"Coffee terms" has been added to assist in defining a few of the coffee industry used terms that may be unfamiliar. Words and definitions will be added ongoing.
The measurement of acid content in fluids referred to as pH. The number 7 is neutral with lower numbers than 7 identified as acidic. the lower the number, the greater the acid content. In coffee, acidity increases the sweetness of the sugars.
An organic compound that contains nitrogen and has physiological effects on animals and humans. Mainly produced in plants; Alkaloids are base compounds with a bitter taste. Many are used as medicines and poisons. Examples of alkaloids are morphine, quinine, strychnine, codeine, caffeine, cocaine, and nicotine.
Coffea Arabica A species of coffee that is grown in moderate climate between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer where there is plenty of rainfall and the temperature is mild, usually in the 70oF range. It is grown around 3000-6500 ft above sea level. It does not do well in high humidity or higher temperatures (above 74oF).
When brewing manually with a Chemex or other pourover, it is best to pour a little hot water initially over the grounds for preparation for the rest of the pour. A mound forms and grows to double the original size almost simultaneously which is referred to as a bloom.
Coffea Arabica Var. Bourbon- One of two varietals (Var. Typica being the other) originating in eastern Ethiopia. It is named after the island near Madagascar in the Indian Ocean (renamed Reunion Island) where it was first grown by French colonists from seeds sold to them by the British East India Company in the early 1700s. Bourbon is the base of many cultivars grown today. Its yield is ~20% higher than typica, but less than the cultivars developed from it. It seems to do best from 3500-6500 FASL.
1,3,7-trimethylxanthine with purine as a parent heterocyclic compound (methylxanthines are known as purine alkaloids); acts as a mild stimulant with antifungal properties; also acts as an insecticide to some insects; readily soluble in boiling water; slight bitter taste.
An event concept of coffee house hopping. The first one was held in Kansas City, MO. in 2011 where participants bought tickets to visit 11 coffee shops and each shop had 15 minutes for a presentation and sampling of beverages.
An arabica cultivar developed in the 1950s in Brazil. It is a cross between mundo novo and caturra. It is a high yielding plant that can withstand rain and strong winds. There are many types of this cultivar, some producing red cherries and some producing yellow. Found in Brazil, Central America and Hawaii (Kauai region).
Discovered in Brazil in 1937, caturra is a natural mutant of the Bourbon cultivar. Even though it was found in Brazil, the over-abundance of fruit in 3-4 production cycles and the bean softness were not optimal. Better results were noted in Colombia and Central America in higher altitudes. It grows well between 1500-5500 FASL. The quality increases at higher altitudes, but production decreases. It has good cup characteristics with some citrus notes.
Civet (Kopi Luwak) Coffee
The Civet is a small Asian mammal from the cat family that has a face like a raccoon and a body like a weasel. The Palm Civet naturally eats coffee cherries and the excreted beans are used as to make the most expensive coffee in the world. Since this coffee has become so popular, concerns of animal cruelty have arisen in that Civets of all types, even those that are carnivorous are caught, caged and force fed coffee cherries to produce coffee.
Heat transfer from a hot object directly in contact with a cooler object. In drum roasting, conductive heat is energy transferring from the drum to the bean in contact with the surface of the drum.
Heat transfer to a cooler object in a hot air or gas stream. In drum roasting, it is heat from hot air moving through the chamber as the beans are picked up at the lowest point and dropped as the drum turns.
The popping sound heard in the coffee roasting process. It occurs twice with the second crack much lower in volume than the first. The first is heard ~10 minutes into the roast and is the sign that water and CO2 are escaping the bean, doubling the size of the bean in the process.
The second crack occurs ~14 minutes into the roasting process and is the actual structure of the bean (cellulose) beginning to fracture.
These two cracks and their positioning in the process assists the roaster in knowing what is taking place in the bean and, therefore, when to end the roast to obtain the desired aroma/taste from a particular origin bean.
The botanical term meeting ICNCP guidelines (International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants) denoting a specific variety of coffee species or sub-species. The cultivar will affect the taste of the coffee, but does not play as great a role in taste as the soil and climate in which the plant is grown. Cultivars are mainly developed for resistance to bacteria, climate, etc., not necessarily for taste enhancement. This is the preferred term used in the coffee community over varietal (variety) which is used mainly in the wine industry.
A standardized taste test for comparing different coffees where quantity, temperature and time are measured and matched to standardize the effects of all variables other than the coffees being compared.
Degree of Roast
Defined places in the roasting process that signal when certain chemical reactions are taking place. The roaster manipulates the roast to reach the areas at specific times. They are identified by listening for cracks (pops) while visually inspecting bean color as reference in order to end the roast at a particular time for a particular taste. Definitions for specific degrees of roast can be found here.
In coffee, a lever on a grinder used to loosen ground coffee left in the machine in the grinding process by using a vigorous snapping action. It assists in two ways; 1) amount in equals amount out and 2) it keeps the previous coffee bean from affecting the flavor of the next bean to be ground.
(Natural) Initial processing of harvested coffee cherries in which the whole cherry is dried before fruit removal. This process usually generates a coffee flavor with more body and sweetness and lower acidity than wet processed coffee.
Roasting term for the beginning of a roast when beans are dropped into roaster and temperature (energy) in the hot roasting drum falls as the cold beans begin to absorb heat (energy). The point where the bean temp stops dropping (usually 1-1.5 minutes into the roast) just prior to the initial rise is the "turning point", "bottom out" or "equilibrium" temp; the point where the energy of the bean and drum has equalized.
