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Abyssinia

Ethiopia, formerly known as Abyssinia, or a coffee cultivar.  Ethiopia is the relative size of Bolivia and lies along the most eastern part of Africa on the Horn of Africa.  To the East/South Eastis Somalia and to the South is Kenya and to the North/Northeast is Sudan.

 

Aceh

The northernmost district in Sumatra, which is north of North Sumatra. Seriously...

 

Acetic Acid

Acetic acid can lead to vinegar-like flavors in over-mature coffees, or bitterness, but in moderate amounts it adds a positive winey note.

 

Acidity

Acidity, when used in a description of coffee, is a positive flavor attribute in coffee, also referred to as brightness or liveliness. It adds a brilliance to the cup, whereas low acid coffees can seem flat.

 

Acids

Many acids in coffee beans contribute to coffee flavor: acetic, malic, citric, quinic, tartarric, phosphoric, etc.

 

Aeropress

A portable coffee brewer that makes a unique dense brew.

Aftertaste

Refers to lingering residual sensations in the mouth after coffee has swallowed.

 

Agtron

A machine and a color matching system used for quality analysis generally in the food industry, and specifically in coffee

 

Alkaloid

Dry and bitter flavors, usually in the aftertaste, caused by alkaline substances in the coffee bean.

 

Americano

A coffee beverage made by combining espresso with hot water.

 

Anise

Anise seed is highly aromatic and has a flavor similar to fennel and licorice, used to flavor various foods and liquors

Arabica

Arabica refers to Coffea Arabica, the scientific species name of the genus responsible for around 75% of the worlds commercial coffee crop.

 

Arabigo

Arabigo is a term seen in Latin America and refers to Typica cultivar

 

Arabusta

An interspecific hybrid of coffea arabica and coffea canephora (robusta).

 

Aroma

Aroma refers to sensations perceived by the olfactory bulb and conveyed to the brain; whether through the nose or retro-nasally

 

Ashy

The smell or taste of ash, such as an ashtray, cigarette smoke, or fireplace. Can be a roast defect.

 

Astringent

A harsh flavor sensation - acrid flavor. It can have dryness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness as components.

 

Baked

Under-developed flavors that result from long, low-heat roasting or a too-light roast level (before 1st crack is fully finished).

 

Balance

Suggests a harmony and proportion of qualities, and implies mildness since no one quality dominates.

Basic Flavors

In the mouth taste of salty, sweet, sour, bitter, savory (umami).

Bitter

Bitter is one of four basic mouth tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter. It has an essential role in coffee flavor, but can unpleasant when too pronounced to you as the coffee consumer.

 

Bittersweet

Borrowed from the language of chocolate, this refers to pleasant bittering compounds balanced by sweetness, and is usually a function of roast.

Blackberry

Blackberry flavor in coffee sometimes relates to slightly more developed roast levels.

 

Blade Grinder

A coffee grinder that works by way of a high-speed rotating blade.

 

Blended Coffee

A blend is a mixture of coffees from multiple origins. Coffees are typically blended to produce a more balanced cup.

 

Body

Body is sense of weight and thickness of the brew when tasted.

 

Bold

Described when tasted as an aggressive flavor profile. 

 

Bourbon

Not the alcohol! When used in the coffee world it is a main arabica cultivar - a type of bean - that was developed by the French on the island of Bourbon.

Brewed Coffee

Brewed Coffee, as a general term, refers to all coffee preparations produced by adding non-pressurized water to coffee grounds. 

 

Brightness

A term sometimes used versus acidity when describing flavor in coffee. A bright coffee has higher acidic flavor.

 

Brown Sugar

When described in coffee, a sweetness characterized by a hint of molasses.

 

Burnt

A defect flavor characterized by a lack of sweetness in the coffee due to over roasting or roasting issues.

 

Burr Grinder

A coffee grinder that grinds by passing/funneling beans between a pair of rotating metal discs.  That can be either conical or flat. Conical burr grinders tend to provide a better grind because they do not introduce heat through the process.

 

Buttery

A mouthfeel description indicating thickness and creamyness. Can also be a flavor description.

 

Caffeine

An alkaloidal compound that has a physiological effect on humans and a slight bittering flavor.

 

Caramel

Caramel is a desirable form of sweetness found in the flavor and aroma of coffee, and is an extension of roast taste.

