A Glossary of Coffee Terms

Posted in  Coffee  on  March 20, 2021 by  Urban Bean Coffee Team

Do you have a passion for coffee and want to understand the subject better? Knowledge of coffee terms will help.

Use our alphabetical glossary to start exploring the world of coffee.

We have collected general coffee terms and definitions that relate to coffee, coffee tools, and coffee accessories.

Basic Coffee Terms

AA is the highest coffee category in many classification systems. Typically, these are the largest and most expensive coffee beans, grown in Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, India, and other countries.

Acidity is one of the components of coffee flavor. Its intensity is influenced by plantation elevation, the method of processing, and the degree of roasting. Acidity can be pleasant, or not. Good acidity is comparable to the acidity of apples or citrus fruits and is pleasant and refreshing.

An AeroPress is a fairly new manual coffee maker, but it's already gaining popularity. Despite its simplicity of design and use, the AeroPress can brew coffee using a huge number of recipes.

American Roast, also known as a City Roast, is when coffee is roasted until medium brown. The beans are roasted until the end of the first crack—the characteristic click that occurs when beans are heated. A cup of American Roast coffee has a traditional flavor.

An Americano is a coffee drink obtained by diluting espresso with hot water to get a volume of 150-200 ml (5-7 oz).

Arabica is a coffee variety that grows on Arabica trees. The trees and coffee variety got their name because they originated in the Arab countries of Africa, most likely in Kaffa, an Ethiopian province. Arabica coffee makes up approximately 70% of all coffee produced in the world. It is suitable for alternative brewing methods, and well reveals taste and aroma notes that are influenced by cultivation climate.

Aroma is the pleasant scent released from freshly ground coffee beans and brewed coffee. Aromas can have different shades: nutty, floral, citrus, herbal, and others.

Balance is coffee's harmony of taste characteristics and shades. The taste of the drink should combine different flavors. Coffee has a complex flavor if the nuances of taste change, alternate, and overlap.

A Bar is a unit of measure for pressure. The optimal pressure for preparing espresso drinks is 9 bar. Most espresso machines are equipped with a pump that produces the necessary pressure. In manual espresso makers, the user presses a button or moves a lever to create pressure by hand.

A Barista is a person who professionally prepares coffee drinks.

Body is the collection of sensations felt the mouth after a sip of coffee. It has two characteristics: intensity and quality. Intensity is characterized by the density of the beverage, and quality is determined by your coffee experience. You can describe it as smooth, silky, creamy, dry, astringent, etc.

Bourbon is a variety of Arabica coffee beans that is close to the original coffee discovered in Ethiopia over 1000 years ago. Most Bourbon trees grow in Brazil. Bourbon has a sweet aroma with hints of fruit and is often found in premium coffee blends.

A Blend is a mixture of coffee beans of different varieties. They are mixed to create coffee with a new taste and aroma. Some types of coffee beans have too bright of characteristics or specific tastes when brewed on their own. In these cases, blends are created to balance the taste of those beans.

Blooming is adding a small amount of hot water to the grounds before the main pouring when brewing pour-over coffee. This starts the extraction process and removes excess acidity from the coffee flavor. During the process, the coffee grounds grow in volume and bloom like a flower.

A Boiler is a component of a coffee machine that heats water to a specific temperature. Water from the boiler is not used for making espresso.

A Burr Grinder is a coffee grinder with two metal or ceramic burrs, between which coffee is ground.

Caffeine is an odorless alkaloid with a bitter taste. It is the reason for coffee and tea's invigorating effect. Caffeine is synthesized by coffee trees, tea, cocoa, mate, guarana, cola, and more. It allows plants to protect themselves from insects that feed on leaves and stems.

A Cappuccino is a 150-210 ml (5-8 oz) espresso-based coffee drink with milk foam.

A Cezve is a metal container for preparing Turkish coffee over a fire or stove. It has a thick bottom and a neck that tapers upward.

