Coffee Terminology


Abbreviations :

WB : Whole Bean

DG : Drip Grind

Coffee Terms : A

Acidity : A measure of the acid content of the liquid; in fine coffees acidity results in a pleasant sharpness. Not to be associated with the genuinely sour taste of inferior coffees. Sharp tasting. The more "acidy" the coffee is the more of a bite it has. A sharp, pleasing quality that highlights the flavor and creates a lively cup. A coffee's acidity level can be high, medium, low or nonexistent, in which case the coffee tastes flat and dull.

Aftertaste : The sensation of brewed coffee vapors released after swallowing.

Aged : Beans stored for a year or more before being roasted. The time reduces acid while developing body.

Aroma : The sensation of gases released from brewed coffee; may be described as ranging from fruity to herby. It's the delicious scent that comes from hot, freshly brewed coffee.

Coffee Terms : B

Baked : A prematurely developed flavor that is caused by limited roasting at low temperatures.

Barista : Coffee barkeep and espresso expert.

Bitter : Perceived by the back of the tongue and characterized by solutions of quinine, caffeine, and other alkaloids; usually caused by over-roasting.

Bland : Perceived by the sides of the tongue and ranging in taste from soft to neutral. Found often in washed Arabica coffees such as Guatemalan Low Grown.

Blend : A mixture of two or more single origins of coffee.

Body : Associated with mouthfeel and texture, this should be a strong, full, pleasant characteristic; The way a coffee is experienced by the mouth; see also mouthfeel. The impression of weight and texture in the mouth. Coffees can be watery, thin, slight, light, medium, full, heavy, thick or even syrupy in body. Textures include oily, buttery, rich, smooth, and chewy. Body also varies with the brewing process. (French Press coffee, for example, has a much heavier body than drip coffee).

Bouquet : The total aromatic profile, resulting from compounds in the fragrance, aroma, and aftertaste.

Breve (BRE-vay) : Any drink made with half-and-half instead of milk. Examples include latte breves and espresso breves.

Bright : A term used for coffee with enjoyable acidity.

Burnt : A term sometimes used for very dark-roasted coffees with bitter taste.

Buttery : A full flavored coffee with a oily feeling in the mouth that may bring to mind the richness of butter.

Coffee Terms : C

Caramelly : A common aromatic sensation; reminiscent of candy or syrup. A taste that is like cooked sugar syrup, happens during roasting when a change occurs in the coffee beans' carbohydrate content.

Carbony : A burnt taste, this occurs in some dark-roasted coffees.

Chocolaty : A common aromatic sensation in a brew's aftertaste, reminiscent of unsweetened chocolate or vanilla. The taste of delicious, rich chocolate.

Cinnamony : A spicy, sweet flavor that suggests cinnamon.

Clean : Coffee with unpolluted and clear flavors.

Cocoay : Sometimes associated with stale coffee, light flavor of cocoa.

Coffee Terms : D

Dead : Lifeless coffee, lacking good flavor and aroma.

Delicate : Related to mellow; characterized by a fragile, subtle flavor; perceived by the tip of the tongue. Very fine coffee. Found in washed New Guinea Arabica coffees.

Dirty : A taste that suggests contamination.

Coffee Terms : E - G

Earthy : An unclean smell or taste that can be specific, such as sourness or mustiness, or a more generalized taint that reminds one of eating dirt. Earthen taste.

Flat : Used when describing bouquet to denote a lack of strong perceptions in fragrance, aroma, and aftertaste; also called dead. A plain taste, without distinct taste or smell.

Flavor : The experience of aromatics once the coffee is in the mouth.

Fragrance : The aromatic sensations inhaled by sniffing; can be described as ranging from floral to spicy or nutty.

Fruity : An aromatic sensation reminiscent of citrus fruit or berries.

Grassy : Used to describe an odor and/or taste in some coffees that is reminiscent of a freshly mown lawn, with accompanying astringency like that of green grass.

Green : A sharp tasting coffee, this occurs from early harvesting and not roasting the beans long enough.

Groundy : A stale, earthy tasting coffee.

Coffee Terms : H - N

Hard : Sometimes used when a coffee smells of iodine.

Harsh : A coffee that is hard in flavor.

Hidy : Due to beans' being stored close to animal hides, causing a coffee tasting of leather.

Lifeless : A term describing coffee that does not have acidity, caused by not brewing long enough.

Light : An adjective used to enhance descriptions of smell and taste

Mellow : A rounded, smooth taste, characteristically lacking in acidity.

Mild : Refers to coffee that lacks any overriding characteristic, either pleasant or unpleasant. Not having a distinct flavor.

Mouthfeel : The tactile sensations the coffee produces on your palate. How a coffee "feels" in your mouth.

Muddy : A dull, indistinct, and thickish flavor that can be caused by the grounds being agitated. A bland flavor resulting from unsettled grounds.

Musty : A flavor that often occurs due to poor storage or lack of sufficient drying, aging, or overheating. In aged coffees, mustiness is not necessarily undesirable.

Nutty : An aromatic sensation that is released as a brew is swallowed; reminiscent of roasted nuts.

Neutral : A flavor characteristic that is desirable in good blenders. Used to denote a lack of any strong flavors. A flat flavored coffee. A positive trait in coffees used as a base for different flavored blends.

Coffee Terms : O - Z

Papery : A term used for light-roasted brews, that do not have the robust flavors of darker brews.

Past-Croppish : Coffee that has flavors of straw and wood, this is from green bean being stored to long.

Quaker : One bean that can spoil a whole batch of coffee.

Rancid : A coffee that has a strong sour flavor.

Rich : Used when describing bouquet to denote intense perceptions of fragrance, aroma, and aftertaste. Coffee with luxurious aroma and intense flavors.

Rioy : A nasty flavor that brings medicine to mind. Rioy flavor is sometimes associated with coffees from Brazil's Rio growing district.

Rough : Characterized by a parched sensation on the tongue, related to sharp, salty taste sensations. Can cause one to be thirsty.

Rubbery : A burnt rubber taste, sometimes resulting from coffee berries that have dried before they are picked.

Sour : Related to over-acidity; a sharp, biting flavor, often from under-ripe beans. A strong sour taste.

Soft : A coffee that does not have acidity.

Spicy : An aromatic and taste perception reminiscent of spices. Lively flavor.

Stale : The flavor of coffee from roasted beans that have been stored for too long.

Stinker : One destructive bean that affects the flavor of a batch of roasted coffee.

Strawy : A coffee that tastes of straw.

Sweet : Free of any harshness.

Taint : An unwanted flavor from chemical changes in the coffee, that happens during growing, processing, or roasting.

Thin : Related to underbrewing, resulting in coffee lacking in any acidity; also referred to as lifeless. Not having flavor, body, or acidity, sometimes due to underbrewing.

Toasty : A coffee with an appealing taste and scent that may bring to mind toast.

Turpeny : A taste like turpentine.

Vinegary : A tart, biting flavor, like that of vinegar.

Watery :
Caused by wrong water-to-coffee ratio, which results in a low level of oils in the coffee. A coffee that has been brewed with too much water. This is mouthfeel.

Wild : A gamey flavor often associated with Ethiopian coffees.

Winey :

Reminiscent of a well-matured red wine; characterized by a full-bodied smooth coffee. A term that suggests acidic flavors, a coffee that is full-bodied and eloquent. Often found in Kenyan and Yemeni coffees.

Woody : A coffee that has flavors and scents of wood, caused by storage in a wooden structure.

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