Coffee Vocabulary and Terminologies

Learning about Coffee means learning about new terms.

That's why, as a compliment to our ultimate guide to coffee, we published this complete and handy list of terms relating to coffee and coffee production.

This glossary can be used to quickly look up commonly used coffee "lingo" to better understand definitions and context.

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z


Coffee Words That Start With A

lemon as metaphor for acidity

In terms of describing flavor, Acidity is sometimes synonymous with coffee flavor descriptions like "brightness" but it can also be used to describe negative characteristics of coffee flavor (bitter, sour, etc..)

Acidity, in and of itself, is not necessarily a good or a bad thing. The acidity level of coffee is usually what determines whether or not it is a positive or negative.

Of course Acidity can also refer to the scientifically determined compounds found in coffee.

In either case, the Acidity of coffee is largely determined by the altitude the coffee is grown at. Higher altitude coffees usually yield more complex, balanced, and appealing levels of acidity. The balance results in an enhancement of the underlying sweetness.

In contrast, lower altitude coffee can sometimes result in less acidic and more boring or flat tasting coffee.


Read More:

Coffee's Flavor Chemistry


The Aeropress was invented by a man named Alan Adler, who also invented a type of frisbee he had similarly named the "Aerobie".

An Aeropress is built to contain ground coffee beans and water that will be used for breweing in a chamber with a syringe like apparatus. 

The syringe like device allows you to apply manual pressure and force the brewed coffee through a filter and lid.

The advantage of the Aeropress brewing method is that it allows for more versatility. For instance you can choose to use very finely ground coffee to produce stronger brews as the use of manual pressure allows for more solubility than just relying on gravity.

bartender agitating drink

In the context of coffee what we mean by "agitate" is to mix the water and coffee grounds.

The purpose of agitating is to help water access the coffee by mixing them together. Agitation is used to increase the extraction prevent coffee grounds settling.

Agitation can be done with a few different methods. For instance the brewer could use a stirring stick or literally shake the container full of the coffee and water.

mountains to illustrate altitude

When it comes to growing coffee, usually the higher the altitude the better.

The more sought after Arabic species is usually found at altitudes higher than 3,300 feet above sea level, with some found as higher as 8,200 feet. 

In contrast the Robusta species, which considered lower quality, is usually found at under 3,300 feet.

What do higher altitudes matter? Mainly because the higher the altitude the cooler the climate. A cooler climate means the coffee cherry has a more protracted ripening period, with more time to develop a higher quality flavor.

Keep in mind that coffee plants are grown in the tropics specifically because they cannot be grown in climates that are too cold either. For this reason there are some nuances to consider when evaluating the impact of altitude on quality of coffee.

The quality of the coffee will also be influenced by factors like the soil and the method of processing. While higher quality coffee is typically found at altitudes higher than 3,000 feet a cool enough climate, even at a low altitude, can still result in a very high quality coffee - especially when other factors like soil and processing are taken into account.


Read More

Harvesting Coffee Beans

arabica coffee beans

"Coffea arabica" is the name of the most popular and frequently cultivated coffee species in the world. Other species like Robusta and Liberica are grown as well, but Arabica is firmly the #1 species.

Generally speaking any coffee that is considered of "high grade" or "specialty coffee" will come from the Arabica species. That said, since most coffee comes from this species the "Arabica" designation doesn't always mean the coffee is considered specialty or high quality.

Originally found in Ethiopia, Arabica as a species yields a wide range of flavor, with different varieties combining with other factors that result in a diverse array of distinct and compelling flavor profiles.


Read More:

Diferent Types of Coffee Beans


Coffee Words That Start With B

barista serving coffee

Barista was originally Italian for "bar person", although the term now tends to exclusively refer to professional coffee makers.

The role of the Barista has evolved and taken on new meaning over the most recent years. The term now commonly refers to a globally well respected professional is even used in branding ("barista preferred!" etc..) and there are even regularly held and well respected "barista competitions".

The barista mainly learns on the job but there's an ever growing proliferation of courses and certifications available for those who want to learn the trade.

Of course, simply put, the job of the barista is simply to make and serve coffee.

However, the practice of coffee making continues to evolve in complexity and increasingly requires more specialized expertise, leading to the role of the barista to become not unlike that of a sommelier.

scoops of different coffee beans

The term "blend", in the context of coffee, usually refers to the combination of several coffees from different countries. Each coffee in a given blend will typically come from different variations of the coffee plant.

Different coffees are blended togather for several reasons. Sometimes the blend combines complimentary flavor notes together. Often the blend is more economical to produce or it helps balance out problems relating to quality.

Another advantage of producing coffee blends is that roasters can consistently produce and sell a product all year round, as the diversification of the coffee helps to mitigate seasonal fluctuations in availability.

Blending tends to be avoided in producing and marketing speciality coffee.  This is partly because it's significantly more difficult to properly extract the coffee evenly (which is a critical part of the processing of good quality coffee) when the coffee is blended from two different sources.

Having said that, coffee blends do have their own distinct advantages and coffee blends are often markets and sold quite successfully.

coffee plant with blossom

Coffee trees are that is known as a "flowering" plant or "angiosperms". This means they produce flowers, usually after a heavy rainfall. The coffee plant is actually "self-pollinating" which means it doesn't need insects to pollinate and produce the fruit or flowers.

The flowers produces by coffee pants are simple but quite impressive looking white blossoms. The blossoms are highly aromatic with a scent reminiscent of jasmine. The blossoms often smell distinctly like the flavor notes found in the cups of coffee they can eventually be used to produce.

The coffee "flowering" will eventually lead to the fruit being born. This fruit will usually take somewhere around nine months to mature, yielding the ripe cherries that are later harvested.

cup of coffee surrounded by beans

"Body" is a term used to help characterize the texture and flavor of coffee, although it is somewhat ambiguously defined.

To put it simply, people use the term "body" to describe how large and/or "heavy" the coffee feels when tasted. 

It follows then that people will typically define the "body" of a coffee along a spectrum from "light" to "heavy".

"Body" and "mouthfeel" are often considered together and they do facilitate a somewhat objective evaluation of coffee and are fairly easy to understand and communicate among quality raters.

map showing bourbon in France

Bourbon is a coffee variety that was first grown and discovered on what we now call the island of Réunion, which at the time was known as "Île Bourbon" - named after the French royal house.

The Bourbon coffee variety is well very well recognized across the world and well regarded for its unique and sweet tasting flavor profile.

Interestingly there is a broad and diverse range of varieties within the Bourbon classification, including red, yellow, and orange mutations.


Read More:

Different Types of Coffee Beans 

coffee in glass

Brew ratio in coffee simply refers to the proportion of coffee to water that is used when brewing.

A 50 percent brew ratio (or a 1:2 ratio) would signal that the final beverage weighs twice as much as the coffee grounds.

That means you could use 10g of coffee grounds for espresso or a 22g and still have two shots with the same brew ratio by pouring 20g and 44g out, respectively.

The second shot is the larger of the two but it has the same brew ratio as the first.


Read More:

The Coffee Brewing Control Chart


Coffee Words That Start With C

coffee cup against red background

Caffeine is of course a core element in the composition of (most) coffee. Without the stimulating effect of caffeine it's unlikely that coffee would the globally popular drink we know it to be today.

Caffeine actually serves a purpose in the evolutionary development and protection of the coffee plant. In fact in nature caffeine acts as an insecticide, preventing coffee plants from being damaged by insects.

The origin of the coffee wil largely influence the degree of caffeine found within, as will the actual coffee species. Robusta usually has twice the amount of caffeine vs Arabica. Typically the higher the altitude the coffee is grown at the lower the caffeine levels. This makes sense as there is less of an "evolutionary need" for the same degree of protection against insects at higher altitudes.


Read More:

Chemical Compounds in Coffee

coffee capsules

Coffee capsules or pods were invented by Nestlé in 1972.

Since that time the consumption of coffee through these capsules as continued to grow and many other companies have created similar offerings. 

Capsules are developed by inserting ground coffee into an aluminum or plastic container and combining it with inert gas. The inert gas and air tight container ensures the freshness of the coffee is preserved.

The technology is suprisingly capable of producing an effective brewing system and the refinement and improvements on the coffee capsule technology continue at an acclerated pace following the expiration of Nestlé's patents in 2011.

cold brew latte on a table

The concept of Cold Brew coffee is simple enough. The Coffee is brewed with cold water instead of hot.

Hot water was long thought to be critical to facilitate proper extraction, but coffee can still be brewed with cold water as long as its given enough time. Brewing with cold water is often achieved through more time consuming slow-drip or  slow-steeping methods.

Having said that, time is not a completely adequate substitution for heat, and the extraction usually results in a different flavor profile. One with less acidity and more of a  chocolaty taste.

Cold Brew coffees end up generally tasting smoother but because the extraction does not capture the full range of acidity and aromatics the end result is often much less complex.

Nitro cold brew is also beginning to proliferate and is served on beer-like taps. The addition of nitrogen gives the coffee an almost beer stout-like creaminess and texture to the drink.


