The Coffee Index

The Coffee Index


The Coffee Index is a Coffee Glossary of definitions for commonly used coffee phrases and elaborates on their meaning.

AA
Capitalized letters are grade indicators usually describing the size of the bean.

Acidity, Acidy, Acid
Usually, the pleasant tartness of a fine coffee. Acidity, along with flavor, aroma, and body, is one of the principal categories used by professional tasters in cupping, or sensory evaluation of coffee. When not used to describe cup characteristics, the term acidity may refer to pH, or literal acidity, or to certain constituents present in coffee that ostensibly produce indigestion or nervousness in some individuals.

After-Dinner Roast, Espresso Roast, Continental Roast, and European Roast
Terms for coffee brought to degrees of roast ranging from somewhat darker than the traditional American norm to dark brown. Acidity diminishes and a rich bitter-sweetness emerges. Among many newer American specialty roasters, roast styles once called by these names may in fact constitute the typical, "regular" roast of coffee.

Aged Coffee, Vintage Coffee
Traditionally, coffee held in warehouses for several years, sometimes deliberately, sometimes inadvertently. Such aging reduces acidity and increases body. Aged coffee has been held longer than either old crop coffee or mature coffee. Recently, some Indonesia coffee has been subject to a sort of accelerated aging involving deliberate exposure to moist air, much like India's Monsooned coffee.

Altura
"Heights" in Spanish; describes Mexico coffee that has been high- or mountain-grown.

American Roast
Coffee roasted to traditional American taste: medium brown.

Americano, Caffè Americano.
An espresso lengthened with hot water.

Antigua
Market name for one of the most distinguished coffees of Guatemala, from the valley surrounding the old capital of Guatemala Antigua.

Arabian Mocha
Single-origin coffee from the southwestern tip of the Arabian peninsula, bordering the Red Sea, in the mountainous regions of present-day Yemen. The world's oldest cultivated coffee, distinguished by its full body and distinctively rich, winy acidity.

Arabica, Coffea Arabica
The earliest cultivated species of 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 the other principal commercial coffee species, Coffea Canephora or Robusta. All fine, specialty, and fancy coffees come from Coffea Arabica trees.

Aroma
The fragrance produced by hot, freshly brewed coffee. Aroma, along with flavor, acidity, and body, is one of the principal categories used by professional tasters in cupping, or sensory evaluation of coffee.

Automatic Filter-Drip Coffee Makers
Coffee brewers that automatically heat and measure water into a filter and filter receptacle containing the ground coffee.

Balance
Tasting term applied to coffees for which no single characteristic overwhelms others, but that display sufficient complexity to be interesting.

Barista
Italian term for skillful and experienced espresso bar operator.

Bird Friendly
Term associated with Shade-Grown coffee. Describes coffee grown under a shade canopy. Arabica coffee is traditionally grown in shade in many (but not all) parts of Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela, and in some other parts of the world, including India and some regions of Indonesia and Africa. Elsewhere arabica coffee is traditionally grown in full sun, or near full sun. The importance of maintaining shade canopies to supply habitat for migrating song birds in Central America has led to a controversial campaign by researchers at the Smithsonian Institute and their supporters to define "shade grown" in rather narrow terms (shade provided by mixed native trees) and label coffees grown under such a native canopy as "bird friendly." Farmers who traditionally have not grown coffee in shade but maintain extensive forest reserves on their land understandably object to the concept, as do those who use non-native trees to shade their coffee. On the other hand, shade grown coffees most definitely are much easier on the environment than sun grown coffees, and the better tasting traditional varieties of arabica, bourbon and typica, are, in Central America at least, best grown in shade.

Blade Grinder
Small coffee grinder using a propeller-like blade to grind coffee.

Blend
A mixture of two or more single-origin coffees.

Body
The sensation of heaviness, richness, or thickness and associated texture when one tastes coffee. Body, along with flavor, acidity, and aroma, is one of the principal categories used by professional tasters cupping, or sensory evaluation of coffee.

Bourbon
A botanical variety of Coffea arabica. Var. Bourbon first appeared on the island of Bourbon, now Réunion. Some of the best Latin-American coffees are from Bourbon stock.

Brazil
One of the world's most complicated coffee origins. Most Brazil coffee is carelessly picked and primitively processed, and is not a factor in the specialty trade. The best (usually dry-processed Bourbon Santos) can be a wonderfully deep, complex, sweet coffee particularly appropriate for espresso. Almost all Brazil coffee is relatively low-grown, but the variety of processing methods (wet method, dry method, and semi-dry or pulped natural method) makes Brazil a fascinating origin.

Brown Roast
Also known as American Roast. Coffee roasted to traditional American taste: medium brown.

Burr Grinder, Burr Mill
Coffee grinder with two shredding discs or burrs that can be adjusted for maximum effectiveness.

Café au Lait
Coffee drink combining one-third drip coffee with two-thirds hot frothed milk.

Caffè Americano
An espresso lengthened with hot water.

Caffè Latte
A serving of espresso combined with about three times as much hot milk topped with froth.

Caffeine
An odorless, bitter alkaloid responsible for the stimulating effect of coffee and tea.

Cappuccino
An espresso drink comprised of one serving of espresso topped with hot milk and froth.

Caracol
Also known as Peaberry. A small, round bean formed when only one seed, rather than the usual two, develops at the heart of the coffee fruit. Peaberry beans are often separated from normal beans and sold as a distinct grade of a given coffee. Typically, but not always, they produce a brighter, more acidy, but lighter-bodied cup than normal beans from the same crop.

