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The best way I could think of to quickly and easily educate beginners to the many coffee terms was to put together a glossary with a bulleted checklist.
Hopefully this will answer any questions you may have about coffee terminologyIt can easily be scanned for items of interest..
I was looking to produce some ‘Aha’ moments. If you’d like further details on something that piques your interest you may want to check out more detailed sources
So without further ado let’s get to it.
Beginners Coffee Glossary And Coffee Terminology Guide
A,AA,AAA. These capitalized letters are generally grade indicators that describe the sizes of the coffee beans.
Acidity. A primary category of coffee flavoring. It goes with body flavor and aroma as being a principal characteristic. acidity usually refers to the brightness or tartness of a cup of coffee.
Aeropress. This is a small compact press that makes fairly strong coffee it is great for travel and for students in a dorm room. It makes an espresso like coffee. It is very easy to use and very easy to clean.
Aged coffee. Aging decreases the acidity in coffee. It is also said to increase the body of coffee. Aging can be done intentionally or unintentionally.
Altura. This refers to Mexican coffee that has been grown at high altitude is the Spanish word for heights.
American roast. This is the roast of coffee that American pallets have been educated to it is medium brown in color.
Americano. This usually refers to espresso that is been extended with the addition of hot water
Aroma. This is the “nose” of the coffee it is the fragrance produce one it is being roasted and freshly brewed. Aroma is one of the four primary cupping characteristics used by professionals to rate coffee along with acidity, flavor, and body.
Arrabica. This is the species of coffee that provides almost ¾ of all the coffee beans is consumed. It is the oldest cultivated species. It is far superior to the other commonly used coffee, Robusta.
Automatic drip coffee makers. These machines emulate the pour over coffee process. They are designed to do it automatically. These are the most common forms of coffee makers. The advantage to these makers is one button operation. The disadvantage is that on all but the most expensive they do not get the water temperature up to proper brewing temperature and the coffee is not in contact with the hot water for the correct amount of time.
Balance. This is a tasting term used to describe coffees were no single tasting characteristic is stands out. It does not mean the coffee is boring, on the contrary it can be very complex but all the flavor characteristics are evenly matched.
Barista. Originally this is an Italian term applied to a professional or experienced espresso maker and operator. It is involved now to mean a coffee professional.
Bird Friendly Coffee. The ‘bird friendly’ label was developed by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. Coffee that is stamped bird friendly, really is shade grown coffee. The requirements of getting this label are strictly set by the ecolotgists at the Smithsonian. They clearly define the minimum percentage of shade (40%) and specifics of the tree canopy. Their concern really focused on the environmental impact of growing coffee. A coffee that is labeled bird friendly is produced in a greener, more environmentally friendly environment.
Blade grinder. This is one of two types of popular home coffee grinders (the other being a burr grinder). The blade grinder looks very similar to the cutting blades on the bottom of a blunder cup. It is generally considered to be an inferior coffee grinder because of the inconsistent size of the ground coffee. There will be trunks and a fine powder not a uniform size.
Blend. Coffees are often blended together to mix-and-match flavors. A blend is considered to be two or more single origin coffees mixed together. Commercial blenders will often mix superior quality Arrabica with lower quality Robusta beans.
Blue Mountain coffee. This is Jamaica’s premier coffee. Known as the ‘Grand Dame of Coffees’ and the ‘Java of Kings’, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is sweet and clean, full-bodied and intensely aromatic. Grown on the rough and rugged Blue Mountains in Jamaica, Blue Mountain coffee has been a select and elite coffee for over two centuries. In order to achieve its superiority to other coffees, Jamaican Blue Mountain is grown at higher elevations than other coffees in the world. The Blue Mountains climb to over 7,400 feet, and their drainage, rainfall, rich soil, and cool climate produce an extremely smooth and rich coffee.
Body. In food, you might describe this texture. In coffee it is the thickness, heaviness or richness you get when you taste it. This is one of the big four categories that professional covers use to rate coffee.
