Sweet Maria's Coffee Glossary

All Terms:
(A-C), (D-L), (M-S), (T-Z)

By Category:
   Brewing    Chemistry    Equipment    Flavor    Roasting    Origin
   Processing    Biology/Cultivars    Trade Terms    Sweet Maria's Terms    Defects


Abyssinia
Ethiopia was formerly known as Abyssinia, or this term may refer a coffee cultivar. Abyssinia is also a cultivar brought to Java in 1928 (not the original Typica brought from Yemen to Batavia, Java via India). Since then, they have been brought to Aceh as well. Another group of Ethiopian varieties found in Sumatra are called USDA, after an American project that brought them to Indonesia in the 1950s.
Related Terms:
Ateng Typica Bourbon Caturra Catimor Arabica Catuai USDA Varietal Rambung Bergendal Cultivar
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Acaia
Acaia is planted mainly in Brazil. The Acaiá genotype was derived by selection from progenies of the Mundo Novo germplasm, which arose from natural hybridization between Sumatra and Bourbon cultivars. ("Sumatra" is in the former ICO collections, but if it is a older Typica or a hybrid is unknown)
Related Terms:
Mundo Novo Varietal Cultivar Bourbon
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Aceh
Aceh District is north of North Sumatra and produces some very classic Sumatra coffees. The center of coffee in Aceh is Lake Tawar and Takengon, the city by the lake. It often looks like a mispelling of "Ache" but is pronounced "Ah-Chay". Gayo is a name used in relation of Aceh since it is one of the main ethnic groups of the region.
Related Terms:
Sulawesi Preparation Grade Sumatra Indonesia
Categories:
Origins


Acerbic
Acerbic refers to an unpleasant sourness in the coffee. It can refer to problems with fermentation, the presence of defect "sours" in the green coffee. It can also be a brewing problem, or more specifically, the bitter sourness of coffee held too long at temperature.
Related Terms:
Defect Flavor Sensory Analysis
Categories:
Flavor Brewing


Acetic Acid
Acetic acid can lead to vinegar-like flavors in over-mature coffees, or bitterness in high quantities. But in moderate amounts it adds a positive winey note to the cup. Acetic acid classifies as an organic acid, and is one that can be detected by smell.
Related Terms:
Citric Acid Phosphoric Acid Malic Acid Vinegar Winey Liveliness Chlorogenic Acid Brightness Ferment
Categories:
Flavor Chemistry


Acidity
Acidity in arabica coffees is almost always considered a positive flavor attribute, yet the term can sound unattractive. People may relate acidity to stomach discomfort, or to sour flavors. This would be incorrect. The acidity in good high-grown arabicas imbues the cup with delicate flavor accents, complexity, and dimension. Good acidity is fleetingly volatile, a momentary sensation, giving effervescence to the cup, and informing the mouthfeel as well. Coffees with no acidity can taste flat. Acidity is not about quantity, it is about quality, and good coffees have a complex balance of many types of acidity: malic, citric, acetic, phosphoric, quinic, to name a few ... and a whole set of chlorogenic acids that are very important to flavor experience as well. Kenyas, which by flavor are some of the higher acid coffees, actually have measurably less than Brazil arabicas (of quinic and citric acids), more of others (malic, phosphoric) and far less than some robusta coffees (chlorgenic acids)! Dark roasts tend to flatten out acidity in flavor. But contrary to the taste, darker roasts have more acidity than lighter roasts. So quantity does not always follow perception. Acidity in coffee might be described by terms like bright, clear, effervescent, snappy, dry, clean, winey, etc. Coffees without acidity tend to taste flat and dull, like flat soda. Acidity is to coffee what dryness is to wine, in a sense. Different coffee origins will possess different kinds of acidity; like the wine-like high notes of some African coffees versus the crisp clear notes of high grown coffees from the Americas. Unpleasant acidy flavors may register as sourness.
Related Terms:
Citric Acid Phosphoric Acid Malic Acid Acetic Acid Chlorogenic Acid Liveliness Brightness
Categories:
Flavor Chemistry


