The ABCs of Coffee

Coffee Terms Glossary
Acidity Usually, the pleasant tartness of a fine coffee. Acidity, along with flavor, aroma, and body, is one of the principal categories used by professional tasters in cupping, the sensory evacuation of coffee. “Acidy” as a taste term is neither acidic as a measure of PH, nor sour. The specialty coffee trade has borrowed some of its lexicon from the wine industry when trying to describe the acidy character in coffee. The term acidy is often compared to the bright, brisk character of a dry white wine, or a resonating vibrancy reminiscent of a red wine. The presence of an acidy sensation in a coffee is felt under the edges of your tongue and on the back of your palate. Without acidity, a coffee has a flat, one-dimensional taste.
Aftertaste The sensation of brewed coffee vapors, ranging from carbony to chocolaty to spicy to winey. Aftertaste is released from the residue remaining in the mouth after swallowing.
Arabica, Coffea arabica The earliest cultivated species of coffee tree and still the most widely grown. It produces approximately 70% of the world’s coffee, and is dramatically superior in cup quality to the other principal commercial coffee species, Coffea canephora (Robusta). All fine, specialty, and fancy coffees come from Coffea arabica trees. Arabica Coffee
Aroma The fragrance produced by hot, freshly brewed coffee. Aroma, along with flavor, acidity, and body, is one of the principal categories used by professional tasters in cupping.
Barista Italian term for a skillful and experienced espresso bar operator.
Blend A mixture of two or more individual varieties of coffee.
Body Along with flavor, acidity, and aroma, body is one of the principal categories used by professional tasters. Positive terms could be full, heavy, or thick; while negative terms may be thin or slight. A handsome body is connected with rich flavor and aroma.
Beneficio A Spanish term for establishments that have cleaning, washing, drying, and sorting machines.
Bouquet The combination of a coffee’s fragrance and aftertaste.
Bourbon A botanical variety of Coffea Arabica
Caffeine An odorless, bitter alkaloid responsible for the stimulating effect of coffee and tea.
Caffe Latte A Caffe Latte is a single shot of espresso with steamed milk. The milk is steamed, not frothed to produce a smooth texture.
Canephora The coffee species second in importance to Coffea arabica, Coffea Robusta is known by botanists as Coffea canephora.
Cappuccino An espresso drink, 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.
Caracol Also known as Peaberry. A small, round bean formed when only one seed, rather than the usual two, develops at the heart of the coffee fruit.
Caturra Botanical variety of the Coffea arabica species that generally matures more quickly, produces more coffee, and is more disease resistant than older, traditional Arabica varieties.
Coffee Bean A coffee cherry consists of four layers, which are removed sequentially. The coffee “bean” is not a true bean, but actually the seed of the coffee cherry, covered with silvery skin, parchment, pulp, and then an outer skin layer. Coffee bean
Coffee Cherry Common term for the fruit of the coffee tree. Each cherry contains two regular coffee beans, or one peaberry. Coffee cherry
Coffee Oil The volatile coffee essence developed in a bean during roasting.
Cupping Coffee cupping, or coffee tasting, is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee. It is a professional practice but can be done informally by anyone or by professionals known as Master Tasters.
Doppio A double shot of espresso.
Dry-Processed Coffee processed by removing the skin after the coffee fruit has been dried.
Estate Coffee Coffee produced by a single farm, or single group of farms, and marketed without mixture with other coffees.
Espresso Used to describe both a roast of coffee and a method of brewing in which hot water is forced under pressure through a compressed bed of finely ground coffee. Espresso Coffee
Ethiopia The story of coffee has its beginnings in Ethiopia, the original home of the coffee plant, Coffea arabica, which still grows wild in the forests of the Ethiopian highlands.
Exotic Unusual aromatic and flavor notes, such as berry or floral.
Finca Spanish word for coffee plantation.
First Crack The loud popping in a roast when the beans reach 385°-400°F, as the trapped steam cracks them open and vents.
Flavor Flavor is the most ambiguous term of all. Acidity has something to do with flavor, and so do body and aroma. Coffee Taste
Fragrance The sensation of the gases released from ground coffee as they are inhaled through the nose. Ranges from sweetly floral to sweetly spicy.
French press A device for making coffee in which ground coffee is steeped in water. Also referred to as a Bodum or Cafetiere.