 

Caramelization

A reaction involving sugars that occurs during coffee roasting. A caramelized sugar is less sweet, but has greater complexity of flavor and aroma.

 

Carbon Dioxide Process

A decaffeination method where beans are placed in a liquid bath of highly-pressurized CO2.

 

Carbony

A roast-related flavor term, referring to burnt flavors from darker roasted coffees.

Catimor

A group of plants derived from HdT and Caturra coffee plant crosses, highly productive, sometimes with inferior cup flavor.

 

Catuai

Catuai is a high-yield dwarf Arabica plant/tree resulting from a cross of Mundo Novo and Yellow Caturra.

 

Caturra

An Arabica plant/tree discovered as a natural mutant of Bourbon in Brazil in 1937.

 

CBB

Coffee Berry Borer, a pest that burrows into the coffee seed, and a major problem in many coffee origins. Also  used to describe a disease Broca.

 

Cellulose

The main physical component of the coffee seed, its woody structural element.

 

Chaff

Chaff is paper-like skin that comes off the coffee in the roasting process.

Charrieriana

Coffea charrieriana is a caffeine-free species from the Cameroon. At this point it quality is unknown.

Chemex Coffee Brewer

A glass filter drip coffee brewer with an extended brew time.

 

Chemical Process

A decaffeination method where beans are soaked in hot water then treated with a chemical that bonds to caffeine (either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate).

Cherry

Either a flavor in the coffee, or referring to the fruit of the coffee tree, which can resemble a red cherry.

 

Chicory

Chicory was a popular coffee substitute and economizer for 2 centuries, back when coffee was more prized and 'pure'/100% coffee was a luxury.

 

Chlorogenic Acid

Chlorogenic acids are important to coffee flavor.

 

Chocolate

A general flavor or aroma term reminiscent of chocolate. 

 

Citric Acid

A positive flavor acid in coffee, that often leads to the perception of citrus fruits and adds to the cup.

 

Citrus

Qualities in coffee that are reminiscent of a citrus fruit; orange, lemon, grapefruit, kumquat, etc.

 

City Roast

City roast is what is defined as the earliest palatable stage that the roast process can be stopped and result in good coffee flavors. City roast generally occur roughly 415 and 425 Fahrenheit.  But, at higher altitudes can occur at a lower temperature.

 

City+ Roast

City+ roast is a term we use for the roast level after City, with further development of the bean, but not approaching Second Crack. Is roughly 425 to 435 Fahrenheit.

Coffae

Coffee is a flowering shrub/tree that produces fruit and is harvested at different stages in order to process into what is known as coffee and consumed as a mostly hot beverage.

 

Coffee Berry Disease

A fungal disease that results in cherry dying and dropping to the ground before it is ripe.

 

Coffee Brewing

The process of making an infusion of roasted, ground coffee beans.

 

Coffee Cherry

Coffee is a fruit from a flowering shrubby tree.

Coffee Diseases

Coffea Arabica is susceptible to a host of diseases, such as Coffee Berry Disease (CBD), Coffee Berry Borer (CBB, also known as Broca), and Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR).

 

Coffee Filter

A mechanism for straining coffee grounds from brewed coffee; usually made of paper or a metal or nylon mesh - sometimes referred to a gold tone filters

 

Coffee Grading

The evaluation and scoring of physical coffee defects in green coffee.

 

Coffee Grinder

A device for grinding coffee beans. Grinders can be broadly classified into blade grinders and burr grinders. Electric or hand mechanized. 

 

Coffee Roaster

In referring to the machine and not the person, it is a mechanism for roasting coffee. The basic requirements for a coffee roaster are a heating element that gets suitably hot and a mechanism for agitating the beans. Can be either electric or gas.

Complex

When describing coffee it is a presence of various aroma and flavor attributes.

Conical Burr Grinder

A conical burr grinder has two cone-shaped burrs that sit inside one another; coffee bean fall between the two burrs and are ground between them.

Crack

In the coffee world it is an audible popping sound heard during roasting much like popcorn or rice crispies. In coffee, one refers to first crack and second crack, which come from two different classes of chemical reactions.

 

Creamy

A description indicating a thick, soft, rounded texture on the palate.

 

Crema

The dense foam on top of a shot of espresso. Crema is considered a sign of a proper espresso extraction.