Read More:

Coffee Brewing Methods

COE Competition logo

Cup of Excellence (COE) is a competition in which producers have their coffees graded and ranked according to their quality. The top lots then get auctioned off to the highest bidder around the world via an Internet auction. This hugely impactful programme was created by the US speciality coffee pioneer George Howell along with Susie Spindler. The programme really helps to throw a spotlight on – and reward – quality, allowing producers access to international buyers prepared to pay for the best. Countries like Rwanda have had their coffee-growing fortunes

dramatically altered by this programme, which brings attention to the quality of coffee that a country can produce. Not all coffee-producing countries host the Cup of Excellence, and other auction systems have also popped up, such as the Best of Panama.


Read More:

The History of Coffee

"Cupping" refers to the most common method used to grade and evaluate coffee.

The “cupper is tasked with following a very specific set of procedures and tests and to apply those tests consistently across all the coffees they taste.

The cupping method consists of first grinding the coffee, noting the aromatics and smell of the now freshly ground coffee, then they are supposed to add water to the coffee grounds and wait for it to steep for four minutes, before stirring and noting the "new" aroma. Finally, after an additional 6 minutes have passed they taste the coffee.

The tasting of the coffee also follows specific procedures. Each cupper is expected to use a spoon to take a sample of the coffee (without disturbing the coffee grounds at the bottom of the bowl) and then they slurp the coffee, ensuring there's enough space to "aerate" the coffee as as they do so.

The purpose of these protocols is to allow the cupper to taste a lot of coffee in one session. 


Coffee Words That Start With D

decaf coffee spelled out with coffee beans

The process of decaffeination is applied to green coffee beans prior to roasting.

There are actually quite a few different ways of decaffeinating coffee, with two methods that have proven to be the most popular:


1. The patented Swiss Water Process. 

In this method, green coffee beans are first submerged in hot water soaks up the caffeine and flavour compounds. The coffee beans are stripped of the caffeine and flavor and then they are removed. Then a new batch of beans is added to this remaining solution. Because the solution is fully saturated with flavor, the new beans that were added have their caffeine removed (just as the first batch did) through the hot water but their flavor actually remains. 


2. The CO2 Method.

This method infuses carbon dioxide into coffee beans at very high pressure which "forces" the caffeine out of the coffee beans and into a water solution.


It's common to use older green coffee beans that were not used in the production of other popular coffee blends to make decaf. While all caffeine removal processes will invariable impact flavor, using high quality and fresh coffee beans along with careful roasting processes can still product great tasting decaf coffee.


Read More:

How Coffee Gets Decaffeinated

coffee beans with defects

Better tasting coffee (independant of individual coffee drinker preferences) is influenced in no small part by quality coffee beans with very few defects.

Defects tend to be the result of problems with the coffee cherries’ growth or sometimes are caused by problems in harvesting and processing. The most common causes of coffee bean defects are "natural" problems like insect damage and fungal buildup.

While many defects can be easily detected and are readily apparent through visual inspection of the beans sometimes UV lights and LED sorting machines are used to identify them as well. Some defects like the so called “Potato defect” can be very difficult to detect, even with sophisticated tools, until AFTER the coffee is ground - at which point it omits an unambiguous potato aroma. 


Read More:

Defects in Green Coffee Beans

coffee under brewing machine

The term “development” in coffee is generally used to refer to aspects of roasting technique.

For instance we might use "development" in referring to specific stages of the roasting process.

Sometimes the term is simply referring to how well roasted the coffee is. The idea is that the coffee roasting process is made up of a combination of different processes and chemical reactions - each with their part to play in the production of aroma and flavor profile.

Coffee roasters find that if they are not able to "develop" the right quality and quantity of these reactions then the coffee can end up tasting flat, sour, or insufficiently complex.

This is why some expert coffee drinkers and roasters might refer to a coffee as tasting underdeveloped or overdeveloped. In one case the coffee did not roast well enough to cause a sufficient number of reactions and in ther latter case there were too many reactions to produce the desired flavor profile.

coffee beans on drum roaster

We roast coffee beans in order to transform tasteless green beans into brown coffee beans full of flavor and aroma potential.

The most popular way to roast coffee is to use a drum roaster.

There are of course a variety of different "types" of coffee drum roasters but they tend to all work in essentially the same fashion. A rotating metal drum is heated up from the outside with air flowing in through the drum to ventilate the fumes. Drum roasting usually allows the roaster to modulate or control different aspects of the process. For instance air speed can be adjusted as can the level of heat applied. The drum rotating speed can also be altered.

The degree of control in roasting is critical. To roast coffee is to unlock many different processes and chemical reactions that will in turn influence several hundred possible flavor compounds. This means that even barely perceptible changes in the roasting process can have a profound impact on the coffee flavor.


Read More:

How Coffee Beans are Roasted

man smelling coffee aroma

Coffee is comprised of different chemical compounds that are often cagetegorized across different flavor "groupings" - for instance "aromatics", "fruit acids", "sugar browning", and - finally - "dry distillates".

The term “dry distillates” tends to ferer to the flavor groupings of woody, burnt, or smokey tasting notes. These notes are usually brought about through high-temperature roasting processes.

The compounds that bring about this flavor profile are actually much trickier to intentionally develop compared to the more fruity or lighter tasting notes.

Dry distillates end up surfacing, sometimes unintentionally, when coffee is brewed with very hot water, for too long, or in cases where the coffee was ground to finely. 


Coffee Words That Start With E

Ecuador landscape photo

Coffee grown in Ecuador has the potential to offer a full range of tastes and aromas. It can be complex, infused with sweet fruit notes, and capable of yielding a distinct body with balanced acidity.

Part of the reason for this is that Ecuador is home to many different "microclimates" that offer versatile options for growing different types of coffee.

More and more specialty coffee is being uncovered in this region proving that with adequate investment and research Ecuador can be a key source of high quality specialty coffee.

Cup of Espresso

Espresso is simply a densely concentrated extraction of coffee served in (usually) small amounts.

Espresso is brewed by applying considerable pressure which is partly responsible for the layer of foam (called a "crema") you'll often find on the surface of the beverage.

Espresso can be tricky to brew well. Italians, who invented the espresso machine, traditionally defined what a proper espresso drink was. Specifically, a well made espresso usually needs to meet a criteria informed by things like the appearance of the crema, the ideal brew time of 25 seconds, and the optimal amount of water in the solution and extraction.


Read More:

Coffee Brewing Methods

Ethiopian flag

Considered by many to be the true origin of all coffee, Ethiopia hosts a wide and diverse range of Arabica coffee bean varieties.

The Ethiopian Highlands specifically are an optimal home for Arabica coffee plants due to climate. In fact, these highlands contain almost every type of Arabica variety known to man.

Most coffee in Ethiopia is grown "cooperatively" vs the more traditional large farm like growing seen in the Americas. Many small and independant smallholders combine their individual lots together and combine them later on in a consolidated central processing mill. This means that even if you repeatedly buy coffee from the same mill in Ethiopia you're still likely to get different types of coffee beans with each order. It will depend on what coffee happened to be harvested at the time the coffee beans were ready for purchase.

The Yirgacheffe region is famous for floral and aromatic washed coffee.

Alternatively, a coffee processed with the "natural" method from an area like Sidamo and Harar will often have a bolder and more chocolatey flavor profile.

Ground coffee

"Evenness" is a concept that is typically applied to several points and phases in the coffee harvesting to brewing journey.

Evenness is used to evaluate ground coffee, where a more even grind ensures better / equal distribution of coffee in the extraction.

In the process of coffee roasting, evenness is a concept used to ensure quality - where the goal is roast all the coffee beans evenly to ensure consistency of flavor.

When grading green coffee beans for harvesting, we evaluate the crop partly by determining the evenness and sameness of the size and shapes of the coffee beans to minimize potential for defects. 

Coffee brewed from underneath

Extraction simple means to remove with some kind of force.

The concept of extraction is critical to understanding how to properly brew most any type of coffee. In essence, all coffee regardless of the brew style is made by using water and pressure to extract flavor from (roasted) coffee beans.

At first blush it might follow that in order to make coffee stronger you simply need to extract more.

However the nuance and complexity to keep in mind is that not all flavor compounds extract at the same time and different groupings tend to "unlock" at different extraction rates.

Trying to hasten or add force to an extraction will end up producing a big difference in the flavor available from the coffee beans. You'll end up with crisp, acidic, and usually sweeter fruit notes first.

The more robust and slightly bitter notes happen later on in the extraction and need more time to pull.

Thus, an optimal coffee has a balance of these different flavors, and that can only be achieved with careful attention paid to brewing and extraction methods and timing. 

Very often the official "preferred" extraction level people cite is close to 20 percent. This means that 20 percent of the coffee was absorbed by the water through the extraction process.

Interestingly the instant coffee industry has really pushed the envelope with respect to what is possible through extraction.

Newer methods like superheating and multibrewing facilitate extraction levels of nearly 60 percent, reducing waste and providing remarkable efficiency.


Read More:

Guide to Coffee Extraction


Coffee Words That Start With F

Coffee beans being sold at market

The "Fair trade" certificate is intended to safeguard farmers and coffee growers against exploitative practices by larger commercial coffee retailers.

The principal and purpose of Fair trade is to ensure that coffee producers are able to consistently sell their coffee beans at a price that covers the cost of production, insulating them from seasonality and market swings.

The Fair Trade framework can be a double edged sword as studies have demonstrated that some Fair trade deals that were arranged when the market price for coffee beans were put growers at a disadvantage when the market shifted and the demand for coffee was higher.

