The world of Specialty Coffee has it’s own venacular. We cover the various coffee terms here including those involving coffee beans, processing, roasting and preparation.
AA & AA+: Designations referring to the size of the coffee bean. AA Size are able to pass through a Grade 18 Sieve Diameter but are too large to pass through a Grade 16. Beans rated AA+ are those beans size AA and greater.
Arabica: A variety of coffee that dominates the world market. Other varieties include Robusta, Excelsa and Liberica.
Acerbic: This is a description of the acrid flavor of coffee that has been extracted at too high a temperature which pulls unfavorable compounds from the grounds.
Age: Green Coffee see “bagginess” can also become moldy if improperly stored. Shelf life 5-12 months. Roasted Coffee undergo oxidation. Shelf life 1-2 weeks.
Aging: Green Coffees are sometimes aged. A process to keep reasonable temps & moisture content manageable to prevent mold growth. Can take 2-3 years.
Altitude: The higher the altitude the slower the coffee grows. This produces harder and denser coffee beans that are of a higher quality.
Aroma: Aroma together with mouthfeel and tongue perceived taste attributes are responsible for the sensations (or lack of) that we experience when we drink coffee.
Aroma Descriptions: Some examples of Aroma Descriptions include Chocolate, Fruit, Jasmine Flowers, Orange,Toasted Bread …
Bagginess: A flavor defect of coffee associated with the fats in the green coffee bean absorbing flavors (such as burlap).
Baking: Occurs during coffee roasting if the bean temperature remains static or decreases. Results in a coffee that is flat and with little if any aroma.
Blade Grinder: A grinder that operates by means of a blade rotating at high RPM impacting & breaking the beans. Results in an uneven grind and inferior coffee.
Bright: Also known as acidity. The tangy taste notes of coffee. This is dulled and eventually eliminated as coffee is progressively roasted darker.
Burr Grinder: One of the major classes of coffee bean grinders the other being the blade grinder. Of the two the burr grinder is preferred by professionals due to it’s ability to produce a consistent size grind. Having such a consistent size is one of the basic requirements in producing high quality coffee and espresso drinks.
Café: Bar in Italian.
Café Noisette: Pronounced (kah-fay nwah-zett). From Lindsey Goodwin “Espresso with a small amount of milk added, making it the color of “noisette,” French for “hazelnut.””
Café au Lait: Brewed coffee combined with frothed milk in a 1:3 ratio
Center Cut: The part of the coffee bean with the axial split.
Chaff: Also known as the “silverskin”. This was once part of the coffee fruit that comes free from the green bean during the roasting process and is disposed of.
Chemex Coffeemaker: A coffeemaker invented by German Chemist Peter J. Schlumbohm, Ph.D. in 1941. Currently produced in Pittsfield, MA
Coffee Description: Terms for coffee descriptions include Acidity, bright, green apples, “lemon peel dragged through honey”(from Oliver Strand),
Color: One of the indicators of degree of progression of a roast. Some others include sound (first & second crack), bean temperature, roaster air temperature and smoke aroma to name a few.
Cool Down: After roasting is complete it’s essential to quickly cool down the beans since roasting will continue to take place unless the temperature of the beans is quickly brought down. It’s generally thought that a three minute or less cool down time is acceptable.
Cooling Tray: The part of a production roasting machine into which the hot coffee is dumped for quick cool down.
Double Tall Americano: An drink made with approximately 3 oz (two shots) of espresso and mixed with hot water to fill a 12 oz. cup.
Espresso Blends: Coffee blends made for espresso. These have been known to be comprised of at least two and up to 30 different coffees. In addition to taste, these blends are designed to provide the barista with a raw material that is consistent to work with as possible.
Espresso Making (“Pulling A shot”), The Variables: The main variables affecting the quality of an espresso are coffee, water, equipment, grinding, tamping and extracting. That said there are a host of other variables that affect these. For instance high altitudes will impact the water temperature/water pressure requirement of the espresso machine.
Excelsa: A variety of coffee. Other varieties include Arabica, Robusta and Liberica.
First Crack: During the initial phase of roasting the bean evaporates it’s moisture, expands and then breaks along the center cut. This causes a popping sound that is indicative of first crack.
Flavor Descriptions: Some examples of Flavor Descriptions include Bitter, Woody …
Fresh Roasted Coffee: Coffee beans start loosing flavor within three days of roasting, within two to three weeks deterioration has progressed to the point where most coffee lovers do not consider it to be fresh roast.
Green Coffee: Coffee that has been harvested and processed but not yet roasted. Must be stored or aged properly.