Cultivar

Cultivar is a term used interchangeably with Varietal in the coffee world to mean plant material, but there are distinctions.

Cup Of Excellence

The Cup of Excellence is a competition held yearly in many coffee-producing countries, designed to highlight the very best coffees from each origin.

 

Cupper

One who cups, or tastes and evaluates, coffee.

 

Cupping

Cupping is a clever term for tasting coffee by steeping grounds in separate cups for discrete amounts of ground coffee, to reveal good flavors and defects to their fullest.

Decaffeinated Coffee

Coffee from which caffeine has been removed, either chemically or using water filtration. 

 

Demucilage

To remove the fruity layer of coffee seeds (mucilage) either by fermetation or by machine.

 

Density

The density of a coffee bean is often taken as a sign of quality, as a more dense bean will roast more evenly.

 

Direct Trade

A term used by coffee sellers to indicate that the coffee was purchased through a direct relationship with the farmer.

 

Drum Roaster

A roaster with a rotating drum that provides agitation to the beans, while a heating element (typically either electric or gas) provides heat.

 

Dry Mill

A facility that accepts dried coffee cherry and mechanically separates the coffee bean from the dried fruit and parchment layer.

 

Dry Process

Dry process is a method to transform coffee from the fruit to the green coffee bean, ready for export. The fruit is picked from the tree and dried directly in the sun or on raised screens. Dry process coffees generally have more body and lower acidity than wet process.

 

Earthy

A flavor term used to describe coffee. Sometimes positively and sometimes negatively.  

CUP uses it in a positive way.  It is reminiscent of dark, black earth that conjures a sense or memory of growth and earths newness each season.

 

Emulsion

In coffee, emulsion typically refers to the suspension of coffee oils in water. While brewed coffee is primarily an extraction; depending on the type of filter you are using, espresso is both an extraction and an emulsion.

 

Esters

An often fragrant organic or partially organic compound formed by the reaction between an acid (including amino acids) and an alcohol, often with fruit-like character.

 

Ethyl Acetate

A chemical decaffeination process of coffee. But, one using a mild type with low toxicity. It sometimes imparts fruity flavors to the coffee

 

European Preparation

European preparation, or EP, indicates extra hand sorting done at the mil.

Extraction

Refers to the process of infusing coffee with hot water. Hot water releases or extracts the flavor from the roasted, ground coffee.

 

Fair Trade

Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach to empowering developing country producers and promoting sustainability.

 

Ferment

Ferment , when used to describe a coffee flavor, is a defect taste resulting from bad processing or other factors.

 

Fermentation

A key part of the wet process of coffee fruit is overnight fermentation to break down the fruit layer that clings to the coffee seed, so it can be washed off.

 

Flat Burr Grinder

A grinder with two flat, parallel disc-shaped burrs.

Floater(s)

A coffee bean that did not mature inside the parchment layer will float in wet-processing or are defective coffee cherries or depulped seeds that float to the surface of a water bath.

 

Floral

An aromatic quality, but also a flavor, reminiscent of flowers.

 

Fluid Bed Roaster

A fluid-bed roaster works by pushing hot air across coffee beans. Fluid-bed roasters are generally less expensive than comparable drum roasters, and they produce a bright flavor profile.

 

Fly Crop

Fly Crop is a term used to mean the second, smaller harvest.

 

French Press

A simple coffee brewer where grounds and hot water are added to a carafe that is usually is made of glass or stainless steel with a circular filter that pushes down the grounds at the bottom of the carafe and holds them there.

FTO

FTO is shorthand for a coffee that is certified as both Fair Trade and Organic.

 

Full City Roast

A coffee that has been roasted to the brink of second crack.

 

Full City+ Roast

A roast slightly darker than Full City and before a Viennese and French roast.  There should be few oils on the surface of the bean.

 

Furans

Furans are a set of compounds that are important contributors to coffee aroma.

GrainPro Bag

A multi-layer plastic bag with a gas barrier. The bags have been shown to extend the flavor life of the  green coffee significantly over storage in jute or burlap bags.

 

Grainy

A roast-related flavor tasting like under-developed grain sweetness. Sometimes a positive term, as with light malty sweetness.

 

Grassy

Greenish flavor in the cup like fresh cut or wet grass.

