Glossary

ACIDITY

The taste of coffee that creates differing sensations on certain areas of the tongue.

AMERICANO

A shot of espresso diluted with hot water.

ARABICA

Native to the highlands of East Africa, Arabica is the most common, commercially grown coffee worldwide. Heirloom varieties and their hybrids are deeply influenced by the soil, altitude, and climate conditions in the tropical regions where they are grown. See also Robusta.

ASTRINGENCY

Describes an undesirable, sharp nuance experienced in the taste of some brewed coffees. Can be the result of poor roasting or processing of the raw coffee at origin.

BLOOM

When brewing coffee with fresh coffee grounds, the CO2 that is released repels the fresh water poured on the grounds. Gases push against the grounds and a dome, called a bloom, forms.

BREWER

A device used to brew coffee. Brewers allow water to pass through coffee grounds to create brewed coffee.

CALCIFICATION

Calcium hardens to create a difficult-to-remove substance that forms in pipes and other equipment. This occurs in regions where hard water is common.

CHEMEX

An hourglass-shaped coffee brewer, which uses dense, paper filters. This brewing method is said to create a sweeter, more balanced cup of coffee.

CIVET

A small nocturnal wild animal, native to Southeast Asia, that forages for sweet, ripe coffee cherries. Civet coffee comes from coffee beans that have been spat or passed through a civet’s digestive track. The coffee beans ferment in the civet’s stomach and then pass through whole, imparting an exceptional taste and aroma. Civet coffee is prized for its unique taste.

COLD-BREW COFFEE

The process of steeping coffee grounds in cold water for around 12 hours and then straining it to make a concentrate for iced coffee.

CREMA

Dense, golden brown foam that covers the top of freshly made espresso.

CUP OF EXCELLENCE

An award given to the best coffee grown in a country. Coffee beans that receive each year’s Cup of Excellence award can command higher prices and are often small micro-lots sold at auction.

CUPPING

The process of tasting coffee to evaluate its flavour profile and characteristics, such as aroma, taste, and body. This process can be used to evaluate and rate coffee using the numeric scale developed by the Coffee Quality Institute.

Decaffeination

The process of removing caffeine from green coffee beans, either by water process or solvent process.

DEMITASSE

A small coffee cup or its contents.

DIRECT TRADE

When coffee roasters buy directly from farms and co-operatives, rather than through coffee brokers.

DOPPIO

A double espresso, consisting of two shots of espresso.

DRIP OR DRIPPED COFFEE

Coffee prepared by allowing boiling water to percolate through ground coffee.

DRY PROCESSED

Dry or natural processed coffee is handpicked and then fully sun dried before the dry milling occurs. See also wet processed.

ESPRESSO

A concentrated form of coffee that is made by forcing pressurized hot water through very finely ground coffee beans.

EXTRACTION

The amount of oils and solids that are dissolved in a solution of brewed coffee. This is also referred to as solubles yield.

FAIR TRADE

A market practice that seeks to enrich the livelihood of farmers and producers of coffee in developing countries, by paying them a premium for their harvest. Premiums are directed to important local infrastructure projects, and farms are encouraged to adopt sustainable farming practices.

FILTER

A device used to separate coffee grinds from water during brewing and prevent them from mixing with the brewed coffee. After the extraction process has occurred, the brewed coffee passes through the small openings in the filter.

FLAT WHITE

A beverage made with espresso and hot steamed milk, but without the froth characteristic of a cappuccino.

GREEN BEANS

Unroasted coffee beans, or the seed of the coffee cherry.

GRIND

The breaking up of coffee beans into small uniform particles. Different sized grinds are required for different types of brewing processes.

HARD WATER

Water that is oversaturated with particles and minerals. Because water is such an excellent solvent, commonly dissolved substances like calcium and magnesium are found in abundance in hard water. Increased calcium content can lead to calcification. Hard water is often found in the Canadian Prairies, and leads to the over extraction of coffee grinds.

ICED COFFEE

Brewed coffee served over ice.

ITALIAN SODA

Flavoured syrup added to iced sparkling water. Some cafés call this a custom soda and create their own unique flavour combinations with syrups.

JAMAICA BLUE MOUNTAIN

Coffee that is grown in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica, noted for its rich, mild flavour. It is one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world, and is identified by certification from the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica.

LUNGO

Espresso lungo is a larger volume of espresso, made either by leaving the machine on longer, or by adding hot water (to taste) to a normal shot.

