You step into a specialty coffee shop, and the barista asks you if you like high acidity, what you think about honey-process coffee, and if you prefer a light roast.
Your head spins, and you want to run out of the shop. Why don’t baristas speak to you in plain English? You’re a coffee-lover, but all those coffee terms can be confusing.
The list of coffee terms that coffee lovers learn is long. In this article, I’ll walk you through all the words for coffee lovers that you need to know to sound like a coffee expert.
Words For Coffee Lovers: Brewers, Slang Words & More
A key concept in professional coffee tasting, acidity is not a taste of sourness as the term might suggest but is a bright, clear attribute of coffee that gives it a lively feel. Coffee professionals rave about good acidity.
A brewing method in which two dark grey cylinders of plastic fit together to form the body of the brewing method and a filter is attached to the bottom. Coffee gets brewed in the main cylinder and then gets pressed out by the smaller cylinder.
One or two shots of espresso with water added. The strength of an Americano is similar to drip coffee, but the flavor is different.
Coffea Arabica is a species of coffee that is grown around the world. It’s especially prized for its delicate or complex aromas and flavors. Most specialty coffee is from this species.
Related Read: Arabica VS Robusta
A coffee term used to describe coffee in a coffee cupping or tasting. A balanced coffee has the main characteristics in balance or in harmony, and none of the attributes overpowers another.
A person who serves coffee drinks at a coffee shop or coffee bar. A barista has a broad knowledge of coffee and coffee drinks, including espresso and pour-over drinks. Baristas will likely also be skilled at creating latte art.
A term made popular in the United States, and black eye coffee is a cup of drip coffee that gets two shots of espresso added to it.
This type of coffee grinder chops, or cuts, coffee beans. Blade grinders do not produce a consistent grind and tend to heat the coffee beans while grinding, which leads to bitterness in the cup.
A coffee blend combines coffee beans from different origins. A blend can be from one region but different farms or from completely different countries.
One of the attributes of coffee that is considered when cupping, or tasting, coffee. Body is the mouthfeel, or how heavy the coffee feels on the palate. It can range from light to heavy.
This type of grinder uses two abrasive surfaces to grind coffee beans. The best burr grinders let you choose the grind size and produce consistent grinds. You can find this kind of grinder for home grinders.
A public meeting place where coffee drinks are served and other hot and cold beverages and food items.
Ripe coffee cherries are sorted, washed, and put in tanks where the carbon dioxide is added, which removes the oxygen to increase flavor development during fermentation. The coffee is then fermented and dried.
Related Read: Coffee Fermentation
The dried fruit of the coffee tree. It has a reduced amount of caffeine and a light, fruity taste. Cascara tea can be made by adding hot water, and cascara is used in cocktails and refreshing cold drinks.
Coffee lovers know that a true Italian espresso has 25 ml of espresso and 100 ml of milk foam and should be served in a white porcelain cup that has an elliptical-shaped bottom.
Dried skin around coffee beans that comes off during roasting.
A pour-over method created in the early 1940s in the United States that has a distinctive hourglass shape and is prized for producing a very clean cup with complex flavors.
Somewhere between a pour-over and an immersion method, the Clever Dripper retains the water in the filter during the brewing time, and then the valve releases the coffee so that it filters.
Cold brew coffee is steeped from 12 to 24 hours in room-temperature water. The low water temperature and long steeping time make a mellow coffee.
Related Read: Cold Brew Coffee Makers
The fruit of the coffee tree.
Related Read: Coffee Cherry
The professional process of tasting coffee and evaluating its attributes. The attributes that are considered in a coffee cupping include aroma, fragrance, flavor, body, sweetness and acidity, among others.
Coffee aficionados often favor a dark roast because it seems strong.
Dark roast coffee beans taste of the flavors imparted during the roasting process. Dark roast coffee beans have reached second crack and taste of caramelized sugar and chocolate.
In the wet or washed process, coffee cherries are harvested and then are depulped, when the fruit is removed.