Acids
Many acids contribute to coffee flavor; malic, citric, quinic, tartaric, phosphoric, etc. See ACIDITY or specific acids. While acids in coffee sounds like a bad term, and one that leads to stomach discomfort our sourness, this is not usually true. Drinking coffee with no food in the digestive system can lead to discomfort since coffees have enough oils to trigger digestive acids. Eat before or while taking morning coffee.
Related Terms:
Citric Acid Phosphoric Acid Malic Acid Acetic Acid Liveliness Brightness Acidity
Categories:
Chemistry


Acrid
A general negative flavor term, from defect bean, bad roast, or bad brewing: Unpleasantly sharp, astringent or bitter to the taste or smell.
Related Terms:
Defects Astringent
Categories:
Defects


Aeropress
The Aeropress looks like a giant syringe: coffee grounds are in the bottom, and when you depress the syringe it pushes water through the grounds and into a cup. Since the brew happens under pressure, some of the chemicals found in espresso (but not in brewed coffee) end up in the cup, resulting in a high-body cup reminiscent of an Americano. Aeropresses are extremely easy to clean, portable, and brew directly into a cup, making them a good choice for a brewer while traveling.
Related Terms:
Emulsion Americano Brewed Coffee
Categories:
Brewing


African Coffee
African coffee is known for its wild flavors, from bright Kenyas, to floral Ethiopia Yirgacheffes, to rustic, earthy Ethiopia Sidamos. While coffee is widely grown in sub Saharan Africa, specialty coffee African origins include are generally in eastern and southern Africa.
Related Terms:
Coffee Growing Regions Zimbabwe Zambia Uganda Tanzania Rwanda Kenya Ethiopia Congo Burundi Origin Flavor
Categories:
Origins


After-dinner Roast
An after-dinner roast, or after dinner roast, or after dinner blend, is intended to compliment after-dinner desserts. A typical after dinner coffee is dark roasted and has low acidity. Okay, this is a joke entry... but we saw it in a list of coffee flavor terms and had to add it. -Tom
Related Terms:
Categories:
Roasting Sweet Maria's Terms


Afternose
Commonly used in reference to wine, afternose compliments aftertaste, but refers to residual olfactory sensations after the coffee has left the palate.
Related Terms:
Aftertaste Sensory Analysis Cupping Fragrance Complex Flavor Aroma
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Aftertaste
Aftertaste refers to lingering residual sensations in the mouth after coffee has swallowed. It might be distinguished from "finish" which is the final sensations of the coffee while it leaves the mouth. Also see Afternose.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Flavor Afternose Aroma Fragrance
Categories:
Flavor


Aged Coffee
There are different methods for ageing coffee - either holding the beans in burlap and rotating the coffee frequently as is done in Sumatra, or monsooning, where the beans are held in a warehouse and exposed to the moist monsoon winds as is done in India. Coffee can be aged 2 to 3 years. Strictly speaking, aged coffee is defective coffee, but it is sought out as it can impart a specific pungency especially to espresso drinks. Aged coffee is not the same as old coffee, so it is not baggy or flat. From my own prespective, it seems that when coffee prices are high, producers hold less coffee for ageing. When prices are low, there is more aged coffee produced (intentionally or not). Aged coffee will have more body, very low acidity, and often very strong, wild flavors. It can be an aquired taste.
Related Terms:
Baggy Monsooned Flat
Categories:
Processing


Agronomy
A branch of agriculture dealing with field-crop production, soil management and physiology, etc. Agronomy is an umbrella term dealing with all this and more.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Trade Terms


Agtron
Agtron spectrophotometers are used in the coffee industry and also in other lab applications for color matching, color analysis, sorting, and other scientific measurements.
Related Terms:
Spectrophotometer Color Analysis
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Aldehydes
Along with Ketones, Aldehydes are an important factor in coffee aromatics, partially formed in roasting by the interaction of fatty acids and oxygen. They are partially formed by the Strecker Degradation of amino acids in the coffee roast environment.
Related Terms:
Ketones Strecker Degradation
Categories:
Chemistry


