Coffee Terms

Have you ever looked at the menu in a coffee shop only to find it full of unusual phrases and technical terms?

If you want to better understand coffee terminology, here's a handy glossary to help you figure it out.

The following are general coffee terms related to types of coffee, coffee accessories, coffee tools, and more.

Key Terms

AA - The highest category of coffee in many classification systems, used in Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, India, and other countries.

Acidity - The basis coffee's rich taste. Its intensity depends on plantation elevation, processing methods, and roast levels. Acidity's quality, not its intensity, is most important to taste. Five main types of acid can be found in coffee: phosphoric, acetic, lactic, malic, and citrus.

AeroPress - A hand-held device to make coffee by forcing hot water (which has been mixed with ground coffee) through a filter.

American Roast (City Roast) - Coffee roasted to the traditional American flavor (a medium brown roast).

Americano - An espresso diluted with hot water to reach a volume of 150-200 ml (5-7 oz).

Arabica - A type of coffee named for the trees from which it is harvested. This name is associated with the origin of the trees. Regardless of the country in which this variety is now grown, it was originally from the Arab-African region, presumably from a province called Kaffa in Ethiopia. This variety accounts for about 75% of the world's coffee production.

Aroma - A pleasant smell that stands out from freshly ground coffee (dry aroma) and freshly brewed coffee. The aroma of coffee is created by the substances released when brewing coffee and essential oils. The intensity of the aroma is rated as weak, moderate, strong, or bright. There are various shades of aroma (citrus, hazelnut, floral, etc.).

Balance - A kind of parity of taste characteristics and shades of coffee. The taste should be complex, that is, have different shades that are constantly changing, alternating, and even layering. Balanced (or harmonious) coffee is distinguished by the unity and balance of taste components.

Bar - A unit for measuring steam pressure used in almost all espresso machines. 9 bar is the accepted pressure for making espresso.

Barista - A specialist in the preparation and brewing of coffee.

Bourbon - A sub-species of Arabica coffee. Some of the best Latin American coffees come from the Bourbon variety. Bourbon is believed to be the type of coffee closest to the original coffee found in Ethiopia more than 1000 years ago.

Body - A term that includes the totality of all the sensations in the mouth from a sip of coffee: saturation, texture, fullness. A related concept is consistency.

Blend - A mixture of various types of coffee beans to create a new flavor and aroma.

Blind filter - A special filter that does not have openings and is used to clean backflushing group heads on espresso machines.

Boiler - One of the main components of the coffee machine, responsible for heating water to a certain temperature. The water in the boiler is not used to make espresso.

Caffeine - A flavorless alkaloid with a bitter taste that causes the stimulating effect of coffee and tea. Caffeine is found in plants such as coffee, tea, cocoa, mate, guarana, cola, and some others. It is synthesized by plants to protect against insects, as well as to encourage pollinators.

Coffea Robusta - The second most important and popular coffee variety. It accounts for about 30% of global coffee production. Robusta is easier to cultivate and cheaper to produce than Arabica.

Cappuccino - An espresso-based coffee with milk and milk foam. Its volume should be 150-210 ml (5-8 oz).

Cezve/Ibrik - A ladle-like device for making Turkish coffee. It has a thick bottom and a neck that tapers upward. Traditionally made of copper. Turkish coffee is one of the oldest brewing methods in the world, so there are many varying recipes, methods, and serving styles.

Cupping - The process of a professional blind-tasting coffee. The process requires extensive coffee knowledge. Such a specialist, a taster, is called a cupper.

Cortado - A coffee and milk drink that consists of espresso and whipped milk at a 1:1 ratio. Served in glass cups with a volume of 150-200 ml (5-6 oz). There are also recipes that add condensed milk or whipped cream. Cortado is a popular drink in Spain and Portugal, as well as throughout Latin America, where it is drunk in the afternoon.

Cold Brew - A method of making coffee in which it is brewed not with hot but with cold water. The result is a concentrated drink with a bright coffee flavor and high caffeine content. It is drunk chilled from the refrigerator.

