Coffee Terminology



There are various “Brew Methods” that can be used to make a cup of coffee. But it is generally pouring hot water over ground coffee and leaving it for a few minutes to allow the full infusion of flavours to take place.


The palpable impression of the weight of the coffee in the mouth is called its “body.” The term body is listed on many different coffee blends or coffee bags. The body of a coffee may range from thin to medium to full, or to buttery to syrupy. Everyone will have a preference for the body.


A coffee blend is made up of different beans from a range of origins. The idea behind a blend is to create the best flavour possible. Usually the roaster will combine these beans while they are still green and roast them together, although there is an argument against this method that suggests coffees should be roasted separately to achieve the best from each component..


Cupping is the method of evaluating different characteristics of a specific coffee bean. It allows us to compare coffees, and get a better analysis of each individual one. ​It is a professional practice but can be done informally by anyone at home or by professionals, where it is formally known as “Q Grading”. The coffee cupping procedure involves deeply sniffing the coffee so you can interpret the aromas, then loudly slurping the coffee so it spreads to the back of the tongue. The tasters are looking at the taste, body, flavour and aftertaste. Cupping sessions are used to help us uncover the tasting notes. (more info on how it’s brewed/time/method?)


This is the layer of creamy tanned froth that forms on top of a freshly made, quality espresso.


Decaffeinated coffee is a bean that has had at least 97% of caffeine removed. The beans are decaffeinated before roasting, and there are a number of methods of doing this. T​hese methods may use organic solvents such as ​dichloromethane​ or e​thyl acetate, supercritical CO​ , or water to extract caffeine from the beans, while leaving original flavour notes in as close to their original state as possible.


Doppio is the Italian term for a double shot of espresso.


This is a very strong, small coffee. It is made by forcing hot water at a high pressure rate through finely ground beans. This produces a heavy bodied drink that can be consumed on its own, or used as a base for other mainstream coffees such as Americanos or Cappuccinos. The method of extracting espressos involves grinding the coffee to an extremely fine consistency, and then weighing out your specified dose (Water to coffee ratio is 2:1 for espresso). Once you have your dose, you need to tamp it down so as to create a compact area of coffee where the pressurised water will be forced through. All of these steps create the syrupy liquid we know as Espresso.


Coffee extraction occurs during the preparation of a coffee beverage. It is the action of dissolving desirable compounds that occur naturally in coffee beans. Proper brewing of coffee requires that the correct amount of extraction occurs. Amount of extraction depends on the quantity of coffee, grind (whether coarse or fine), duration of brewing, and water temperature; This is what we call the ‘Brew Recipe’ and each variation of consumption (V60, French Press, Espresso etc) will all require a different recipe in order to create the best extraction.


Acidity, body, and aroma all have something to do with the flavour of coffee. We would also call the combination of these, tasting notes.


This is another term for extracting an espresso: ie, The espresso shot is “pulled.”


Microlots are specially selected lots of coffee chosen for their high quality and unique flavour profiles. You will usually find microlots within larger farms or estates. They are grown in limited quantities and picked and processed entirely separately to the rest of the farm’s crops. Also small lots from small producing farms, if the quality is high their coffee will be sold separately.


Coffee processing is the removal of the layers that surround the coffee bean. It is preparing the beans to be roasted.


Roasting coffee changes the chemical and physical properties of ​green coffee beans into roasted ​coffee​ products. The roasting process is what produces the characteristic flavour of coffee by allowing the green coffee beans to change in taste.


Single-origin coffee​ is ​coffee​ grown within a single known geographic origin.


The green ​coffee​ you get after seed extraction must go through a ​sorting​ process carried out by specialists in the country of production: each bean is examined and small amounts of each type of ​coffee​ are usually roasted and cupped to define its quality. This will determine its market price.


Specialty coffee is a term for the highest grade of coffee available, and it generally applies to the entire supply chain. The widely accepted definition of specialty coffee is coffee scoring 80 points or above on the 100-point Coffee Review scale.