Hectares

This metric term refers to the size of coffee farms. 1 Hectare = 10000 Square Meters = 2.471 acres

 

Herbal(y)

An aroma or flavor descriptor in coffee reminicent of herbs, usually meaning aromatic, savory, leafy dried herbs.

 

Hulling

Hulling is a process at the dry mill where  green coffee beans are removed from the parchment shell.

 

Ibrik

A pot for making turkish coffee with wide bottom, narrow neck, and long handle. Usually made out of copper or brass and lined with tin. Pronounced 'EEEE-brick'.

 

Intensity

When rating coffee intensity descriptions can be from Mild to Bold. Generally referring to the 'strength' or boldness of coffee flavor. Low intensity does not mean low quality it jut means a 'lighter' cup.

 

Jasmine

It is a flower but also can be a  floral quality in coffee, usually with a strong aromatic component, reminiscent of the flower.

 

Java

AKA - Coffee, Indonesian for the word coffee. Indian Java/coffee is a fully wet-processed coffee that has body and thickness without earthy or dirty flavors.

 

Java Cultivar

Java Cultivar is planted widely in Cameroon, related to Abyssinia found in East Java

JBM

Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee; which is both a trade name for certain Jamaica coffee, and a Typica cultivar

 

Kent

A cultivar resistant to Coffee Leaf Rust -  a coffee disease.

 

Ketones

Important carbonyl compounds that contribute to over 20% to coffee aromatics.

 

Kona Typica

A variation on Typica grown in the Kona region of Hawaii.

 

Kopi Labu

Meaning pumpkin coffee. The term for the soft swollen coffee bean after it is wet-hulled out of parchment in Sumatra.

 

Lata/Laurina

Laurina or Bourbon Pointu is a cultivar with low caffeine content

 

Leathery

Aromas or flavors reminiscent of leather, a very rustic quality and not necessarily a defect.

 

Liveliness

A euphemistic term we use often to describe acidity in coffee. 

 

Macchiato

An espresso drink: a shot of espresso with a small dollop of foamed milk on top.

 

Maillard Reaction

An important reaction in coffee roasting that results in the browning of the green coffee seed.

 

Malic Acid

An acid in coffee beans that adds to favorable perceptions of cup quality; malic acid often adds apple-like flavors

 

Mandheling

A trade name used for wet-hulled Sumatra coffees.

 

Manual Grinder

A coffee grinder powered by a hand-turning crank.

 

Maracatu

A cross between large-bean Maragogype and Catuai cultivars.

 

Maracaturra

As the name indicates cross between large-bean Maragogype and Caturra cultivars.

 

MASL

Meters Above Sea Level.  In the United States it would also be called Altitude

 

Mbuni

Swahili term that refers to dry-processed coffee.  Also spelled M'buni or Buni.

 

Mechanical Dryer

A coffee drying machine used as an alternative to patio drying of wet process coffees.

 

Melange

A blend containing a coffee that has been roasted to a different levels - light to dark.

 

Mellow

A general primary-to-secondary post gustatory flavor characterization, often called rich or alternately smooth.

 

Methylene Chloride Decaf

A solvent-based method for washing the caffeine out of coffee. Called MC decaf for short.

 

Mibirizi

A Bourbon cultivar variant from Rwanda and Burundi.

 

Micro-Lot

A term that designates not only a small volume of coffee but, a 'lot' produced separately, discretely picked or processed to have special character.

 

Micro-Mill

Small independent mills that produced finished coffee, ready for export, usually right on the farm.

 

Mildewy

Off aroma and flavor that reminds one of a damp, moldy box or space. This flavor can hint at a dangerous coffee mold and should not be consumed. But, you should never get that from CUP since we are at high altitude and our average humidity is below 6%!

 

Mill

A coffee mill might mean a coffee grinder, but we usually use the term to refer to a coffee processing facility.

 

Minerally

A flavor or aroma reminicient of minerals, i.e. granite, lava rock, etc.

 

Mint

A flavor found in coffee, which could indicate a clean and brisk mint hint, or a more rustic dried mint.

 

Moka Pot

Moka Pots are stovetop brewers that produce something between espresso and Turkish coffee.

Mokha

A Yemen type of coffee, both in terms of the family of cultivars planted there, and the general trade name.

 

Monsooned Coffee

A method of ageing coffee in India where the unroasted coffee is exposed to humid monsoon winds.