Brazil. Brazil produces far and away more coffee than any other country. It also produces wild inconsistencies and coffee. It produces some of the lowest quality of coffees and also some of the best. They use all of the Bean processing methods, wet process, dry process, and seven dry process.
Burr grinder. These coffee grinders are the preferred grinders for home use. They produce a uniform -sized coffee particle. They can be set from a fine to a course grind. They are also available as automatic grinders and manual grinders.
Café au Lait. This is a coffee beverage that consists of one third brewed coffee with two thirds hot, frothy milk.
Café Breva. This is a cappuccino made even richer and creamier by the use of half-and-half rather than milk.
Cameroon. This is an African coffee that is noted primarily for a bittersweet chocolate and dark fruit flavor. It generally has a creamy body and a little bit of Karen Mills sweetness.
Cappuccino. This is a drink consisting of a shot of espresso topped with hot milk and completed with froth on top.
Certified organic coffee. USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.
Chaff. The outer coating of the coffee being that becomes loose and blows off the beans during roasting. If your home roasters will be cleaning a lot of this stuff up.
Chicory coffee. My stepmother loved this stuff when she lived in Louisiana, I hated it. Chicory is the root of the endive which is roasted and ground and then it is blended with coffee beans.
Cinnamon roast. Old-fashioned term for very light roast.
Cold brew coffee. This is a brewing method in which ground coffee is soaked in cold water. The soaking generally goes for a period of 12 to 48 hours. It is the fastest-growing segment of the coffee brewing market. In general the cold brewing method produces a very low acid, light bodied cup of coffee. Some people find it too bland. People very sensitive to acid and coffee, including pregnant women find it a blessing.
Columbia. Colombian coffee uses the wet process pretty much as the standard. Colombian coffee is carefully regulated by the Colombian Coffee Federation it is graded before being sold which produces a consistent product. This is the coffee to which North American palettes were educated toward. It is generally medium bodied slightly fruity.
Complexity. This is a term used in tasting coffee which describes the shifting of sensations and layers of taste and give the coffee depth.
Costa Rica. Coaster Reagan coffee is a popular Central American coffee it is bright, balanced yet has a full body. It can have very complex flavors notably citrus, berry, not, and chocolate flavors. It has a very clean finish and is sweet and floral.
Cowboy coffee. This is one of the simplest methods of brewing coffee. It is simply boiling water in a pot adding coffee directly to it, waiting, and straining it. This method of brewing was used extensively by cowboys on the range.
Cupping. This is a tasting procedure used by professional coffee tasters. (Similar to professional wine tasters). The elements that cupping are judged and evaluated are flavor, aroma, acidity, and body.
Dark roast coffee. These are coffee beans that have been roasted to a medium dark shade. At this point there is generally an emergence of coffee oils on the surface of the beans. Generally, subtleties of the coffee flavor are lost when roasted this far.
Degassing. This is the process by which roasted coffee releases carbon dioxide. When it is releasing carbon dioxide it is not susceptible to the degradation of exposure to oxygen.
Demitasse. This is a small cup generally used for serving espresso. The standard is a 3 ounce cup
Direct Trade Coffee. Direct trade is a term that does not really apply to certifications of coffee grade or production methods. Rather, it is a term that applies to the way business is conducted. Coffee roasters simply by directly from the growers. They are cutting out the middleman and establishing relationships with the growers themselves.
Dominican Republic. Dominican coffee is a fairly undiscovered coffee that is balanced, richly acidic, and soft. It is very similar in characteristics to Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, and may provide a less expensive alternative.
Doppio. This is a double espresso.
Drum roasters. Drum roasters use a heating element in a roasting chamber, and a rotating drum to agitate the beans. These roasts are generally balanced full-body and brightness. You can roast much larger quantities of beans would drum roasters. Most commercial roasters use drum roasters. The most popular drum roaster for a home coffee roasting is the Behmor 1600 Plus sold on Amazon
Dry processed. In this method of processing coffee beans, the beans are left out to dry directly in the sun or on screens exposed to the air. The dry process takes longer than wet process. The beans generally have a lower acidity, more body and have fruitier tones than beans processed with a wet process.
