A – I

A ]

Acidity A pleasing piquant or tangy quality characteristic of high-altitude coffees.  Acidity is a perceived taste quality – it is not a measure of pH.Citric, Malic and Lactic acids are three of the most pleasing and predominant of the hundreds of acids found in coffee.

Acidy A desirable taste that is nippy and sharp.

AftertasteThe mind’s second opinion and lingering memory of a coffee.The nose and taste sensation after swallowing. Also: Finish

Air Roaster A roasting apparatus that utilizes forced hot air to simultaneously agitate and roast green coffee beans. Also: Fluidized Bed Roaster; Fluid-Bed Roaster, Sivetz Roaster

Air Quenching The use of rapid airflow to stop the roast and cool the coffee upon the completion of roasting.

Alkaline A secondary taste sensation related to pungent.

American Roast A traditional term for a medium roast characterized by a moderately brown color and dry bean surface. Generally falls between 420 and 440 degrees F when reading bean temperature.

Appellation A distinct term denoting a geographic growing region having noticeably distinct flavor attributes.

Aquapulp Method A coffee-processing method in which the pulp or mucilage is scrubbed from the beans by machine.

Also: Demucilage, Lavado, Washed Process, Wet Process.

Arabica A traditional species of coffee originating in Ethiopia .There are many varieties, including typical and bourbon.

Aroma The fragrance of brewed coffee.

B [back to top]

Bag A burlap sack of coffee.Bag weight differs by country of origin, but is traditionally 132 or 152 pounds. Also: Bale

Balanced Denoting a pleasing combination of two or more primary taste sensations.  Containing all the basic characteristics to the right extent and aesthetically pleasing. Also: Round

Basic Tastes Sweet, sour, salty and bitter.

Batch Roaster Apparatus that roasts a given quantity of coffee at a time.  Unlike continuous roasters, batch roasters have an identifiable start and stop time to each roast. Also: Continuous Roaster

Bean Probe Any measuring probe positioned on a roaster to enable the operator to read external bean temperature.

Bean Temperature The external temperature of the coffee bean during the roast cycle.  Generally used as the control temperature for the roasting process.

Bird Friendly A certification that designates that a coffee has been grown in accordance with the Smithsonian Institution’s Migratory Bird Center ‘s guidelines, which help protect bird habitat through shade-grown coffee and other environmental focuses.

Bitter A harsh, unpleasant taste perceived at the back of the tongue.  All coffees have a slight bitterness that is characteristic of the roasting process and moderate bitterness can be balanced by sweetness.  Commonly found in dark roasts or overly extracted coffees.

Blend A mixture of two or more coffees that differ by growing regions, districts, farms, varietals, processing methods or roasts.

Body The tactile impression of the weight or viscosity of coffee in the mouth. Also: Mouthfeel

Bouquet Usually a reference to an overall aroma impression of brewed coffee.  The total aromatic profile of the initial fragrance of the dry ground coffee plus the aroma of the brewed coffee and the nose impression when drinking. Also: Fragrance

Bourbon A botanical variety of Coffea arabica that features broad leaves and small, dense fruit.

Bright Highly acidic leaving a dry aftertaste. Also: Dry

Breaking the Crust During cupping, the action of breaking apart the cap of coarse grounds on the top of a cup prior to tasting.

Buttery A full and rich flavor with an oily body or texture.

C ]

Caffeine (C8H10N4O2) A bitter white alkaloid found in coffee beans and leaves, having certain drug-like properties.

Caffeine Content The amount of caffeine in a product.One cup of coffee contains about 1.5 grains of caffeine.

Caffeol A volatile aromatic conglomerate formed during roasting.

Caramelized A burnt-like flavor, as in cooked/browned sugar.  A desirable taste note if complemented with a strong coffee flavor.

Caramelly The smell or taste of cooked sugars without any trace of burntness.

Carbon Dioxide Process (CO2 Process) A decaffeination process involving soaking green beans in highly compressed CO2 to extract the caffeine.  The caffeine is then removed from the CO 2 using activated carbon filters and is reused to extract more caffeine from the coffee.

