Coffee A to Z

acidity is a pleasant and sought-after primary sensation that is sensed along the sides of the tongue. Generated mainly by the organic compounds in coffee, it diminishes as roasting is extended (long/dark roasting). The acids in coffee combine with the sugars to enhance the overall sweetness of the beverage. Acidity is often noted in “milds”, or the washed Arabica coffees that are grown at altitudes of more than 4900 feet, and it can vary from slight to pungent. To a certain extent, a somewhat acidic taste is an element that enhances the quality of the coffee.

a native of Africa, Coffea Arabica is the oldest species of the coffee plant. Cultivated for many centuries, with its numerous varieties (Bourbon, Catuai, Caturra, Catimorra, Mundonovo and others) today it represents about three-fourth of the world production. It thrives in mineral-rich soil, particularly of volcanic origin, at an altitude of 1950 to 6500 feet. It is widespread in South and Central America, as well as several African and Asian countries. In general, once roasted Arabica coffees are sweet and quite full-bodied, with a rich aroma and a slightly acidic taste.

this is the fragrance produced by freshly prepared hot coffee. Aroma, together with flavor, acidity and body, is one of the main categories used by cuppers for evaluating the taste and smell of coffee.

this is a secondary taste referable to coffee's "bitterness " . It is a tannic sensation that can be perceived along the sides toward the front of the tongue, and it is attributable to certain woody substances that decrease salivation. Astringency is a trait typical of natural Robustas from Indonesia.

the mouthfeel imparted by a well-balanced amount of oils suspended in the beverage.

this word originated from the wooden or copper bar at the bottom of counters in coffee shops and used as footrests. This term is now used to designate the area in a café or restaurant where the barperson behind the counter serves customers standing at the counter or seated on stools.

this is one of the primary tastes of coffee, and it is developed above all by its caffeine, in addition to a series of components derived from the sugars following the roasting process and burnt woody components. Within certain limits, bitterness is a desirable aspect of coffee. It is noted on the back of the tongue and gives a gustatory perception similar to that of certain quinine solutions.

this is the combination of different coffee origins. Blends of 100% Arabica are sweeter and more aromatic than the ones that combine Arabica with Robusta, which have a more decisive and chocolaty flavor.

this refers to the consistency of the coffee, or its physical properties perceived in the form of the tactile sensation when the beverage comes into contact with the mucous membranes of the mouth during and after swallowing. It is a positive characteristic with reference to the structure of coffee.

Bouquet (or flavor)-
this refers to the overall aromatic profile yielded by coffee gasses and vapors on the olfactory membranes.

it is a bitter and odorless alkaloid that is responsible for the stimulating effects of coffee.

this is the sensation that is often found when smelling the coffee in the cup. It is generated by sugar compounds and is reminiscent of the aroma of certain candies or syrup.

this is the fruit of the Coffea plant that contains the beans. It is a small green berry that ripens to a glossy red color (some varieties turn bright yellow).

this is a sensation that can be encountered in the after-smell of certain coffees. The different nuances of this aroma recall bittersweet or milk chocolate, sometimes with vanilla overtones.

the tropical coffee plant belongs to the Coffea genus of the Rubiaceae family. There are numerous species in the Coffea genus (approximately 60), but only two are cultivated and marketed: Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora, commonly referred to as Robusta.

the coffee plant is an evergreen shrub from the Rubiaceae genus. It yields a fruit (drupe) that contains two seeds: these are the coffee beans. The beverage made using coffee powder is also referred to as “coffee”. The etymology of the word “coffee” is surrounded by mystery, given scholars are still debating its origin. Most of them sustain that it does not come from “Caffa” , “Kaffa” or “Xaffa”, the Ethiopian region where the plant developed spontaneously. It probably comes from the Arabic word “qahwa” (pronounce “kawé” ), which means “stimulant”. Various passages then led to the Turkish transformation of the word into "Kahweh " , or "akhweh " , which essentially means “strength” or “vigor” . The term is also the origin of the word “café” , used to designate where coffee is consumed.