In 2011 the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) and Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) organizations split in their approach to dealing with larger enterprises or working exclusviely with smaller cooperative farming groups. Fair Trade USA chose to certify large "plantation-scale" coffee production in the same way as smaller farms while the FLO wished to continue to distinguish between small farmer vs plantation designations to "ensure the ability of small farmers to equitably compete in highly competitive global markets".

Coffee beans in pan being heated up

Fermentation, defined as a "matabolic process" of transforming sugars into alchohol, acids, or sugar, is used to develop a variety of beverages and pickles. The process invariably has a huge impact on taste.

Fermentation in Coffee production has the potential to enhance the coffee's wine like acidity, aroma, and body. Of course fermentation, when taken too far, can also negatively impact the composition and flavor profile of coffee.


Read More:

Coffee Processing Methods 

Coffee and treats served on a plate

"Fika" is the Swedish word for “coffee and cake” and is more or less the equivalent of a coffee break in other cultures and languages.

Fike is coinsidered to be something of a daily ritual is particularly popular in workplaces where routine and structured social interaction is valued.

“Fika bread”, which are essentially cinnamon buns, are a common accompaniment. 

Coffee being roasted and monitored

One of the most notable and important milestones is coffee roasting is known as the "first crack".

The first crack is a audible signal that the coffee beans have roasted beyond a certain point and sounds not unlike the popping of popcorn.

The first crack signals that the coffee beans are cracking open due to their expansion as moisture is extracted from the beans. 

At the "first crack" stage of the roasting process the coffee beans will usually be light brown and have been roasted long enough that they are now releasing energy. 

Not surprisingly the first crack preceeds what is known as "the second crack" which is a sign that the coffee bean has become infused with gases and is now starting the process of breaking down.


Read More:

How Coffee Beans Are Roasted

Coffee surrounded by fruit

Describing flavor notes is no easy task. It requires tasting the coffee, analyzing it, and then describing the differet "parts" of the flavors that are present in a way that can be consistently done and faitly universally understood.

Although flavor notes are often presented in an almost scientific fashion, the truth is there is no scientific or "perfect" way to discern and describe a coffee's flavor profile and specific notes. The nature of tasting and evaluating is always, to some degree, subjective.

That said, some aspects of coffee are easier to objectively identify. Elements like the body, the mouthfeel, or the overal type and style of the coffee can often be agreed to. For instance characterizing a coffee as being "sweet" or "light" will often be uncontroversial.

Skills with respect to identifying flavor notes actually can be developed through experience. The practice of tasting coffee mindfully and trying to put words to the experience is valuable, and can be improved on.

Also, there is a speciality coffee flavour wheel that attempts to standardize the descriptions that can be used to describe the flavor profile and notes of different coffees.

This "agreed upon" language is critical to making coffee flavor descriptions universally understood and communicated.


Read More:

Balancing the Coffee Flavor Profile

Coffee being poured from a French Press

The French press is a popular tool used to brew coffee. It's also referred to as a "cafetière" and has been in use for very long time.

The French press works by steeping coffee in water and then pressing down on a metal/mesh filter. The filter uses pressure to push out most of the sediment and remaining coffee grounds to the bottom of the container with the coffee extraction.

The filter works well but it's fairly coarse and results in the coffee usually containing some residual sediment. Very often this results in a bold and full flavored coffee extraction.


Read More:

Coffee Brewing Methods


Coffee Words That Start With G

Coffee beans unroasted being held

Green coffee or green coffee beans are terms used to refer to unroasted coffee beans. The terms is used frequently because green coffee beans are the commodity or product that the global coffee trade revolves around.

The green "raw" coffee bean is what's left over after the coffee plants have been harvested and their cherry and parchment has been detached.

These beans are green in color before they are processed. Processing the beans usually changes the color, turning the green to a shade of yellow.


Read More:

Storing and Grading Green Coffee Beans

Coffee grinder

The process of grinding whole coffee beans to produce coffee grounds that are ready for extraction is a simple concept, but a bit complicated in execution.

To the naked eye, grinding a coffee beans only involves crushing it up into smaller pieces.

When examining the concept in more detail we see that the grinding process is actually redistributing the particle sizes and the shape of the bean.

After the coffee is ground you will invariably be left with a multitude of grinds that come in different shapes and sizes, even you try your best to achieve some consistency.

A particle analyzer could infact evaluate how many pieces of coffee beans now exist in each size and how many variations in shapes and sizes there are.

The particularly small coffee pieces are called "fines" vs the very large pieces which are often referred to as “boulders”.

A "fine" is scientifically identified as a piece that's smaller than 100 "microns" (one millionth of a metre). The smaller or finer the coffee grounds, the more readily they will dissolve in water.


Read More:

The Guide to Grinding Coffee Beans

Coffee beans held in spoon

"Grooming" coffee refers to the distributing and moving of coffee grounds prior to having them brewed in a portafilter (a spoon shaped container that holds ground coffee beans).

The purpose of grooming is to achieve a more uniformly distributed bed of coffee by spreading it around. This is meant to make it easier and more likely that once the water is added it will yield a more even and consistent extraction. 

There's actually quite a few different "techniques" that are used to groom coffee. One of the most famous techniques, for example, is called the “stockfleth” method. In this method you simply apply a rotation to the coffee grounds using you finger with an eye towards distributing the top layer. In other methods like the “north, east, south, west” method, you move the coffee grounds in each direction. 

For most baristas, the method of just tapping the basket horizontally and vertically is most commonly used as it is proves effective and saves time.

Aerial view of Antigua, Guatemala

Guatemala is listed in our glossary because it's a country highly regarded for its quality of coffee and it happens to be one of the biggest producers of coffee in Central America.

Located north of El Salvador Guatemala is found in an geographic area that is bursting with coffee growers. Perhaps the best known coffee producing region within the country is Antigua.

Antigua produces excellent high quality coffee but of course the prices tend to be more on the expensive side.

Another Guatemalan region that's known for producing pricey but high quality coffee is Huehuetenango, which is very popoular among speciality coffee retailers.

Guatemalan coffees tend to be bright and are often "juicy" in terms of body. 

Tasting a strawberry

Gustatory is the technical term used to describe the type of experience we encounter when we ingest something in our mouth and taste it. Because our nose and olfactory system are so intertwined with our sense of taste a full Gustatory experience actually has as much to do with scent and aroma as with taste.

When we thing of characterizations or descriptions of food & beverage like "smoothness" or "bitterness" etc.. these attributes are all part of the umbrella of the full gustatory experience. Thus an appreciation of a high quality coffee experience will involve both the mouth as well as our olfactory senses.


Coffee Words That Start With H


Hawaiian Kona is a well established and highly thought of term in the coffee industry.

Despite this high regard, we tend not to see if mentioned very often in the specialty coffee ecosystem.

This is because Hawaii is unique in being one of the few "first world" coffee producing regions which means the the labor and production costs are higher and so the coffee tends to be sold at a higher price than similar grade coffee produced in other areas.

This dilemma has forced the region to invest in innovation, pioneering technology that heavily automates coffee processing.

Coffee grown in Hawaii is grown at relatively low altitudes and produces well rounded and often complex cups of coffee.

Espresso machines are built to heat up the water used to brew coffee, usually in one of two ways. 

Either a thick metal boiler heated with a well regulated element or, alternatively, a "heat exchanger".

A heat exchanged is comprised of a narrow tube placed inside a hot boiler. Fresh water is pulled through this tube and and then heated up in almost real time. 

Possible disadvantages include losing heat when brewing for only a short while. Also, the device relies on a container of very hot water as a heat source. After heavy use sometimes the water temperature will cool down and the water used for brewing gets less heat than needed for a good extraction.

One variation of the heat exchanger method has been built by an Italian espresoo manufacturer callled "La Spaziale". Their heat exchanger method actually employs steam instead of water, which functions as a more reliable heat source for the extraction.

flag of Honduras

Honduras, which had a bit of a late start as far as coffee producing regions go, is now one of the more popular producers of coffee in their region.

Honduran coffees are apprecitated mostly for their complex and almost tropical flavor profile, heavy on fruit notes.

Although Honduras boasts fantastic conditions for growing coffee, they don't have the best reputation for processing (specifically drying) after harvest. A uniquely significant amount of rainfall the region receives means it's much more difficult to dry, so the coffee might taste execeptional when first harvested but the flavor diminishes rapidly as it loses freshness.

Coffee beans drying

The honey process refers to one method of extracting the coffee bean. There's no actual honey involved here, the name is derived because it refers to the sticky mucilage found on the coffee cherry.

After the coffee is dried, the cherry can be left on (this is called the "natural process") or the cherry can be removed using what is known as the "washed" process. Now, the honey process is actually a middle ground in between these two approaches, and not unlike the pulped natural method.

The honey processing method has proliferated at great pace in recent years, especially in Central America.

In fact a range of different honey processes have been developedm usually referred to as black, red, or yellow.

These different variations signal the proportion of mucilage left on the bean or the degree of light and heat the mucilage has exposed been exposed to. Heat and light are influced by the depth of the coffee or the number of times the parchment is turned. These elements control how fast the coffee is fully dried, which in turn determines the degree of fermentation that happens in the processing.

For instance the "black" honey process usually leaves on a greater amount of mucilage during the drying process, which slows things down. As a result, the coffee beans produce a heavier cup of coffee with less acidity and a sweeter overall flavor profile.

