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Coffee Glossary - Categories

Below you will find a categorical glossary of coffee terminology. Feel free to expand your vocabulary and learn to speak fluent coffee!

Americano

beverage [uh-mer-i-kan-oh]
A drink consisting of a double shot of espresso floated over the top of some hot water. Named by the Italians in WWII once they saw American soldiers diluting their espresso with hot water.

Capuccino

beverage [kap-oo-chee-noh]
A milk beverage of Italian origin. Traditionally made using a third each of espresso, steamed milk, and foam, the North American market has primarily adopted this drink to come in larger sizes. 

Cortado

beverage [kor-ta-do]
A drink of Spanish origin. Typically a 4-5 oz, a double shot of espresso with some lightly steamed milk to cut the bitterness. Milk is warm, not hot, sometimes not textured (frothy).

Double Double

beverage [duhb-uhl] (repeat)
A slang term for a drip coffee with two cream portions, and two sugar portions. Popularized by Canadians.

Double Shot

beverage, modifier [duhb-uhl shot]

  • A 2oz espresso shot usually served in a demitasse cup. Also referred to as a Doppio.
  • A modifier to a beverage. i.e., "a double shot latte."

Flat White

beverage [flat wahyt]
Origin disputed. Commonly an 8oz latte, double shot with less foam, in a tulip cup if possible.

Latte

beverage [lah-tey]
Origin disputed. Most often served as a 12 oz beverage, with two espresso shots and some light foam on top.  

Lungo

beverage [lun-goh]
Origin Italy. An Espresso made with an extended ratio or more water. For example, 14g dry coffee, and 50g wet espresso.

Macchiato

beverage [mock-ee-otto]
An espresso-based beverage with a small amount of milk, typically foamed.

Mocha

beverage [moe-kah]
This beverage has it's origin from the city of Mocha, Yemen. Also referred to as a mochaccino, the mocha is a chocolaty version of the latte and consists of espresso, steamed milk and chocolate syrup.

Red Eye

noun [rehd eye]
The red eye is a drip coffee super charged with a shot of espresso. 

Ristretto

beverage [ri-streh-tow]
Origin Italy. An espresso made with a condensed ratio or less water. For example, 14g dry coffee, and 20g wet espresso.

Affogato

desert [ah-foh-gah-toe]
An Italian desert consisting of espresso poured over vanilla ice cream.

Basket

noun (bas-kit)
The metal coffee grounds filter that holds your coffee in an espresso machine portafilter.  

Crema

noun [krey-mah]
The foam that forms on top of an espresso shot. Crema results from carbon dioxide, leftover from the roasting process, and the emulsification of fat or oil content in the bean. 

Double Shot

beverage, modifier [duhb-uhl shot]

  • A 2oz espresso shot usually served in a demitasse cup. Also referred to as a Doppio
  • A modifier to a beverage. i.e., "a double shot latte."

Espresso

noun [ess-preh-so]
Espresso is an Italian method of making coffee using pressure to force nearly boiling water through finely-ground and compressed coffee.

Latte

beverage [lah-tey]
Origin disputed. Most often served as a 12 oz beverage, with two espresso shots and some light foam on top.  

Latte Art

Latte art refers to the aesthetically pleasing pattern that is created by pouring properly steamed milk into espresso themed beverages.

Macchiato

beverage [mock-ee-otto]
An espresso-based beverage with a small amount of milk, typically foamed.

Mocha

beverage [moe-kah]
This beverage has it's origin from the city of Mocha, Yemen. Also referred to as a mochaccino, the mocha is a chocolaty version of the latte and consists of espresso, steamed milk and chocolate syrup.

Mouse Tail

noun [mous teyl]
The first 10-15 seconds of the espresso pour where the liquid comes out thick, syrupy, and straight.

Natural

adjective [nach-er-uhl]
Referring to a dry-processed coffee. "They're serving a natural Columbian." Check out our Coffee Buying Guide for more info.

P.I.D. (Proportional-Integral-Derivative)

noun [pruh-pawr-shuh-nl | in-ti-gruhl | dih-riv-uh-tiv]
Usually simply referred to as [pid], this is a temperature controller used in prosumer and commercial espresso machines. Extremely precise, typically with a variance of ≥1°C.

Portafilter

noun [pohr-tuh-fil-ter]
The handle and filter basket for an Espresso Machine.

Puck

noun [puhk]
The spent coffee remainder in a espresso portafilter after the coffee is extracted.

Pre-infusion

noun [pree in-fyoo-zhuhn]
A process where water under low or no pressure saturates the espresso grounds directly before extraction.

