How Well Do You Speak

How Well Do You Speak "Coffee"?

by Blair Roberts October 29, 2019

There’s something so captivating about the process of making, drinking, and discussing coffee. Making good coffee is a true science and drinking it can be quite a form of art. Discovering the terminology surrounding coffee can make discussions much more interesting with words like “cuppa,” “doppio,” and “Arabica.”

To help take your personal relationship with coffee to the next level, we’ve put together some basic, yet fun coffee terms to enhance your experience and conversations!

Acidity, Acidy, Acid: Usually, the pleasant tartness of a fine coffee.

Affogato: Affogato is an Italian term that means “drowned.” This drink involves espresso poured over the top of vanilla ice cream.

Americano: This is an espresso shot diluted with just enough hot water.

Arabica: The only beans we use. The earliest cultivated species of the coffee tree and still the most widely grown. It produces approximately 70% of the world’s coffee and is dramatically superior in cup quality to Robusta. All fine, specialty and fancy coffees come from arabica coffee beans.

Automatic Filter-Drip Coffee Maker: Coffee brewers that automatically heat and measure water into a filter and filter receptacle containing the ground coffee.
 This refers to the feel of the coffee’s texture on the palate.

Burr Grinder: Our recommended grinder for more consistent-sized grounds. Coffee grinder with two shredding discs, or burrs, that can be adjusted for maximum effectiveness.

Café Au Lait: Also known as café con leche, it is a shot of espresso added to the same amount of milk.

Cappa (or Cappu): A shorter term for “cappuccino.”

Cappuccino: This beverage consists of one shot of espresso topped with foamy steamed milk. Typically, there’s more foam than milk and would usually amount to eight ounces.

Cold Brew: This refers to how chilled coffee is processed. It uses the cold-press technique which involves soaking coarsely ground beans in cold water for around 12 hours. When the coffee is steeped, the coffee grounds are filtered out. The remaining coffee concentrate is diluted with milk or water. It is then used for iced coffee.

Cortado: This is a dollop of hot milk added to one shot of espresso. This drink is usually around four ounces.

Crema: This refers to the top layer of espresso which is consists of emulsified oils. (This part is crucial for making latte art.)

Cuppa: This is just short for “cup of coffee.”

Dark Roast: Term used for coffee beans roasted for a longer time giving them a stronger flavor.

Degas: This refers to the time needed for a batch of coffee beans to release carbon dioxide in bringing out the flavor. Degassing ensures that the espresso contains optimum flavor when brewing.

Demitasse: A French term meaning “half cup.” A demitasse is a 3-ounce cup used for macchiato or espresso drinks.

Doppio: This is an Italian word which means “double” as in two espresso shots.

Drip: This method involves brewing coffee by pouring hot water over coffee grounds using a French press or filter.

Drip Coffee: This is the usual black coffee you can find in diners. It is made with a coffeemaker, filter, or French press. The process of making it involves ground coffee beans in a filter and pouring water over it. The water seeps through the coffee grounds and absorbs its oils and essences. The resulting liquid is collected in a container. Some people prefer to drink it as it is or with sugar and cream.

Espresso: Making espresso involves hot water forcing pressure to fine coffee grounds. The result is highly concentrated coffee that is usually just two ounces. This potent drink gives you quite a kick.

Fair Trade: This is an economic program which ensures that coffee growers are paid a proper minimum wage.

Flat White: This is like cappuccino without the foam. It’s a shot of espresso filled with steamed milk.

Flavored Coffees: Coffees that in their roasted, whole-bean form have been mixed with flavoring agents, such as oils or powders.

Frappe: A common term for “Frappuccino” or ice-blended beverage. Coffee is added with other flavorings, syrups or fun ingredients. (It’s basically coffee ice cream.)

French Press: This device is composed of a pre-heated glass cylinder with a lid and plunger. Ground coffee is placed in the cylinder, then hot water is added. The mixture is stirred while the lid and plunger are placed on top. This method contains the heat while the coffee is steeped. While the coffee is extracted, the plunger is pressed down to catch the coffee grounds on the bottom while freshly brewed coffee is pushed upward.

Frothed: This involves drawing in the air into milk to give it a thicker consistency.

God Shot: This is the term used when a shot of espresso tastes so good or exquisite that it might have been made by the hands of God.

Golden Rule: This is a rule of thumb used to extract espresso. Twenty-five to thirty seconds is needed to create a 2-ounce liquid.

Green Coffee: Coffee seeds have a green color after it is processed and dried. Roasting makes the color dark and brown.

Half Caf: Coffee which is half regular and half decaffeinated.

Heart: This refers to the complexity of flavor found in espresso. It is defined as the heart and soul of the coffee.

Iced Coffee: Coffee made with a cold brew or simply coffee with ice.

Irish Coffee: Coffee that includes fresh cream, brown sugar, and Irish whiskey.

Latte: This is one shot of espresso with one or more cups of steamed milk added into it. Latte has more milk than cafe au lait.

Latte Macchiato: A latte made with milk and foam while pouring espresso in last.

Macchiato: This is an Italian term for “marked.” This drink includes one shot of espresso topped with a “mark” of foamy milk goodness. It is usually served in an espresso glass, giving you around four ounces of coffee kick.

Mocha: A drink composed of espresso and steamed milk with added flavorings such as chocolate or syrup.

Pour-over: This type of drip coffee was first developed in Japan. It involves slowly pouring hot water over a filter cone. Brewing usually takes three minutes and uses various equipment such as cones, kettles, and chambers.

Red Eye: This refers to a shot of espresso added to a cup of drip coffee.

Ristretto: A highly-concentrated espresso that has less water than the usual espresso.

Roast: This refers to heating green coffee beans until they darken. Roasting creates the coffee flavors which can be extracted by brewing.

Robusta: Currently the only significant competitor among cultivated coffee species to arabica. Robusta produces about 30% of the world’s coffee. It is a lower-growing, higher-bearing tree that produces full-bodied but bland coffee of inferior cup quality and higher caffeine content than arabica. It is used as a basis for blends of instant coffee, and for less expensive blends of preground commercial coffee.

SCAA: The Specialty Coffee Association of America creates standards for the terms and practices in the coffee industry. It is the parent organization of barista and roasters institutions.

Skinny: This is basically coffee with non-fat milk.

Trenta: Super-sized coffee amounting to 31 ounces. (Starbucks launched this trend as a means for “more refreshment.”)

Whole-Bean Coffee: Coffee that has been roasted but not yet ground.


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Blair Roberts
Blair Roberts


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