The ratio of water-soluble compounds in the brewing process entrained in water. The optimum perceived extraction is 18-22% for a great tasting cup of coffee. Extraction is measured by a refractometer. Over-extraction will yield a bitter overdeveloped taste. Under-extraction will yield a weak underdeveloped taste.
The act of naturally occurring microorganisms breaking down the mucilage of a coffee cherry. Fermentation generally takes from twelve to twenty four hours for completion; related to the "washed process" which removes the skin and mucilage of the coffee cherry.
The scent of freshly roasted and ground coffee; the aromatic compounds escaping the beans and inhaled through the nose. It is only sensed for a few moments after grinding before the aromatic compounds dissipate.
Infrared is a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, measured as wavelengths. Infrared is between visible light (red) and radio waves. It is measured in micrometers (.74mm to 1000mm). The infrared burner falls in the .7mm to 18mm range. Infrared burners produce radiant heat and use heat exchangers to convert the energy to convective heat.
A non-enzymatic reaction found in most foods prepared by heating. It is the reaction between degrading sugar compounds and amino acids, proteins, trigonelline causing browning. The reaction produces hundreds of different compounds that directly affects the taste of coffee.
The term mocha is used in many areas; coffee, computing, biology, geology and geography. In coffee, there are two definitions: a) The first port (in Yemen on the Red Sea) from which Mocha coffee beans were shipped. Coffee was discovered in Ethiopia, close to Yemen. The Mocha bean was the first shipped around the fifteenth century. b) A coffee drink with espresso, chocolate and milk. Side note: Chocolate originally had nothing to do with coffee. The influence of combining the two was a variation added by Europeans.
A natural hybrid commercially grown in Brazil. It is a cross of "Sumatra" and the Bourbon cultivar that has a high yield and is disease resistant. It grows well in the lower to mid-altitudes of arabicas (3,000-4,000 FASL) and suits Brazil's rainfall average of 45".
(caracol) Usually there are two beans in each coffee cherry. At times only one bean is fertilized and the bean that matures is shaped like a pea. These beans are sorted and sold as peaberries. Peaberries are more common in Tanzanian and some Hawaiian coffees. The cherries that produce 2 beans are called flat beans.
A final optional step in processing to remove the silverskin which becomes chaff in roasting. This step is seldom used because the friction involved is believed to cause enough heat to alter the aromatic compound makeup and hence, the final aroma/taste of the bean. The main reason for polishing polish is to enhance the look of the bean... much the same reason for polishing an apple.
General term used for manual coffee brewing in which coffee extraction occurs as water is poured over and travels through a measured amount of grounds to a decanter. Although the term differentiates between manual brewing and automatic drip brewers it is loosely used for about any brewing type with the exception of presses, cold and vacuum brewers and percolators.
The end result of experimental roasting with a particular origin bean to yield a consistent taste for future roasts. All single origin coffee beans are unique, so the roast to bring out the desired aroma/flavor is also unique to each bean. Experimental roasting with meticulous notes determines a preferred reproducible roast style for each origin bean.
Coffea Robusta or Coffea Canefora var.Robusta Some refer to it as a species and some as a sub-species. Robusta is hardier than arabica, but arabica has better taste qualities. It is grown on the lower elevations (2000- 3000 ft above sea level), can take higher growing temperature (up to 80oF) and has twice the caffeine of arabica. Robustas are usually added to a coffee blend to achieve the caffeine kick desired.
(Pulped Natural, Semi-Dried, Wet Hulled) A hybrid of the wet and dry processes; the skin is removed mechanically, but the mucilage is left for drying with the bean: nearer to the body and sweetness of the dry process, but a cleaner taste; acidity is nearer to that of wet processing. This process is sometimes called "honey" as well... from the term used in Costa Rica "Miel Process".
A term used for the micro-environment in which a product is grown. In coffee it would entail the micro-climate, the soil composition and bean processing along with the craftsmanship it takes in roasting to accentuate those unique traits in the cup.
Third Wave Coffee
A movement among coffee purists (started in early 2000) to install specialty coffee at the same level as other fine wine and foods. Direct communication between producer, roaster, barista, etc. assists higher quality producers in finding a premium market as well as making information available to other producers for growing, harvesting and processing coffee to obtain cup profiles acceptable in the specialty market. Transparency is the mark of Third Wave coffee, seen in the push to include on each bag the roast date and individual origin farm information. The first wave is considered as the globalization of coffee post WWII. Second Wave coffee is the differentiation of higher quality coffee from commodity as introduced by Starbucks. Third Wave is a movement that wants higher quality coffee to speak for itself in the cup with traceability.
Coffea Arabica Var. Typica- One of two varietals (Var. Bourbon being the other) originating in eastern Ethiopia. Most of the cultivars found today were a product of typica. Typica is lower yielding and more susceptible to diseases than the varietals developed from it. Some of the places typica can still be found are Hawaii (Kona Typica), Panama, Mexico, Indonesia and India.
A term more commonly used in the wine industry where a variety of wine plays a major role in the taste. The term is substituted for "variety" (common wine term) or "cultivar" (common coffee term).
(Washed) Initial processing of harvested coffee cherries in which the skin and mucilage (pulp) are removed before drying. Fermentation or forced demucilaging machines are used for mucilage removal. Coffees are perceived as cleaner tasting than dry processed with less body and sweetness and higher acidity.
An option in wet processing in which the parchment is removed (hulled) while the bean is still moist (wet) with the drying process following. This type of processing occurs more in the Sumatran origin and is the reason behind the musty, pungent attribute of some traditional Sumatras. In most wet processing, the beans are dried with the parchment still in tact.