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Coffee Glossary

Acidity
The bright, tart, or dry characteristic of a high-quality coffee, used in the sensory evaluation of coffee by professional tasters

Altura
Coffee from Mexico that has been high grown, or grown at a high altitude; from the Spanish word for height

American Roast
A style of roasting in which the coffee beans are roasted until they turn a medium brown, with a rich flavor as traditionally preferred by Americans in the U.S.

Antigua
Highly regarded coffee from Guatemala, grown in that country’s well-known Antigua region

Arabica
Common name for Coffea Arabica, a species of coffee tree native to Ethiopia that accounts for the majority (approximately 70%) of global coffee production

Aroma
The fragrance of brewed coffee, which is closely related to taste and can range from floral to earthy to fruity

Balance
The quality of coffee that does not have a single dominant characteristic that overwhelms the other flavors

Batch Roaster
Machine that roasts a fixed quantity, or batch, of coffee beans at a time

Blend
Mixture of two or more varieties of single-origin coffee

Body
The physical or tactile sensation of a coffee’s weight, thickness, and texture in the mouth, usually described as light, medium, or full

Cafe Au Lait
Coffee drink usually made by mixing equal parts coffee and hot frothed milk

Caffeine
An alkaloid, or naturally occurring chemical, that is found in coffee and tea and has a stimulant effect on the central nervous system

Cappuccino
Coffee drink made by topping an espresso shot with hot or steamed milk and froth

Chaff
Flakes of silverskin, or the papery, innermost skin of the coffee fruit, that are loosened from the bean and released during roasting

Cherry
Berry-like fruit of the coffee tree, each of which contains two coffee beans

Clean
Coffee tasting term to describe coffee without any distracting, interfering flavors or flavor defects

Complexity
Coffee tasting term to describe coffee that has layers or shifts in flavor, usually with a pleasing divergence of attributes

Cortado
Coffee drink made by topping—or “cutting”—an espresso with flat steamed milk; from the Spanish word for cut

Crema
Thick, flavorful foam or froth, formed from emulsified oils and light caramel brown in color, that covers the top of an espresso

Cupping
Method used by professional tasters to analyze and evaluate coffee, grading it on characteristics such as aroma, acidity, body, flavor, and balance

Decaffeinated
Term to describe coffee that has had most or all of the caffeine removed, at least 97% as per FDA regulations

Degassing
Process through which gases (primarily carbon dioxide), which are formed inside coffee beans during roasting, are released over the course of several days

Doppio
Double shot of espresso, from the Italian word for double

Dry Process
Process by which the coffee fruit is dried before being hulled from the green coffee beans inside, often resulting in heavier body and fruity, exotic flavors

Earthiness
A musty, sometimes spicy taste characteristic often found in Indonesian coffees; can result from coffee being dried on earth rather than soil-free surfaces

Espresso
Coffee brewing method that uses pressure to force hot water through very fine grounds, resulting in a small amount of strong, concentrated coffee

Extraction
Process by which hot water is used to draw soluble flavors from coffee grounds, and is sensitive to time and temperature

Fair Trade Coffee
Coffee purchased from often marginalized farmers at a price defined as “fair” by a cooperative association or international agency

Finish
The aftertaste or sensation in the mouth just after coffee is swallowed, which can be affected by length, feel, and consistency of taste

Flat White
Coffee drink made by topping an espresso with flat steamed milk—ideally microfoam, which has a velvety texture without being frothy

Flavor
The characteristics that make up a coffee’s taste and overall impression, sometimes including aroma, body, and acidity

French Press
Coffee brewing device in which coffee grounds are steeped in hot water, then pushed down and separated from the brewed coffee by a mesh plunger

French Roast
A style of roasting in which the coffee beans are roasted until they turn a very dark brown with a shiny, oily sheen, often imparting bittersweet flavors

Green Coffee
Coffee beans that have not been roasted

Hard Bean
Coffee that has been grown at altitudes of approximately 3,000-4,000 feet or higher, resulting in a harder, denser coffee bean; also called high grown