Moving from black, to red, to yellow and beyond is basically a successive approach to drying the beans with less and less mucilage and increasingly fast drying times. The closer you get to yellow the brighter and lighter-bodied the coffee is.

A more extreme variation of the honey process is the "white" honey procesing which fully removes the cherry using water pressure.


Read More:

Coffee Processing Methods


Coffee Words That Start With I

Ship with containers

Occasionally companies that sell coffee wholesale will also source and import their coffee directly, however most coffee companies will utilize an intermediary to assist them in importing coffee from growers.

This is because the sourcing and buying of coffee is a complicated and time consuming endeavor and also requires expertise if shipping and logistics.

Although there are benefits to buying coffee "direct" (sometimes it opens the door to more speciality coffee's that might be available and also reduces costs), coffee importers provide coffee companies and roasters a number of valuable services. 

Perhaps most importantly, coffee importers provide a higher degree of quality assurance than what would be achieved in purchasing coffee directly. This quality assurance is essential because the process of transporting coffee and storing it at different checkpoints along the logistical chain can, if not managed carefull,y have a huge impact on the end result.

Thus, importers bring in expertise in supply chain management along with long established partnerships to help ensure the timely delivery of coffee that has retained its quality and freshness.


Read More:

Coffee Bean Storage and Transportation

counter with blackboard at coffee shop

At a descriptive label, the term "independent" when describing coffee retailers can mean many different things, but it's mostly safe to say it describes those coffee shops that are not part of big chain like Starbucks or Costa Coffee.

In day to day practice the term has also evolved to describe a set of values. This is particularly evident in the so called “third wave” coffee movement, which is very much steeped in "independent" coffee culture.

This is not to say that these independent coffee shops have a monopoly on quality or specialty coffee. Nor is it fair to say that a coffee retailer that is achieving successful growth somehow loses access to their classification as an independant.

crops on a farm in India

While India is perhaps best known for its wonderful assortment of teas, it is also fair to say the country is a relatively major player in the world of coffee production.

Particularly well known for producing good quality Robusta coffee beans, India boasts a fascinating history in their development as a coffee source.

Coffee from India was originally transported in wooden boxes across the sea. Plagued by heavy rain and monsoons, the green coffee would sometimes take in a high amount of moisture which resulted in a coffee beverage with low acidity and a full body.

Eventually transportation methods improved, but not before consumers had acquired a taste for the specific type of coffee that was accidentally produced through extreme weather conditions.

The Monsooned Malabar is a process, still used to this day, of artificially reproducing this phenomenon to imitate the same flavor profile.

Indonesian forest

Indonesian coffee tends to be processed through a distinct "wet hulled" processing method (also known as "giling basah") that has resulted in the coffee from this region being known for its spicy and earthy notes.

This wet hulled process happens in two stages.

First the coffee is dried, with most of the cherry removed, until it hits roughly 30 to 35 percent moisture. Similar to the honey process this step is carried out with the mucilage still remaining.

Next, the parchment is removed and the beans are dried further. Removing the parchment at this early of a stage in the process tends to yield a less acidic and more full bodies brew.

That said, the region also offers more traditionally washed coffees with complex aromas and flavor profiles.

cup of coffee in front of package of nescafe

Soluble coffee, more commonly referred to a "Instant coffee" was (possibly) first invented in England somtime around the the late eighteenth century.

That said, it was formally patented by 

The first registered patent, however, was done in Invercargill by one David Strand.

This fashion of brewing coffee is immensely popular. Instant preparation saves time and even though there's a few different methods that can be used they all involve a mechanism to brew the coffee and then dispose of the water.

The end result leaves the brewer with fully brewed dehydrated coffee powder that simply needs to be rehydrated to rapidly produce a cup of coffee.

Instand coffee has a longer shelf life, is easier to transport due to the reduced weight / size and most compellingly offers the end consumer a less time consuming way to prepare the drink.

One benefit that was much less commonly found in instant coffee was in its flavor and quality, which was typically belived to be inferior to more traditionally brewed coffee.

Recent years have demonstrated some exceptions to the rule that instant coffee is different than quality coffee. For instance in 2016 a former Finnish Barista champion founded Sudden Coffee, whose mission was to provide high quality specialty coffee blends in instant coffee format.

Sudden Coffee closed in 2020 but there remains other examples of innovation and trends toward quality in the instant coffee space. For example DripKit is dedicated to providing high quality coffee that is "ready to brew".

ICO logo

Headquartered in London, the International Coffee Organization (ICO) was founded in 1963 to improve relations and partnerships between coffee-producing and coffee-consuming countries.

Initially one of the key mandates of the ICO was to help stabilize coffee prices to insulate coffee producers from the whims of market fluctuations. For instance the ICO implemented a quota system that was in place until the 90s to keep coffee production within a threshold regardless of demand drops or surges.

The ICO, which now plays less of a part in quota establishment, has evolved to focus increasingly on innovation, research, and education on behalf of its members.


Read More:

The History of Coffee

Tuscany grape field

Italy is the birthplace and home of espresso and is famously touted as a region from which authentic "coffee culture" springs.

Italy is also home to the The Instituto Internationale Assaggiatori Caffè (IIAC), which is an institution dedicated to standardizing and defining espresso, including the ideal  texture and flavor proifile.

Coffee in Italy take many forms and is produced through a wide variety of methods. Robusta beans are commonly employed to produce hot and short served Neapolitan espresso while you're more likely to find Arabica based espresso in northern Italy.

Despite a long tradition of sopisticated coffee culture, the Italian coffee industry is still significantly commoditized and not necessarily a great source for speciality coffee.


Coffee Words That Start With J

Jamaican Blue Mountains

One of the most popular and highly regarded coffees in the world, Jamaican Blue Mountain known for a sweet flavor profile with a distinct lack of bitterness. It happens to be one of the priciest coffees you can find and is associated with other expensive, gourmet coffees.

To put it in context, this coffee came to prominence back when well-processed coffee was harder to source. Through a combination of timing and marketing it became well known as a gourmet coffee people were willing to pay a lot of money for. 

The speciality / gourmet coffee has evolved since Jamaican Blue Mountain first burst on the scene but the brand has retained most of its prestige and still commands a higher price point than similar offerings.

Street in Japan

Japan happens to be among the the world’s largest importers of coffee.

The country has a long tradition of importing a wide variety of coffee, brewing methods, and consumption styles.

Traditional Japanese tea rooms evolved into Coffee lounges quite some time ago and coffee culture proliferated quickly in Japan following World War II

In fact in present day hot and cold brewed coffee is a staple of many vending machines in Japan, and they were also one of the early adopters of cold brew.

Japanese coffee importers also value high grade specialty coffee, and have a reputation for being willing to pay high prices to retail truly exceptional and carefully brewed coffee products in the country. 


Coffee Words That Start With K


"Kaldi" is, for many, the answer to the question of who first discovered coffee.

As the story goes, Kaldi was a ninth century Ethiopian goatherd who one day came across his goats energetically moving and dancing in a forest near southwest Ethiopia.

Kaldi observed these strangley energetic goats nibbling on red cherries they found in a nearby bush.

After trying one of these cherries himself he soon took notice how much they increased his alertness until he felt as over stimulated as his goats.

The story continues. Supposedly Kaldo took the seeds to a dissapproving monk who decided to dispose of them by throwing them into a fire.

The burning coffee cherries began to emit an aroma so alluring that the beans were pulled from the fire and then dissolved in water. The end result came to be what we now consider coffee.

Kenyan landscape

Kenya is home to coffee that is well regarded for its complexity and its delicious fruit like flavor profile.

The country is known for its highly full bodied and highly acidic coffee.

Because there's something of a correlation between larger sized beans and quality, coffee in Kenya is oftern graded based on the bean size.

Kenya is also home to interesting experimental speciality coffee.  For instance Scott Laboratories, a Kenyan based research organisation, famously produced varieties SL-28 and SL-34 which now account for the most in demand specialty coffee in the country.

Many of these specialty coffees are produced in Nyeri, which is located in central Kenya.


Kopi Luwak, which can be translated as "civet coffee", is a coffee label that produces some of the priciest coffee you can find. A civet is a mostly nocturnal mammal sometimes known as a "toddycats" that can be found in tropical Asia and Africa.

The premise of this coffee is that it is produced by allowing a civet cat to freely choose the coffee cherries it wants to eat from among the many found on the forest ground. It's allowed to eat and fully digest the cherries, which are presumably intelligently chosen by the civet, and once they are "processed" by the animal they are harvested and used to produce the coffee.


Coffee Words That Start With L

Late Art against black background

At this point most coffee drinkers are probably familiar with the concept of "latte art". The phrase alludes to the patterns that are often made to decroate the surface of freshly brewed coffee.

It's best thought of as a "final touch" to polish a prepared coffee beverage and is usually employed by cafe staff / baristas.

It's purpose is to suggest to coffee consumers that a certain amount of care and attention of have gone into the preparation of the coffee.

Latte art of course doesn't do much for the taste or quality of the coffee, but it is difficult to master. Baristas seem to continually push the limits of what's possible by simply pouring steamed milk into coffee.

The World Latte Art Championship, which is an organzation dedicated to highlighting the "artistic expression in a competition platform that challenges the barista in an on-demand performance", illustrates how much the practice has evolved and been popularized over time.

There are two methods most commonly used to create latte art: Free pouring and Etching.