Coffee extract-
this is a liquid coffee concentrate. This ingredient is used to flavor sweets and ice cream. Pressurized hot water is passed through a sequence of filters containing coffee. The operation is performed in a closed circuit to prevent dispersion of the aromas.

Coffee grinder-
this is the manual or electric device that is used to grind the coffee beans. To preserve the aroma and avoid overheating the ground coffee, this must be a short operation.

Coffee shop-
an eating place that became popular during the Fifties, when mass consumption called for fast and easy consumption. As a rule, it is not an area set up for long, relaxing meals but a practical place to enjoy a brief pause during the workday.

device for making coffee at home. It can be made of porcelain, terracotta or metal. There are three basic procedures for making coffee, and each one corresponds to a type of coffeepot: the Turkish pot and the Melior system use the infusion method, the filter pot uses the filter method, and the mocha (stovetop) and espresso machine use the principle of percolation.

this is an English coffeemaker, composed of two clear globes set one on top of the other, connected by a tube and hermetically sealed. The lower ball holds the cold water, whereas the coffee powder is placed in the upper portion, referred to as a “tulip”. When the burner is lit, the air is heated and produces pressure, which pushes the water into the “tulip”. Here it is blended with the coffee powder. After a few minutes, you turn the burner off to allow the pressure to drop and the coffee to drip slowly. Then you detach the tulip to serve.

this is the last phase in the roasting process. The rapid cooling phase has two effects on the beans. It keeps them from burning, and it “sets” the aromatic characteristics released with roasting.

this is the emblem that distinguishes espresso from other preparation methods. The crema is created by a dispersion of gas (air and carbon dioxide) and oils in the coffee. It is characterized by its hazelnut color and it helps protect the aroma and temperature of the coffee.

according to taste purists, the only cups acceptable for sipping coffee are made of Chinese porcelain. To bring out all the characteristics of the beverage, the cup must have a truncated-cone shape to maintain the crema (which traps and concentrates the aromas).

this is caffeine-free coffee. Currently, three processes can be used to remove the caffeine from green coffee: with water, carbon dioxide or certain organic solvents.

this is the amount of ground coffee used to prepare the beverage. It varies according to preparation method and the desired amount of coffee.

Dry (process)-
this is the drying method used for "natural " coffees. Immediately after the harvest, the fruit is spread out in thin layers and left outdoors. Exposure to the sun is followed by the action of machinery to separate the bean from the pulp and from the two protective membranes.

the acronym stands for Easy Serving Espresso. It is a standard system to make the pre-dosed coffee pods perfectly suited for home espresso machines, guaranteeing excellent results in the cup.

certain studies have attributed energy-giving properties to coffee and the caffeine contained in it.

This is the beverage made using the espresso machine, which permits the rapid preparation of one or two cups of coffee. Espresso, which means “coffee made on the spot”, has a concentrated taste and intense aroma. It is made by passing hot water through the coffee grounds at an appropriate level of pressure.

Espresso machine-
this permits the rapid preparation of one of two cups of very concentrated coffee, with an intense taste and aroma. At high pressure, the water goes through finely ground coffee placed in the filter. The contact time with the water heated to 190-203°F is quite short: the perfect quantity of coffee is obtained in just 25-30 seconds.

coffee has stimulating effects on certain bodily and mental functions. It stimulates the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

this is the operation that takes place after pulping during the "wet " processing of the coffee fruit. During fermentation, the skins are completely detached from the bean, which will then be washed and dried in the sun or in mechanical driers.