Caturra
A relatively recently selected botanical variety of the Coffea arabica species that generally matures more quickly, produces more coffee, and is more disease resistant than older, traditional arabica varieties. Many experts contend that the caturra and modern hybrid varieties of Coffea arabica produce coffee that is inferior in cup quality and distinction to the coffee produced by the traditional "old arabica" varieties like bourbon and typica.

Celebes
Former name of Sulawesi. Single-origin coffee from the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Most come from the Toraja or Kalossi growing region in the southeastern highlands. At best, distinguished by full body, expansive flavor, and a low-toned, vibrant acidity. At worst, many display unpleasant hard or musty defects. Some display an earthiness which many coffee lovers enjoy and others avoid.

Chaff
Flakes of the innermost skin of the coffee fruit (the silverskin) that remain clinging to the green bean after processing and float free during roasting.

Cherry
Common term for the fruit of the coffee tree. Each cherry contains two regular coffee beans, or one peaberry.

Chicory
The roasted and ground root of the endive is blended with coffee in New Orleans style.

Cinnamon Roast
Also known as Light Roast and New England Roast. Coffee brought to a degree of roast of coffee lighter than the traditional American norm, and grain like in taste, with a sharp, almost sour acidity. This roast style is not a factor in specialty coffee.

City Roast
Also Light French Roast, Viennese Roast, Light Espresso Roast, High Roast, and Full-City Roast. Terms for coffee brought to degrees of roast somewhat darker than the traditional American norm, but lighter than the classic dark roast variously called espresso, French, or Italian. In the cup, full-city and associated roast styles are less acidy and smoother than the traditional American "medium" roast, but may display fewer of the distinctive taste characteristics of the original coffee. Among many newer American specialty roasters, roast styles once called full-city, Viennese, etc. may constitute the typical, "regular" roast of coffee.

Clean
Coffee cupping or tasting term describing a coffee sample that is free from flavor defects.

Coatepec, Altura Coatepec
Market name for a respected washed coffee from the northern slopes of the central mountain range in Veracruz State, Mexico.

Coffea Arabica
The earliest cultivated species of 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 the other principal commercial coffee species, Coffea canephora or Robusta. All fine, specialty, and fancy coffees come from Coffea arabica trees.

Coffea Canephora
Also Robusta. Currently the only significant competitor among cultivated coffee species to Coffea 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 Coffea arabica. It is used as a basis for blends of instant coffee, and for less expensive blends of pre-ground commercial coffee. It is not a factor in the specialty coffee trade except as a body-enhancing component in some Italian-style espresso blends.

Coffee Oil, Coffeol
The volatile coffee essence developed in the bean during roasting.

Cold-Water Method
Brewing method in which ground coffee is soaked in a proportionally small amount of cold water for 10 to 20 hours. The grounds are strained out and the resulting concentrated coffee is stored and mixed with hot water as needed. The cold water method produces a low-acid, light-bodied cup that some find pleasingly delicate, and others find bland.

Colombia
The standard Colombia coffee is a wet-processed coffee produced by small holders, and collected, milled and exported by the Colombian Coffee Federation. It is sold by grade (Supremo highest) rather than by market name or region. It can range from superb high-grown, classic, mildly fruity Latin-America coffee to rather ordinary, edge-of-fermented fruity coffee. Coffees from some estates and cooperatives and from privately operated mills are sold by region as well as by botanical variety (Bourbon is best).

Commercial Coffees
Packaged pre-ground (pre-brewed in the case of instant or soluble) coffees sold by brand name.

Complexity
A tasting term describing coffees whose taste sensations shift and layer pleasurably, and give the impression of depth and resonance.

Continental Roast
Also known as Espresso Roast, After-Dinner Roast, and European Roast. Terms for coffee brought to degrees of roast ranging from somewhat darker than the traditional American norm to dark brown. Acidity diminishes and a rich bitter-sweetness emerges. Among many newer American specialty roasters, roast styles once called by these names may in fact constitute the typical, "regular" roast of coffee.

Costa Rica
The best Costa Rica coffees (San Marcos de Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Heredi, Alajuela) display a full body and clean, robust acidity that make them among the most admired of Central American coffees.

Crema
The pale brown foam covering the surface of a well-brewed shot of espresso.

Cupping
Procedure used by professional tasters to perform sensory evaluation of samples of coffee beans. The beans are ground, water is poured over the grounds, and the liquid is tasted both hot and as it cools. The key evaluation characteristics are Aroma, Acidity, Body, and Flavor.

Dark French Roast
A roast of coffee almost black in color with a shiny surface, thin-bodied, and bittersweet in flavor, with an overlay of burned or charcoal-like tones.

Dark Roast
Vague term; may describe any roast of coffee darker than the traditional American norm.

Decaffeination Processes
Specialty coffees are decaffeinated in the green state, currently by one of four methods. The direct solvent method involves treating the beans with solvent, which selectively unites with the caffeine and is removed from the beans by steaming. The indirect solvent or solvent-water method involves soaking the green beans in hot water, removing the caffeine from the hot water by means of a solvent, and recombining the water with the beans, which are then dried. Both processes using solvents often are called European Process or Traditional Process. The water-only method, commonly known by the proprietary name Swiss Water ProcessTM, involves the same steps, but removes the caffeine from the water by allowing it to percolate through a bed of activated charcoal. In the carbon dioxide method, which is only beginning to be established in the specialty-coffee trade, the caffeine is stripped directly from the beans by a highly compressed semi-liquid form of carbon dioxide.