Hard Bean: A grading name designation for Guatemalan Coffees grown at altitudes of 4,000 – 4,500 feet (also see “Strictly Hard Bean“).
In-Store Roasting: Coffee bean roasting done on premises such as at a store or cafe.
Kenyan Coffee: Typically a high altitude coffee (over 5,500 ft) gown in Kenya.
Liberica: A variety of coffee. Other varieties include Arabica, Excelsa and Robusta.
Mandheling Coffee: A Coffee Grown in Sumatra, Indonesia. The word is based upon the Mandailing Ethnic Group rather than a region as commonly thought.
Microlot: A lot of coffee that is segregated to small area of a coffee farm that has been shown to produce an extraordinarily good coffee.
Natural Coffees: Also referred to as “dried in the fruit” coffees
NCA: National Coffee Associationand their About Page
Peaberry Coffee Bean: An aberration where only a single coffee bean instead of two grows in the fruit. The result is an oval shaped bean. Peaberries often produce superior coffee so are more highly valued than standard beans from the same crop.
Refresher: A brand name of a Starbucks Coffee drink made with a Green Coffee Bean Extract and Fruit. Not thick like a smoothie but more of an iced tea consistency. Starbucks started test marketing this in the San Diego, CA area in August, 2010.
Recovery Time: When the boiler of an espresso machine takes in new water to compensate for usage from high volume task such as steaming milk the bulk water temperature may drop. If this drops below a minimum temperature an indicator light illuminates notifying the barista. The time it takes for the water in the water tank to heat to an acceptable temperature is known as the recovery time.
Roasters/Types: The two basic types of roasters are fluid bed roasters and drum roasters.
Robusta: A variety of coffee. Other varieties include Arabica, Excelsa and Liberica.
SCAA: Specialty Coffee Association of America.
Second Crack: The second series of cracking or popping sounds made by coffee beans as they are roasted. Coffee roasted to second crack (sometimes called second pop) and beyond are the darker roasts (the Full City, Light French, Espresso, French, Italian, Dark French etc). In general second crack is more intense sounding than first crack.
SOE: Single Origin Espresso
Steam Driven Espresso Machines: Inexpensive models of espresso machines that utilize steam rather than a pump to force water through the grounds. These machines while less expensive however overheat the water resulting in an inferior espresso. We do not recommended purchasing such a machine.
Storing Coffee: Coffee must be stored in such a way as to limit it’s exposure to the the deteriorating factors of air, light and moisture. The preferable method is to store in a foil bag with a one-way air valve seal. Roll the bag tight to exclude as much air as possible and secure with ties or elastic bands. Do not grind until you are ready to brew. For the freshest brew use all coffee within a week of roasting.
Strictly Hard Bean: A grading term for Guatemalan Coffees grown at altitudes between 4,500 – 5,000 feet (also see “Hard Bean”).
Sugars In Roasted Coffee: Sugars are thermally degraded during the roasting process. However while water is still present it splits long chained polysaccharides into simple sugars. This stops when the water has been driven out of the bean. Also thermal degradation of these formed sugars will also take place. Bottom line is that final sugar content is very low in roasted coffee and this is further reduced for the darker roasts that have undergone additional thermal stress.
Supremo: A name designation of the highest grade of Colombian Coffee.
Taste Attributes: The main taste attributes are bitter, salt, sour and sweet attributes.
Tamper: A flat faced and round tool used by the barista to compress the espresso grounds into the filter basket in preparation for espresso brewing. The resultant compressed coffee after the espresso has been extracted is referred to as the puck.
Trieste: Considered by some to be the “coffee capitol” of Italy.
Water for Brewing Coffee: Contamination free spring water heated to a temperature between 200-205F should be used for coffee brewing.
Water Tank: A component of an espresso machine that holds the water to be used to making espresso and steaming milk.
Yield: Yields per coffee tree will depend upon several factors such as variety, maturity, location and seasonal climatic conditions to name a few. However a typical yield could typically range between 0.5-1 kg (1.1-2.2 lbs.) per coffee tree
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Coffee News Headlines
6/21/11 “Mystery ingredient in coffee boosts protection against Alzheimer’s disease” … full story from EurekAlert
6/6/11 “Drinking too much coffee can make you hear voices, warn scientists” … full story from Mail Online
5/31/11 “Juan Valdez Eyes China as Columbia Farmers Steer Asians to Latte From Tea” … full story from Bloomberg
5/27/11 “NZ Coffee Roaster Claims World First Compost Coffee Bag” … full story from NZHerald
5/26/11 “Coffee cuts your chances of pregnancy” …full story from Times of India
5/24/11 “Coffee Prices Double In Past Year” .. full story from Knoxvillebiz.com
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