Catimor A modern variety of Coffea arabica that is a cross between caturra and a natural arabica-robusta hybrid.Designed to be high-yielding and disease resistant.

Catuai A modern variety of Coffea arabica that is a hybrid of mondo novo and caturra.  This high-yield plant can grow in high densities and is resistant to strong winds and rains.

Caturra A modern variety of the Coffea arabica species discovered in Brazil that generally matures more quickly, produces more coffee, and is more disease resistant than older, traditional Arabica varieties.

Certification A way of showing that a coffee is grown, harvested, processed and/or roasted within the guidelines of a specific set of social or environmental values.  Can also be used to mean coffee that meets origin certification, national certification or other political district certifications.

Chaff Flakes of the innermost skin of the coffee fruit that remain on the green bean after processing, and which float free during roasting.

Chaff Collector The part of any roasting system designed to collect the chaff.Often, but not always, a cyclone configuration.

Cherry The fruit of the coffee tree.Each cherry contains two regular coffee beans or one peaberry.

Chocolately A positive taste or aroma reminiscent of unsweetened, semi-sweet or milk chocolate, cocoa and/or vanilla. Also: Chocolaty

Cinnamon An underlying spice accent sometimes detected in the aroma.Also, a flavor nuance in light roasts.

Cinnamon Roast A traditional term for a very light roast, used mostly for cupping, with a final roast temperature around 420 degrees F.  There is very little or no oil on the bean surface.

City Roast A traditional term for a light to medium commercial roast.

Clean The term “clean cup” refers to a coffee free of taints or faults.  Does not necessarily imply clarity of flavor impression.

Cocoa Can be a positive attribute, when it has a sweetish chocolate smell, or a taint of completely stale roasted coffee.  Not to be confused with chocolately.

Coffee Blossom An aromatic scent found in ground coffee that is reminiscent of the white flowers of the coffee tree, similar to jasmine.

Coffee Classification A way of sorting, or grading, coffee that looks at a number of factors including quantity and level of defects, bean size and cup quality.Also: Coffee Grading

Coffee Oil The volatile coffee essence developed in a bean during roasting.

Coffee Trier A special pointed device for removing a sample of green coffee beans through the bag wall without opening the bag.  Also, as part of a roasting machine, a metal scoop that is used to catch small samples of roasting coffee for examination during the roasting process. Also: Trier , Tryer

Complex Describes a balance and intensity of flavor.  The impression of a coffee with an interesting mix of flavors, undertones and aftertastes. Also: Deep

Container A volume of measurement that equals about 40,000 pounds of coffee.

Cooling Tray A piece of equipment, usually circular and equipped with stirring arms, which agitates fresh-roasted coffee to cool it to room temperature and may be used to halt the roasting process in roasters not equipped with water quenching.

Creamy A measure of body somewhat less than buttery.

Creosoty A taste sensation related to pungent.A bitter, burnt vegetal taste found in the aftertaste of some dark-roasted coffees.Similar to tarry.

Cup of Excellence A coffee competition and auction, seeking the absolute highest quality single lot of coffee from a particular harvest, judged by national and international juries.

Cupping The sensory evaluation of coffee beans for flavor and aroma profile.  The beans are ground, water is poured over the grounds, and the liquid is tasted both hot and as it cools.

Cupping Spoon A spoon, about the size of a bouillon soup spoon, but perfectly round, used to taste coffee during a cupping session.Made of silver or stainless steel so as to have no flavor or aroma impact.

Current Crop Green coffee from the recent harvest available after processing. Also: New Crop

D ]

Data Logger Equipment used to record the time and temperature data during the roast process.  May be PC, PLC or PDA based.

Data Logging The act of compiling time and temperature roast data in order to assist an operator in profile roasting.  May be manual or automated.

Decaffeination The process of removing the caffeine from coffee.

Degassing A natural process in which recently roasted coffee releases carbon dioxide gas.

Delicate Pleasing to taste or smell.A sensation that is mild, subtle and sometimes fleeting. Also: Gentle, Mellow

Demucilage A procedure in which the sticky fruit pulp, or mucilage, is removed from freshly picked coffee beans by scrubbing in machines. Also: Aquapulp, Mechanical Demucilaging, Water Process, Wet Process

Double-Picked Coffee that has been hand-picked twice to remove imperfect beans, pebbles and other imperfections.

