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Coffee A to Z: A Guide to Coffee Words and Definitions

Jun 7, 2024 | Cheeky Devil Roasters

Letter A: Coffee Words

Acidity – In coffee, acidity refers to the bright, tangy, and sharp flavour notes that are present in certain coffee beans. Acidity is caused by organic acids, such as malic, acetic, and citric acid, that are naturally present in coffee beans.

AeroPress – A manual coffee brewing device that uses air pressure to extract flavour from coffee grounds. It’s a popular method for making a smooth and rich cup of coffee.

Affogato – This is a dessert-style coffee that consists of a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso. The espresso is poured over the ice cream, creating a creamy and sweet dessert with a bold coffee flavour.

Americano / The Long Black: A type of espresso-based coffee that is made by diluting one or more shots of espresso with hot water. 

Arabica – A species of coffee plant known for its high quality and mild, sweet flavour. It is the most widely cultivated species of coffee and is native to the highlands of Ethiopia.

Aroma – The pleasant fragrance or smell that is characteristic of a particular type of coffee. It is an important aspect of the overall coffee-drinking experience, as it can greatly enhance the flavour and enjoyment of the beverage.


Letter B: Coffee Words

Barista – Someone who works at a coffee shop or cafe preparing and serving coffee.

Barrel Aged Coffee – Barrel aged coffee is exactly like it sounds green coffee beans rolled in a barrel that was previously used for liquor or wine and then roasted using standard coffee roasting practices. 

Beans – Coffee beans are the seeds of the Coffee plant. They are roasted and ground to create coffee. Coffee beans come in different varieties and are typically grown in countries with warm climates.

Blend – In coffee, a blend refers to a mixture of two or more different types of coffee beans that are combined to create a unique flavour profile. The beans may be from different regions or have different roast levels, and the goal is to create a balanced and complex taste.

Body – The term “body” refers to the texture and thickness of the coffee’s mouthfeel. It describes the sensation of the coffee in your mouth, from its weight and viscosity to its richness and smoothness.


Letter C – Coffee Words

Caffeine – Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in coffee and other plants. It is a psychoactive substance that can improve alertness and reduce fatigue. In coffee, the amount of caffeine can vary depending on the type of bean, roast, and brewing method used.

Cappuccino – A shot of espresso with equal portions of steamed and frothed milk. It is typically served in a small cup and often sprinkled with cocoa powder or cinnamon.

Cherry – The fruit that grows on coffee trees. It is a small, round, red, or yellow fruit that contains the coffee bean. The cherry is typically harvested when it is ripe and then processed to remove the bean for roasting and brewing.

Coffee – Coffee is a beverage made from roasted coffee beans. It is one of the most popular drinks in the world.

Cupping – A coffee-tasting method used by professionals to evaluate the aroma, flavour, and body of a coffee bean. It involves brewing coffee using precise measurements and techniques to ensure consistency and accuracy in the evaluation process. 


The Letter D

Dark Roast – Dark roast is a coffee roasting process where the beans are roasted for a longer time at a higher temperature, resulting in a darker colour, oilier surface, and a more pronounced bitter taste.

Decaf (or decaffeinated) – Decaf coffee is coffee that has had most of its caffeine removed. It is a good option for those who want to avoid the stimulating effects of caffeine but still enjoy the taste of coffee. 

Drip Method – A method of coffee brewing that involves pouring hot water over ground coffee beans that are placed in a filter. As the water passes through the coffee grounds, it extracts flavour and oils and drips into a container below. This method is one of the most popular and convenient ways to make coffee at home or in cafes.


Letter E

Espresso – A concentrated coffee beverage made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans under high pressure. It is typically served in small portions and has a strong, bold flavour.


The Letter F

Filter – A paper or mesh cone, cylinder, or basket that is used to separate the coffee grounds from the brewed coffee. It is placed in a coffee maker or dripper and allows the liquid to pass through while holding the coffee grounds. 

Flat White – Flat white coffee is a type of espresso-based drink that originated in Australia and New Zealand. It is made by combining a double shot of espresso with steamed milk, typically served in a smaller cup than a latte or cappuccino. The milk is steamed to create a macrofoam texture, giving the drink a velvety smoothness.

French Press – A coffee brewing device that is sometimes called a press pot or plunger pot. It consists of a cylindrical glass or stainless-steel container with a plunger and a mesh filter. Hot water and coffee grounds are added to the container, and then the plunger is pressed down to separate the grounds from the liquid. This results in a rich and flavourful cup of coffee.

French Vanilla – Flavouring that is commonly used to enhance the taste of coffee. French vanilla coffee typically incorporates the sweet and smooth notes of vanilla, creating a luscious and indulgent taste.


The Letter G 

Geisha – Geisha coffee is a rare and highly prized coffee variety that originated from the Gesha village in Ethiopia. Known for its unique flavour profile, Geisha coffee is considered one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world. 

Green Coffee – Unroasted coffee beans.

Grinder – A machine used to grind whole coffee beans into a coarse ground or fine powder. Typically, grinders have a hopper, a burr mechanism, and a container for the ground coffee.


The Letter H 

Honey – A term used in coffee to describe a processing method where the coffee beans are partially washed, leaving some of the fruit and mucilage intact during drying. This can result in a unique, sweet flavour profile in the final brewed coffee.

