue that’s removed from a portafilter.

Pump Machine

This is an espresso machine that uses a pump to force pressurized water through coffee grounds.

Pyrolysis

This is a chemical change during roasting in which the oils that contribute to the coffee flavor are released.

Q

Quaker

Unripened coffee beans that don’t roast properly, they don’t darken when roasted.

R

Red Eye

A coffee drink made by combining espresso with drip coffee. A shot of espresso is used in the Red Eye as opposed to the Black Eye where two shots are used and the Dead Eye where three shots are used.

Rich

Coffee with the right flavor, body and acidity.

Ristretto

It’s a coffee drink brewed in the same way as an espresso but with a smaller amount of water to produce a more concentrated drink.

S

Silverskin

The innermost covering of the coffee bean.

Single Origin

Single origin refers to coffee that’s gotten from a single producer or region in one country. It could also mean coffee sourced from a particular bean variant in one country.

T

Trifecta

It’s an automated single-cup brewing system.

Coffee terms glossary: let’s wrap it up

Now you should have a clearer idea of what specific phrases mean. Think we’ve missed any terms out? Be sure to leave a comment and we’ll update the post!

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