Coffee Terminology

African Beds Raised flat-bed structures usually made of wood with a metal screen, on which parchment coffee is dried. Used as an alternative to patio drying, and notable for the fact that they allow more airflow to pass through the coffee during drying.

Aftertaste The lingering memory of a coffee, the taste sensation after swallowing. Also called: The finish

American Roast A traditional term for a medium roast characterized by a moderately brown color and dry bean surface. Generally falls between 420 and 440 degrees F when reading bean temperature.

Arabica A traditional species of coffee originating in Ethiopia. There are many varieties, including typica and bourbon.

Aroma The fragrance of brewed coffee.

Balanced Denoting a pleasing combination of two or more primary taste sensations. Containing all the basic characteristics to the right extent and aesthetically pleasing. Also: Round

Body The tactile impression of the weight or viscosity of coffee in the mouth. Also: Mouthfeel

Bouquet Usually a reference to an overall aroma impression of brewed coffee. The total aromatic profile of the initial fragrance of the dry ground coffee plus the aroma of the brewed coffee and the nose impression when drinking. Also: Fragrance

Buttery A full and rich flavor with an oily body or texture.

Caffeine A bitter white alkaloid found in coffee beans and leaves.

Caramelized A burnt-like flavor, as in cooked/browned sugar. A desirable taste note if complemented with a strong coffee flavor.

Caramelly The smell or taste of cooked sugars without any trace of burntness.

Catuai A modern variety of Coffea arabica that is a hybrid of mondo novo and caturra. This high-yield plant can grow in high densities and is resistant to strong winds and rains.

Caturra A modern variety of the Coffea arabica species discovered in Brasil that generally matures more quickly, produces more coffee, and is more disease resistant than older, traditional Arabica varieties.

Cherry The fruit of the coffee tree. Each cherry contains two regular coffee beans or one peaberry.

Chocolatey A positive taste or aroma reminiscent of unsweetened, semi-sweet or milk chocolate, cocoa and/or vanilla. Also: Chocolaty

Cinnamon An underlying spice accent sometimes detected in the aroma. Also, a flavor nuance in light roasts.

City Roast A traditional term for a light to medium commercial roast.

Clean The term clean cup refers to a coffee free of taints or faults. Does not necessarily imply clarity of flavor impression.

Coffee Oil The volatile coffee essence developed in a bean during roasting.

Complex Describes a balance and intensity of flavor. The impression of a coffee with an interesting mix of flavors, undertones and aftertastes. Also: Deep

Decaffeination The process of removing the caffeine from coffee.

Double-Picked Coffee that has been hand-picked twice to remove imperfect beans, pebbles and other imperfections.

Dry Process Coffee process that involves harvesting and drying the beans while still in cherry. Dry-processed coffees often have less acidity and heavier body than their washed counterparts.

Fair Trade A certification that designates a coffee has been grown in accordance with the guidelines of the Fair-trade Labeling Organization. These guidelines are geared toward providing a living wage to farmers in coffee cooperatives. Also: TransFair USA, TrcinsFair Canada

Fermentation The stage during the wet method of coffee processing when the sticky pulp is loosened from the skinned coffee beans by natural enzymes while the beans rest in tanks.

First Crack The second stage of coffee roasting. Once the beans reach 160 degrees centigrade, complex chemical reactions occur, which cause an audible cracking sound.

Flavored Coffee Roasted coffee that has been mixed with flavoring agents or brewed coffee mixed with flavored syrup.

Fragrance The smell of dry ground or whole bean coffee before brewing. Also: Bouquet

French Roast A traditional term for a very dark roast, with a stop temperature around 460 to 465 degrees F. In this roast, the beans are the color of bittersweet chocolate and are usually covered in oil. Also: Dark Roast

Fresh A recent roast, often characterized by a distinctly pleasing aroma.

Fruity Denotes the aromatic scents of citrus or berry fruit in the cup.

Full City Roast A traditional term for a medium commercial roast, with a stop temperature around 440 to 445 degrees F. Also: North Italian Roast

Grade The level of quality given to a particular coffee based on factors such as defects, bean size and moisture content. Can be seen as numbers (e.g. Grade 1), letters (e.g. Grade AA) or a combination of the two (e.g. IAAA).

High-Grown Arabica coffees grown at altitudes of more than 3,000 feet.

Intensity Measure of the total impression of bouquet.

Italian Roast A traditional term for a darker commercial roast, with a stop temperature around 450 to 455 degrees F The beans are usually the color of milk- chocolate and are half-covered with oil droplets. Also: Vienna Roast, South Italian

Melange A blend of coffees that have each been roasted individually to a different degree, some light, some dark.

Mellow Used to describe a sweet coffee that is well-balanced with low to medium acidity.

Mild A taste sensation associated with mellow. A smooth and soft or sweet washed

Mouthfeel Describes the sensation in the mouth of weight or viscosity.
Natural Process Coffee processing method that involves removing the husk or fruit after the coffee fruit has been dried. By utilizing only ripe fruit and drying carefully, this method can produce coffees that are complex and fruity.

Neutral Used to describe coffee that is fundamentally characterless or inoffensive yet without defects.

Nose The combination of taste and smell when swallowing coffee. The aroma component of aftertaste. Most commonly caramelly, nutty or malty.

Oily Term used to describe the surface of roasted coffee; denotes darker roasts.

Organic A term used to describe coffee that has been certified by a third-party agency as having been grown and processed without the use of pesticides, herbicides or similar chemicals. Also: Certified-Organic Coffee, Organic Certified

Patio-Dried Coffee dried by exposing it to the heat of the sun by spreading and raking it in thin layers on open patios. Also: Sun Dried

Peaberry A small, round bean formed when only one seed, rather than the usual two, develops in a coffee cherry. Also:

Processing The way in which coffee is prepared at origin. The type of processing, such as washed or dry-processed, can determine the presence and strength of certain aromas and tastes in the coffee.

Round Commonly used term for a balanced and rich coffee. Also: Full

Second Crack The stage in roasting where the beans become brittle due to dehydration. As a result, the beans crack and begin to carbonize, producing the burnt characteristics of extremely dark roasts.

Single-Origin Term used to describe unblended coffee from a single country, region or crop.

Smooth A quantitative descriptor for. moderately low-bodied coffee. Also referring to a full-bodied, low-acidity coffee.

Specialty Coffee Coffee that tastes good. Coffee produced with care and sophistication to achieve recognized quality. Also refers to green coffee with a limited amount of allowable defects.

Swiss Water Process A trademarked decaffeination method that removes caffeine from coffee beans using hot water, steam and activated charcoal.

Washed Process Post-harvest process of separating the seeds from the fruit before drying. Most important is the intermediate step of controlled fermentation between the pulping and the rinsing and drying phase. Poor processing can lead to defects that can render the coffee unusable. On the other hand, properly washed coffees typically exhibit sweetness, clarity and good acidity. Also: Aquapulp, Demucilage, Wet Process, Lavado

Wet Process A type of coffee processing that involves removing the skin and pulp from the bean while the coffee fruit is still moist. In the traditional wet process, the coffee skins are removed, the skinned beans sit in tanks where enzymes loosen the sticky fruit pulp and then are washed. In the demucilage method, the pulp is scrubbed from the beans by machine. Also: Aquapulp, Demucilage, Wet Method, Washed Process

Winey A bittersweet fruity quality characteristic of a fine red wine. A sweet soury taste, sometimes used to describe acidity.