Free pouring requires no specific tools, and instead involves simply pouring the milk in the coffee in a pattern that's created through a combination of timing and delicate positioning. 

Etching usually involves some kind of utility like a toothpick to manually "draw" the design the surface of the espresso.

Some barista's will employ both methods to produce a more elaborate and textured design. 


Read More:

Coffee and Milk

Nez du Cafe box

Le Nez du Café is a tool used to help train coffee tasters. Its comprised of a (usually sleek looking) wooden box that holds 36 vials of liquid aromatic solutions that are intended to reflect the 36 more common aromas found in coffee.

It's structured as something of a game, where each vial is labelled with a number and after taking in the scent of the liquid the participant is invited to guess what aroma the number corresponds to. 

The tool can be useful for "training the senses" as identifying the correct aromas, especially without any other feedback aside from the scent, is a skill that can be developed with practice.

Man holding coffee leaves with coffee lead rust disease

Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR), thought to have originated in East Africa, is defineed as a fungus that has had a particularly undesirable impact on many different coffee-growing regions.

The impact of CLR was first observed in the late 1800s when the fungus proliferated to such a degree that is resulted in an 80% reduction in coffee that the region of Sri Lanka was able to produce.

Extreme quarantine measures help to prevent the disease from infiltrating the Americas for a long period of time although it did eventually make its way to Brazil by the 1970s. 

The expansion of the fungus seemed inevitable as it travels through dust-like spores easily transmittable through plants, luggage and clothing. 

Though no method of prevention has been found to be bullet proof, the fungus is often warded off through farm management methods, fungicides, rapid quarantine procedures, or some combination of these measures.


Read More:

Defects in Green Coffee Beans

Picture of a lever espresso machine

Espresso machines, by definition, are built to brew coffee by using pressure

Initially espresso machines exerted pressure through steam to facilitate the extraction and brew the coffee this way.

Achille Gaggia invented a new way to use pressure to brew coffee / expresso when he built the first lever machine in 1945. The alternative to using steam pressure meant that the water temperature in the espresso machine did not need to be heated up as much.

The levers work either autonomously or by giving the barista a way to load the reps using a spring. In fact it is this mechanism that introduced the saying “to pull a shot”.

The lever machine was in some ways a precursor to the pump-driven espresso machine, which is one of the most common place machines you will find on the market.

In fact, some of the contemporary pump machines are built to imitate the press changes of the older lever machine models.


Coffee Words That Start With M

Woman looking through microscope

Green coffee, which is to say coffee that hasn't been roasted, tasted pretty bland. It is the roasting process that unlocks the chemical reactions and accompanying flavors that yield an enjoyable beverage.

The process of converting bland green coffee beans into something with flavor is known as the maillard reaction. To be clear, the maillard reaction is a phenomenon that occurs with many foods, and is not isolated or exclusive to coffee beans.

Generally speaking the reaction consists of amino acids, suagrs, and other oxygen-rich compounds undergoing chemical transformation.

These chemical reactions only occur at specific temperatures. In the case of coffee beans those temperatures range from somewhere between 284°F (140°C) and 329°F (165°C).


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How Coffee Beans are Roasted

Mechanical drying machine for coffee

A mechanical drier is a large rotating drum to which heat is applied to dry coffee beans.

The device is similar to a drum roaster, however, the temperatures are set much lower as the purpose to dry the coffee beans vs roasting them. 

It has been the custom to dry coffee beans "naturally, speading them out and leaving them in open sunshine on large patios or beds. This process works well but can be limited in areas that see frequent and large rainfall which can slow down the process considerably.

Mechanical drying, perhaps due in part to naturalistic fallacy, is often avoided and seen as inferiror to the more classical process. One disadvantage of the approach is that, if operated incorrectly, the mechanical dryer can compromise the quality of the coffee if it gets too hot.

While susceptible to human error, the mechanical drier does offer more control and can be a more reliably fast way of drying coffee vs being at the mercy of weather conditions. 

Melbourne city scape

Melbourne, like other parts of Australia, is home to a flourishing café scene.

The city places high value on good coffee and the role barista's play in crafting high quality coffee beverages. This is at least partly why the area is considered to be one of the most financial rewarding for barista professionals.

Mexico Flag

Most of Mexico's coffee tends to be sold to the United States. The demand and easier trade routes are there and, as a result, Mexico has not necessarily built a reputation as a key source of coffee beans around the rest of the world.

Never the less, Mexico produces a wide variety of quality coffee with diverse flavor profiles and happens to be one of the largest producers of coffee, with most of their beans coming from the Arabica species. 

Moka Pot next to cup of coffee

The Moka Pot is a stovetop brewing device used to make espresso that was invented in Italy by Luigi De Ponti and acquired by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933. 

"Bialetti Industrie" continues to produce the same model of Moka Pot to this day.

The sustained popularity of the Moka Pot is easy to understand. It facilitates the production of espresso without anything more than a stove top.

It's built to first generate steam pressure by heating up water in the bottom chamber. The steam eventually forces the water up through a filtered bed of coffee grounds until the extraction makes its way into the top chamber.


Read More:

Coffee Brewing Methods

Illustration of coffee cherry

Simply put, "mucilage" is the flesh of the coffee cherry / fruit.

The mucilage adheres to what is known as the "parchment", which is the next layer of skin that engulfs the coffee bean.

The mucilage, depending on how how aged the coffee bean is, can be quite flavorful. In fact it is typically measured to evaluate sugar content when the coffee is first developing its cherries.

Much of the effort and methods that define coffee processing in some way involve the mucilage. Care is taken to process coffee beans while considering the impact in how the mucilage dries and is removed and what impact those processes have on the flavor.


Read More:

Harvesting Coffee Beans

Coffee Processing Methods


Coffee Words That Start With N

Coffee leaking out of the bottom of a portafilter

The naked shot is a created by drilling out the bottom of a portafilter so get the coffee to exit directly from the base straight in to the cup.

The method of pouring became popular as a result of the elegant and mesmerizing espresso pour it yielded. Basically the extraction comes out very slowly, and results in a long flowing stream of dark liquid. Using this method, you can see the color of the espresso gradually turn from brown to red until it starts to resemble a rich caramel colour and texture. You have multiple streams of coffee extract that eventually become one and accelerate in their pace.

Aside from the cool visuals, the naked short also facilitates a bit more control as you can more closely monitor the pace of the water flow.

Coffee beans drying

Natural processing, sometimes referred to as "dry processing", is one of the most longstanding and simple methods for processing coffee beans and getting them ready for roasting.

In the natural processing method the coffee cherry is first extracted with its fruit and skin intact before being left out to dry. 

This means that both the coffee bean and the full coffee cherry are dried together.

On contrast, a coffee that uses "fully washed" processing will separate the cherry from the coffee bean early on.

The principal concern with the natural process is that leaving the cherry in tact means some risk of spoiling through mold or over fermentation. For this reason the method requires a lot of effort to continually rake the coffee throughout the process.

Another drawback is the natural method is sensitive to fluctuations in drying times and temperatures, which are two factors that influence the quality of the resulting coffee roast. For example coffee beans that take too long to dry can yield rotten or otherwise undesirable flavor profiles.

The impact of mistakes in implementing this drying process are significant. Studies have shown that if the drying process goes wrong in terms of duration or temperate that the cell walls of the means can be compromised, which results in them ageing more radidly and the flavor fading. 

One benefit of this process that is sometimes touted is that the coffee bean absorbs the flavor of the cherry (since it's left in tact).

It's also worth noting that the natural drying method uses signficantly less water than other alternatives and is arguably a more environmentally sustainable approach.

The reduced need for water supply also makes it more available to areas that suffer from droughts and water shortages.


Read More:

Coffee Processing Methods

The natural process is also not unlike the honey or pulped natural methods.

Mountain in Nicaragua

Various regions in Nicaragua are now home to varieties of coffee beans that grow very well in their climate and produce a diverse set of rich, full bodied coffee options. 

The Nueva Segovia region in particular has a strong reputation for regularly producing many outstanding coffees of high quality.

Cabin in snowy mountains

When it comes to per-capita volume of coffee consumed you'll usually find many Nordic countries sitting at the top of the list.

Usually the list of top Coffee consumers is headed up by Finland in particular followed closely by Norway.

Coffee is so embedded in their culture that when the World Barista Championship first began in 2000 the winners initially all came from Nordic countries.

Additionally, Sweden of course has a famous ritual of "Fika", which is a dedicated and routinely maintained break time used to enjoy coffee. 


Coffee Words That Start With O

Woman smelling coffee

It's important to understand that consuming and tasteing any food and beverage involves both our nose and mouth. The two work in combination to define how we experience flavor.

In fact if you were to block your nostrils by holding your nose while eating or drinking you would soon become aware of the difference or lack in taste in comparison to how you normally experience flavor.

The engine of our taste and flavor experience that's centered in the mouth is known as the gustatory system. The system that facilitates taste through our nose is known as the olfactory system.

Surprisingly, it's the olfactory system that plays a more important role in determining how we experience taste. 

Of course this system can be influenced by a number of different variables like age and genetics. Thus, it's possible for the same food or beverage to be experienced differently, in terms of flavor, by different people.

Cans of coffee being stored

Coffee storage materials and devices are important because coffee beans, once roasted,lose freshness as they become exposred to oxygen and start to release carbon dioxide.