 

Mucilage

Indicating the fruity layer of the coffee cherry, between the outer skin and the parchment layer that surrounds the seed. Very similar to the inside of a grape.

 

Mundo Novo

A coffee cultivar; a cross between Typica and Bourbon, originally grown in Brazil.

 

Muscovado

A type of unrefined brown sugar with a strong molasses flavor, although it is not made by combining molasses with white sugar.

 

Musty

An aroma and/or flavor that ranges from slight intensity to mildewy defect flavor.  Not something that I personally find palatable. 

 

Nematodes

In coffee agriculture, nematodes as a pest affect the root of the coffee, attacking the plant. There are also beneficial types of nematodes that add to soil health.

 

Nesco Coffee Roaster

A home air roaster with a 4oz capacity, a smoke reduction system, and auger-driven bean agitation.

 

Nitrogen Flushing

Pushing an unreactive gas into a bag of coffee to force out oxygen, which is more reactive to coffee beans.

 

Nutty

Nutty is a broad flavor term, reminiscent of nuts.

 

Orange Bourbon

A variation of Bourbon coffee that ripens to an orange colored cherry.

 

Organic

Grown without the use of ariticial fertilizers, herbicides, etc.

 

Pacamara

A large bean cultivar.  It is a cross between Pacas and Maragogype plants with unique flavor properties.

 

Pacas

A mutation of Bourbon cultivar that appeared in El Savador in 1949.

 

Pache

Pache is a mutation of Typica cultivar that orginiates in Guatemala.

 

Patio-Drying

Indicates a coffee was dried in the sun after processing on a paved or brick patio.

 

Peaberry

A green coffee bean that has a rounded form.  It is a mutation, is not common and is highly valued by the Japanese in coffee.  

 

Percolator

A type of coffee brewer where water 'boils' up through a tube and spreads over a mass of ground coffee to extract the flavor.  Popularily used over campfires.

 

Phenols

A compound in coffee that at high levels contributes to negative flavors, but can have positive aspects as well.

 

Phosphoric Acid

An acids that contribute to a positive flavor perception in coffee; more phosphoric acid might lead to the sense of higher acidity overall.

 

Piney

A slightly resinous pine sap flavor.

 

Pink Bourbon

A rare variation of a Bourbon coffee plant whose cherries ripen to a pink color.

 

Piquant

Meaning pleasantly pungent or zesty in taste, spicy, provocative.

 

Portafilter

The part of an espresso machine that holds the filter basket into which coffee grounds are placed.

 

Potato Defect

A cup taint with the strong smell of raw potato. It is caused by a bacteria that then triggers a pyrazine reaction resulting in the off flavor. This affects coffees from Rwanda, Burundi and other countries near Lake Kivu

 

Pour-Over/Drip

A manual drip brewing method involving hot water and a filter of some kind. Could be by machine.

 

Pre-infusion

An espresso machine is said to use pre-infusion if it applies a moderate amount of pressure and water to the coffee before applying full brew pressure.  Can also be a process used by some drip machines through partially closing the filter basket off from the pot.

 

Processing

The removal of the coffee cherry and parchment from the coffee seed.  Can either be by wet or dry methods.

 

Pulp Natural

A method of processing coffee where the skin of the cherry is removed from the coffee, after which the coffee is dried with the fruit clinging to the parchment layer.

 

Pulping

The first step in wet-process coffee, pulp natural or forced demucilage coffees.

 

Pulpy

Can refer to flavor or mouthfeel. On terms of flavor, it means the negative flavor of fermenty coffee fruit.

 

Pungent

Refers to an aggressive, intense amoma or flavor, often related to spices (pepper) or roast tastes.

 

Purpurascens

A purple-leaf coffee mutant, sometimes used in genetic testing.

 

Pyradines

A set of chemical compounds found in coffee, including nicotinic acid (niacin).

 

Pyrans

Related to Furans, they are a product of sugars and caramelization.

 

Pyrolysis

A type of thermolytic reaction of organic materials. In coffee roasting it results in caramelization and a host of other chemical and physical changes in the coffee.

 

Pyrroles

Important aromatic compounds in coffee of which there are 70 identified. 

 

Qishr

Qishr is an infused tea beverage that you make using the dried coffee husks of the coffee fruit, a by-product of the natural dry-process method.