Drum Roaster A coffee roaster where the beans are agitated inside a metal drum.  The heat is provided by a flow of hot air through the drum, as well as by the hot metal of the drum.

Dry Highly acidic leaving a dry aftertaste Also: Bright

Dry Process Coffee process that involves harvesting and drying the beans while still in cherry.  Dry-processed coffees often have less acidity and heavier body than their washed counterparts.

Drying Cycle The first phase of the roasting process, when the temperature of the beans rises to 100 degrees centigrade.  During this phase, the beans change from a bright green color to a pale yellow.

E ]

Earthy A complex mustiness found in certain dry-processed, low-acid coffees. Also: Dirty, Groundy

Environment Temperature/Drum Temperature Temperature in the roasting chamber during the roast cycle.Sometimes used as the control temperature.

Estate-Grown See Single-Estate

F ]

Fair Trade A certification that designates a coffee has been grown in accordance with the guidelines of the Fairtrade Labeling Organization.  These guidelines are geared toward providing a living wage to farmers in coffee cooperatives. Also: TransFair USA, TransFair Canada

Fermentation The stage during the wet method of coffee processing when the sticky pulp is loosened from the skinned coffee beans by natural enzymes while the beans rest in tanks.

First Crack The second stage of coffee roasting.Once the beans reach 160 degrees centigrade, complex chemical reactions occur, which cause an audible cracking sound.

Flavor Profile The total impression of aroma, acidity, body, sweetness and aftertaste.  Usually described with specific major taste impressions.

Flavored Coffee Roasted coffee that has been mixed with flavoring agents.

Fragrance The smell of dry ground or whole bean coffee before brewing. Also: Bouquet

French Roast A traditional term for a very dark roast, with a stop temperature around 460 to 465 degrees F.  In this roast, the beans are the color of bittersweet chocolate and are usually covered in oil. Also: Dark Roast

Fresh A recent roast, often characterized by a distinctly pleasing aroma.

Fruity Denotes the aromatic scents of citrus or berry fruit in the cup.  Also, a flavor taint bordering on fermented.

Full Bag Coffee sold in its country of origin bag weight.  Generally 60 or 70 kilos.

Full City Roast A traditional term for a medium commercial roast, with a stop temperature around 440 to 445 degrees F. Also: North Italian Roast

G ]

Geisha A variety of Coffea arabica that features large fruits and long, curvy beans.

Grade The level of quality given to a particular coffee based on factors such as defects, bean size and moisture content.  Can be seen a numbers (e.g. Grade 1), letters (e.g. Grade AA) or a combination of the two (e.g. 1AAA).

Green Coffee Unroasted coffee beans. Also: Raw

Green Coffee Association An association that works in conjunction with the coffee, sugar and cocoa exchange to help benefit the coffee industry.

H ]

Hard Bean (HB) A term used to describe coffees grown at relatively high altitudes, usually 4,000-4,500 feet.

Harrar Dry-processed, or natural, coffees of Ethiopia .  Grown in eastern Ethiopia near the city of Harrar , these coffees are usually fragrant and light-bodied with complex acidity. Also: Harar, Harer, Mocha Harrar, Moka Harrar, Mocca Harrar

Heavy Quantitative term for body or mouthfeel.

Heirloom A species of arabica that is more variable and genetically closer to wild coffee than other cultivars.

Herby A taste sensation resembling the flavor or odor of herbs.

High-Grown Arabica coffees grown at altitudes of more than 3,000 feet.

Hulling The process of removing the parchment and silver skin from washed coffees just prior to milling.

I ]

Intensity Measure of the total impression of bouquet.

International Coffee Association (ICO) An intergovernmental organization for coffee that brings together producing and consuming countries to tackle the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation.

Italian Roast A traditional term for a darker commercial roast, with a stop temperature around 450 to 455 degrees F.  The beans are usually the color of milk-chocolate and are half-covered with oil droplets. Also: Vienna Roast, South Italian Roast