Coffee beans are stored using a small variety of containers and devices, but you'll find that most coffee bags come with a "one-way valve". 

This valve permits CO2 to leave while restricting oxygen intake to secure freshness.

To function as intended the valve needs to be built into the bag to create a fully sealed oxygen barrier.

Coffee beans in bag marked Arabica

It's increasingly common for green coffee buyers, roaster, and coffee drinkers alike to speak of the "origin" of coffee.

Simply put, all that is meant by the term is “Where do the coffee beans come from?”

Sometimes the answer is complicated as it's long been the case that coffees from many countries are blended together by the time they reach the coffee drinker.

Of course this doesn't suggest that the origin is any less important, quite the opposite. In fact sometimes the precise origin of the beans in the blend is considered something of a trade secret.

More recent "third wave" coffee movements have a radically different perspective on this. 

These specialty coffee movements place considerable value on any coffee's traceability.

Moreover, the “single origin” label has become increasingly popular in the coffee retail industry, implying a high degree of quality and offering an opportunity to explore a specific flavor profile.

Technically speaking a coffee blend could have a single origin. Meaning you could make a blend of different coffee varieties that all happen to have been grown in the same region and still call it a "single origin", so the label can be a bit ambiguous.

Having said that, it's not uncommon for high quality speciality roasters to retail exclusively "single-origin" coffee and, in their context, the label denotes coffee from a single, specific variety as well as a single region.


Read More:

Different Types of Coffee Beans

Abstraction of oxidation

Oxygen, you might be surprised to learn, is the ultimate menace when it comes to coffee. 

It is the single most destructive force when it comes to the shelf life of coffee.

All food is perishable and ages. Coffee ages in two different fashions, it ages by losing aromatics and it ages through oxidation. 

The process of oxidation happens when oxygen steals electrons at the atomic level of the food. This will usually come with accompanying signs that are visible to the naked eye, like bananas turning brown.

It's true to say that coffee can be aged through other factors like heat and light, but oxygen remains the single biggest factor in the process. 

This is why, if oxygen can be controlled, the shelf life of coffee can be dramatically extended. Coffee that is contained in such a way that the oxygen level is reduced to 1 percent will have its shelf life considerably extended.

Aluminium creates one of the best oxygen barriers, and so it will tend to provide the coffee with the longest life.

Moreover, flushing sealed containers with nitrogen can extend the life of the coffee to several months.


Read More:

Storing Coffee Beans


Coffee Words That Start With P

Basket of coffee fruit

Pacamara is a coffee been varietal that's been produced through the crossing of two other varieties: Pacas and Maragogype. Pacamara beans are known for their large size demand for this bean has been growing.

Interestingly the Pacas bean is itself a mutation of Bourbon coffee beans and first originated in El Salvador.

Pacamara is found in El Salvador as well but has been successfully planted in other regions.

In addition to its unique size, Pacamara is also known for a distinct flavor profile.

Pacamara beans often yield cups of coffee with floral notes and rich chocolatey tastes intertwined.

mountains in Panama

Panama has a strong international reputation as a coffee produces and much of that reputation is owed to the Geisha variety.

Moreoever, Panama is fantastic example of a region that has established itself as a truly boutique coffee producer, with farms often divided up into individual lots that specialize in specific flavor variations.

As a result, many coffee bean farms Panama will commonly produce several varieties from the same estate. 

Much of the growth in popularity and production of the Geisha variety can be traced back to the Hacienda Esmeralda, a specialty coffee producer. The producer has also been instrumental is normalizing and commanidng high prices for quality coffee, often determined through the annual Best of Panama competition.

As synonymous as Geisha has become with the Panama region, the area is also home to popular coffee beans varieties like Caturra and Bourbon.

coffee beans drying

Parabolic drying is a method of drying coffee beans after they have been harvested in an environment similar to that of a greenhouse or polytunnel. 

Not surprisingly the parabolic drying method is most popular in areas with frequent and erratic rainfall, where just leaving the coffee beans spread out in the sun isn't proctical or a reliable approach to drying.

peaberry coffee beans

Peaberry is one of the more frequent but confusing labels you'll find applied to coffee beans.

For instance, with the way it's often used on Kenyan coffee you could be forgivien for interpreting the word to denote a specific variety of coffee. In truth all coffee varieties can produce peaberries.

A peaberry is in fact a an anomaly that occurs when only one of the coffee cherry seeds is fertilized. This results in the seed developing alone.

Under normal development, two seeds will grow next to each other and end up creating a flat side where they meet. 

So a peaberry, that developed without another seed creating pressure will end up looking more spherical.

Kenya and Tanzania are regions considered much more likely to isolate peaberries, label them as such, and then retail them separately.

Do Peaberries taste different?

The answer is generally yes. There are a few possible explanations for their distinct tasting notes: 

It's possible the difference in flavor comes from the fact that the peaberry, which doesn't have to compete for nutrients with the "other seed", acquires more of the coffee cherry’s nutrients.

Also, the roasting process always impact taste and the peaberry's spherical shape and increased density means the coffee beans tend to be roasted more consistently.

mountains in Machu Pichu, Peru

Peru is a large producer of coffee that's known for having a smooth and round flavor profile marked by more nutty and chocolaty notes.

Though neither necessarily guarantees high quality, both fair trade and organic certifications are very prevalent in Peru.

hand holding portafilter

The word portafilter means to simply "carry a filter". Thus it is also sometimes referred to as the "arm" or "braccio" in Italian.

The term is used to describe one of the many parts that make up an espresso machine, independant of the manufacturer. Specifically, the portafilter is the name for the handle that holds the espresso basket.

The portafilter can be customized and tailored to different designs, or made with different materials. 


Coffee Words That Start With Q

grading coffee

The term "Q Grader" refers to a qualification that can be achieved to evaluate coffee quality. 

Regulated and administered by the Coffee Quality Institute, the Q Grader qualification is one of the most prestigious designations that can be achieved in the industry.

The requirements to become a Q Grader involve the participation and successful completion of an intensive (usually weeklong) training and exam.

The exam is comprehensive and involved. In fact no fewer than 22 individual tests need to be passed to become a Q Grader.

Those tests evaluate everything from determining the amount of salt and sugar dissolved in waters to general coffee knowledge and, finally, actual coffee grading.

The Q Grader qualification is not only applicable to specialty coffee, but in fact has implications to commercial coffee as well.

The R Grader qualification is similar, except that it focuses more specifically on knowledge and grading of the Robusta species of coffee.

coffee beans with quaker defect

A quaker is a blond looking bean that is the result of a seed that developed from an underripe cherry. It is a common defect.

Processing methods have a significant influence on the likelihood of the defect occurring. In particular the wet-process method is thought to reduce the chances of quakers considerably as they tend to come floating to the top of the water when submerged.

You're much more likely to come across quakers in coffee beans that were processed with the natural method which makes them harder to identify.


Read More:

Defects in Green Coffee Beans


Coffee Words That Start With R

coffee beans on raised beds

The term raised beds in coffee refers to the lifting of coffee beans from the ground when drying them (with varying amounts of cherry still intact) to allow for air to circulate. This method of drying helps to ensure a more consistent and reliable drying.

All coffee beans must be dried to until they reach about 12 percent moisture.

The air circulation accomplished through the use of the raised beds is helpful in offsetting or preventing any over fermentation and thus correlates positively with increased cup quality.

graph monitoring the rate of rise of roasted coffee beans

"Rate of Rise", a term popularized by coffee expert Scott Rao, is a more technical term that describes the change in actual temperature of coffee beans as they get hotter. In otherwords it defines the rate at which the bean heats up.

The idea is that the more continually the rate of rise decreases, the better the coffee roast will be. Or to put it another way, the ideal state is for the coffee bean to absorb heat more rapidly at the start of the roast and then slow down the heat absorption as the roast goes on.

Of course like anything this requires balance and moderation. If you have a roast where the heat reverses then the beans might actually cool down towards the end and you'll end up with a “baked roast”, which tastes undesirably bland and boring.


Refractometers are not unique to the coffee industry, although they are important to it.

Given the name you'll not be surprised to learn they are tools built to harness the principle of light refraction.

A refractometer is used by taking a sample of a coffee liquid and having the device shoot light through it. This process will measure the solids suspended in the liquid by evaluating the degree to which the light moves around them.

Thus, you can use the device to determine how many solids are in the liquid based on how much the light is refracted. In coffee this method is used to measure the amount of coffee solids in the sample brew.


Read More:

The Coffee Brewing Control Chart

coffee being stored in bags

Coffee is at its most fresh when it is first harvested. Later on in the process of producing coffee, it can also be said that roasted coffee is at its peak level of freshness immediately after it is pulled from the roaster’s cooling tray.

When we talk about "freshly ground coffee", of course we just mean that the coffee was ground just before it was brewed.

So "fresh" coffee can mean different things, but it is almost always used to signal that the fresher the coffee, the better.

Of course that axiom often holds true. Coffee harvested 17 months ago will not be graded as highly as the same coffee harvested a week ago.

However, the very often it's the case that very fresh coffee is not synonymous with coffee being at its peak quality.

Coffees that have just been harvested will have what is commonly referred to as a “green” quality, meaning they are slightly too astringent and lack a balanced sweetness.

Similarly, a coffee that has just been roasted will often need a few days to really “open up” and hit its full flavor potential several days after roast.