El Salvador. This is a Central American coffee with a medium body, it has a light acidity. It plays well and blends well with other coffees.
Espresso. This term is generally applied in two different ways. The first is that it is a type of coffee Bean roast which is dark. Secondly, it is the classic coffee drink in which hot water is forced under pressure through very finely ground coffee produce a very concentrated strong coffee drink.
Ethiopia. This African coffee produces Yirgacheffe coffee which is a favorite with home coffee roasters. The beans size is generally small making for easy home roasting it has a floral, sweet sour acidity, fruity sweetness and is light to medium bodied. My local coffee café calls it a “fruit explosion in your mouth”.
Extraction. This is the process When ground coffee meets hot water and the flavors and oils are extracted from the coffee. Water temperature is critical at this stage and should be between 195°F to 205°F.
Fair Trade Certified Coffee. The Fair Trade certification is granted by the nonprofit organization Fair Trade USA. It is not a government organization. It sets standards, certifies, and brings attention to products that promote sustainable livelihoods for workers and farmers and simultaneously protect the environment. There is a great deal of controversy about this organization because it is revising standards deviating from other fair trade organizations in the world.
Finish. This is the “aftertaste” of the coffee. It is the residual in fading flavors of the coffee after it is swallowed.
Flavor. After describing a coffees acidity, aroma, and body, one moves to flavor. It is one of the primary characteristics used to judge coffee.
Flavorings. A flavored coffee bean may seem like such a new innovation for most people, but it is actually a very old tradition. It just wasn’t commercialized until recently. Flavorings can be added to the roasted beans or to the brewed coffee itself. Currently the most popular flavors are French Vanilla,Crème Brûlée, Highlander Grog, Irish Cream, Hazelnut.
French press. The French press is one of the easiest methods of brewing coffee. Coffee is placed in a cylinder with hot water and a plunger with a filter on the bottom forces the water down toward the coffee. The brewed coffee is forced through the filter and upward and the grounds are pressed to the bottom of the carafe. This is the coffee brewing method I most often use. I bought this inexpensive complete set on Amazon.
French roast. This is a coffee that is roasted to a very dark brown almost black color. Many Europeans prefer this roast to the somewhat milder American roasts. The French roast produces a rich, bittersweet, (sometimes burned) coffee.
Full city roast. This is coffee that is been roasted until the beans are medium dark. There may be some emergence of coffee oils on the surface of the beans it is a stage lighter than French roast.
Green coffee. These are coffee beans that have been dried and are ready for roasting. In the green state they have a long shelf life.
Guatemala. Guatemalan is a central American coffee has a medium to full body it is acidic and complex with floral and fruit overtones.
Haiti. Haitian coffee is another Caribbean coffee that is medium bodied and has slightly fermented tones to it.
Harrar. This is coffee that is been grown in Ethiopia and is taken on the name of the city of Harrar. It is a dry processed African coffee with a light body and acidity. It has complex flavor tones and a white aroma.
Hawaii. Hawaii is most famous for Kona coffee. Kona coffee has mild acidity it is medium bodied in a very balanced cup of coffee.
High grown, high altitude. These are coffees that have been grown at altitudes over 3000 feet they are generally better coffees and those grown at lower altitudes.
Hot air roasters. These are one of the entry levels into home coffee being roasting. A primitive form is using popcorn Popper’s. The principle is hot air is injected with enough force to agitate the beans and enough heat to roast them. The agitation of the beans produces an even roast. Hot air roasters produce a highly toned and subtle cup of coffee with brightness. The smoke is drawn away and exhausted so does not get into the beans. I got the SR 500 at a good discount on Amazon.
India. Indian coffee has a very distinctive body the flavor is mild with low acidity. Generally it has floral in spicy notes was sweet undertones.
Italian roast. This is coffee that is taken to a dark brown color. It is similar to or French roast but may be even a step darker, bordering on burnt beans. This will produce a rich and bittersweet flavor.