Filter (coffee)-
coffee preparation method. Hot water slowly drips through the ground coffee, which is placed in a paper or metal cone. The filters are usually made of paper and are used just once. The electric coffeepot, in which the water is heated by a coil inside a tank and then drips through the filter, has now become a popular appliance. This is the most widely used method in northern Europe, France, Germany and the United States.

this indicates an aromatic sensation that is not very marked. In this case, the gasses and vapours are not very perceptible in fragrance, aroma or after-smell.

this is the delicate aromatic sensation typical of fresh flowers; in some cases, the dominant scent is reminiscent of jasmine.

this is the sensation imparted by the gasses, or aromas, released by ground coffee beans. Fragrance can have different aromatic notes and it is perceived directly by the nose.

freeze-drying is one of the two processes used to make instant coffee. This system was perfected in the Sixties. The coffee (liquid and concentrate) is cooled to a temperature of -40°F. At this point, the coffee has been turned into tiny ice crystals that are conveyed to the low-pressure freeze-drying chamber, where the ice is transformed into vapour without going through the liquid state (sublimation principle), leaving small coffee granules.

this is the aromatic perception that is generally presented in the aroma of infused coffee. It is generated by aldehydes and esters. These are highly volatile elements that yield a "sweetish " aroma similar to very ripe fresh fruit. Sometimes, the term is also used to refer to the scent typical of dried fruit (dried figs and dates).

Glass (espresso in a glass)-
in the regions of central and southern Italy, coffee is not only served in cups but also in glasses.

this means the degree of fineness of the ground coffee. It varies depending on the preparation method.

a secondary taste of coffee that is noted on the sides of the tongue toward the back; it is moderate when the beverage is hot and becomes more marked as it cools. It is frequent in low-quality Robustas and gives an unpleasant sensation that is both bitter and astringent.

coffee is harvested once a year. The harvest period varies according to the geographical area. Harvesting can be done by hand, picking the ripe fruit one by one using a costly and slow procedure known as "picking " , or with a faster mechanical or manual method in which each tree is harvested in a single step ( "stripping " ). Most coffee is harvested by hand.

with reference to body, this describes a coffee with a high concentration of suspended solids in the beverage (fiber particles and insoluble proteins).

it is a metal pitcher (generally made of brass), with just one long handle. It is narrow at the mouth and wide at the bottom. It is used to prepare Turkish coffee.

Instant (coffee)-
this is the beverage that is made by dissolving freeze-dried or sprayed coffee in water.

Coffea Liberica, a native of the forests of Liberia and the Ivory Coast - with flat and very uneven beans - is not handled much on world markets but is used often for grafting in order to create new varieties.

with reference to body, this describes a coffee with a low concentration of suspended solids in the beverage (fiber particles and insoluble proteins). The secondary taste of the coffee in reference to its "mellowness " is known as "light " , and it is characterized by a sensation of sweetness on the tip of the tongue. This is due to a very low concentration of sugars and salts. A coffee is defined as “light” when it has little body.

Long (coffee)-
long coffee is not very concentrated, and it is made by putting a larger amount of water through the blend of coffee for a longer period of time. This system extracts a larger amount of caffeine.

Macchiato (coffee)-
this is an espresso with a few drops of frothed milk.

this is the aromatic sensation reminiscent of roasted grains, and it is noted in the after-smell when drinking the coffee. It is due in particular to the aldehydes and ketones that are released by the vapors of the beverage.

the Melior coffeemaker was invented by the Mélior company in Bar-le-Duc in 1947. It is made of glass and metal, and its piston system uses the infusion method. This system requires a medium grind to avoid dregs in the cup. It ensures good extraction of the coffee's aroma.

this is a primary taste of coffee due to the presence of sweet compounds and it is perceived on the tip of the tongue. It is a characteristic that is often found in washed Arabicas grown below an altitude of 3900 feet.

this comes from the combination of sugars and salts in the coffee, which reduces the overall salinity of the beverage. A mild taste can vary from smooth to bland and the sensation is perceived on the sides of the tongue. It is a characteristic that can often be found in Arabicas grown below an altitude of 2600 feet.

this is a variety of Arabica with a low caffeine content. It originated in Ethiopia, where it is still found in both the cultivated and wild forms. It was named after the port of Moka on the Red Sea. Moka is one of the rare coffee varieties that is used pure, without adding other blends. The mocha coffeepot, also known as the Italian or stovetop pot, was invented in the Fifties and is generally made of stainless steel. It uses the principle of percolation and pressure.

this is the typical tall cup with a large handle used for serving long coffee.