Thus, most often coffee roaster's will recommend a set "resting" period for their coffee.

Usually, in that context, they means after the beans have been roasted they need to be left alone and not consumed for a few days or weeks to really produce their optimal cup quality.

ripe coffee cherries held by a hand

Generally speaking the best coffee comes from coffee cherries that are "perfectly ripe", meaning they are neither too ripe or not ripe enough. 

There are exceptions.

Ocassionally “overripe” cherries will be specifically chosen for the types of distinct flavor profiles they can develop.

It's safe to assume that ripe cherries typically produce the best results, and so historically a lot of time and attention has gone in to determinining exactly what a perfectly ripe coffee cherry looks like.

More frequently, in modern times, farmers will go as far as to actually measure the sugar content of the cherry to determine optimal picking times, as opposed to relying exclusively on visual queues / varying shades of red that can be difficult to discern.

When strip picking a large tractor will not only strip the coffee plants of the fruit, but will also measure how hard the cherries are using pressure in order to sort the ripe from unripe.

coffee roller grinder

Burr grinding is probably the most popular tool / method for grinding coffee for more homes and coffee shops. 

However, there are several different tools that can be used to grind coffee.

Blade grinders are one option, but their disadvantage is that they leverage a brute force hacking mechanism that tends to create uneven coffee grounds of various sizes and densities. 

Roller grinders, which are popular with commercial coffee companies, use two rolling pins, sitting atop of each other, with spiked surfaces to get the job done.

The coffee beans pass in between the space between them and get grinded up in the process.

Roller grinders allow for some customization so they can produce consistently ground coffee as well as coffee beans that are ground more spherically.

rwanda coffee beans

Rwanda is a region known for producing coffee with extravagent berry, fruits, and florals notes.

Somewhat of a newcomer to the speciality coffee movement scene, Rwanda's coffee production used to serve more commercial tastes and was quite limited in scale.

Rwanda's coffee reputation has evolved so much that in 2008 it became the first and only African country to host a Cup of Excellence competition. 


Coffee Words That Start With S

coffee bean anatomy

Silver Skin referes to the light and semitransparent layer of film that encases the two coffee seeds before they develop. This skin is in turn surrounded by a layer of parchment and the cherrie's flesh.

The silver skin is interesting because it happens to be the only part of this configuration that is left attached to the seeds when the green coffee beans have been processed.

A coffee that is processed with the natural method will have more silver skin then coffee that uses the washed approach to process.

This silver skin eventually removes itself as it chaffs in the roasting process before the roaster's pressure and airflow transports it to a collector.

slow brew coffee bar

It's hard to define the term "Slow Brew" without first explaining more about the concept of slow bars.

The slow bar was developed with the aim of embracing the long and sometimes tedious ritual of crafting / brewing a quality cup of coffee.

Slow bars accomplish this aim by inviting customers to witness the coffee as it passes through all its phases of brewing and engaging directly with the barista to share in the experience.

A slow bar will typically offer single-serve, manually brewed filters. Those options are considered "slow brew" coffees when served in this context.

street in south korea at night

South Koreans consumers are passionate about speciality coffee, and the demand for those coffees only seems to be proliferating in recent years.

To illustrate the degree of the demand and passion, consider that South Korea is actually home to more Q Graders than any other country in the world. 

In most places the roasting process functions as a separate, enterprise level operation that sees roasters sell their coffee wholesale.

In contrast, South Korea has a good number of coffee shops and cafes that will roast their own coffee and operate as a vertically integrated business.

Not surprisingly, demand for more moderately sized "small batch" roasting equipment is high in this region and so the country is also home to some interesting innovations in coffee technology. 

For instance Stronghold Technology, which aims to be "the Tesla of coffee" produces an electrical roaster that employed infrared radiation in combination with heated air to roast coffee beans in an ingenius fashion.

coffee species on plant

There are many Coffea (coffee) species that can be found in the wild. 

The highest number of species can be found in Madagascar (according to the Head of Coffee Research at the Royal Botanic Gardens).

Surprisingly, it's estimated that more than 1/2 of the world's total coffee species were not identified prior to the deliberate effort that was undertaken in the 90s to catalogue them.

Despire the many different species that exist, nearly all the coffee produced for consumptions falls under the category of either C. robusta or C. arabica.

Robusta tends to grow at lower altitudes, is highly resistant to disease and pests, and produces roughly twice as much yield per tree as Arabica. This makes it the superior plant economically but Arabica is considered the better species in terms of quality.

Of course, not all Arabica was grown, harvested, or processed the same. This means that it's entirely possible to have a Robusta coffee bean that outperforms an Arabica in terms of flavor and quality.

All things considered, the highest quality Arabica crops will be superior to any Robusta that can be found.

Robusta coffee is often blended with Arabica and it's known for bringing more bitter notes to balance out excessive brightnewss and fruit notes that would otherwise overwhelm the cup. 


Read More:

Different Types of Coffee Beans

coffee being steamed by machine

Specialized coffee movements and culture have elevated milk steaming to a refined culinary art, one that is often surprisingly valued and marketable. Steaming coffee as a practice has grown both in terms of sophistication and in terms of how closely it is associated with quality coffee experiences.

Steaming is surprisingly challenge to master. 

First, you require the right equipment. High powered steam machines are often critical to the craft.

There's also a learning curve in figuring out how to reliably place the steam wand tip just below the surface of the cold milk in order to get the milk swirling just the right way before lowering the jug to get the air and foam into the milk.

Of course, steaming milk is also a prerequisite creating increasingly ubiquitous latte art.


Read More:

Coffee and Milk

cup of espresso

The term "strength", as applied to coffee, is often mis-used or misunderstood. 

To understand how to properly define coffee strength you need to also understand more about the relationship between caffeine and flavor.

Caffiene is particularly tricky. Trying to determine exactly how much caffeine is present in the ground coffee beans and then figuring out how much of that caffeine will end up in the cup of coffee is close to impossible.

Adding to the confusion is the complex relationship of strength to extraction.

Using more coffee certainly has the potential to add more caffeine, but it's not as simple as that.

For example you can have a very intense and "strong" espresso that has much less caffeine than a weak tasting full sized cup of coffee. 

hand holding a plant

When using the term "sustainability" to characterize coffee we tend to employ it as a catchall term. There are, after all, many parts of the seed-to-cup journey where  sustainability can play a part.

Moreover, when it comes to the coffee industry sustainability often refers to practices that are both economically and environmentally sustainable.

Specialty coffee movements have taken great strides to ensure farmers are adequately financially compensated for their production of higher quality coffee through the establishment of institutional schemes like the Cup of Excellence competition.

Meanwhile, the Fair trade certification has focused much of its efforts on helping to develop commodity coffee as a more sustainable crop.

Agriculturally, sustainability has other implications.

For instance coffee harvesting can lead to financial ruin if crops are hit with problems like leaf rust.

Climate change has resulted in similar problems by dramatically changing growing conditions so they are sub-optimal while also nurturing disease.

For all these reasons, the coffee industry has been and will likely continue to be concerned with sustainability in all its implications in the years ahead.


Coffee Words That Start With T

tamping coffee grounds

Tamping refers to the compressing of ground coffee through the use of a "tamper".

A tamper is basically a metal disc, circular and flat in shape, with a handle. 

The purpose of tamping is to help facilitate the extraction needed to make espresso.

Pressurized water will need to pass through the coffee grounds, hopefully as evenly as possible in order to absorb the flavor. 

Tamping is a technique used to create a mor consistent barrier that is dense enough to cause the water to pool on top of the coffee. Once the water has nowhere else to go it will pass through the coffee, creating a more even extraction.

roasting machine temperature controls

Temperature is a consideration that surfaces at many stages in the seed-to-cup coffee journey.

Changes in temperature at all the farming stage can impact growing conditions, for example.

Temperature fluctuations occurring while the coffee beans are drying can also influence the coffee at the processing stage.

The art and science of roasting coffee is centered around controlling and distributing temperature evenly and deliberately.

Furthermore, temperature changes are avoided at all cost when considering where and how to store coffee beans as they directly impact the shelf life of the coffee. 

Finally, as most coffee drinkers can attest to, even the temperature of the water used to brew coffee has an impact and can significantly shape the flavor.


Read More:

Getting the Right Coffee Water Temperature

coffee shop counter at independent cafe

Like many descriptions related to coffee culture, the term “third wave” in coffee can mean different things to different people. 

Originally used by coffee expert and roastmaster Trish Rothgeb, the word is meant to describe an evolving approach to coffee.

"First Wave" coffee is thought to be represented by the mass-market commercializing and production of instant coffee.

The "Second Wave" is symbolized by high-end coffee shops with specialty coffee branding like Starbucks.

“Third Wave” is generally meant to refers to the appreciation, in all its forms, of the broad potential of a variety of coffee, with an emphasis on subtleties of flavor, origins, and processing.

In practice, you'll find "third wave" is often used as shorthand to characterize the whole of the independent coffee shop movement.


Read More:

How Coffee Beans are Roasted

turkish style coffee served on ornate dish with treats

Turkish coffee, otherwise known as “ibrik coffee”, is used to describe coffee that is preparared in a specific fashion.

Of course the method of preparation originated in the country of Turkey and uses finer grind of coffee beans than most other methods. In fact the coffee beans are basically hammered or pounded until they are nearly powder. 