Green Coffee Unroasted coffee beans. Green Coffee Beans
Highland Coffee Arabica coffees grown at altitudes over 3,000 feet, usually higher. Such coffees are generally superior to coffees grown at lower altitudes. Highland Coffee SHB
Instant coffee is a beverage derived from brewed coffee beans. Through various manufacturing processes the coffee is dehydrated into the form of powder or granules. These can be rehydrated with hot water to provide a drink similar but generally regarded as inferior to conventional coffee.
A qualitative measure of the number and relative strengths of the gases and vapors present in the bouquet of the coffee.
Kaffa The coffee plant that was first discovered growing wild in Ethiopia’s Kaffa province. Kaffa Äthiopien
Kopi Luwak Kopi Luwak or Civet coffee is coffee made from coffee berries which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet. The civets eat the cherries, but the beans inside pass through their system undigested. Kopi Luwak coffee is one of the strangest and one of the most expensive coffees in the world.
Latte Macchiato One of the most popular hot drinks of the century is the Latte Macchiato. This is a variation of a café latte which is served in a glass. Pour 1/3 cold milk into a tall glass. Pour 1/3 hot milk into glass and top with hot foamed milk. Slowly pour fresh brewed espresso through the foam. Latte Macchiato
Milling Milling the first stage of processing the raw coffee cherries, is the removal of fruit pulp and other soft outer layers by wet or dry methods.
Mocca, Mocha Single-origin coffee from Yemen; also a drink combining espresso coffee and chocolate.
Organic Coffee Coffee that has been certified by a third-party agency as having been grown and processed without the use of pesticides and herbicides.
Patio Drying The traditional drying of coffee beans outside in the sun, which creates a higher quality bean.
Peaberry Peaberry, also known as caracol, is a type of coffee bean. Normally the fruit of the coffee plant develops as two halves of the seed within a single cherry, but sometimes only one of the two seeds develops. Peaberry coffees render a flavor that is concentrated and offers a livelier cup, full body, and distinguished aroma. Peaberry Coffee
Pergamino (Parchment) Coffee beans stored inside their papery inner capsule after wet milling and drying. Pergamin coffee
Pulp The coffee cherry’s skin and fruit after they have been removed from the coffee bean during wet processing.
Pulping The first step after picking, in preparing coffee by the wet method, it is the removal of the outer skin. Machines rub away the pulp without crushing the beans. Coffee pulper
Quality It is dependant upon the county or region, climate, cultivation, picking method, milling and roasting.
Region A notable coffee producing area within an origin country; such as Naranjo in Costa Rica, or Antigua in Guatemala.
Robusta Common name for Coffea canephora, one of two principal species of coffee. Robusta accounts for approximately 30% of world coffee production.  Robusta Coffee
Roasting The process of heating green coffee beans under controlled conditions of heat and airflow. Roasting initiates a series of chemical reactions, which change the chemistry of coffee, developing complex chemical compounds sensed as flavor and aroma. Coffee roaster
Second Crack The crackling noises in a roast when the beans reach 440°-450° F, as the cellulose matrix of the beans begins to break down.
Silver Skin The thin, innermost skin of the coffee fruit. It clings to the dried coffee beans until it is either removed by polishing or floats free during roasting.
Single-Estate Coffee Coffee produced by a single farm, or single group of farms, and marketed without mixture with other coffees. Many specialty coffees are now identified by estate name, rather than the less specific regional or market name.
Strictly Hard Bean Also know as SHB, is part of a classification system for Costa Rican coffees, with the characteristic of being cultivated above 1,200 meters/4,000 feet. This coffee bean is denser and has a tightly closed fissure to effectively guard its outstanding aroma and flavor.
Toasty Possessing an attractive flavor and aroma similar to toasted bread, found in well-roasted coffees.
Varietals Pure, unblended, single-origin coffees from a particular country or geographical region. The name of a varietal often includes the estate name. As with wine appellations, the varietal system suggests what kind of soil, climate and cultivation methods were used.
Washed coffee Coffee prepared by removing the pulp and skin from the beans while the coffee berry is still moist. Most of the world’s greatest coffees are wet-processed.
Whole Bean Coffee that has been roasted and not yet ground.
Yemen The straight coffee from the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula along the Red Sea in the mountainous regions of Yemen. This is the world’s oldest cultivated coffee and is distinguished by it’s full body and rich winelike acidity.