Defects, Flavor Defects
Unpleasant flavor characteristics caused by problems during picking, processing (fruit removal), drying, sorting, storage, or transportation. Common defects include: excess numbers of immature or under-ripe fruit (unselective picking); inadvertent fermentation (careless processing); fermentation combined with invasion by micro-organisms, causing moldy, hard, or rioy defects (careless or moisture-interrupted drying); and contact with excessive moisture after drying, causing musty or baggy defects (careless storage and transportation).

Degassing
A natural process in which recently roasted coffee releases carbon dioxide gas, temporarily protecting the coffee from the staling impact of oxygen.

Demitasse
"Half cup" in French; a half-size or three-ounce cup used primarily for espresso coffee.

Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo
Coffee from the Dominican Republic. High-grown Dominican coffee is a fairly rich, acidy coffee with classic Caribbean characteristics. Lower grown Dominican coffees tend to be softer and less acidy.

Doppio
A double espresso or three to six ounces of straight espresso.

Doser
A spring-loaded device on specialized espresso grinders that dispenses single servings of ground coffee.

Drip Method
Brewing method that allows hot water to settle through a bed of ground coffee.

Dry-Processed Coffee, Dry Method Coffee, Natural Coffee
Coffee processed by removing the husk or fruit after the coffee fruit has been dried. When only ripe fruit is utilized and the drying is done carefully, dry-processed coffee can be complex, fruity, and deeply-dimensioned. When the picking and drying are performed carelessly, as is the case with cheaper dry-processed coffees, the result is off-tasting, harsh coffee. The best and most celebrated dry-processed coffees are Yemen coffees, the Harrar coffees of Ethiopia, and the finest traditional Brazil coffees.

Earthiness
Either a taste defect or a desirable exotic taste characteristic depending on who is doing the tasting and how intense the earthy taste in question is. Apparently earthiness is caused by literal contact of wet coffee with earth during drying. Indonesia coffees from Sumatra, Sulawesi and Timor are particularly prone to display earthy tones.

Espresso
Used to describe both a roast of coffee (see Espresso Roast) and a method of brewing in which hot water is forced under pressure through a compressed bed of finely ground coffee. In the largest sense, an entire approach to coffee cuisine, involving a traditional menu of drinks, many combining brewed espresso coffee with steam-heated, steam-frothed milk.

Espresso Roast, After-Dinner Roast, Continental Roast, European Roast
Terms for coffee brought to degrees of roast ranging from somewhat darker than the traditional American norm to dark brown. Acidity diminishes and a rich bitter-sweetness emerges. Among many newer American specialty roasters, roast styles once called by these names may in fact constitute the typical, "regular" roast of coffee.

Estate-Grown Coffee
Coffee produced by a single farm, single mill, or single group of farms, and marketed without mixture with other coffees. Many specialty coffees are now identified by estate name, rather than the less specific regional or market name.

Ethiopia
Ethiopia is a very complex coffee origin. The best Ethiopia dry-processed coffee (Harrar or Harar) tends to be medium-bodied and brilliantly acidy with rough, fruity or winy tones. The best washed Ethiopian coffee (Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, some Limu, and some washed Djimah) is light-bodied but explosive with complex floral and citrus notes.

Continental Roast
Terms for coffee brought to degrees of roast ranging from somewhat darker than the traditional American norm to dark brown. Acidity diminishes and a rich bitter-sweetness emerges. Among many newer American specialty roasters, roast styles once called by these names may in fact constitute the typical, "regular" roast of coffee.

Excelso
A comprehensive grade of Colombia coffee, combining the best, or supremo, and the second-best, or extra, grades.

Fair Traded Coffee
Coffee that has been purchased from farmers (usually peasant farmers) at a "fair" price as defined by international agencies. The extra paid these farmers under fair trade arrangements is extremely modest, by the way.

Fermentation
An important but confusing coffee term with two main meanings. 1) As a positive component of the wet method of coffee processing, fermentation is a stage in which the sticky pulp is loosened from the skinned coffee seeds or beans by natural enzymes while the beans rest in tanks. If water is added to the tanks the process is called wet fermentation; if no water is added it is called dry fermentation. 2) In sensory evaluation, or cupping, of coffee, fermentation is an important descriptor for a range of related taste defects set off when the sugars in the coffee fruit begin to ferment. Sensations described as ferment can range from sweet, composty, rotten-fruit tastes to harsh, moldy, musty, or medicinal tastes.

Filter Holder, Portafilter
In espresso brewing, a metal object with plastic handle that holds the coffee filter, and clamps onto the group.

Filter Method, Filter-Drip Method
Technically, any brewing method in which water filters through a bed of ground coffee. In popular usage, describes drip method brewers utilizing a paper filter to separate grounds from brewed coffee.

Finish
The sensory experience of coffee just as it is swallowed (or, in the professional cupping procedure, just before it is spit out). Some coffees transform from first impression on the palate to finish; others stand pat.

Flavor
In cupping, or sensory evaluation of coffee, what distinguishes the sensory experience of coffee once its acidity, body, and aroma have been described.

Flavored Coffees
Coffees that in their roasted, whole-bean form have been mixed with flavoring agents.

Fragrance
As a specialized term in cupping, or sensory evaluation of coffee, fragrance describes the scent of dry coffee immediately after it has been ground but before it is brewed.

