The Ultimate List of Coffee Terms and Definitions

If you love coffee as much as we do, then you're going to love this list.

We've trawled the depths of the internet (and our own personal knowledge) to bring you an A-Z of coffee terms. It's the ultimate list and you'll be hard-pressed to find another extensive list like ours.

So whether you're a newbie to the coffee bean or you consider yourself to be quite the connoisseur, you'll likely find something on this list that'll be new to you.

A to Z List of Coffee Terms and Definitions:

Coffee Art

Aged Coffee

Coffee that has traditionally been held in warehouses for several years. The aging reduces acidity and gives the bean more body. Aged coffee has had some form of accelerated aging that involves deliberate exposure to the air, particularly moist air.

Alajuela

A market name and considered to be one of the better coffees from Costa Rica.

Altura 

Meaning 'heights' in Spanish. It's something referred to in Mexican coffee that has been high-grown or mountain-grown.

Aroma

When someone refers to the aroma of a coffee, they're usually pointing out the smell. It's a sensorial analysis of the coffee and with each coffee composed of around 800 substances, there's a lot of aromas to take in.

Agtron

Agtron is a device that cleverly scans coffee using an infrared light to determine the degree of the roast. Pretty cool, huh?

Arabica

A fairly well-known word, Arabica is the most common type of coffee plant that you'll likely come across a lot when ordering coffee either in a cafe or when shopping in your local grocery store. It's originally indigenous to Ethiopia.

Barista

Everyone's favorite person, the Barista. It's a profession that consists of having the knowledge to prepare the perfect beverage for every customer they serve. They also have to cope with extra-long orders like the Triple, Venti, Soy, No Foam Latte.

Bean 

The seed of the coffee, known as the bean. It's what's later roasted and ground to deliver a delicious beverage that many of us enjoy in the morning or for the crazy cats who order it after dinner in a restaurant. You just know they're not getting any sleep after consuming a double shot espresso.

Bitter

Bitterness is a flavor characteristic that is often related to a taste that's quite sharp or harsh on the palate.

Body

The body of the coffee is a way of explaining texture and the words to describe the body might be delicate, heavy or even juicy.

Brewing Ratio

The brewing ratio is made up of the ground coffee mass to water mass, which is used during extraction. Depending on where you're located in the world, you may see it refer to the European standard (g/l) or the American Standard (1:x).

Brewing Temperature

The brewing temperature refers to how hot or cold a coffee is. There are lots of coffee lovers that are very particular about the temperature of the brewing. The brewing temperature impacts the characteristics of the coffee from the acidity or fruity scents. The temperature can be controlled through electric boilers with temperature settings or special thermometers.

Brewing Time

The brewing time is how long you leave the contact between water and the ground coffee. Some like a brief period of time and others prefer it to last longer.

There's also an optimal brewing time given to many coffee types.

Bright

Acidity flavor in coffee is often described as bright. It's more commonly used in Central American Coffees. These are typically coffees from Costa Rica, Kenya and Colombia to name but a few.

Briny

Briny is referred to as a salty flavor that is caused when the coffee is exposed to an excessive amount of heat.

Caffeine

It's what we crave on those days where we're lacking energy and it's a natural alkaloid. It's responsible for stimulating the senses and has a psychoactive effect. Caffeine can be found in a lot of different drinks, not just coffee specifically.

Cappuccino

Cappuccino is a traditional Italian drink. It's made from an espresso shot with foamed milk. It's also where latte art was derived from.

Chemex

An hourglass-shaped pour-over brewer that's made out of glass.

>> Read the full Chemex brewing guide

Coffee Cherries

Coffee cherries are referred to as the outer part that keeps the coffee bean enclosed.

Clover

A one-cup brewing machine that uses an internal vacuum and piston.

Cold Brew

A cold brew is not something to be mistaken with a regular cooled down coffee. Instead, it refers to the method of steeping the grounds in cold water over a long period of time.

>> Check out our full review of the best cold brew coffee makers

Cortado 

Meaning 'cut' in Spanish, Cortado was born in Argentina. It's an espresso with a dash of milk. Condensed milk can also be used.

Crema

Crema is a dark and delicate foam that's found on the top of a shot of espresso if pulled correctly.

Dark Roast

A type of roast that takes a longer time than most. It ultimately leaves the coffee bean tasting on the bitter side.

