Coffee terms that any aficionado needs to know
If there are any coffee related terms not on this list that you feel should be added, or want to know more, please fill out the contact form at the bottom of the page and send over the term.
Arabica coffee is a variety of coffee cherry. It is the main variety of coffee and is considered to be the most premium. Most high quality varietals of coffee stem from the Arabica Family. It is harder to grow and reaps less yield from harvest, however is worth the work since Arabica coffees are often more complex and diverse in flavour.
When coffee tasting, Body refers to the mouthfeel the coffee presents. If a coffee is referred to as being heavy or full bodied, this refers to the weight of the coffee in your mouth and will probably provide more intensity as a cup.
Crema is created from the 9bar pressure that an espresso machine provides. Crema is the brown foam that is on top of the espresso. A thick crema will show one of two things; either high caffeine content or freshness of roast.
Cleanness of a coffee is another term used during a tasting. The bottom line of cleanness is the amount of time you find that the coffee flavours linger in your mouth. If you feel after 10 minutes from having a cup of coffee you do not want to speak face to face with someone without a breath mint, it probably was not a clean cup of coffee.
Decaffeination is the process of removing caffeine from green beans. This process is done before the roasting of the coffee. There are two main different types of decaffeinating coffee. You have direct (chemical) and indirect (no chemical use) decaffeination. Direct process coffee tend to remove around 97% of the original caffeine. Indirect can remove up to 99.9% and this 0.01% remaining is more of disclaimer saying there may be traces of caffeine
The Dose refers to how much coffee you use when brewing. Each brew method will require a different dose e.g. Double espresso may require up to 20g of coffee whereas a dripper may need up to 15g.
Extraction is the overall result of the brew in the cup. A good extraction is a well brewed cup of coffee. It is a combination of many variables from grind, to dose, to water temperature etc.
Fresh roast refers to how long before a coffee is brewed that it was roasted. A coffee is optimum for up to 2 months after roasting (depending on storage). After this time it will start to degrade in quality and lose some of the initial flavours and acids.
Group heads are the front part of an espresso machine where the espresso dispenses from. The group head contains shower screens which evenly spread water drawn from the boiler to the porta filters holding the coffee.
Hard beans are coffee beans that have bean cultivated at higher altitudes usually above 1200 MASL (metres above sea level). Due to the higher altitudes the develop and grow slower and this not only provides more complexity in flavour, but cause the beans to be more dense.
Honey processed coffee go through the same initial steps of processing as washed coffees in which the cherries are put through a depulper to remove skin and pulp. However, the mucilage (sticky, sugary part of the inner cherry) remains on the beans. These will be left to caramelize onto the bean. Depending on how long the mucilage remains on the beans defines which type of honey process it is; Yellow, red or black.
Lungo is made through an espresso machine. It is simply a longer poured espresso. The flavour is usually less intense than an espresso but more bitter due to the water passing through the grinds for longer in the portafilter and having a longer extraction from the grinds.
A microlot coffee is usually from a specific farm or a small lot on a farm. These tend to be the best coffee collected from a farm so tends to have a premium quality as well as a premium price.
Organic coffees are grown without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides. They are a preferred choice by many recently due to their positive impact on the environment. The certification for organic is provided by third parties.
Peaberry coffee beans are typically smaller and rounder than regular beans. They form when one bean in a cherry does not grow properly. And a result the beans that does grow, grows in the centre of the cherry alone.
Process is the term used for the harvesting technique used for a coffee crop. There are multiple different processes which will all have different effects on the end result.
Porta filters are the handles that slot into the group head on the front of an espresso machine. They contain baskets which hold the ground coffee. Each basket can be different sizes to hold more coffee. This is important to note for choosing a tamper size.
A Q Grader is a coffee taster who has exceptional sensory skills. They will be specially trained to identify many different aspects of a coffee from uniformity, body, acidity and so on. A Q Grader can officially give an SCA score for a coffee.
Robusta coffee is a variety of coffee cherry. It is a main variety of coffee and is considered to be lower quality compared to Arabica. Robusta is grown and sold mainly for use in lower quality coffee blends and in instant coffees. It is easier to grow than Arabica coffees since it is pest resistant due to higher caffeine content and less susceptible to disease. Robusta plants also reap higher yields at harvest time. Robusta tends to be more bitter than Arabica due to its high caffeine content and also sells for less.
Speciality Coffee Association
All speciality coffee is given a score out of 100 points. If a coffee scores over 80+ it is considered speciality. 90+ is extremely rare and will come with a high price tag. Anything below 80 is considered commercial coffee.
Coffee that receives an SCA score of over 80 points is considered speciality.
A touchpad is used to set the dose dispensed on an Espresso Machine. Typically, there will be a star button (free flow delivery). This will be held for an amount of time until it flashes. Whilst flashing, you can calibrate the other buttons. During calibration mode, you push the button you want to set and push it again the desired volume if met.
Coffee varietals are the botanical variation of the coffee cherry grown. The main two varietals are Arabica and Robusta. With Arabica, due to it being more popular and higher quality, a focus is often given to the variety of cherry grown and these will often be origin specific. Certain varietals will prefer particular climates and will thrive better in certain places.