 

Quakers

A quaker is an industry term used to describe under-ripe, undeveloped coffee seeds that fail to roast properly.  CUP often referes to them as stones.

 

Quinic Acid

An important acid in the chemistry of coffee, positive to cup quality in moderate amounts, but leading to perceived sourness and astringency.

 

Rainforest Alliance

Rainforest Alliance is a broad certification guaranteeing that an agricultural product has met certain economic, ecological, and social standards.

 

Raised Beds

Raised beds, also refered to as african-style beds, are elevated beds used for drying coffee when dry-processing.

 

Rambung

An Ethiopia cultivar brought to Java in 1928.

 

Refined Sugar

A term when used in coffee tasting refers to a clear, clean sweetness, with an absence of other characteristics.

 

Restrained

A descriptive term used to communicate a well-structured, classic, clean flavor profile from a wet-processed coffee.

 

RFA

Rain Forest Alliance designation for coffee grown under sustainable conditions working towards organic farming when possible.

 

Rioy

A defect term referring to a harsh, acrid, medicine flavor from Brazilian coffees of the lowest order.

 

Roast Defect

A problem with the roasting machine or process, resulting in off flavors in the cup.

 

Roast Profile

Roast Profile refers to the relationship between time and temperature in coffee roasting.

 

Roast Taste

The set of flavors that result from the degree-of-roast.

 

Roasted Coffee Storage

Roasted coffee is best stored in an air-tight container and keeps for about 7 days.  If storing for more than a week to 10 days, always store in the freezer and never the refrigerator.

 

Round

Referring to mouthfeel, a sense of completeness and fullness.

 

Rubbery

A taste fault giving the coffee beans a highly pronounced burnt-rubber character.

 

Rust Fungus

A coffee disease known as La Roya in the Americas that diminishes fruit production and ultimately kills the plant.

 

Rustic

A general characterization of pleasanty natural flavors, perhaps less spohisticated and less refined, but appealing.

 

Sage

A flavor description found in coffee, either leafy sage, dried sage, or sage flower.

 

Sailor

A funny historic name for floaters - green or roasted coffee beans that float in water.

 

Salty

Salty is one of four basic mouth tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter. It can have minerally aspects in coffee.

 

Sapid Flavors

Pleasant tastes, referring to in the mouth sensations derived from the basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, savory (umami).

 

Scale

Mineral buildup formed over time as hard water is heated in a coffee pot or type of kettle.

 

Scorching

Patches of discolored burn marks on the coffee bean, due to a high-heat roast environment or other roast error.

 

Screen-drying

A method of drying coffee in the sun, laying it on elevated screens or mats to allow air movement through the coffee.

 

Screening

Running coffee through a screen with holes of a fixed size. Used for sorting.

 

Second Crack

After First Crack, a roast reaction around 440 to 450 degrees that is distingushed by a snapping sound, much like rice crispy cereal.

 

Semi-Washed

An uncertain term to describe a coffee processing technique somewhere between wet-process and dry-process

 

Semperflorens

A mutant cultivar with Bourbon coffee genetic background.

 

Sensory Analysis

A broader term for all qualitative evaluation of food and beverage. In coffee, a better term for what we call cupping.

 

Shade Grown

An ambiguous term used to describe coffee grown under the shade of another tree.

 

Silky

A mouthfeel description indicating a delicate, light, elegant softness and smoothness.

 

Silverskin

On dried green bean coffee, the thin inner-parchment layer that clings to the bean and lines the crease on the flat side.

 

Single Origin

Refers to coffee from one location, in contrast to blended coffee.

 

Skunky

A defect term related to improper roasting; tipping or scorching of coffee.

 

Smokey

Usually a defect of roasting, or of green coffee processing, smokey notes are sometimes found as a positive flavor in a few exotic coffees.

 

SO Espresso

Short for Single Origin espresso.

 

Soft

Soft is a postive flavor term, used in particular in the Brazil grading system

 

Sorting

Coffee is sorted by size, density, and color in its preparation for export.

 

Sour

Sour is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter.

 

Sour Bean

A physical coffee bean defect due to excess fermentation where bacteria or mold attack the seed.

 

South American Coffee

South American coffee varies widely from country to country, from chocolately natural or semi-washed Brazils to wet-processed Colombia, Organic Peru coffees to high grown Bolivia.