French Press, Plunger Pot
Brewing method that separates spent grounds from brewed coffee by pressing them to the bottom of the brewing receptacle with a mesh plunger.

French Roast, Heavy Roast, Spanish Roast
Terms for coffee brought to degrees of roast considerably darker than the American norm; may range in color from dark brown (see Espresso Roast) to nearly black (see Dark French Roast) and in flavor from rich and bittersweet to thin-bodied and burned.

Frothed Milk
Milk that is heated and frothed with a steam wand as an element in the espresso cuisine.

Full-City Roast, Light French Roast, Viennese Roast, Light Espresso Roast, City Roast, High Roast
Terms for coffee brought to degrees of roast somewhat darker than the traditional American norm, but lighter than the classic dark roast variously called espresso, French, or Italian. In the cup, full-city and associated roast styles are less acidy and smoother than the traditional American "medium" roast, but may display fewer of the distinctive taste characteristics of the original coffee. Among many newer American specialty roasters, roast styles once called full-city, Viennese, etc. may constitute the typical, "regular" roast of coffee.

Gayo Mountain
Market name for coffee exported by a large processing center and mill in Aceh Province, northern Sumatra. Wet-processed Gayo Mountain tends to be a clean but often underpowered version of the Sumatra profile. Traditionally processed Gayo Mountain (misleadingly labeled "Dry Process") resembles similar coffees from the Mandheling region of Sumatra: at best displaying an expansive, quirky flavor and a low-toned, vibrant acidity.

Green Coffee
Unroasted coffee.

Group, Delivery Group, Brew Head
The fixture protruding from the front of most espresso machines into which the portafilter and filter clamp.

Guatamala
Guatemala is a complex coffee origin. Strictly Hard Bean grade coffees from the central highlands (Antigua, Atitlan,) tend to exhibit a rich, spicy or floral acidity and excellent body. Coffees from mountainous areas exposed to either Pacific (San Marcos) or Caribbean (Cobán, Huehuetenango) weather tend to display a bit less acidity and more fruit.

Hard Bean
Term often used to describe coffees grown at relatively high altitudes; in the same context, coffees grown at lower altitudes are often designated Soft Bean. The higher altitudes and lower temperatures produce a slower maturing fruit and a harder, less porous bean. Hard bean coffees usually make a more acidy and more flavorful cup than do soft bean coffees, although there are many exceptions to this generalization. The hard bean/soft bean distinction is used most frequently in evaluating coffees of Central America, where it figures in grade descriptions.

Harrar, Harar, Harer, Mocha Harrar, Moka Harar, Mocca Harar
The best of the dry-processed, or natural, coffees of Ethiopia. Grown in eastern Ethiopia near the city of Harrar. Usually rather light-bodied but fragrant with complex wine-, fruit-, or floral-toned acidity. Often substituted for Yemen in Mocha-Java blends.

Hawaii
The traditional and classic coffee of Hawaii is Kona, grown on the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. On the other Hawaiian islands, however, sugar-cane and pineapple plantations have been converted to premium coffee farms. Kauai (Kauai Coffee), Molokai (Malulani Estate) and Oahu all now produce interesting and improving coffees.

Heavy Roast
Also known as French Roast and Spanish Roast. Terms for coffee brought to degrees of roast considerably darker than the American norm; may range in color from dark brown (see Espresso Roast) to nearly black (see Dark French Roast) and in flavor from rich and bittersweet to thin-bodied and burned.

High Roast, Full-City Roast, Light French Roast, Viennese Roast, Light Espresso Roast, City Roast
Terms for coffee brought to degrees of roast somewhat darker than the traditional American norm, but lighter than the classic dark roast variously called espresso, French, or Italian. In the cup, full-city and associated roast styles are less acidy and smoother than the traditional American "medium" roast, but may display fewer of the distinctive taste characteristics of the original coffee. Among many newer American specialty roasters, roast styles once called full-city, Viennese, etc. may constitute the typical, "regular" roast of coffee.

High-Grown
Arabica coffees grown at altitudes over 3,000 feet, usually higher. Such coffees are generally superior to coffees grown at lower altitudes. The term high-grown is also used in many Latin American grade descriptions.

Huehuetenango
One of the better coffees of Guatemala.

India
India coffee is grown in the south of the country. The best is low-key, with moderate body and acidity and occasional intriguing nuance; at worst it is bland. Mysore is a market name for certain high-quality wet-processed India coffees. Coffees from the Shevaroys and Nilgiris districts generally tend to display more acidity than coffees from other south India regions. Also see Monsooned Coffee.

Indonesia
Indonesia coffees are usually marketed under the name of the island of origin; see Sumatra, Sulawesi, Java, Timor. At best, most are distinguished by full body, rich flavor, and a low-toned, vibrant acidity. At worst, many display unpleasant hard or musty defects. Others display an earthiness which many coffee lovers enjoy and others deplore.

Italian Roast
A roast of coffee considerably darker than the traditional American norm. Usually dark brown in color and rich and bittersweet in flavor, but may range in color to almost black and in flavor to nearly burned.

Jamaica
Jamaica Blue Mountain is a balanced, classic coffee with rich flavor, full body, and a smooth yet vibrant acidity. These characteristics and its relatively short supply have made it one of the world's most celebrated coffees. Whether it still merits this distinction is subject to debate among importers and roasters. Lower-grown Jamaica coffees (Jamaica High Mountain) tend to be less acidy and lighter in body. Other Jamaica coffees are undistinguished.