Pulling

verb [pool-leng]
The term for making espresso. Origin is based around the older, lever-style espresso machines, where you would need to pull down a lever to extract espresso. "The barista has been pulling shots all day."

Red Eye

noun [rehd eye]
The red eye is a drip coffee super charged with a shot of espresso.

Ristretto

beverage [ri-streh-tow]
Origin Italy. An espresso made with a condensed ratio or less water. For example, 14g dry coffee, and 20g wet espresso.

Tamper

noun [tam-per]
The tool used to press the coffee in preparation for espresso.

Related: Tamp, verb [tamp]: the act of pressing the coffee in preparation for espresso.

Volumetric

adjective [vol-yuh-me-trik]
The method of dispensing a set amount of water through the coffee, typically used in commercial espresso machines. A volumetric machine might be programmed to always dispense 2oz in a double espresso, for example.

Arabica

noun [uh-rab-i-kuh]
One of two main species of the coffee plant, full name being Coffea Arabica. Almost all of the world's specialty coffee will be Arabica coffee.  

Barista

noun [buh-ris-tuh]
A person who is specifically trained in coffee making and serving.  

Bloom

noun [bloom]
The rapid bubbling of carbon dioxide in your brew during the first pour.

Chemex

brand name [kem-x]
Typically an hourglass-shaped coffee brewer made of glass. The higher density of Chemex filters is associated with a sweeter, balanced coffee character.

Clever Dripper

brand name [cleh-ver drih-per]
The Clever Dripper is a pour-over style coffee brewer with a valve at the bottom that allows for a french press type of immersion for better pour-over control. This characteristic is why it is also in the immersion brewer category.

Clover Coffee Maker

brand name [cloh-vir]
The Clover coffee making system is unique in the respect that it brews one cup of coffee at a time with the ability to adjust parameters like temperature and brew time. The Clover coffee system was developed in Seattle, WA in 2005 and purchased by Starbucks in 2008.

Cold Drip Coffee

brew method 
To make cold drip coffee, use coarser grounds and a higher coffee ratio to cold water (approximately 1 oz per cup). The coffee is steeped for an extended amount of time (12-20 hrs) and then strained with cheesecloth or a nut-milk bag.

Cupping

verb [cuh-ping]
Cupping is a coffee sampling process where each step creates a controlled, uncontaminated tasting experience for unbiased coffee comparison. A specific coffee amount is sampled by grinding fresh and steeping in designated cupping bowls of hot water at a set temperature for a set amount of time. The coffee is experienced with specific criteria in mind using a cupping spoon.

Drip Coffee

brewing category
Drip coffee is a generic term for coffee made by hot water dripped over ground coffee instead of using pressure like espresso styles. Standard brew methods include pour-over, french press, percolators and most automatic coffee makers.

Filter Coffee

brewing method
Usually, you make filter coffee by adding ground coffee to a conical or basket-shaped filter that lines a similarly shaped container with an opening in the bottom. Water is added, usually at a precise temperature for best results, and gravity will do the rest. In most cases, the filter containers consist of glass, ceramic or plastic.

French Press

brewing method
The french press method for coffee brewing is where you pour hot water is over ground coffee in a container with a fitted plunger top. Once appropriate brewing time has passed (usually 6 + minutes), the plunger is depressed, holding the saturated grounds to the bottom, leaving the top grounds-free for pouring.

Natural

adjective [nach-er-uhl]
Referring to a dry-processed coffee. "They're serving a natural Columbian." Check out our Coffee Buying Guide for more info.

Nel Drip

brewing method [nell drip]
The "nel drip" is a brewing method of Japanese origin consisting primarily of a nel drip set and a flannel filter. This method typically takes more coarse grind coffee than usual. As well, filter maintenance includes hand-washing and refrigeration.

Pour-over Coffee

brewing method
The pour-over method of brewing coffee involves hand-pouring hot water over ground coffee placed in a conical shaped filter held in a pour-over apparatus. The apparatus is usually a glass or plastic cone with a hole in the bottom to allow gravity and filtration to do the work.

Siphon

noun - brewing method [sigh-fun]
A siphon refers to a brewing method consisting of a bulb and another section or hopper. The hopper joins securely above the bulb with an opening through which steam can pass. There is a filter that separates the two sections. When the water is heated, the steam passes through to the upper section and the filter. When most of the water has transferred to the top, the coffee is added and submerged into the water. After some waiting and stirring, the heat source is removed and the brewed coffee returns to the bulb, leaving a dome of grounds in the top section.