Coffee tasting notes are quick guides to the aromas and tastes you will find while brewing and sipping those coffees. They are a guide to the coffee flavors you will experience and they are provided by the coffee roaster.


Coffee varieties are the diverse subspecies derived through selective breeding or natural selection of ​c​offee plants​.



This is a type of brewing equipment which incorporates the blooming of coffee before forcing down through a filter. This is a plunging movement whereby water is pushed through the coffee.


The Chemex Coffee-maker is a drip method of consuming coffee. The coffee filters are 20-30% thicker than the usual Hario pour over filters, so the coffee is generally cleaner. The hourglass shape of the equipment makes it distinguishable against other methods of brewing.


A ​French Press​, also known as a ​cafetière​, ​press pot​, ​coffee press​, or ​coffee plunger​, is a ​coffee​ brewing device. The coffee is forced to the bottom of the pot by a mesh like plunger.


The Moka pot is also known as a “Stove Top” and is best known for producing intense-espresso-like coffee. It ​brews coffee by passing boiling water pressurised by steam through ground coffee.


The ​V60 Coffee Dripper ​(also referred to as the V60 Coffee Maker) is made by Hario. The name stems from the shape of the device. It is “V” shaped with angles of 60 degrees. The internal sides also have interior ridges which help with air flow during the brewing method. Filter paper is inserted into the V shape and coffee grounds placed within the filter paper. The brewed coffee then drips into your cup, delivering a great coffee.


Siphon Coffee is brewed using a bulb-shaped brewing pot with a heating element applied underneath to evaporate the water and create a pressurized environment to brew coffee. It takes more of a scientific approach to brewing coffee and will make you feel like a mad scientist in your own kitchen, but once you have the technique down, you’ll be able to create a cup of coffee that is similar to French Press or a smooth cup of tea.



Dry process​ is a method of ​treating coffee​ beans to remove the fruit of the cherry and ​dry​ the bean. In this method, the ​coffee​ cherries are laid out in the sun on a concrete ​drying​ patio. After a stretch of up to three weeks, the husk of the ​dried cherry is removed. The coffee should never come into contact with water in this process and if moisture is introduced later in the process or the drying is not managed correctly the coffee will ferment and ruin.


This is used in the ferment-and-wash method of wet processing, where the remainder of the pulp is removed by breaking down the cellulose. This is done by f​ermenting​ the beans with microbes and then washing them with large amounts of water. Fermentation can be done with extra water or, in “Dry Fermentation”, in the fruit’s own juices only.


The Coffee beans are spread directly onto clay or cement tiled patios. Parchment is piled in rows, 3-5 inches thick, and is turned every hour. The drying takes place using direct sunlight, heat of the sun absorbed by the tiles, as well as airflow, over the parchment.


Pulped natural or honey process is a method in which the fresh coffee cherries are de-pulped, but allowed to dry without washing. Most of the cherry is gone, but the remaining golden, sticky mucilage is similar to honey, which is where the process gets its name.


Pulped natural is a process where the skin is removed from the coffee cherry. This leaves the fruity mucilage still intact during the drying process. Mucilage is the thick, gelatinous substance produced by all plants. So basically the coffee is dried with this sticky fruit pulp still attached. This process can also be referred to as “Honey washed”. More often used for commercial coffees as the process is faster and larger batches can be processed, compared to other processes.


Washed coffee or commonly known as wet coffee is the process where the bean has had various fruit layers removed before the drying process begins. Traditionally a washed coffee is where water has been used to wash off the mucilage after the coffee has been fermented.



The aroma is the smell of brewed coffee. It is responsible for a lot of the flavour components not directly picked up by the mouth.


This is the enjoyable tartness of a good coffee, which can also be referred to as its brightness or liveliness.


This is a tasting term used when there is no single dominant flavour coming through, but all the flavours come together.