Jamaica Blue Mountain™
Celebrated single-origin coffee from above 3,000 feet elevation in the Blue Mountain District of Jamaica. Can be exceptional: rich, complex, bouillon-like. More often a rather ordinary balanced, low-toned Caribbean coffee.

Java, Java Arabica
Unlike most other Indonesia coffees, which are grown on tiny farms and often primitively processed, Java coffees are grown on large farms or estates, most operated by the government, and are wet-processed using modern methods. The best display the low-toned richness characteristic of other Indonesia coffees, but are usually lighter in body and more acidy. Old Java, Old Government, or Old Brown are mature coffees from Java, created to mimic the flavor characteristics of the original Java coffee, which was inadvertently aged in the holds of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century ships during their passage to Europe.

Kalossi
A growing region in the southeastern highlands of Sulawesi. At best, distinguished by full body, expansive flavor, and a low-toned, vibrant acidity. At worst, many display unpleasant hard or musty defects. Some display an earthiness which many coffee lovers enjoy and others avoid.

Kenya
Kenya coffees are celebrated for their deep, winy acidity, resonant cup presence, and complex fruit and berry tones. Of the world's great coffees, Kenyan probably is the most consistent in quality and most widely available.

Kilimanjaro
Coffee from the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Kona, Hawaii Kona
Single-origin coffee from the Kona coast of the Island of Hawaii. The best Kona coffee displays classic balance, with medium body, good acidity, and rich, complex aroma and flavor.

Kopi Luwak
Coffee from Sumatra, Indonesia, distinguished not by origin, but by the uniquely intimate way it is processed. A mammal called a luwak, or civet, eats ripe coffee cherries, digests the fruit, and excretes the seeds, after which the seeds or beans are gathered from its dry droppings. Kopi luwak is one of the most expensive coffees in the world owing to obvious limitations on its production. Authorities differ on how much of the kopi luwak that arrives at coffee dealers is authentic and how much is ordinary coffee that has been "treated" in luwak manure, but samples certainly look authentic, smell authentic, and are pleasantly earthy, sweet and full in the cup.

Latte, Caffè Latte
A serving of espresso combined with about three times as much hot milk topped with froth.

Light Espresso Roast, Light French Roast, Vienna Roast, City Roast, Full-City Roast, High Roast
Terms for coffee brought to degrees of roast somewhat darker than the traditional American norm, but lighter than the classic dark roast variously called espresso, French, or Italian. In the cup, full-city and associated roast styles are less acidy and smoother than the traditional American "medium" roast, but may display fewer of the distinctive taste characteristics of the original coffee. Among many newer American specialty roasters, roast styles once called full-city, Viennese, etc. may constitute the typical, "regular" roast of coffee.

Light Roast, Cinnamon Roast, New England Roast
Coffee brought to a degree of roast of coffee lighter than the traditional American norm, and grain-like in taste, with a sharp, almost sour acidity. This roast style is not a factor in specialty coffee.

Macchiato
Either a serving of espresso "stained" or marked with a small quantity of hot frothed milk (espresso macchiato), or a moderately tall (about eight ounces) glass of hot frothed milk "stained" with espresso (latte macchiato). In North America, the term macchiato is more likely to describe the former (espresso stained with milk) than the latter (milk stained with espresso).

Mandheling
The most famous coffee of Sumatra, Indonesia. From the Lake Toba area toward the northern end of the island.

Maragogipe (MAH-rah-goh-SHZEE-peh), Elephant Bean
A variety of Coffea arabica distinguished by extremely large, porous beans. It first appeared in Maragogipe, Brazil, and has since been planted elsewhere in Latin America, particularly in Mexico and Central America. It is currently falling out of favor owing to thinnish cup character and low-bearing trees.

Mattari, Matari
Market name for one of the most admired coffees of Yemen. From the Bani Mattar area west of the capital city of Sana'a. Usually a winier, sharper version of the Yemen style.

Mature Coffee
Coffee held in warehouses for two to three years. Mature coffee has been held longer than old crop coffee, but not as long as aged or vintage coffee.

Medium Roast, Medium-High Roast
Also known as American Roast. Coffee roasted to traditional American taste: medium brown.

Mexico
The best Mexico coffees (Oaxaca Pluma, Coatepec, Chiapas) are distinguished by a light body and a delicate, pleasant acidity. Highland Chiapas coffees can be bigger and more richly acidy.

Middle Eastern Coffee, Turkish Coffee
Coffee ground to a powder, sweetened (usually), brought to a boil, and served grounds and all.

Mild
A trade term for high-quality arabica coffees. Often contrasted with hard, or inferior, coffees.

Mocha, Moka, Mocca, Moca
Single-origin coffee from Yemen; also a drink combining chocolate and (usually espresso) coffee. The coffee, also called Arabian Mocha, Yemen, or Yemen Mocha, takes its name from the ancient port of Mocha. It is the world's oldest cultivated coffee, distinguished by its distinctively rich, winy acidity and intriguing nuance. Coffee from the Harrar region of Ethiopia, which resembles Yemen coffee in cup-character, is also sometimes called Mocha.

Mocha-Java, Moka-Java, Mocca-Java
Traditionally, a blend of Yemen Mocha and Java Arabica coffees, usually one part Yemen Mocha and two parts Java Arabica. All commercial Mocha-Java blends and many specialty versions no longer follow this recipe. Commercial blends may combine any of a variety of round, full coffees in place of the Java, and any of a variety of bright, acidy coffees in place of the Mocha, while changing proportions to maintain a uniform taste. Versions offered by specialty roasters may blend a true Java with a true Yemen Mocha, or may substitute another (often better) Indonesia coffee for the Java, or an Ethiopia Harrar for the Yemen. Most specialty coffee variations probably do represent the classic blend accurately. In its traditional form, Mocha-Java is the world's oldest coffee blend.