A Chemex is a filter coffee brewing device for making pour-over coffee. It's made of glass and is hourglass-shaped. When brewing coffee, paper filters are used.

Cherry is another name for the fruit of the coffee tree, which looks similar in shape and color to a real cherry.

A Coffee Capsule, also known as a coffee pod, is a small container of ground, roasted, compressed coffee used to brew one cup of coffee in a single-serve coffee maker.

Consistency is the density of the finished coffee drink—watery, medium, full, light, oily, etc. Some species of coffee from Indonesia form a syrupy consistency. This concept is similar to the body of a drink.

A Cortado is a coffee drink that combines espresso and steamed milk in a 1:1 ratio. It is served in 150-200 ml (5-6 oz) glassware. Some recipes add condensed milk and whipped cream. The cortado appeared in Spain, where it is drunk in the afternoon. It is also loved in Portugal and throughout Latin America.

Cold Brew is a method of brewing coffee in which ground coffee and cold water are mixed and then infused in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. The result is a highly caffeinated, rich, bitter concentrate that you mix with cold water. Cold brew is preferred in spring and summer and is often used as the basis for iced coffee.

Crema is the foam that forms on the surface of an espresso or espresso-based drink. It indicates a high-quality drink.

Cupping is professional blind tasting of coffee, used to determine the taste characteristics of different varieties and blends of coffee. A taster who has specialized knowledge of coffee is called a cupper.

A Dark roast is when coffee beans are roasted for a long time. During the roasting process, a lot of sugar is released, which forms a caramel shell on the surface of the bean. Dark roast coffee loses its unique varietal characteristics and some caffeine, but it acquires a rich taste, strong coffee aroma, and pleasant bitterness.

Decaf Coffee is coffee that has been decaffeinated. There are three decaffeinating methods: the classic method, the Swiss Water Process, and the C02 method.

Degassing is when gases, mainly carbon dioxide, that formed in the beans during roasting are released after roasting.

A Doppio is a double espresso shot. It is prepared with double the ground coffee and double the water.

Earthiness is a taste characteristic that occurs when wet coffee beans come into contact with the ground during the drying process. You can taste it in Indonesian varieties from Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Timor.

An Espresso is a coffee drink made with an espresso machine. The volume of a classic shot of espresso is 25-35 ml (about 1 oz), and it's served in a 60-70 ml (2-2.3 oz) cup.

An Espresso machine is a machine for brewing espresso. Pressurized hot water passes through a packed tablet of coffee to prepare a shot of espresso. There are several types of espresso machines: manual, semi-automatic, automatic, super-automatic, pod, and portable.

Extraction is the process that creates an aromatic beverage with a unique taste from ground coffee and water. This is facilitated by solids, oils, and gases released from the coffee during the process.

Fast roast is a commercial coffee roasting technology that roasts coffee in under 5 minutes. This technology is used to produce instant coffee.

A French Press is an infusion coffee maker. It can be used to make coffee, tea, or other herbal drinks.

Green Coffee is unroasted coffee beans. The beans have a matte olive color and are obtained from the sweetish pulp of coffee cherries in one of two ways: dry or wet.

A Grinder is a machine for grinding coffee beans to a certain size. There are manual and electric ones.

Grind Size is the size of the ground coffee particles. The finer the grind, the faster the extraction takes place, and vice versa.

A Group Head is the part of the espresso machine where the portafilter is inserted and where hot water passes through the coffee in the portafilter under pressure.

A Hopper is a container on a grinder or coffee machine that holds whole coffee beans before grinding.

A Latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. In Italian, latte means milk. A latte contains more milk but less milk foam than a cappuccino and has a volume of 240-360 ml (8-12 oz).

Latte art is the creation of a pattern on the surface of a latte. Steamed milk is poured from a pitcher into the latte using a special technique. There are three main elements of latte art: heart, tulip and rosette. These are used to create more complex elements.