Bitterness is the taste perceived at the back of the tongue. Dark Roasts are intentionally bitter. However, over-extraction, or too little coffee at too fine a grind, can be a cause of bad bitterness. Whether or not you like dark roasts, bitterness is a part of coffee cupping. Dark roasting can also roast out acidity which is perceived as bitterness and thus creating a ‘smoother’ taste. ​Darker roasts by nature have more body and bitterness


A clean cup of coffee has a lighter and crisper taste to it, with no flavour defects and it does not have a heavy body. Chemex and V60 methods of brewing tend to produce a cleaner cup.


This is the aftertaste that lingers on your palate after you have swallowed the coffee. It is a reflection of the “body”, and therefore, heavier bodied coffees will have a longer and stronger finish than lighter bodied coffees.



This is a variety of Arabica beans. ​Bourbon is noted for its acidity and balance. It generally has sweet, caramel hints and a nice, crisp acidity. It can show quite distinct flavours depending on the origin. El Salvador Bourbons tend to display butter, toffee, and fresh pastry, whereas Rwandan types tend to have a punchier, fruity quality​ . Comes as red, yellow and orange berries.


Caturra is a varietal from Brazil and is a mutation of Bourbon which has a much higher yield. The tree will not reach the same height as Bourbon and it can be referred to as a semi-dwarf plant, which makes it much easier to hand pick the ripe cherries. It is extremely popular in Central America and Colombia. The cherries will ripen with either red or yellow pigmentation. The general characteristics associated with this varietal are bright acidity and a medium body.


This varietal is a hybrid of Mundo Novo and Caturra and it has a high resistance to natural elements that coffee trees normally face at higher altitudes. It originated in Brazil but is now widely planted throughout Central America. Both the red and yellow strains demonstrate high acidity.


The ​Heirloom variety​ resembles the Typica, but there’s no trace that they’re related. The ​Heirloom​ is most commonly found in Ethiopia with over 1,000 different ​varieties growing in the Wild Forests.


This means that the coffee was grown at high altitude, usually over 1,200 metres above sea level. Higher altitudes mean cooler air, especially at night, and more rainfall.


Peaberry coffee is a naturally occurring mutation present in arabica and robusta coffee varieties where only one bean is present inside of the coffee cherry instead of the usual two.


Shade-grown coffee is a crop of coffee plants grown under a canopy of trees. A canopy of assorted types of trees is created to grow shade-grown coffee. This growing method is also far more beneficial for the environment as it allows natural habitat of wildlife.


This coffee variety is drought resistant and has a very good cup quality potential, but it is susceptible to major diseases. Found commonly in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zimbabwe.


This coffee varietal has exceptional cup quality but highly prone to coffee berry disease. It is found mostly in Kenya.


Typica Coffees are a sub-variety of the Arabica family – they are a more specific division of what are normally considered high quality coffee beans. They’re fairly tall for coffee trees, and they produce less coffee than other varieties, which means that the yield tends to be lower and more difficult to obtain. Farmers will choose this variety for its quality. Typica coffees are known for a certain sweetness, and cup very well – some of the best coffees in the world are from the Typica family


Geisha coffee, also called Gesha, is one of the most exclusive coffees in the world. It originally came from Ethiopia and now the most well known strain comes from a specific region in Panama. It is well known for its incredibly distinct quality and flavour and its super high price.

The main reason the Gesha coffee is so special is actually the plant itself. The variation of the regular coffee cherry which was originally from Ethiopia provides special characteristics in taste that sets the coffee apart. The process of drying and roasting the beans is also unique to Gesha coffee. All the beans are hand-picked on the Volcan Baru mountain by locals. They are then dried for 8 days or until the beans reach the ideal humidity, which is the sign that the beans are then ready to be sold “green”. This varietal, although may produce high quality cherries it’s yield is lower than most other varietals and is extremely susceptible to disease.