Monsooned Coffee, Monsooned Malabar
Dry-processed single-origin coffee from south India deliberately exposed to monsoon winds in open warehouses, with the aim of increasing body and reducing acidity.

Mysore, India Mysore
Mysore is a market name for certain high-quality wet-processed India coffees grown in the south of the country. The best is low-key, with moderate body and acidity and occasional intriguing nuance; at worst it is bland.

Natural Coffee, Dry-Processed Coffee, Dry Method Coffee
Coffee processed by removing the husk or fruit after the coffee fruit has been dried. When only ripe fruit is utilized and the drying is done carefully dry-processed coffee can be complex, fruity, and deeply-dimensioned. When the picking and drying are performed carelessly, as is the case with cheaper dry-processed coffees, the result is off-tasting, harsh coffee. The best and most celebrated dry-processed coffees are Yemen coffees, the Harrar coffees of Ethiopia, and the finest traditional Brazil coffees.

Neapolitan Roast
Term for coffee brought to a degree of roast darker than the typical espresso roast, but not quite black.

New Crop
Coffee delivered for roasting soon after harvesting and processing. Coffees are at their brightest (or rawest) and most acidy in this state. Also see Old Crop.

New England Roast, Light Roast, Cinnamon Roast
Coffee brought to a degree of roast of coffee lighter than the traditional American norm, and grain-like in taste, with a sharp, almost sour acidity. This roast style is not a factor in specialty coffee.

New Guinea
Single-origin coffee from Papua New Guinea. The best-known New Guinea coffees are produced on very large, state of the art estates that produce a very well-prepared, clean, fragrant, deeply dimensioned, moderately acidy coffee. Other organically grown New Guinea coffees are produced on small farms and processed by the farmers using technically simple means, producing quirky, full, complex coffees at best, off-tasting coffees at worst.

New Orleans Coffee
Traditionally, dark-roast coffee blended with up to forty percent roasted and ground chicory root. Most New Orleans blends sold in specialty stores today contain no chicory, however. They are essentially dark-roast blends, heavy on dry-processed Brazil coffees.

Old Arabicas
Botanical varieties or cultivars of the Coffea arabica species that were developed by selection relatively early in the history of coffee, such as var. bourbon and var. typica, as opposed to hybrid varieties that have been developed more recently in deliberate efforts to increase disease resistance and production. Many experts contend that the modern varieties of Coffea arabica produce coffee that is inferior in cup quality and interest to the coffee produced by the more traditional old arabica varieties.

Old Crop
Coffee that has been held in warehouses before shipping. Old crop differs from aged or vintage and mature coffees in two ways: First, it has not been held for as long a period, and second, it may not have been handled with as much deliberateness. Depending on the characteristics of the original coffee and the quality of the handling, old crop may or may not be considered superior in cup characteristics to a new crop version of the same coffee. See also New Crop.

Old Java, Old Government, Old Brown
Arabica coffee from Java that, like mature coffee, has been deliberately held in warehouses in port cities to reduce acidity and increase body. The purpose is to mimic the flavor characteristics of the original Java coffee, which was inadvertently aged in the holds of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century sailing ships during their passage to Europe.

Open-Pot Method
Brewing method in which the ground coffee is steeped (not boiled) in an open pot, and separated from the brewed coffee by settling or straining.

Organic Coffee, Certified Organic Coffee
Coffee that has been certified by a third-party agency as having been grown and processed without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or similar chemicals.

Patio Drying
Drying coffee directly after picking (in the dry-processed method) or after fruit removal (in the wet-processed method) by exposing it to the heat of the sun by spreading and raking it in thin layers on open patios. A more traditional alternative to machine drying.

Peaberry, Caracol
A small, round bean formed when only one seed, rather than the usual two, develops at the heart of the coffee fruit. Peaberry beans are often separated from normal beans and sold as a distinct grade of a given coffee. Typically, but not always, they produce a brighter, more acidy, but lighter-bodied cup than normal beans from the same crop.

Percolation
Technically, any method of coffee brewing in which hot water percolates, or filters down through, a bed of ground coffee. The pumping percolator utilizes the power of boiling water to force water up a tube and over a bed of ground coffee.

Peru
The best Peru coffee is flavorful, aromatic, gentle, and mildly acidy. Chanchamayo from south-central Peru, and Urubamba, from a growing district farther south near Machu Picchu, are the best-known market names.

Piston Machine
An espresso machine that uses a piston operated by a lever to force brewing water at high pressure through the compacted bed of ground coffee.

Plunger Pot, French Press
Brewing method that separates spent grounds from brewed coffee by pressing them to the bottom of the brewing receptacle with a mesh plunger.

Polishing
An optional procedure at the end of coffee processing and milling in which the dried, shipment-ready beans are subjected to polishing by friction to remove the innermost, or silverskin, and improve their appearance. Polishing does nothing to help flavor and may even hurt it by heating the beans, hence most specialty coffee buyers do not encourage the practice.

Portafilter, Filter Holder
In espresso brewing, a metal object with plastic handle that holds the coffee filter, and clamps onto the group.

Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Yauco
Yauco coffees from Puerto Rico are a revived specialty origin that, at best, display the qualities that made Jamaica Blue Mountain famous: A deep, vibrant, yet restrained acidity and balanced, gently rich flavor. However, this potentially finest of Caribbean coffees is often marred by inconsistency.

Pulping
Process of removing the outermost skin of the coffee cherry or fruit. See Wet-Processed Coffee.

Pump Machine
An espresso machine that uses a pump to force brewing water at high pressure through the compacted bed of ground coffee.

Pyrolysis
The chemical breakdown, during roasting, of fats and carbohydrates into the delicate oils that provide the aroma and most of the flavor of coffee.

Regular Roast, American Roast
Coffee roasted to traditional American taste: medium brown.

Richness
A satisfying fullness in flavor, body, or acidity.

Robusta, Coffea Canephora
Currently the only significant competitor among cultivated coffee species to Coffea 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 Coffea arabica. It is used as a basis for blends of instant coffee, and for less expensive blends of preground commercial coffee. It is not a factor in the specialty coffee trade except as a body-enhancing component in some Italian-style espresso blends. See also Coffea Arabica.

Sanani
A comprehensive market name for coffees from several growing regions west of Sana'a, the capital city of Yemen. Usually a lower-toned, somewhat less acidy version of the Yemen style.

Santo Domingo
Coffee from the Dominican Republic. High-grown Dominican coffee is a fairly rich, acidy coffee with classic Caribbean characteristics. Lower grown Dominican coffees tend to be softer and less acidy.

Santos, Bourbon Santos
A market name for a category of high-quality coffee from Brazil, usually shipped through the port of Santos, and usually grown in the state of São Paulo or the southern part of Minas Gerais State. The term Bourbon Santos is sometimes used to refer to any high-quality Santos coffee, but it properly describes Santos coffee from the Bourbon variety of arabica, which tends to produce a fruitier, more acidy cup than other varieties grown in Brazil.

SCAA, Specialty Coffee Association of America
An important and influential association of specialty coffee roasters, wholesalers, retailers, importers and growers headquartered in Long Beach, California.

Semi-Dry-Processed Coffee, Pulped Natural Coffee, Semi-Wet-Processed Coffee
Coffee prepared by removing the outer skin of the coffee fruit (a process called pulping) and drying the skinned coffee with the sticky mucilage and the inner skins (parchment and silverskin) still adhering to the bean. This processing method, situated between the dry method and the wet method, has no consensus name. It is one of three processing methods practiced in Brazil, and is used sporadically on a small scale by farmers in Sumatra and Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Shade Grown, "Bird Friendly"
Describes coffee grown under a shade canopy. Arabica coffee is traditionally grown in shade in many (but not all) parts of Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela, and in some other parts of the world, including India and some regions of Indonesia and Africa. Elsewhere arabica coffee is traditionally grown in full sun, or near full sun. The importance of maintaining shade canopies to supply habitat for migrating song birds in Central America has led to a controversial campaign by researchers at the Smithsonian Institute and their supporters to define "shade grown" in rather narrow terms (shade provided by mixed native trees) and label coffees grown under such a native canopy as "bird friendly." Farmers who traditionally have not grown coffee in shade but maintain extensive forest reserves on their land understandably object to the concept, as do those who use non-native trees to shade their coffee. On the other hand, shade grown coffees most definitely are much easier on the environment than sun grown coffees, and the better tasting traditional varieties of arabica, bourbon and typica are, in Central America at least, best grown in shade.

Sidamo, Washed Sidamo
Market name for a distinguished light-to-medium bodied, fragrantly floral or fruity wet-processed coffee from southern Ethiopia.

Silverskin
The thin, innermost skin of the coffee fruit. It clings to the dried coffee beans until it is either removed by polishing or floats free during roasting and becomes what roasters call chaff.

Single-Estate Coffee, Estate-Grown Coffee
Coffee produced by a single farm, single mill, or single group of farms, and marketed without mixture with other coffees. Many specialty coffees are now identified by estate name, rather than the less specific regional or market name.

Single-Origin Coffee, Straight Cofee
Unblended coffee from a single country, region, and crop.

Spanish Roast, French Roast, Heavy Roast
Terms for coffee brought to degrees of roast considerably darker than the American norm; may range in color from dark brown (see Espresso Roast) to nearly black (see Dark French Roast) and in flavor from rich and bittersweet to thin-bodied and burned.

Specialty Coffee
Practice of selling coffees by country of origin, roast, flavoring, or special blend, rather than by brand or trademark. The term specialty coffee also suggests the trade and culture that has grown up around this merchandising practice.

Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA)
An important and influential association of specialty coffee roasters, wholesalers, retailers, importers and growers headquartered in Long Beach, California.

Steam Wand, Nozzle, Pipe, Stylus
The small protruding pipe on most espresso machines that provides live steam for the milk-frothing operation.

Straight Coffee, Single-Origin Coffee
Unblended coffee from a single country, region, and crop.

Sulawesi, Celebes
Single-origin coffee from the island of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes), Indonesia. Most come from the Toraja or Kalossi growing region in the southeastern highlands. At best, distinguished by full body, expansive flavor, and a low-toned, vibrant acidity. At worst, many display unpleasant hard or musty defects. Some display an earthiness which many coffee lovers enjoy and others avoid.

Sumatra
Single-origin coffee from the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. Most high-quality Sumatra coffee is grown either near Lake Toba (Mandheling, Lintong) or in Aceh Province, near Lake Biwa (Aceh, Gayo Mountain). At best, distinguished by full body, deep, expansive flavor, and a low-toned, vibrant acidity. At worst, many display unpleasant hard or musty defects. Some display an earthiness which many coffee lovers enjoy and others avoid.