Jamaica. Jamaican coffee is a Caribbean coffee that is most famous for its “Blue Mountain” coffee. It is soft, has a mild flavor, low acidity, and medium bodied. It is a delicate coffee. Beware of paying high prices for imitators such as Blue Mountain blends, and blue Mountain style.
Java. Javanese coffee is an Indonesian coffee that is wet processed not is full-bodied and earthy as Sumatran or Sulawesi. It has a light acidity is medium bodied and has some floral in fruity undertones.
K Cup, Keurig Coffee. The K cup is a premeasured amount of ground in coffee processed in single-serve containers. They are inserted into a Keurig coffee machine to produce individual cups of coffee.
Kenya. Kenyan coffee is another African coffee, medium bodied and very fruity. It is currently my favorite coffee.
Kona coffee. Kona coffee is the premier coffee of Hawaii. It is known for its medium body and being extremely well-balanced. Make sure you are buying 100% Kona coffee beans. No coffee grown outside the defined region of “Kona” (North and South Kona districts) may be labeled as such, any package containing less than 100% Kona-grown coffee must be labeled “Kona blend.” A Kona blend must contain at least 10% coffee beans from Kona by weight.
Latte. This is a coffee beverage consisting of one quarter espresso with three quarters hot milk top with a froth.
Liquid coffee concentrate. Liquid coffee concentrate is an intensely concentrated form of coffee that comes in liquid form. You add a small amount of carefully measured concentrate to a predetermined amount of hot water to produce a hot cup of coffee.
Macchiato. And espresso coffee drink that can be served one of two ways it can be a shot of espresso with a small amount of hot frothed milk. Or it can be a large quantity of hot froth milk and a shot of espresso.
Mandheling. This coffees grown in Sumatra, Indonesia is the most famous and commonly available of all Sumatran coffees.
Mexican: Mexico produces a full range of coffees. Their typical coffee has a mild light body and light acidity.
Mocha or Moka. When referring to coffee beans this is a single origin coffee from Yemen. It lays claim to being the oldest coffee cultivated in the world. It is rich acidic and nuanced.
Mocha, Starbucks. “We pour our hot espresso over a slightly sweet mocha sauce and let them melt into a wonderfully rich concoction. Then we add steamed milk to the mix to balance the richness out into a chocolaty treat that delights the senses without overdoing it, add some whipped cream to the top.
Moka pot. This is a home stovetop espresso maker. It is the simplest, easiest and cheapest way to make espresso at home. It is very inexpensive to purchase.
Monsoon. This is a method of aging coffee primarily used in India where the unroasted coffee bean is exposed to humid monsoon winds.
New England roast. This is the latest roast of drinkable coffee.
Nicaragua. Nicaraguan coffee is a central American coffee that has a full body coupled with a low acidity.
Open pot brewing method. See cowboy coffee. A simple brewing method whereas coffee is steeped in hot water in a pot and then either strained or the grounds are allowed to settle in the coffee is poured off.
Organic coffee. This is coffee that is been certified by an outside agency to be grown and processed without the use of chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides.
Panama. Panamanian coffee is a central American coffee that is slightly sweet, mildly for all, in medium bodied.
Peaberry. These are very small coffee beans that occur as a result of the coffee fruit having only one seed instead of two in it. These must be hand selected and picked out of lots. Because of this hand selection any type of coffee utilizing peaberry beans will be significantly more expensive.
Popcorn Popper. This is an inexpensive entry-level method of roasting coffee beans at home and small batches. It is very important to the use the right popcorn popper.
Pour over. This is an easy way of making coffee the two most common are the Chemex and the Melita. Both employ paper filter cones to which the coffee is added. Water at the correct temperature is slowly poured over the coffee and filtered into the receiving receptacle. The secret of pour over coffee is the ratio of coffee to water in the length of time of the pour.
Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican coffee is a Caribbean coffee that is full-bodied, rich in acidity, yet very balanced.
Pulping. This is the process of removing the outer skin of the coffee cherry to expose the desired coffee seed (bean).