Hulling – The process in coffee production that involves removing the outer layer, known as the hull, from the coffee bean. This is done to reveal the inner layer of the bean, which is then roasted and brewed to make coffee.


The Letter I

Iced Coffee – A type of coffee beverage served cold and typically over ice and/or ice-crème.

Irish Coffee – A coffee cocktail that includes hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and cream. It is typically warm.


The Letter K

Kopi Susu – An coffee beverage that is made by mixing coffee with sweetened condensed milk.


The Letter L

Latte – A coffee-based drink made with espresso and steamed milk. It is then topped with a layer of frothed milk.

Light Roast – A coffee roast level that is characterised by its light brown colour and mild flavour. The beans are roasted for a shorter period, resulting in a less intense taste and retaining more of the coffee’s original Flavours and acidity.


The Letter M 

Macchiato – Another espresso-based drink that originated in Italy. Typically, a macchiato has one or two shots of espresso and is then topped with a small amount of steamed milk and foam.

Medium Roast – Another coffee roast level in which the beans have been roasted to a medium brown colour. 

Mocha – A chocolatey coffee drink that is a blend of coffee, hot chocolate, and steamed milk.


The Letter N

Nitro Cold Brew – A type of cold coffee that is infused with nitrogen gas, resulting in a smooth and creamy texture with a frothy head like a Guinness beer. The nitrogen bubbles also enhance the coffee’s natural sweetness and reduce its acidity.


The Letter O

Organic Coffee – Coffee that has been grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It is cultivated using natural methods, such as composting, crop rotation, and biological pest control. Organic coffee is typically considered to be healthier for both the consumer and the environment.


The Letter P 

Peaberry – Pea berry coffee is a grade of coffee bean that occurs when only one seed, rather than the usual two, develops within the coffee cherry. This results in a smaller, more rounded bean that is said to have a more concentrated flavour and aroma than regular coffee beans.

Pour-Over Coffee – A brewing method in which hot water is poured over ground coffee beans placed in a filter, allowing the water to drip through and extract the coffee’s flavour and aroma. It is a simple and popular way to make coffee that produces a clean and flavourful cup.

Pull – Refers to the process of extracting espresso shots from an espresso machine. The term is often used interchangeably with “shot” or “pulling a shot.”


 The Letter Q

Quaker – An underdeveloped or unroasted coffee bean (think like a coffee defect). The beans are lighter in colour and can even have a sour taste when brewed. These types of beans are generally removed before roasting to ensure a better-quality coffee.

Quality – A term used to define the superiority or poorness of coffee.


The Letter R

Ristretto: Type of espresso with less water 

Roast/Roasting – The process of heating green coffee beans and transforming them into the brown beans used to make coffee. During the roasting process, the beans undergo chemical changes that affect their flavour, aroma, and colour. Roasts can range anywhere from light to dark.

Robusta – A type of coffee bean that comes from the Coffea plant. Robusta beans are not as superior in taste as arabica beans, but they do have more caffeine and crema.


The letter S

Scale – In coffee words, “scale” refers to a tool used to measure the weight of coffee beans or grounds for precise brewing. It helps to ensure consistency in the strength and flavour of the coffee.

Single-Origin Coffee – Single-origin coffee is a type of coffee that is sourced from a single geographic region or farm, rather than being a blend of beans from different locations. 

Specialty Coffee – Specialty coffee refers to high-quality coffee beans that are grown in specific microclimates, carefully selected, and roasted to highlight their unique Flavors and characteristics. These beans are typically sourced from small-scale farmers and roasted by artisanal roasters. The term “specialty” is used to distinguish these high-quality coffees from mass-produced, lower-quality coffees.

Syrup – A flavoured liquid that is added to coffee to enhance its taste. It usually contains sugar or a sugar substitute, along with various flavours such as vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut.


The Letter T

Turkish Coffee – A method of preparing coffee where finely ground coffee beans are boiled in a pot called a cezve, often with sugar, and served unfiltered. It is a traditional method of brewing coffee in Turkey and other parts of the Middle East and is known for its strong, rich flavour and thick, frothy texture.


The letter U

Unbalanced – A term you might use to describe coffee during a coffee tasting if one flavour profile overpowers another. 


The letter V

Vacuum Coffee – Also known as a siphon, is a method of brewing coffee using two chambers and a filter. The process involves heating water in the bottom chamber, which creates vapor pressure that forces hot water through coffee grounds in the upper chamber. The resulting brewed coffee then flows back down into the bottom chamber due to the decrease in vapor pressure.


The letter W

Washed Coffee – Also called wet coffee processing, this is a method of preparing the coffee beans (removing the skin and pulp) while the coffee fruit is still wet. This is the process most of the world uses to produce coffee beans.

White Coffee – Coffee that is roasted at a lower temperature and pulled from the roasting process just before the first crack of a bean. White coffee is kinda like a light roast, but lighter than a light roast.

Whole-Bean Coffee – Coffee beans that are roasted, but not ground. Typically whole-bean coffee keeps longer than ground coffee. 


The letter Z

Zebra – There is a coffee blend known as “Zebra Coffee” which is a mixture of light and dark roasted beans, resulting in a striped appearance like that of a zebra.

If you are ever wondering what a coffee term means or how to make your favourite beverage in a new and exciting way, start here!


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