Generally the approach to making the coffee is to first simmer the (very) finely ground coffee in water using a special coffee pot (also known as a cezve or ibrik).

Sugar is sometimes added after.

The coffee is then brought to a simmer, often more than once depending on the custom. 

The coffee beverage is then poured into the cup, except the pouring is usually done from a height that's sufficient to produce a foamy surface. 

Notably, this method does not make use of any kind of coffee filter. The coffee grounds are simply left to settle at the bottom of the cup. 


Read More:

Coffee Brewing Methods

typica coffee tree

Typica is one of the most historically significant coffee varieties because it was the one that travelled the world when exported by the Dutch in the seventeenth century.

Not only have nany modern mutations of Typica been developed (and often produce a higher yield than the original Typica), but you will still high quality Typica among many coffee crops today.

Typica is known for producing crisp, round coffee with sweet flavor notes.


Coffee Words That Start With U

woman tasting meat frying in a pan

Umami, which translates to "delicious / savoury taste", comes to us courtesy of the Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda.

Umami is considered as one of the five basic tastes.

The other four tastes would be sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

Umami is thought to be distinguished through specific taste receptors, which result in the ability to appreciate the sense of something having a savoury taste with a long aftertaste.

When umami is too present we generally the flavor as being excessively brothy,. When balanced carefully or added sparingly it can add a desirable complexity and richness to coffee.

statue of liberty against backdrop of cloud

The title of the largest consumer of coffee in world, in absolute volume, belongs to the United States.

Coffee distribution and consumption in the coffee takes a number of different forms. From fast and affordable diner coffee to high quality specialty coffee icons.

Seattle is famously home to the original Starbucks and the contributions of third wave coffee can also be traced back to the United States.  

Moreover, coffee has been baked into the culture of the United States dating far back to the days of the Boston Tea Party.


Coffee Words That Start With V

coffee brewed with syphon

Commony referred to as a "vac pot", the vacuum pot is simply a form of syphon.

The vac pot design was originally developed and branded by the a company called Hario, located in Japan. Similar to brands like "Kleenex" the vac pot brand became synonymous with the specific type of syphon.

Vac pots are used to brew filtered coffee, often in an extravagant fashion. 

The device is comprised of two glass bulbs, one on top of the other, and some source of heat situated underneath. 

The idea is to pour water in the bottom "bulb", with a paper, glass, or cloth filter nestled between the two chambers. Then you apply heat until the water warms and creates enough pressure to force the water through the filter and up into the top bulb.

Coffee is subsequently added to the top bulb and left to steep. Then the real magic happens. The heat source is removed, which creates a vacuum. Thus the brew is forcefully pulled into the bottom chamber, while the grounds remain on the top of the filter.

This method results in the heat of the brew rising consistently throughout the process which can sometimes lead to over extractions if the timing is not monitored closely.

In the context of coffee, what we mean by a “variety” is really a category of one of the two main subspecies of coffee: Coffea robusta or Coffea arabica.

There is a significant amount of different subspecies of Arabica, and each one comes with distinct flavor profiles and tasting notes. 

Some varieties are naturally occurring. Others - in fact most - are deliberately developed by humans through innovations in agricultural processes. Those deliberate varieties are referred to as "cultivars".

canoe in river in Vietnam

Vietnam is notable in the world of coffee as the country happens to be a massive coffee producer.

In fact Vietnam is second only to Brazil as the largest coffee producer in the world.

Interestingly, most of the coffee produced in Vietnam comes from Robusta coffee beans.

Some Arabica is produced, like Catimor, and the country seems to be continuing to develop more and more of this species.

Coffee in Vietnam is often prepared very specifically.

Small single-serve metal pour-overs, referred to as "phin", steep the coffee and eventually filter downward into the cup.

Also, it is the custom in Vietnam to to add condensed milk to the coffee and have it served over ice. 

model of chemical structure being held by someone in a lab coat

Coffee flavor and aroma is defined in large part by a combination of chemical compounds.

These compounds are classified as either volatile or non-volatile.

Many of the aromas produced in coffee tend to be classified as volatile, which means they dissipate relatively rapidly.

These more volatiles compounds are unlocked in the process of roasting. The same aromas undergo another wave of release when the roasted coffee beans are ground.

Finally, brewing the ground coffee in hot water will lead to the release of even more volatiles.

Each unlocking of these volatile compounds enhances the flavor and aroma which is why so much effort is put in to preventing the loss of volatiles through exposure and oxidization.


Read More:

Coffee's Flavor Chemistry

volumetric espresso machine

You would consider any machine with the ability to distribute / dispense a specific amount of water to be one that is "volumetric".

Most automatic or semi-automatic espresso machines have this function and are thus considered to me volumetric machines. 

In order to work, the machine needs to have a mechanism that can measure water. This is usually accomplished with a small paddle-like tool inside the machine.

The phrase "setting a volumetric" would mean you are defining the numer of times the paddle turns. 


Coffee Words That Start With W

coffee beans being fermented in a bed

Commony referred to as a "vac pot", the vacuum pot is simply a form of syphon.

The washed process is one of the most popular processing methods in the world of speciality coffee.

The name "washed" reflects the method's reliance on a large volume of water used.

Like many other processing methods there are of course variations.

Generally speaking the method begins by removing the pulp from harvested coffee cherries. To accomplish this the cherries sent through a cog-like rolling machine that pulls the skin and flesh flesh from the coffee bean.

The coffee beans, still retaining some mucilage, are fermented in water until the mucilage falls off. Defective beans will tend to float to the top of the pool and are removed at this stage.

Once those stages are complete the coffee beans will usually be dried in the sun or mechanical drying methods will be be employed. 

The process allows for some additional control at both the fermentation and drying stages which can be used to mitigate defects and ensure better quality control (as opposed to the "natural" process).

Washed coffee usually results in a more palatable level of acidity.

Interestingly, many Kenyan coffees will undergo a second fermentation.

This second stage of fermentation is often credited with producing the vibrant fruit and complex acidity commonly associated with Kenyan coffee.


Read More:

Coffee Processing Methods

water poured into a glass

The role of water in the production of coffee can not be overstated.

Obviously you can't make coffee without it, but it's also true that small differences in the composition of water can actually lead to dramatic alterations in the favor of coffee.

The importance of the quality of water in coffee production has long been understood, but increasingly coffee producers are becoming more mindful of how it impacts flavor. 

In fact when it comes to determining flavor, water is among the top three influencing factors (the other two being calcium and magnesium).

For instance bicarbonate content found in many bottled waters appears to diminish both acidity and sweetness.

The impact on flavor is notable because it means that one roasts might be better suited to a different type of water composition.

awards at the world barista championship competition

The innaugural World Barista Championship event, located in Monte Carlo, took place in the year 2000.

The competition focuses mostly on espresso and happens on a stage in front of judges who are tasked with evaluating the performance of each participant. 

The event was intended in large part to provide a showcase for the role of the barista and the coffee industry at large. It's succeeded in its aim and is often considered crucial to the advancement and evolution of coffee and coffee related innovations.

The format of the competition can be summarized as follows:

In the first 15 minutes the barista makes 12 espresso-based coffees. Those coffees are divided as 4 espressos, 4 steamed-milk drinks, and 4 "signature" drinks.

That said, much like the coffee world itself the format and competition is likely to continue to be refined and further evolve over time.


Coffee Words That Start With X

None available (yet).


Coffee Words That Start With Y

building surrounded by palm trees in Yemen

Unfortunately, it's no longer that easy to source coffee from Yemen.

This is disappointing as Yemen whas the first location coffee found its way to when it propogated beyond Ethiopia.

In face for a long time coffee producers understood the area as an important trading connection that was conveniently located between the East and West.

The port of "Mocha" was especially critical. 

In fact much of Yemeni coffee, often processed with the natural method, is sold under the name "Mocha" (as are many Ethiopian coffees). 

Yemen’s propensity to use the natural method not surprisingly comes as result of a chronic lack of water.

There are really great Yemeni coffees to discover. They tend to have very distinctive flavor profiles and are composed of dried fruit notes. 

The coffee is in high demand and difficult to trace, which makes it difficult to acquire.

Additionally, historical and ongoing political unrest has led to barriers to both coffee production and trade. 

coffee extraction being poured in a cup from a glass pot

The term yield is very useful in the coffee industry because it helps to disambiguate concepts.

If one were to simply discuss the "weight" of a coffee they could either be referring to the weight of ground coffee or the weight of the beverage. Perhaps they would be referring to the weight of the coffee that ends up completely dissolved in the water?

Thus the term “yield” can be clearer way to refer to the resulting cup of coffee specifically.

Brew recipes will usually specify two weights: the dose and the yield.

The yield means the weight of the drink that is ultimately produced (both the water and the dissolved coffee).


Read More:

Guide to Coffee Extraction


Coffee Words That Start With Z

Zambia landscape

Zambia, found in southern Africa, is bordered by many coffee-producing countries.

For instance Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo are known for their ample coffee production.

So it's no surprise that Zambia is considered by many to have a lot of potential to produce diverse and high quality coffees.

1/2 the coffee produced there tends to be of the Bourbon variety which of course can be used to make really high quality coffee. 

The region, which seems to have a healthy coffee industry, is has also explored producing Catimor, which is known for its resistes to disease and pests.

The highest quality Zambian coffees are known for their exceptional layers of sweetness, fruit notes, and floral attributes and aromas.