MANZANAS

A unit of area measurement equivalent to approximately 1.74 acres (or 7,042.25 m2). Other regions will vary slightly in size:

  • In Argentina: it is equivalent to a hectare (i.e. 10,000 m2)
  • In most Central American countries: it is equivalent to approximately 1.72 acres = 6,961 m2, with small variations in each country.
  • In Belize: 8,353 m2 = 2.064 acres
  • In Nicaragua: 7,042.25 m2 = 1.74 acres

 

MONSOONED MALABAR COFFEE

Green coffee beans from the Malabar Coast that are exposed to monsoon rain and winds for a few months, causing the beans to swell and lose acidity.

NATURAL PROCESSED

Dry or natural processed coffee is handpicked and then fully sun dried before the dry milling occurs. See also wet processed.

ORGANIC

Organic coffees are grown without the use of synthetic chemicals or fertilizers.

OVER EXTRACTION

In brewed coffee, when too many solids are in suspension in water, it results in coffee that is overly strong. Contributing factors during brewing include: too little water, too much ground coffee, a brew time that is too long, an inappropriately-sized brew basket (bed depth of the coffee in the brew basket is too deep), or incorrect grind size (too fine).

PARCHMENT

This is the shell-like layer of the coffee fruit that is removed from green coffee beans during processing. This usually happens during the dry milling and grading process, before roasting.

POUR-OVER COFFEE

Coffee brewed by pouring water in a thin, slow, even manner over a filter cone. This method, developed in Japan, produces one cup of coffee at a time and takes several minutes.

QUAKERS

Low density coffee beans that will fail to roast properly and will remain light-coloured. Quakers are commonly seen in natural or dry processed coffees.

RISTRETTO

Espresso ristretto is a very strong, highly concentrated form of true espresso coffee. A ristretto should only take 14 seconds to pour and is served with a glass of water.

ROBUSTA

Robusta coffee is native to the lowlands of West Africa. Unlike Arabica, it is not as fine and flavourful when roasted, so it doesn’t command the same price premiums. Robusta trees produce more caffeine than Arabica trees, as a defense mechanism against the threats of disease and pests. As the name suggests, the plant is robust and well suited to thrive in its native environment. See also Arabica.

SINGLE ORIGIN

Referring to the single farm or region where coffee beans were grown.

SOFT WATER

Water devoid of substances, such as minerals, is considered soft water. Reverse osmosis and distilled water are prime examples. Soft water tends to extract coffee oils and solids poorly.

SOLUBLE SOLIDS

The amount of solids that can be dissolved in a liquid.

STRENGTH

This describes the ratio of water to ground coffee, when brewing coffee. This is also referred to as solubles concentration.

Strictly hard bean (SHB)

See strictly high grown.

Strictly high grown (SHG)

Specialty coffee grown at an altitude above 1200 metres, which produces coffee beans that mature slower and have a higher density.

TAMPER

A small, pestle-like device with a round, flat end, used to even out and compact ground coffee in a filter basket for making espresso.

TDS METER

The Total Dissolved Solids Meter, or Brew Strength Meter, is used to measure the strength of brewed coffee. Basically, it measures how much of the ground coffee oils and solids have been dissolved in the water, producing the taste and flavour of the coffee.

TURBULENCE

The act of agitating coffee grinds during the brewing process, in order to aid in proper and even extraction.

UNDER EXTRACTION

The process in which too few coffee grinds are dissolved in water, producing coffee that is thin, weak and flat. Possible culprits include: too much water, too little coffee grinds, the use of soft water, a brew time that is too short, an inappropriately-sized brew basket (too wide and not deep enough), incorrect grind size (too large), and water that is too cold.

VARIETAL

A botanical species of the coffee plant, such as Caturra, Typica, Bourbon, or Geisha.

WET PROCESSED

Wet processed or washed coffee is freshly picked coffee fruit that is processed with the use of water. Before removing the fruit skins and mucilage, coffee cherries are immersed in tanks of water, separating the best high-density coffee fruit for the initial wet milling (pulping) process. The pulped coffee beans are then fermented, followed by an additional wash before being dried, to create the fine wine-like qualities that they are known for. See also dry processed.

WHOLE BEAN COFFEE

A term for roasted coffee beans that have not yet been ground.

YIRGACHEFFE

A region in central southern Ethiopia that produces fine dry and wet processed coffees. Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee is known for its sweet, fruit-like flavour and light to medium body.