1aaa: The highest rating in coffee bean
AA: Largest and best quality grade of bean in
Kenya and Tanzania (followed by A, B & C.)
Acidity: Refers to the pH – neutral is 7, in
coffee it is usually about 5, and the lower the number the more
acidic the taste.
Aged Coffee: Coffee held in warehouse for several
years in order to reduce acidity and increased body.
Altura: In the Spanish language means height and
generally describes Central and South American coffee that has been
grown on high or mountain slopes.
American Roast: Medium roast.
Arabica: Coffea arabica, the original, most common
and best cultivated species of coffee plant in the modern
Aroma: The fragrance produced by the roast or
Balance: A tasting term meaning no single
taste characteristic overwhelms others.
Bag: A sack of coffee. Most countries
use 60 kilo bags, but in Colombia they use 70 kilo bags.
Batch Roaster: A machine which roasts a given
quantity at one time i.e. a roaster which does not continually
Black Beans: Dead coffee which has fallen off the
tree prior to picking.
Black Jack Coffee: Coffee beans which turned bad
after picking or during shipping.
Blend: A mix of two or more coffee beans or
Body: The sense of fullness associated with
Bourbon: (pronounced ‘burr-bone’) – A variety
of arabica plant originating on the Isle of Bourbon (now called
Reunion Island) east of Madagascar.
Bright: Another term for acidic.
Broken: Cracked coffee beans.
Bullhead: An unusually large coffee bean.
Caracol: Another word for a Peaberry - a large
single coffee bean.
Canefora: coffea canefora (or robusta coffee): the
resilient and heavy crop bearing coffee plant suitable for lowland
growing and used primarily as a filler or for soluble coffee.
Caturra: A recently developed subvariety of the
Cafe Beneficiado: Coffee that has been hulled or
Cafe Bonifieur: Cleaned and polished coffee
Cafe de Panno: Coffee cherries picked where a
cloth is placed on the ground to protect the crop from dust and
Cafe Despolpado: Portuguese term used to describe
coffee that has been pulped and the mucilage removed through
Cafe em Casca: Coffee bean with its
Cafe em Ceraja: Coffee cherry.
Cafe Habitant: Coffee which has not been
Cafetal: A plantation of coffee trees.
Caffeine: An alkaloid substance found in the
Caffeine Content: In a cup of coffee usually about
Cafetiere: A coffee filter brewing method
using a plunger to press the grounds to the bottom of the jug so
that clear coffee can be poured out.
Caffeol: A volatile aromatic conglomerate formed
Caturra: A popular variety of the coffea
Cherry: Term applied to the ripe fruit of the
Chicory: An addition or filler in coffee
production – favoured by the French.
Coffeol: Essence of coffee.
Cold Water Method: A way of brewing coffee
using cold water rather than hot water.
Complexity: A tasting term describing
sensations, resonance & depth.
Continous Roaster: A roaster that roasts
Contract: A coffee exchange contract is
usually 32,500 lbs. (250 bags)
Crema: The pale brown foam covering the surface of
a good cup of espresso.
Cupping: Cup tasting (sipping) and judging the
merits of a coffee by roasting, grinding, and brewing a sample of
Dark French Roast: A virtually black roast -
thin bodied and bittersweet tasting.
Dark Roast: A roast slightly lighter than the
dark French roast.
Decaffeinated: Coffee which has had the caffeine
Decaffeination Process: The process by which the
coffee is decaffeinated.
Demitasse: A half size cup for
Doser: A spring loaded device on espresso
grinders which dispenses single servings of ground coffee.
Drip Method: A filter brewing method that
drips hot water over a bed of coffee grounds.
Dry Fermenting: The coffee is fermented after
Dry Processed Coffee: A process to remove the
outer layers or husk from the fruit after the coffee berries have
been dried. Generally inferior to wet processing.
Dry Roast: A roasting process in which no water is
Earthiness: A tasting term describing coffee
which tastes a little ‘dirty’.
En Parche: Term used for coffee beans in their
Espresso: A method of brewing coffee forcing
hot pressurised water through the coffee grounds.
Estate Grown: Coffee grown on large farms or
fincas as opposed to small peasant plots - usually old family-owned
Excelso: A top grade of coffee describing
size and quality.
Extra: Second best grade of coffee.
Fazenda: A coffee plantation.
Fazendero: A proprietor of a fazenda.
Fermenting: A process where yeasts act on the
sugars of the coffee cherry.
Filtered Method: Coffee brewed where it is held in
a gauze or paper filter and the water is slowly dripped or pored
Finish: The aftertaste or the lingering ‘tang’ of
Flip Drip: A rare brewing method where water
is heated in the bottom of the brewer, and when boiling, the device
is flipped over and the water drips down through the coffee which
is held in the middle of the brewer.