A Light roast is when coffee beans are roasted until the first crack. Light roast coffee retains its unique characteristics, which are influenced by growing conditions. The taste of the drink will be more acidic than dark roast coffee.

A Lot is a batch of coffee of the same variety and place of origin that's processed the same way. All coffee within a lot has the same characteristics.

A Macchiato is a drink made from a shot of espresso and a small amount of foamed milk. A spoonful of milk foam is placed on top of the espresso with a spoon—this is a classic Italian recipe. You can also find drinks with a 1:1 ratio. In coffee shops, a macchiato is often larger, served with steamed milk and syrups, and looks more like a latte.

A Mocha is an espresso combined with chocolate or chocolate syrup and steamed milk.

A Moka Pot is a coffee maker in which hot water rises from the lower tank to the upper one through the ground coffee compartment due to steam pressure.

Overextraction is the extraction of too many soluble substances when brewing coffee. It causes bitter and harsh notes to appear.

A Pitcher is a jug, most often made of metal, for steaming milk.

A Portafilter is the part of an espresso machine that holds tamped coffee. Portafilters come with a single or a double dispenser so you can brew one or two shots of espresso.

Pour-over is a manual method for brewing filter coffee. Ground coffee is placed in a special funnel with a paper filter, and hot water is poured through the grounds.

A Ristretto is an espresso drink prepared with a normal amount of ground coffee and half the water. It's rich and has the strength of a double-espresso but the volume of a semi-espresso. It's also called a corto, meaning short.

Robusta is the second most popular type of coffee. It accounts for about 30% of worldwide coffee production. Robusta beans contain a lot of caffeine and chlorogenic acid, which make the coffee bitter with a heavy aroma. Robusta is used in coffee blends to give the characteristic bitterness and thick creaminess of a shot of espresso.

Single-origin Coffee is coffee from a single crop in a specific region. You can trace single-origin coffee back to a specific farm and even to the site where it was grown.

A Slow roast is a slow, softer roast that takes 10 to 20 minutes. The roasting time depends on specific coffee roasters' technique.

Specialty Coffee is the highest grade of coffee, and it accounts for less than 10% of coffee produced worldwide. Specialty Coffee class is awarded only to Arabica.

Strength describes the proportion of dissolved coffee in the beverage. The higher the concentration of coffee in relation to water, the stronger the coffee, and vice versa. One regular cup of coffee contains 1.3-1.5% dissolved coffee; the rest is water. In a shot of espresso, the proportion can be as high as 8-12% coffee.

A Tamper is an accessory for compacting (tamping) ground coffee in a portafilter.

TDS is the percentage of total dissolved solids in the drink. For example, a TDS of 1.35% means that the drink is composed of 98.65% water and 1.35% of substances extracted from coffee. The higher the TDS, the richer the coffee.

Underextraction occurs when, during the brewing process, we do not extract enough soluble substances from the coffee. In this case, the coffee often tastes acidic, salty, or weak.

The World Barista Championship (WBC) is an annual competition for professional baristas, sponsored by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). It is attended by the winners of the American and European national championships and was first held in 2000 at the initiative of the Norwegians.


Now you know lots of basic coffee terms.

We hope that this glossary has made it easier for you to understand and enjoy coffee.

If you are looking for your perfect cup of coffee, read our next section about types of coffee makers.

About the Author

Urban Bean Coffee Team

Coffee is part of the lives of everyone on the Urban Bean Coffee team. We are a group of professional baristas, coffee bean roasters, and coffee machine repairers. Coffee has connected us, and together we strive to provide the best information to our readers. Our responsibility is to provide advice on any and all coffee-related issues. And we know that to do this we must be experts in this field. The coffee consumption culture has changed dramatically over several centuries. New brewing methods, bean quality control methods, roasting methods, and much more have appeared. We are sure that coffee will change further, and we want to be involved in changing it for the better.

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