 

Sparkles

Sparkles are often found in bright coffees. Hint: if you look at the cup of coffee and it winks at you, it has sparkles.

 

Specialty Coffee

A word that implies higher level of green coffee quality than average industrial coffee or commercial coffee

 

Spongy

A reference to the mouthfeel of a coffee when it leaves a tactile impression of sponges

 

Storage

Green, unroasted coffee and roasted coffee have very different storage needs and shelf lives. See definitions for Green Coffee Storage and Roasted Coffee Storage.

 

Straw

A dried hay-like character due to age of the green coffee and the corresponding loss of organic material storage.

 

Strecker Degradation

An important roast reaction related to the Maillard reaction. The Strecker Degradation is an interaction of amino acids with a carbonyl compound in an environment with water, creating CO2 and an Aldehyde or Ketone.

 

Strictly Hard Bean

a Costa Rican classification indicating the coffee was grown at an altitude above 1200 feet/4000 meters

 

Strictly High Grown

a classification indicating the coffee was grown at an altitude above 1200 feet/4000 meters

 

Strictly Soft

The highest rating in the Brazil Grading scale, based on cupping.

 

Strong

Can mean a number of things - it can be an earthy or pungent coffee or a coffee brewed in a more concentrated way.

 

Structured

Structure is an esoteric term, characterizing the relation between flavors, acids, mouthfeel and aftertaste as well-defined and comprehensive.

 

Sucrose

Sucrose is important to the taste of sweetness in light roast coffees, as it is completely converted or destroyed in darker roasts.

 

Sulawesi

Sulawesi coffees are low-acid with great body and that deep, brooding cup profile akin to Sumatra. The coffee is sometimes known as Celebes, which was the Dutch colonial name for the island.

 

Sumatra

Indonesians are available as a unique semi-washed process and (rarely) fully-washed coffees. Semi-washed coffees are best described as wet-hulled, localy called Giling Basah, and will have more body and often more of the character that makes Indonesians so appealing and slightly funky.

 

Sweaty

Usually a taste defect, reminiscent of the smell of flavor of sweat, sometimes considered mildly positive.

 

Sweet

Sweetness is an important positive quality in fine coffees, and is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter

 

SwissGold Filter

A brand of reusable metal filter for drip coffee brewing.

 

SWP

Swiss Water Process; a water filtration decaf method.

 

Tamper

A handheld instrument for compacting (tamping) ground coffee for espresso into a portafilter basket.

 

Tamping

Compacting coffee grounds for espresso into a portafilter basket.

 

Tangy

An adjective modifying a flavor descriptor, decribing a sharp effect; tangy citrus, tangy bittersweet flavor, tangy green apple.

 

Tannic

Having the bitterness or astringency of Tannins. Tannins are plant polyphenols found across the flora kingdom.

 

Tanzania

Tanzania coffee in terms of character belongs to the Central/East African family of washed (wet-processed) coffees, bright (acidy), and mostly aggressively flavorful of which Kenya is certainly the dominant coffee.

 

Tarry

A dark roast-related flavor of pungent, intense bittering roast flavor, reminicent of the smell of tar.

 

tasse

The french word for cup.

 

Tea-like

A term used to describe coffees with light, astringent body and potent aromatics.

 

Technivorm

An electric drip brewer for the home that is known for it's good design, and good results

 

Tekisic

A Bourbon-type variant from El Salvador.

 

Tenadam

The name in Amharic for Rue, used as an herbal additive to coffee.

 

Timor

Timor has 2 major regions producing coffee: Maubesse is higher-altitude terrain than Aifu region.

 

Tipping

Tipping refers to a roast error that can be discerned by inspecting the roasted coffee, where the ends of the elongated bean appear burnt. It can easily be tasted in the cup too; burnt or smoke flavors, or a lack of sweetness.

 

Transparency

Transparency is a flavor characterization synonymous with clarity, or a business ethics term, implying that as much information as possible about a coffee is made available to the consumer.

 

Tree-dry Natural

This name designates a particular type of dry process coffee where the fruit dries partially or entirely while still on the tree branch.

 

Trigonelline

Trigonelline is a bittering compound that is reduced as the roast gets progressively darker

 

Turbinado

Turbinado sugar is a special type of unrefined sugar with a particular flavor, mildly rustic

 

Turkish Coffee

A strong perparation of coffee, finely ground, and often prepared in an Ibrik

 

Typica

Along with Bourbon, one of the main cultivars of Coffea Arabica, with less production per tree but good cup quality.