Fluid Bed Roaster: A machine which works a
little bit like a convection (fan) oven to keep the beans and air
moving to ensure an even roast.
French Press: Another term for a cafetiere.
Finca: A coffee plantation.
Finquero: A proprietor of a finca.
French Roast: A dark roast - sufficiently
long to bring the oils to the surface of the bean.
Gesha: A particularly high quality form of
the arabica plant.
GHB (Good Hard Bean): A grade of coffee grown
at altitudes above 3000 feet – the meaning of the term depends on
the country where the bean is grown.
Glazing: A coating on the bean which
preserves the natural flavour.
Grade: The measure of quality.
Green Coffee: Unroasted coffee beans.
Group: The fixture protruding from the front of an
espresso machine which determines how many cups can be made at a
Groundy: An earthy taste.
Hacienda: Farm or ranch.
Hard: Coffee with a less than mild taste -
generally meaning not too good.
Harsh: A term meaning a coffee with a strong
and rough flavour.
HB (Hard Bean): Refers to a dense quality coffee
HG (High Grown): Coffee grown between 4000 and
4500ft above sea level.
HGC: High Grown Central.
Hulling: The last step in the preparation of
Husking: Removing the remains of the bean
Italian Roast: A darker roast than
Lavado Fino: (fine washed), best grade of
LGC: Low Grown Central.
Longberry Harar: A grade of coffee from
Ethiopia. The beans are larger than shortberries.
MAM: An acronym for Medellin, Antioquia and
Manizales - Colombian coffees which are typically sold together in
Maragogype: An extremely large and porous
Mocha: A major port in Yemen to and from
which the very first consignments of coffee were shipped.
Monsooned Coffee: Coffee deliberately exposed to
monsoon winds in open warehouse to increase body and reduce
Musty: A coffee taste resulting from
overheating or lack of proper drying.
Pacamara: A variety of arabica plant grown mainly
in El Salvador.
Parchment: The endocarp of the coffee cherry which
lies between the fleshy part or pericarp and the silver
Peaberry: A rounded bean from a coffee cherry
which contains one seed instead of the usual flat sided pair.
Pergamino: Coffee that has been dried after
pulping fermenting and washing.
Pile: Coffee dried and hulled by dry
Primo Lavado: (first washed), A grade of
coffee which includes most of the fine coffees of Mexico - a term
which means the coffee is of good grade but not specific.
Pulping: The first step after picking - removing
the outer skin of the berry.
PW: Prime Washed.
Pyrolysis: The chemical breakdown during roasting
of fats and carbohydrates in the bean into oils which provide the
flavour and aroma.
Rich, Richness: A taste term of good body
Rio, Rio Flavor: A heavy and harsh taste
characteristic of coffees grown in the Rio district of
Rioy, Rio-y: Generally coffee which is similar to
Rio in taste.
SB (Soft Bean): Coffees grown at low altitudes
which is generally more porous or less dense.
SHB (Strictly Hard Bean): Synonymous with SHG and
denser than HB.
SHG (Strictly High Grown): Coffee grown at
altitudes above 4500 feet.
SHGC: Strictly High Grown Central.
Silver Skin: A thin, papery covering on the
coffee bean surface.
Sizing: Grading the size of the coffee bean.
Skimmings: Part of a bag of coffee which has been
damaged by moisture - the damaged portion being skimmed off. Grade
are ‘g’ for good skimmings, ‘m’ for not so good skimmings, and ‘p’
for poor skimmings.
Slack: Coffee bags which have become torn or
otherwise not full.
Source: The place of origin.
Specialty Coffee: A term to differentiate
between large commercially produced coffee and coffees which are
more individual in production and marketing.
Spillings: Such coffee retrieved with a clean
shovel from piles of coffee spilled in the ship's holds, or on the
Steam Wand: A pipe on espresso machines which
provide steam for the milk frothing operation.
Straight Coffee: Unblended coffee from a single
source or crop.
Style: A term designated to the appearance of
the whole coffee bean.
Supremo: The highest grade of coffee.
Sweet: A coffee term to denote it is free
Tamper: A device used to compress the ground
coffee inside the filter basket of an espresso machine.
Tipping: The charring of the little germ at the
end of the coffee bean during the roasting process.
Traviesa: The secondary crop.
Triage: Broken or damaged coffee beans.
Turkish Coffee: Coffee ground to a fine powder,
brewed and served with the grounds.
Typica: A common variety of the arabica
Unwashed Coffee: Green coffee produced by dry
Vintage Coffee: A term used to state the
coffee has been purposely aged.
Washed Coffee: Coffee beans which have been
pulped, fermented, and washed.
Wet Processed: A method of removing the bean
from the berry whilst the berry is still moist.
Whole Bean: Coffee which has been roasted but not