Natural (coffee)-
“natural coffee” refers to the beans that are extracted from the cherries using the dry-processing method, which calls for extended drying in the sun.

this is a secondary gustatory perception that is characterized by the lack of a predominant taste in the coffee. It is determined by a concentration of salts that is high enough to neutralize both the tart taste of the acids and the sweet one of the sugars, but it is not high enough to bring out a salty taste. It is typical of the Robusta coffees from Brazil, Uganda and Vietnam.

this is an aromatic note typical of certain types of coffee, and it smells like roasted walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds. It is due to certain aldehydes and ketones that are released by the vapors of the beverage.

this indicates the country and region of provenance of a given coffee.

Peaberry or “caracolito”-
this is the name used for beans with a "rounded " shape. Quite often, one of the beans aborts and thus the other seed becomes more developed, taking on a smaller and rounded form (hence the Spanish “caracolito” , which means “snail”).

a coffee preparation method. The hot water flows through the ground coffee, as done when making espresso with the mocha and Neapolitan coffeepots.

this is a highly selective coffee-harvesting method that is done entirely by hand, and it consists of picking only perfect ripe cherries from the tree one by one. This yields uniform, high-quality results.

this is the area in which the coffee plants are grown. It can vary in size, from the very large ones found in Brazil or Kenya, to smaller family-run lots.

this is the workmanship phase that removes the bean from the fruit, eliminating the pulp and skin. Three systems are currently used to process coffee: wet, semi-washed and dry.

this is a secondary taste sensation of coffee that refers to its acidity. It is characterized by a pungent sweetness that is noted on the tip of the tongue with the first sip. It is often found in coffees from Costa Rica.

the terms “raw” or “green” coffee are used to refer to the seeds (beans) without the skin, pulp, parchment and silverskin.

this term provides a quantitative description of the coffee's bouquet. It indicates the presence of a complete range of gasses and vapors in pronounced quantities, in the fragrance, aroma, smell and after-smell of the coffee.

with roasting, the coffee beans undergo nothing short of a metamorphosis, changing color, losing weight, growing in volume and gaining aromatic richness. Roasting reaches its optimum level at 392-446°F and the coffee takes on its distinctive taste. At this point, the coffee is removed from the roaster and is cooled quickly with cold air.

Coffea Robusta represents one-fourth of the world production. It thrives at altitudes ranging from sea level to about 1900 feet and is particularly luxuriant and resistant. It yields beans that are round and have a greenish-grey color. This species yields a full-bodied coffee. Its aroma, often quite chocolaty, calls to mind the smells of the lands where it is produced, mainly Africa, Asia and Indonesia.

this is a secondary taste sensation of coffee that refers to "astringency " and it is characterized by a harsh "mouth-puckering " sensation that can be perceived on the sides of the tongue toward the front. It is typical of the natural Robustas from Africa.

this is a qualitative description of the coffee's aroma. It indicates the well-balanced presence of all the basic sensory characteristics, without any particular “sharp” aromatic notes.

Semi-washed (coffee)-
this is the coffee obtained via the semi-washed process, which is characterized by a lower water consumption than the wet process.

Semi-washed (process)-
this is a type of process that has been perfected in recent years and it is used by a number of coffee-exporting countries. The pulp is removed from the cherries by a special machine that rapidly removes the skin as well as the pulp, making it possible to “skip” the fermentation phase. The coffee that is obtained is then dried in the sun or in dryers.

Short (coffee)-
this is a smaller coffee made with less water. As a result, it is denser and more concentrated.

soil composition is decisive for coffee quality, just as it is with grapevines and wine. The coffee plant thrives in rich, light, acid and dry soil. Soils of volcanic origin, such as those in Central America, are particularly suited for the coffee plant.

this is an aromatic sensation that is noted in the after-smell of coffee. It is imparted by weakly volatile hydrocarbons that are released as vapors after swallowing. The spicy notes of a coffee recall the scent of cinnamon or cloves, or the piquant sensation typical of peppers.