 

Uganda

While Arabica was introduced at the beginning of the 1900's, Robusta coffee is indigenous to the country, and has been a part of Ugandan life for centuries.

 

Umami

Umami is a Japanese word that has been adopted to indicate savory flavor and scent, and is considered by some as the 5th core flavor along with sour, salty, sweet, and bitter.

 

Unclean

A general negative description of dirty or hard flavors in a coffee that should have none.

 

Under-developed

Under-developed refers to roast problems, usually too-light roasts.

 

USDA

The United States Department of Agriculture, also an Indonesian cultivar

 

Vacuum Brewer

A vacuum brewer works by heating water, pushing it into a chamber with coffee grounds, and then sucking the water back. Vacuum brewers produce a clean, aromatic cup.

 

Vacuum Packaging

Sealing coffee in an air-tight container, with the air removed via vacuum. Green coffee and roasted coffee can both be vacuum packed to extend shelf life.

 

Varietal

Varietal is a term popular in wine to indicate a particular plant type that results in distinct flavors. We generally use the similar term cultivar when referring to types of coffee.

 

Velvety

A mouthfeel description indicating elegant softness, refined smoothness

 

Vienna Roast

Vienna roast occurs at the beginning of second crack. The Vienna stage is where you begin to find origin character eclipsed by roast character.

 

Vinegar

A defective flavor taint in coffee, resulting perhaps from poor processing, fermentation, sanitation.

 

Warming Spice

A term indicating a spice blend with ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, anise.

 

Washing Station

In Rwanda and some other East African countries, a wet mill is called a Washing Station.

 

Water Process

A decaffeination method where beans are soaked in hot water, the water is filtered to remove caffeine, and the beans are placed back in the water to absorb their flavor back.

 

Well-knit

Describing the good inter-relation of sensory characteristics. Also referred to as tightly knit to mean closely-paired flavors.

 

Wet Aroma

The smell of wet coffee grinds, after hot water is added.

 

Wet Hulled

Wet-hulled coffee is a hybrid process used in parts of Indonesia, especially Sumatra and much of Sulawesi. In wet hulling the coffee is processed as it is in the wet process used in many parts of the world, but the coffee is not allowed to fully dry. The parchment layer is removed when the coffee has 25-50% moisture content, whereas traditional wet-processing is hulled at 11%. Then the unprotected green bean is laid out to dry on the patio. In Bahasa language it is called Giling Basah. For more information Click here to read our article on wet hulling.

 

Wet Mill

The wet mill is a processing center where coffee cherry from the tree is brought for initial processing.

 

Wet Process

Wet-processing transforms the coffee cherry into a green coffee bean for roasting. In wet-processing, the coffee is pulped, floated in water, fermented, washed, and dried.

 

Wild

WIth some overlap for the term rustic, wild notes connote something foreign or exotic in a flavor profile, usually somewhat unclean.

 

Willem Boot

Willem is a coffee consultant and taster, with a skill for leading panels and writing coffee articles. His company is Boot Coffee.

 

Winey

A taste term to describe a wine-like flavor with a similar perceived acidity and fruit

 

Woody

Generally a taste defect from age; old green coffee, perhaps yellowing in color.

 

Yeasty

A defect term referring to honey flavor but a bad rustic, yeast-like flavor

 

Yellow Bourbon

A type of Bourbon coffee that ripens to a yellow color, not red, and named for the island in the India Ocean where French colonists grew it, that ripens to a yellow color.

 

Yemen

Yemen has a coffee culture like no other place, and perhaps some of what we enjoy in this cup is due to their old style of trade...

 

Zacapa

Zacapa is the famous sweet and spicey rum of Guatemala

 

Zambia

From the country formerly known as upper Rhodesia, now named for the Zambezi River, Zambian coffees range from Kenya-like brightness to subtle, balanced coffee with complexity, body and nuanced flavors.

 

Zesty

A flavor or mouthfeel characteristic, hinting at a tingly, prickly, lively or piquant aspect.

 

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe, formerly known as lower Rhodesia until independence in 1980, has produced great coffee since production was introduced in the 1960s.

Coffee Terms

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