Slow Dripper

brewing method
This cold brewing method consists of a three-stage system that extracts by a drip method. The upper section passes water drop by drop into the second section that holds the coffee. The coffee section then drips the extracted coffee into the bottom container. The slow dripper is also known as Kyoto-style from its origin in Kyoto, Japan.

Barista

noun [buh-ris-tuh]
A person who is specifically trained in coffee making and serving.  

Body

noun [bahd-ee]
The Texture of a coffee in the mouth. For example, an espresso might have a creamy and smooth body. 

Boulders

noun [bohl-ders]
Any coffee grounds larger than the desired grind size.

Burr

noun [buhr]
The grinding mechanism used in most professional-grade coffee grinders. They generally come in two varieties; conical and flat. Article about which is better coming soon!

Cup of Excellence (C.O.E)

competition title
The Cup of Excellence program and competition raises coffee standards and quality by demanding transparency from coffee farmers. The program helps shift the focus to individual coffee farms, allowing them to receive the financial benefits of growing world-class coffee.

Dark Roast

roasting category
Dark roast coffee refers to the roasting process, or more accurately, to the level of roasting the coffee bean undergoes. In the dark roast style, the beans are roast until they lose their lighter colour and become dark brown and exude more oils. Some say, in dark roast coffees, the roasting process becomes a dramatic influence over the bean's origin flavour.

Direct Trade

purchasing method
Direct trade is a method of acquiring coffee where beans are purchased directly from the farmer instead of a broker. Advocates of this system believe that it benefits the farmer and increases coffee quality.

Dose

noun [dohs]
The weight of dry ground beans for a brew.

Fine

verb [fahyn]
To make your grind size smaller. "That shot is pulling quite fast, fine it up." Not to be confused with Fines (noun)

Fines

verb [fahyns]
Any coffee grounds smaller than the desired grind size.

Extraction

noun [x-trak-shun]
Extraction is the process of getting the flavour from the coffee beans into the coffee beverage. The grind precision, brew method and ratio of coffee to water are just a few parameters that influence this process.

Fair Trade

coffee organization
Fair Trade is a privately driven organization that creates certification to ensure growers paid a fair amount. This certification is usually visible on retail packaging to promote the concept.

Green Beans

Green beans are coffee beans before the roasting process has begun.

Micro-lot

Micro-lot refers to single-origin coffee beans from a single farm, a specific lot from a single farm or sometimes a group of small farms in one locale.

Roast

verb [rohst]
Roast refers to the process where green coffee beans are cooked to ready them for coffee extraction.

Ratio

noun [rey-shee-oh]
A common way of explaining brew recipes. For example, one might use a 1:2 ratio for espresso. 1 gram of dry ground coffee, and 2 grams of water. a 21g double shot should produce approx. 42g wet espresso.

Roasting Date

The roasting date refers to the calendar date on which the coffee roasting occurs. According to most roasters, it is best to wait 3 to 7 days after roasting to get the best coffee extraction. The bean's longevity is dependent on storage, usually 2 - 3 weeks for a paper bag style or much longer for valve-seal packaging.

Robusta

noun [roh-buhs-tuh]
The other major coffee species, the full name being the Coffea Canephora. Robusta is sometimes used to round out a blend of coffee, particularly in Italian culture.  

Ross Droplet Technique (RDT)

noun [ross | drop-lit | tek-neek]
The method of reducing static by adding a minimal amount of water to your beans before grinding. Largely discovered by David Ross in 2005. 

Seasonal

adjective [see-zahn-uhl]
Seasonal describes a coffee that is grown in a region where the harvest time coincides with a specific season.

Single Origin

descriptive phrase [sing-gul ohr-ih-gin]
Single-origin refers to a coffee sourced from one particular country. This term does not specify a region of that country, so a blend of different farms or locales is possible.

Specialty Coffee Association (SCA)

noun
The Specialty Coffee Association, one of the main international governing bodies on Specialty Coffee.  

Taste

verb [teyst]
Relating to tasting coffee. While some might insist taste can only reference sweet, salt, bitter, sour, and umami, most of everyone will use it interchangeably with flavor.

Tasting Notes

noun
These are some of the flavours that the Roaster tasted in the coffee when they cupped it! These flavours can be a little hard to pick out. It takes practice, just like tasting wine. Guide on tasting coffee incoming!

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

noun
Total Dissolved Solids. TDS represents how much of your ground coffee has dissolved into the cup. The dissolved solids represent things like inorganic salts or magnesium. 

Washed

adjective [pros-es]
Referring to a wet-processed coffee. "That was a great washed Burundi." Check out our Coffee Buying Guide for more info.