Degassing

Degassing is referred to as the process of CO2 leaving fresh-roasted beans. Roasters will usually allow a day or two before selling batches of coffee.

Decaffeinated 

A decaffeinated coffee is one that has the most of its caffeine removed. In fact, it's around 97% that gets removed for it to be classified as decaffeinated.

Doppio

For those who like to live on the wild side of life, Doppio is a double espresso. 

Doser

A spring-loaded device that's found on specialized espresso grinders and that dispenses single servings of ground coffee.

Drip Method 

A brewing method that allows hot water to collect and go through a bed of ground coffee.

>> Check out our full review of the best drip coffee makers

Estate-Grown

A phrase that's referred to a single-origin sourcing. It's where the entire bag of coffee will have come from a single estate, rather than anywhere else.

Earthy

A characteristic of coffees that will often taste like earth or soil. These are usually Indonesian coffees.

Espresso

Espresso is a beverage that of course, originates from the Italians - they do do great coffee. It's a coffee that's regularly drunk in small quantities and is an instant buzz.

>> Discover how to make the perfect expresso at home

Extraction

Refers to the process of drawing the properties of the selected coffee that has been ground. It can be extracted with either hot or cold water.

Fairtrade

Fairtrade refers to a program that ensures the protection of farmers, certifying these coffee farmers have been paid a fair price for the coffee they've bought.

Flanel Drip

A Japanese process of brewing that's also called a 'nel drip'. This uses a cloth filter and is attached to a handle.

Flat White

A Flat White is an espresso with a lot of steamed milk, similar to that of a latte.

French Press

The French Press is a brewing method that uses a mesh plunger. It's encased in a glass or metal chamber, steeping and separating the ground coffee.

>> Read our full review of the best French Press coffee maker

Green Beans

These are something you'll unlikely see as it's the state they're in before they're roasted and then packaged up for your enjoyment.

Grind Size

Grind size is the measure of how to ground the beans are according to brewing time and the extraction method used. Here is a grind size chart for every type of brew.

Hopper

Hopper is a compartment that is in a coffee grinder or typically in an espresso machine. A Hopper is where the whole beans are typically stored.

Immersion

Immersion is an extraction method that puts the coffee grounds in water and the water then extracts the flavors and aroma of the coffee. Cold brew is one of the immersion methods used.

Kona

A coffee that comes from the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Kopi Luwak

It's known as the world's most expensive coffee. It's made with the help of a cat-like animal named the Asian Palm Civet. The coffee cherries are eaten and then excreted from partially digested beans. It apparently makes the flavor of the coffee, even better.

Latte

Latte means milk in Italian. The beverage is made with a shot of espresso and a lot of hot milk, a lot more than the flat white.

>> Discover how to make the perfect latte at home

Latte Art

The art of decorating coffee drinks on the surface of the coffee using steamed milk. It's an aesthetic rather than being anything that affects the flavor or experience of the coffee.

Lungo

An espresso that has a longer extraction time. It contains more water and therefore the flavor is less strong than regular espresso.

Macchiato

A Macchiato mean stained in Italy and is a shot of espresso that's topped with a dab of foamed milk.

Micro-lot

An artisanal coffee that comes from a single farm is a higher quality than the standard you would expect to find.

Mocha

This is a drink that's compromised of a shot of espresso and combined with chocolate syrup, steamed. milk and sometimes it's topped with whipped cream.

Moka Pot

A stovetop espresso maker that has small metal vessels that use the steam and pressure to move the water from the bottom chamber and up through the coffee ground at the centre. This results in a very concentrated brew in the top chamber.

Monsooning

Monsooning is where the coffee plants have been exposed to monsoon rains for a period of time. This produces a low-acid bean.

Natural/dry processing

A process where the coffee cherries are left to dry usually out under the sun. A natural process that results in a very sweet coffee.

Peaberry

Peaberry is a type of coffee bean where there's a slight mutation in how they've grown. They're a bit rounder as a result and then separated out to create a speciality roast.

Percolator

This is similar to a Moka pot and the percolators are steam and pressure-activated. These have a grounds chamber on the top, rather than the middle.

Pour-Over Kettle

A pour-over kettle is an electric kettle that has a thin, curved spout that's perfect for pour-over brewing.