Sun Drying
Drying coffee directly after picking (in the dry method) or after fruit removal (in the wet method) by exposing it to the heat of the sun by spreading and raking it in thin layers on drying racks or patios. A more traditional alternative to machine drying.

Sun Grown
Describes coffee that is not grown under a shade canopy. Arabica coffee is traditionally grown in shade in many (but not all) parts of Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela, and in some other parts of the world, including India and some regions of Indonesia and Africa. Elsewhere arabica coffee is traditionally grown in full sun, or near full sun.

Supremo
Highest grade of Colombia coffee.

Sustainable Coffee
At this writing, a contested and vaguely defined category of environmentally friendly coffees. A caucus in the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) is attempting to evolve reliable guidelines for what constitutes a genuine sustainably grown coffee. Supporters of organic coffees object to the concept as dangerously fuzzy.

Swiss Water Process
A trademarked decaffeination method that removes caffeine from coffee beans using hot water, steam, and activated charcoal rather than chemicals or solvents.

Tamper
In espresso brewing, the small, pestle-like device with a round, flat end used to distribute and compress the ground coffee inside the filter basket.

Tanzania
The best and most characteristic Tanzanian coffees display a rich flavor and full body, with a vibrantly winy acidity that makes them resemble the coffees of neighboring Kenya. Others are softer, gentler coffees.

Toraja, Kalossi
Market name for coffee from southwestern Sulawesi (formerly Celebes), Indonesia.

Traditional Process, European Process
A group of decaffeination methods that use solvents to remove caffeine from green coffee beans. The direct solvent method involves treating the beans with solvent, which selectively unites with the caffeine and is removed from the beans by steaming. The indirect solvent or solvent-water method involves soaking the green beans in hot water, removing the caffeine from the hot water by means of a solvent, and recombining the water with the beans, which are then dried.

Tres Rios
Market name for one of the more respected coffees of Costa Rica.

Turkish Coffee, Middle Eastern Coffee
Coffee ground to a powder, sweetened (usually), brought to a boil, and served grounds and all.

Typica
A botanical variety of Coffea arabica. Var. typica is one of the oldest and most traditional of coffee varieties. Some of the best Latin-American coffees are from typica stock.

Vacuum-Filter Method
A brewing method that differs from other filter methods in that the brewing water is drawn through the ground coffee by means of a partial vacuum.

Varietal Coffee
As used by many people in the American specialty coffee industry, a term describing an unblended coffee from a single country, region, and crop. For example: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, Kenya AA, or La Minita Costa Rica Tarrazu. However, to follow the California wine analogy more precisely, varietal coffees ought logically to come from a single predominant botanical variety of coffee tree; var. bourbon, for example, or var. typica. Increasingly, coffee writers use "single origin" rather than "varietal" to describe coffees from a single country, region, and crop.

Varietal Distinction, Varietal Character
A tasting or cupping term describing positive characteristics that distinguish a given coffee from coffee from other regions. Examples are the wine- or berry-like acidity of Kenya coffees or the full, resonant character of the best Sumatra. See Varietal Coffee.

Viennese Roast
Term for coffee brought to a degree of roast slightly darker than the traditional American norm, but lighter than degrees of roast variously called espresso, French, or Italian. In the cup, Viennese roast (also called full-city, light French or light espresso roast) is less acidy and smoother than the characteristic American roast, but may display fewer of the distinctive taste characteristics of the original coffee. Viennese roast may also refer to a mixture of beans roasted to a dark brown and beans roasted to the traditional American medium brown.

Vintage Coffee, Aged Coffee
Traditionally, coffee held in warehouses for several years, sometimes deliberately, sometimes inadvertently. Such aging reduces acidity and increases body. Aged coffee has been held longer than either old crop coffee or mature coffee. Recently, some Indonesia coffee has been subject to a sort of accelerated aging involving deliberate exposure to moist air, much like India's monsooned coffee.

Wallenford Estate
At one time the most celebrated and best of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. Now simply any Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee from the Wallenford mill.

Washed Coffee
See Wet-Processed Coffee.

Wet-Processed Coffee, Wet Method Coffee, Washed Coffee
Coffee prepared by removing the skin and pulp from the bean while the coffee fruit is still moist. Most of the world's great coffees are processed by the wet method, which generally intensifies acidity. In the traditional wet process, the coffee skins are removed (pulping), the skinned beans are allowed to sit in tanks where enzymes loosen the sticky fruit pulp or mucilage (fermentation), after which the loosened fruit is washed off the beans (washing). In the shortcut demucilage or aquapulp method, the pulp or mucilage is scrubbed from the beans by machine.

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

Yemen, Yemen Mocha, Mocha, Arabian Mocha
Single-origin coffee from the southwestern tip of the Arabian peninsula, bordering the Red Sea, in the mountainous regions of present-day Yemen. The world's oldest cultivated coffee, distinguished by its full body and distinctively rich, winy acidity.

Yirgacheffe, Yirga Cheffe, Yrgacheffe (YUR ga Shef ay)
Market name for one of the most admired washed coffees of Ethiopia, distinguished by its fruit-like or floral acidity and high-toned, complex flavor.

Zambia
Some estate coffees from eastern Zambia (Zambia is located in south-central Africa) appear in the North American specialty market. They tend toward the softer, less acidy version of the Africa profile.
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