Rain Forest Alliance. Since 1995, the Rainforest Alliance has strengthened the position of coffee farmers by training them in methods that boost yields and safeguard the health of the land for future generations. In order to earn the rainforest alliance seal farms must be certified to meet their criteria. The three main focuses of certification criteria are bio diversity conservation, conserving natural resources, and improvement of wife quality.
Ristretto. This is an espresso made with less water than normal. This produces a very concentrated espresso.
Robusta. This is responsible for approximately 30% of all coffee produced worldwide is generally considered to be inferior and lower grade of coffee to the dominant Arribica bean. Robusta coffee produces a full-bodied coffee, but it is very bland. The full body makes it an attractive coffee for blending.
Seasonal coffee. Coffee is a crop. Depending on the region and growing conditions it can be ready for harvest at various limited times. So certain varieties of coffee are not available during certain seasons.
Semi washed. This is a Bean processing method that is actually a combination of wet process and dry process.
Shade grown. Shade grown coffee is coffee that has been picked and produced from coffee plants grown under the shade canopy of trees. However, there is no set definition of the term “shade grown”. Unfortunately, it can be used as a marketing gimmick because it can be labeled shade grown even if there are just a few shade trees involved.
Single origin coffee. Essentially, this coffee that is not been blend. Its origin can be traced to a single geographic area, country, region, or estate.
Siphon pots. Despite its relative complexity this is one of the oldest forms of making coffee there is boiling water is forced into an upper chamber through vapor pressure where it combines the coffee bond grinds then it is sucked back down into the original pot. It makes a coffee with less sediment than a French press and the coffee has a good deal of body.
Specialty Coffee Association Of America. This is an association of coffee growers, retailers, wholesalers, and shippers that have developed guidelines and best practices for the coffee industry.
Specialty instant coffee. This is coffee that is been brewed from high quality beans. Generally, these coffees are brewed and then subjected to vacuum dehydration process. The the modern processing methods report that the dehydrated powder does not cook all the flavors out of the coffee in that it can retain even the most complex flavors.
Sulawesi. This is another Indonesian coffee slightly less well-known than Sumatran. It shares its general characteristics in that it is very full-bodied and earthy.
Sumatra. This is an Indonesian coffee. For years I was a Sumatran Mandheling drinker. This coffee is do it fluid. It is very full-bodied and earthy. It is usually produced through a wet process or semi washed process. Very few people are neutral about Sumatran coffee they are either passionate lovers or passionate haters of this coffee.
Tamper. This is a tool used to tamp down coffee in a filter basket. You most often seen it used when making espresso.
Tanzania. This is an African coffee that has low acidity reminding you of the type of acidity found in a wine it has a medium body.
Turkish coffee. This often refers to a brewing method rather than a variety of coffee. It is extremely finely ground coffee with sugar added boiled and filtered to remove the grinds. It is sweet and extremely strong.
Uganda. Ugandan coffee is an African coffee that has a medium body and somewhat fruity flavors and tones.
UTZ Certified Coffee. UTZ Certified is a program and a label for sustainable farming. UTZ Certified is the largest program for sustainable farming of coffee and cocoa in the world.The UTZ Certified label is featured on more than 10,000 different product packages in over 116 countries. As of 2014, UTZ Certified is the largest program for sustainable farming of coffee and cocoa in the world.
Water process. This generally refers to the decaf a nation method were beans are soaked in a hot water and then the water is filtered to remove the caffeine the beans are placed back in the water to reabsorb their flavor.
Wet processed. This refers to a method of processing the coffee being in which it is fermented slightly to break down the fruit way are that sticks to the coffee seed. The fruit is stripped off gently by water. This fermentation process can lead to very earthy and rich flavors it is often used in Sumatra coffee.
Whole bean coffee. This is coffee that is been roasted but is not been ground.
Yemen. This is an African coffee that is medium to full-bodied it has fruity and whiny taste notes. This coffee is very expensive.
Zimbabwe. This is an African coffee with high acidity, fruit overtones and a wine like flavor.