Drip Coffee Maker
Often called regular coffee, drip coffee is popular in the United States. They’re easy to use, and you just need to add water to the reservoir, put coffee in the filter basket, and press a button. The drip coffee maker does the rest for you.
This refers to coffee that is sold from coffee farmer to roaster or coffee company with a minimum of intermediaries. The goal is to ensure that coffee growers receive the maximum economic benefit.
An espresso with two shots of coffee. The Italian word Doppio means double. Barista uses 14g of ground coffee, and you’ll get 60 ml of espresso, which is about 2 ounces.
Coffee cherries are dried without removing the fruit. In some countries, coffee is allowed to dry directly on the coffee plant, although this generally results in inferior tastes.
Espresso uses intense amounts of pressure to force water quickly through a tightly packed bed of finely ground coffee. Espresso is intense, and it has unique flavors and a satisfying crema.
Extraction is when hot water is poured over roasted coffee grounds to encourage it to release flavors, caffeine, lipids, and more into the water. Extraction can vary from brief seconds to several minutes and profoundly alter the tastes in the cup.
Business done between coffee growers and coffee companies where the coffee growers are paid a fair price.
Any coffee that is brewed with a filter. The coffee grounds are added to the filter, then hot water is poured over the grounds and it is allowed to filter through to the cup below.
In coffee tasting, finish is the sensation 15-30 seconds after you drink coffee. Some coffees develop in unexpected ways during the finish, and most characteristics can be different: taste, acidity, sweetness.
When coffee roasters roast the beans, heat builds up in the coffee beans and the coffee literally begins to explode. There is a popping sound during first crack, which happens 7-10 minutes into roasting.
A coffee drink made with a shot of espresso and steamed milk, or milk foam, which creates a flat top layer. Originated in Australia.
A French Press is a manual brewing method that uses a carafe and a plunger. Coffee and water are placed in the carafe and allowed to steep from 3-5 minutes. Then the plunger, which has a mesh screen at the bottom, is pushed down through the carafe and the coffee is poured off.
A Starbucks invention that combines coffee, ice, milk products, and other flavors into a milkshake-type drink.
French roast is at the darkest range of roasts. The coffee beans have passed first crack and second crack and are generally more intense and smoky with a thin body.
Coffee that is roasted well past second crack, at times called Full City Roast or City Plus.
Unroasted coffee that is a greenish-gray color. Most coffee is shipped from the coffee farm to the roaster as green coffee.
Green coffee doesn’t look or taste appealing, and it takes on the deep brown color and fascinating aromas and flavors during the roasting process.
The moment in coffee processing when the parchment covering the dry coffee bean is removed.
The honey process leaves a part of the coffee fruit on the seed, and then the seed is dried. Honey process coffee has bright, fruity flavors and is prized in specialty coffee.
Italian roast is one of the darkest roasts possible. The beans are roasted well beyond second crack, and the oils have seeped out of the beans.
A standard latte has one-third espresso, two-thirds frothed milk, and a bit of microfoam on top.
The art of pouring steamed milk microfoam into a shot of espresso and creating a pattern or design with the milk. Latte art is judged according to pattern definition, symmetry, and contrast.
Coffee that is roasted for a brief period. The color of the beans in lighter, and you won’t see an oily appearance. The acidity will be more pronounced, and the flavors of origin will shine through, which makes it a favorite with coffee aficionados.
Related read: Light roasts
An espresso-based drink that mixes one espresso shot with just enough steamed milk to “stain” the drink.
Coffee that is dried in a machine rather than air-dried. This is often done in areas where the weather is too wet or humid to dry coffee by air.
Micro Lot Coffee
Coffee from small lots on coffee farms. Generally, micro-lot coffee is higher-quality, or a special variety or extra care is taken during harvesting and processing.
Coffee mixed with chocolate in syrup form or tablet.
Moka Pots make strong coffee right on the stovetop.