High Grown
Coffee that has been grown at altitudes of approximately 3,000-4,000 feet or higher, resulting in a harder, denser coffee bean; also called hard bean

Hulling
The process of removing the parchment, or parchment-like skin, of the coffee bean from the bean itself

Italian Roast
A style of roasting in which the coffee beans are roasted until they turn a very dark brown, almost black, with a shiny, oily sheen and often bittersweet flavors

Latte
Coffee drink made by combining espresso with a large amount of steamed milk and topping with froth; shortened from the Italian term caffè latte, or coffee with milk

Macchiato
Coffee drink made by “marking” an espresso with a small amount of foamed milk; from the Italian word for marked or stained

Mandheling
Well-known coffee from Sumatra, the second largest island of Indonesia, known for its full body and sweet flavors

Micro Lot
Small lot of coffee purposefully harvested from a specific area of a single coffee farm in order to highlight or intensify its desirable characteristics

Mocha
Coffee drink made by combining espresso with chocolate and steamed milk

New Crop
Coffee that has been roasted a short time after being harvested, when the coffee beans are bright and fresh

Organic Coffee
Coffee that has been grown and processed without synthetic chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides, as certified by a third-party organization

Parchment
The hull, or parchment-like skin, surrounding the coffee bean; removed during the hulling process

Peaberry
A single round bean resulting when a coffee tree fruit produces only one seed instead of two

Pour Over Coffee
Method of brewing drip coffee by pouring a thin stream of hot water steadily over a filter cone of ground coffee, originating from Japan

Pull
Term referring to the brewing of espresso shots, based on the fact that espresso machines used to be operated by pulling a lever

Pulping
The process of removing the outer skins and pulp of the coffee fruit, leaving the coffee beans encased in their parchment-like skins

Redeye
Coffee drink made by combining brewed coffee with a shot of espresso

Ristretto
An espresso that has been brewed with less water, or “pulled short,” resulting in a drink that is smaller and more concentrated; from the Italian word for restricted

Roast
The process of heating green coffee beans to create desirable or agreeable flavors, which can be extracted upon brewing

Robusta
Common name for Coffea Robusta, a species of low-growing coffee tree that accounts for approximately 30% of global coffee production

Shade Grown
Term (not an official certification) for coffee that has been grown under shade, often helping to preserve natural habitats and decrease the need for pesticides

Shot
A single serving of espresso, usually measuring 1 ounce

Silverskin
The thin, papery, innermost skin of the coffee fruit, which is loosened from the bean and released as chaff during roasting

Single Origin Coffee
Coffee that is unblended and from a single crop grown in a single location, such as an individual region or farm

Sorting
The process of separating coffee beans, once they have been dried and hulled, by size, color, density, and defects

Specialty Coffee
Coffee that is produced from higher-quality green coffee, resulting in minimal defects and distinguished as superior

Strictly Hard Bean
Designation used in certain Central American countries for coffee that has been grown at altitudes of 4,000 feet or higher, resulting in a harder, denser coffee bean

Tarrazu
Highly regarded coffee from Costa Rica, grown in that country’s Tarrazu region in volcanic soil and ideal climate conditions

Varietal
Botanical term for a single type of coffee tree, or coffee made from a single type of coffee tree

Varietal Character
Term used in coffee tasting or cupping to describe characteristics that differentiate a particular coffee from other coffees grown elsewhere

Vienna Roast
A style of roasting in which the coffee beans are roasted until they turn a medium dark brown, resulting in a slight sheen and lower acidity

Wet Processed / Washed Coffee
Process by which the skin and pulp of the coffee fruit is removed before the beans are fermented, washed, and dried, often resulting in lighter body and bright flavors

Yirgacheffe
Extremely highly regarded Arabica washed coffee from Ethiopia, grown in that country’s Yirgacheffe micro-region, with fruity acidity and complex flavors

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