If you’ve gone from making instant coffee or buying coffee at a coffee shop to brewing your own coffee, then you’re likely to have heard or read some coffee words and coffee terms that you might not fully understand. The good news is that once you know what all these terms and words mean, you will have a better understanding of how to make your own coffee perfectly at home no matter what brewing method you’re using. Read on for some popular coffee types explained and a full run-down of the coffee terms that you need to know, or are good to know when brewing your own coffee.
Common Coffee Terms
Arabica: One of the two most popular coffee bean species. It is considered to be the better-quality option and currently makes up around 60% of coffee produced around the world.
Balance: A coffee that is balanced is a cup with no overwhelming taste or aroma such as sourness or bitterness but is still complex.
Bitter: Bitter coffee tastes more harsh than sweet. Some types of coffee, such as dark roast coffee, are more likely to have a bitter taste to them than others.
Body: This refers to the feel and texture of the coffee.
Bloom: This term refers to the process of adding a small amount of water to ground coffee before allowing them to sit for a short amount of time before brewing. It causes the coffee to release carbon dioxide and is thought to improve the flavor of the coffee.
Brewing Ratio: This is the ratio of coffee to water that is used when brewing coffee.
Brewing Time: This refers to the time that the water is in contact with ground coffee.
Brewing Temperature: This simply refers to the temperature of the water used to brew coffee. It plays an important part in the extraction phase and has a big impact on the overall coffee characteristics. 92-98 degrees Celsius is thought to be the best brewing temperature for coffee.
Bright: A term used to describe the acidic flavor that is often characteristic of coffees originating from Ethiopia or Central America.
Caffeine: A natural alkaloid that is found in coffee beans. This ingredient gives coffee a slightly bitter taste and has a stimulating effect on the body.
Crema: This refers to the small amount of foam that is found on the top of a good espresso. It occurs due to carbon dioxide that is forced out of the oils found in the coffee beans.
Earthy: This refers to coffee that tastes like earth or soil. It is mainly a characteristic of Indonesian coffee, but other coffees can taste this way.
Exotic: A coffee that is referred to as ‘exotic’ is one with an unusual flavor or aroma, such as coffees that have floral notes.
Extraction: This is the process of using almost boiling water to draw flavor from the coffee grounds.
Fair Trade Coffee: This refers to coffee that farmers have been paid a fair price for to ensure that they are not operating at a loss. The prices for Fair Trade Coffee are set by international agencies.
Grind Size: Grinding coffee beans is important to extract flavors and caffeine and brew the coffee. The grind size can be fine to coarse and will be different depending on the extraction method and brewing method.
Parchment: When coffee beans are processed using a wet-processing method, the parchment refers to a fine skin that will developed on the top of them after drying.
Portafilter: A term used to describe the filter basket and handle on an espresso maker.
Roasting: The process in which coffee beans are heated to extract their flavor. It gives the beans their brown color and is necessary for getting the types of flavors people like.
Roasting Degree: This tells you the level of lightness or darkness of the coffee after the roasting process.
Roast Date: When buying coffee beans, it’s important to look at the roast date. This will tell you how fresh the coffee is. Coffee will typically stay fresh for around two to three months after roasting.
Robusta: The second most popular coffee species, which produces lower quality coffee compared to Arabica coffee.
Single Origin: This refers to a coffee that originates from only one country, region, or plantation, and is not blended with any other coffee types.
Specialty Coffee: This refers to a grade in the grading system of the Specialty Coffee Association. Coffee beans are graded while they are still green, before roasting and a score of 80 or more out of one hundred points will give a specialty grade.
Tamper: This is a tool that is used to press coffee into the filter basket before it is brewed.
Wet Processing: This refers to a coffee processing method that uses water for most of the steps. In general, it is thought to be the best method for achieving high-quality coffee beans.
Coffee Drinks and Types Terms
Affogato: An Italian coffee drink that is made with a shot of espresso and a scoop of gelato.
Americano: A coffee drink made with a shot of espresso that is diluted with hot water.
Cappuccino: A coffee drink that is made with espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam.
Cold Brew Coffee: This type of cold coffee is made using a cold brew coffee maker or by combining coffee and water together in a container before letting it brew for around twelve hours or more. It is made using a 1:5 coffee to cold water ratio.
Cold Drip Coffee: This type of coffee is made using a method that slowly drips cold water onto coffee grounds.
Cortado: Traditionally, this drink is made as an espresso that has an equal amount of steamed milk added to it. The milk will keep the flavor of the espresso while cutting the acidity.
Espresso: A very strong coffee that originated in Italy. It is made with 7g of ground coffee per 30ml serving and has a brewing time of 25 seconds. It is traditionally drunk as a shot but can have milk or water added to it.
Filter Coffee: Coffee that is made by filtering water through coffee grounds to brew it. A filter, that is generally made from paper, will separate the coffee grounds from the brewed coffee.
Flat White: An espresso drink made using a large quantity of steamed milk, popular in Australia.
Latte: An espresso drink that is made with around three times as much milk as the espresso, topped with foam.
Lungo: An espresso that is made using a longer extraction time. Since the resulting espresso contains more water, this results in a flavor that is weaker compared to regular espresso.
Macchiato: A coffee drink made with strong coffee, although not as strong as espresso. It is topped with steamed milk.
Mocha: A drink made with espresso, chocolate syrup, and steamed milk.
Red Eye Coffee: Coffee that is made by adding an espresso shot to a cup of brewed coffee. The name comes from overnight flights.
Ristretto: An espresso that is made even stronger by using a finer grind and less water.
Coffee Roast Terms
American Roast: This refers to the medium-brown roast that is preferred by most coffee-drinkers in America.
Dark: Dark roasted coffee beans are roasted for longer, which makes them very dark in color. They’re also oilier compared to other roasts and have a more bitter taste.
Fully City Roast: A medium-dark roast where the beans have some oil on the surface. It is less acidic than medium roast coffee and can enhance the coffee’s natural flavors.
Light Roast: Coffee that has been roasted for just a short amount of time. The beans are typically light brown in color and do not have any oil on the surface.
Coffee Brewing Type Terms
Chemex: A coffee maker with an hourglass shape that is used to make pour-over coffee. It uses filters that are 20-30% thicker compared to other coffee makers to filter as much bitterness as possible out of the coffee.
French Press: A coffee brewing method where the grounds are separated from the coffee by using a plunger to push them to the bottom of the pot.
Immersion: This refers to brewing methods in which coffee grounds are immersed in water, extracting the flavor and aroma from the coffee. Cold brewing and French Press are two examples of immersion methods.
Moka Pot: This refers to an Italian coffee maker that uses a percolation method to brew the coffee. It was first invented in 1933 and is still commonly used in Italian households today.
Pour Over Coffee: A type of drip coffee that is made by pouring a thin stream of water steadily and slowly over a filter cone containing ground coffee.
While it may not be important to know all the coffee terms to make great coffee at home, understanding what these terms mean can certainly help you choose better coffee beans, pick the right brewing method, and make better coffee every time.