Crema - The foam that has arisen on the surface of a shot of espresso. It is one of the signs of high-quality coffee.

Chemex - A filter coffee-brewing device consisting of a glass vessel shaped like an hourglass and a paper filter. Also the name for the method of brewing coffee with this device.

Dark roast - A roast has a more complete taste and contains less caffeine. Achieved by roasting the beans for a long time.

Cialda - A filter for use with "pod"-style coffee machines.

Decaf/Decaffeinated Coffee - Coffee that has had its caffeine mostly removed but that still retains its taste and aromatic properties.

Degassing - the release of gases, in particular carbon dioxide, from roasted coffee beans.

Doser - The part of a coffee grinder that measures the amount of ground coffee using a built-in lever.

Doppio - A double shot of espresso. It is characterized by a more intense taste.

Earthiness - A taste characteristic, usually a result of direct contact between wet coffee beans and the ground during drying. This flavor is often found in Indonesian coffee varieties from Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Timor.

Espresso machine - A machine for making espresso and espresso-based drinks. It passes hot water through a tightly-packed layer of ground coffee at high pressure. Espresso machines come in different types: manual lever, semi-automatic, automatic, super-automatic, pod, and portable.

Extraction - The process of extracting flavors from ground coffee beans when brewing.

Espresso - A coffee drink made using an espresso machine.

French Press - A filter-and-piston-based device for brewing coffee, tea, and other herbal drinks

Group Head - The part of the coffee machine that passes water through the portafilter.

Green Coffee - Coffee that has not been roasted and thus remains a dull olive color. Extracted from the sweet pulp of the fruit (berries) of the coffee tree.

Grinder - A device for grinding coffee beans.

Hopper - A tank on the grinder containing unground beans.

Latte - A coffee drink made with milk and espresso. The name itself comes from the Italian word "milk," which emphasizes its milkiness compared to cappuccino.

Latte art - A technique pouring steamed milk foam into an espresso-based drink to create a design.

Light roast - A roast that has a sharper taste and greater acidity compared a dark roast. Acheived by roasting the beans for less time.

Macchiato - Espresso with a dash of foamed milk.

Mocha - A latte with chocolate (and sometimes whipped cream) added.

Moka - A type of coffee machine in which hot water, displaced by steam pressure, rises from the lower tank to the upper tank through a compartment filled with ground coffee.

Single Origin - Coffee that is grown in one place.

Pitcher - A jug for frothing milk with a steam wand. Most often made of metal.

Portafilter - A accessory in which one tamps ground coffee. Water passes from the group head through the portafilter to create espresso. It comes with a single or double dispenser for one or two servings of espresso.

Pour Over - A method of brewing coffee, in which hot water passes through ground coffee in a special funnel with a paper filter.

Ristretto - A highly concentrated espresso drink. It is prepared with the same amount of ground coffee per serving (7-11 grams/0.25-0.4 oz) as espresso, but with less water. A double espresso in strength and half espresso in volume. In Italy, a ristretto is considered the most genuine of all types of coffee, and the person who orders it enjoys the respect of the barista.

Specialty Coffee - Top grade, highest-quality coffee. This class is awarded only to Arabica varieties, and to less than 10% of Arabica coffees.

Tamper - An accessory for compacting ground coffee in a portafilter by hand.

TDS (total dissolved solids) - The percent of substances dissolved in the drink based on its total weight. For example, TDS 1.35% means that the drink consists of 98.65% water and 1.35% substances extracted from the ground coffee. The higher the TDS, the more intense the coffee seems to us.

WBC (World Barista Championship) - An annual professional barista competition founded by the Specialty Coffee Association and produced by World Coffee Events. Winners of the European and American national championships take part. The WBC was first held in 2000 at the initiative of Norway.


Now you're acquainted with the basic terms from the world of coffee.

But to find or make your perfect drink, you also need to know about coffee preparation methods.

In the next chapter, we will tell you about the different types of coffee makers and how they work.