Spiked (or arrosé)-
coffee is referred to as “spiked” when liquor or alcohol is added to it.

instant coffee is referred to as "sprayed " when it is made with drying procedures that use jets of hot air. As with freeze-dried coffee, the process begins with a concentrated liquid beverage that is sprayed through a jet of hot air; the water evaporates instantly, leaving the coffee powder.

coffee - and particularly the caffeine it contains - stimulates the nervous system, promoting the capacity for learning, concentration and memorizing. Caffeine also has a positive effect on mood, diminishing the sense of physical and intellectual fatigue. 

this is a non-selective harvesting method, in which all the cherries are picked at once either by hand or with beating machines. The harvest must then be sorted because the under-ripe or already fermented cherries are harvested together with the ripe ones.

used to sweeten food, it is a compound classified as a carbohydrate. It is made from sugarcane or sugar beets and following the refining process, it looks like sweet white crystals.

this is one of the primary tastes of coffee and it is due to the presence of residual sugars (saccharose and glucose), alcohols, glycols and certain weak acids. It is perceived on the tip of the tongue.

taste is sensed in the mouth, just as the aroma is sensed in the nose. The taste of coffee is highly subjective and is tied to each person's memories, habits and gustatory sensitivity. It encompasses all the sensations experienced by the tongue and makes it possible to distinguish four basic tastes: sweet, bitter, sour and salty.

this is the activity designed to evaluate the sensory aspects of coffee. This work is performed by a "cupper " , who first assesses the green coffee based on its appearance, color and any defects. Once the coffee is roasted, he or she then assesses the sensory characteristics of the beverage.

Thick or muddy-
this indicates the presence of a rather large quantity of suspended solids in the beverage. This characteristic refers above all to espresso that, following high-pressure extraction, has a large quantity of fiber particles and insoluble proteins in the cup.

Toasting (less common term for roasting)-
the term dates from the seventeenth century and comes from the Vulgar Latin tostare, from tostus, the past participle of torrere, meaning to roast or char.

coffee is grown in the regions between the Equator and the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer. A humid and rather hot climate with constant temperatures of about 65 to 72°F, plus alternating dry spells and heavy rainfall, are ideal for the coffee plant. Given that coffee does not handle excessive heat very well, it is planted preferably at higher altitudes, in mountainous regions, but below 6500 feet because it suffers from wind and frost.

Turkish (coffee)-
this is one of the most widespread ways of making coffee, not only in Turkey but also in Greece, the countries of Eastern Europe and the entire Middle East. This methods calls for the traditional ibrik, a container made of copper and brass, shaped like a truncated cone and fitted with a long handle.


Vacuum packing-
the roasted coffee must be packaged to preserve all its sensory qualities. Vacuum-packing and high-barrier packaging materials protect the contents from light, moisture and air, so that the coffee cannot start to oxidize and develop a rancid smell.

Washed or mild (coffee)-
this is the coffee produced with the wet-processing method; it entails a fermentation phase in water to yield washed coffees. This method was perfected by the Dutch in their colonies in the Dutch Indies, where the climate was too humid to dry the fruit in the sun.

this means that the beverage tastes thin, and it is due to the low level of extracts.

this indicates a relatively low level of suspended solids in the beverage. In this case, the fine fiber particles and those that are not soluble are perceived only slightly. This is a characteristic that is found mainly in coffee made using the filter method.

Wet (process)-
this is used for the most highly prized qualities of coffee. It requires cherries with a uniform level of ripeness and consistency: a machine strips the flesh and separates the skin from the beans, which are then placed in special water tanks to ferment. The beans are then washed and dried, and are ready to be stored in well-ventilated warehouses. The product that is obtained is classified as washed or mild coffee.

Source: training center