Portafilter

This is a filter basket and handle that you'll find on an espresso machine.

Puck

A puck is a small black disk that's created when the coffee has been compressed in the portafilter. It looks like a hockey puck, therefore given the name puck.

Q Grading

This is the process of coffee that's analyzed by professionals called Q Graders. Their job is to evaluate the coffee and determine its quality and market value.

Roasting

The process where you heat beans in order to extract the great flavors that the bean holds. With the roasting process, the coffee beans will tend to lose their humidity and they start going brown depending on how long it's roasted. The longer the roast, the darker the beans will get.

>> Read our full review of the best home roaster

Roast date

Roast date is when the date they were roasted or it'll usually refer to the amount of time that the coffee beans will remain good for. Typically they'll stay fresh for about 2-3 months.

Roasting Degree

This refers to how light or how dark the bean is after the roasting process. There are different types of roasting. These might be named anything from a French roast, full city and first crack to name but a few.

Roast Profile

The roast profile is the effects of the airflow and how the heat is controlled during the roast. It determines how quickly the beans arrive at the roasting degree.

Red Eye

A red eye is known as a 'shot in the dark'. It's a cup of coffee with an added shot of espresso.

Semi-washed honey process

A style of processing the coffee. It's a mix of dry processing and then washing.

Silverskin

This is a parchment-like outer layer of green coffee beans. They become chaff and fall away during the roasting process.

Single Origin 

A type of coffee that's not blended and is considered to be single origin as it's come from only one producing country.

Speciality Coffee

A speciality coffee is usually one that's graded at least 80 points or more out of 100. This grading system is one invented by the SCA. It's only used on green beans so the grade is done with raw material.

Siphon Brewing 

Siphon Brewing is made up of a glass vacuum brewer that's made up of a lower bulb and upper hopper as the equipment.

Strip picking

A harvesting method that strips all the coffee cherries in a branch. This type of harvest means some unripe cherries may also end up being picked. This method means the coffee ends up being of low quality as it is often used at massive plantations.

Tamper

A device that's used to press ground coffee into the coffee basket before it gets extracted.

Terroir

A French expression from terre meaning 'earth'. It means a well-defined area and the set of environmental characteristics, affecting a crop or product. It's also used in other industries from chocolate to maple syrup and even cannabis. It includes conditions like the average temperature, elevation, annual rainfall, etc.

Trigonelline

This, like caffeine, is another natural alkaloid that's present in coffee. It's responsible for the diuretic properties of the drink.

Turkish Coffee

A brewing method that involves a stovetop appliance using extra-fine grinds that settle at the bottom of the cup it's served in.

Old Crop

A term that indicates the last harvest of the year prior. This coffee can still be roasted and consumed but it will be a much poorer crop than the current one.

V60

A signature drip brewer by Hario. Its name comes from the 60-degree angle of the cone's profile.

Wet/Washed Processing

Method of using water through the coffee processing stages and is seen as the best method to achieve high-quality coffees.

Yirgacheffe

Coffee residing from a particular micro-region of Ethiopia.

Additional Reading

What are the Waves of Coffee?
What are the Waves of Coffee?
If you're a big lover of coffee and all things coffee-related, then it's definitely worth knowing about coffee terms lik
Read More
Top Mistobox Coffee Alternatives
Top Mistobox Coffee Alternatives
Mistobox Coffee is a fantastic subscription box for those who love coffee.  However, not everyone wants such a variety
Read More
Best Coffee Grinder: A Detailed Review
Best Coffee Grinder: A Detailed Review
Something we can all agree on: choosing a good grinder takes research. This is because the market is flooded with many d
Read More
Best Single-Serve Coffee Maker: Detailed Reviews
Best Single-Serve Coffee Maker: Detailed Reviews
At Nomad Coffee Club, we’ve made the only single cup coffee maker list you’ll ever need. Check out our picks, and find a
Read More
How Much Caffeine is in a Cup of Coffee?
How Much Caffeine is in a Cup of Coffee?
Not only is savoring a steaming cup of coffee soothing, but the caffeine will perk you right up. Here is everything you
Read More
Espresso vs. Coffee: What are the Main Differences?
Espresso vs. Coffee: What are the Main Differences?
Let’s explore a few main differences between coffee and espresso that will help you settle any espresso vs. coffee debat
Read More

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published