Add water to the bottom chamber, add coffee grinds to the basket, and then screw on the top chamber. When the method is heated, the water passes up through the coffee, gets brewed, and continues up into the top chamber.
Coffee that is certified organic uses a reduced amount of synthetic or chemical substances such as pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers to cultivate coffee.
Coffee dried on patios, generally cement. Drying coffee on patios exposes the coffee to bacteria, odors, and contaminants from the cement floors or from animals or humans that walk on the drying coffee.
A Peaberry coffee bean is formed when just one small, round seed forms instead of two. This happens in about 10% and coffee lovers consider peaberry coffee to have superior tastes.
The portafilter is the coffee basket where ground coffee is placed and then attached to a group in an espresso machine.
Coffee that is brewed using a filter and method that retains the coffee grinds and water for a brief brewing time as it filters through a paper or metal filter. A pour-over can be produced manually or by machine.
Once an espresso is brewed, the portafilter is cleaned of the wet, used coffee grinds. Since the grinds form a compact, round disk shape, it is referred to as a puck.
The act of creating a shot of espresso.
Some espresso machines use an electronic pump that passes water into the brew chamber. Pump machines create the consistent pressure necessary to produce a good shot.
A quaker is a coffee bean from an unripe coffee cherry. Quakers don’t develop the same dark color, and they give an unpleasant cardboard or oatmeal taste to the brewed coffee.
Drip coffee with a shot of espresso.
Ristretto is a concentrated espresso that is created with the same amount of ground coffee but less water and a 15-second extraction time.
The amount of heat applied to coffee beans for a specific length of time. Roasting usually takes place around 550 degrees Fahrenheit and brings out the unique flavors and aromas inherent in the coffee beans.
Robusta, or Coffea canephora, is a common commercial species of coffee grown around the world, mainly in Asia and Africa. It’s a hardy, resistant species of coffee that stands up to higher temperatures and adverse conditions.
During the coffee roasting process, the coffee beans are roasted until this second crack is reached. This second crack isn’t as loud as the first one, and it signals the moment when the roast is considered dark.
Shade-grown coffee is, as it sounds, coffee that is grown under the shade of taller trees. Sometimes considered to be sweeter, shade-grown coffee is better for the environment because it helps protect the habitat of local birds and animals and avoids soil erosion.
Generally, one serving of espresso, which is one ounce.
Coffee from just one origin. Depending on the roaster or coffee company, this can refer to coffee from one area of the world, one country, or one farm.
Before coffee is dried, it is sorted to pick out any undesirable cherries, such as unripe or damaged.
Specialty coffee is high-quality coffee where extra care goes into the cultivation, harvesting, processing, and handling.
Baristas tamp coffee when they’re preparing an espresso. They fill the portafilter with coffee grounds and tamp them with a tamper to compress them.
First crack marks the moment when coffee is officially roasted, and second crack marks the moment when the coffee bean cracks again and indicates a dark roast.
There is no third crack since coffee doesn’t crack another time, but it can be used to refer to coffee that is roasted very dark.
In the wet, or washed process, harvested cherries are de-pulped to strip away the fruit, the coffee beans are soaked in tanks of water for a fermentation period, and then they are washed and dried.
Of all the coffee terms, this one is the most common.
Although this coffee term can refer to anything that is brewed, such as tea or beer, in the coffee world, the act of extracting coffee is called brewing.
There are quite a few slang terms for coffee, and the word Java is a common one. The nickname comes from the Indonesian island of Java.
Although coffee is still grown on that island, for many people, the term java simply means any cup of coffee, regardless of the origin.
This coffee term is common in the United States. Since Joe is a common name, and coffee is a common drink, calling coffee a cup of joe refers to it being the typical, everyday drink.
Related Read: Why Is Coffee Called Joe?
Liquid gold is an apt term to describe coffee. One of the most common drinks, this valuable commodity that’s consumed in liquid form can be compared to precious gold.