Alfred Peet
The founder of Peet's Coffee in Berkeley California, Alfred was known for reintroducing a dark roast style to the West Coast. For some time, the logic of light roasting had to do with economics: the longer you roast the more weight you lose, hence the less product you have to sell by the Lb. His dark roast style was contrary to this, and Peets was known for buying higher quality coffee. He sold Peets in 1979 but continued to buy green coffee until 1983. He passed away in August 2007.
Related Terms:
Cup Of Excellence Kenneth Davids George Howell Willem Boot
Categories:
Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Alkaloid
A taste sensation characterized by a dryness and related bittering flavors, sometimes at the posterior of the tongue, usually sensed in the aftertaste. It is not always a wholly a bad thing, in moderate intensities
Related Terms:
Aftertaste Cupping Flavor Sensory Analysis
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Altitude
The height above sea level that a coffee is grown. Coffee grown at higher altitude is often considered better, though this is far from a rule. Higher-grown coffee tend to mature more slowly and have a denser bean, which may result in a more even roast. Overall quality, especially acidity, increases with altitude. In South and Central America, coffees are graded and classified based on altitude.
Related Terms:
Density Strictly Hard Bean Strictly High Grown MASL
Categories:
Origins


Ambient Temperature
This term is used to describe the overall temperature in a given environment. It can potentially affect the way home roasters operate depending on how extreme the temperature is. A very cold ambient temperature will require the roaster to work harder to achieve proper roasting temperatures which may extend the amount of time necessary to reach desired roast levels. In some cases, roasters will not be able to operate in extremely cold environments.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Equipment


Americano
A coffee beverage made by combining espresso with hot water. It is the closest thing to "American-style" brewed coffee that can be made with an espresso machine, hence the name. Because espresso has a different chemical makeup from brewed coffee, an Americano has quite a different flavor profile from a cup of brewed coffee.
Related Terms:
Espresso
Categories:
Brewing


Anise
Anise is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and southwest Asia known for its flavor that resembles liquorice, fennel, and tarragon. Anise seed is highly aromatic and has a flavor similar to fennel and licorice, used to flavor various foods and liquors
Related Terms:
Licorice
Categories:
Flavor


Arabica
Arabica refers to Coffea Arabica, the taxonomic species name of the genus responsible for around 75% of the world's commercial coffee crop. Coffea Arabica is a woody perennial evergreen that belongs to the Rubiaceae family (same family as Gardenia). The other major commercial crop is Coffea Canephora, known as Robusta coffee. Arabica and Robusta differ in terms of genetics and taste. While Robusta coffee beans are more disease-resistant than the Arabica, they generally produce an inferior tasting beverage and has more caffeine. Coffea arabica is a tetraploid (44 chromosomes) and is self-pollinating, whereas Robusta is diploid with 22 chromosomes. There are 2 main botanical cultivars of Arabica: C. Arabica Var. Arabica (Typica) and C. Arabica Var. Bourbon. Arabica was used originally to indicate Arab origins because coffee was taken from Yemen to the Dutch colony Batavia on the island of Java (via India), although C. Arabica originates in the Western Ethiopian region of Kaffa. The taxonomy for Arabica coffee is:
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Asteridae
Order Rubiales
Family Rubiaceae – Madder family
Genus Coffea L. – coffee
Species Coffea arabica L. – Arabian coffee
Related Terms:
Caturra Catuai Bourbon Typica Origin Flavor Cultivar Varietal Catimor Robusta
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Arabigo
Arabigo is a term seen in Latin America and refers to Typica cultivar
Related Terms:
Typica Bourbon Cultivar
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Arabusta
An interspecific hybrid of coffea arabica and coffea canephora (robusta). This has been used widely in Africa to create coffee plants that do well in lowland areas, especially West Africa. It is not known for cup quality.
Related Terms:
Cultivar Flavor Varietal Origin Flavor Bourbon Typica Caturra Catuai Catimor
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Aroma
The aromatics of a coffee greatly influence its flavor profile and come from the perception of the gases released by brewed coffee. Aroma is greatest in the middle roasts and is quickly overtaken by carbony smells in darker roasts. Aroma is distinct from the dry fragrance of the coffee grounds; in general "fragrance" describes things we do not eat (like perfume) and "aroma" pertains to food and beverage we consume. In cupping, wet aroma refers to the smell of wet coffee grinds, after hot water is added. Aromatics as a term may encompass the entire aroma experience of a coffee. Aromatics are a huge part of flavor perception (remember the "hold your nose and eat an onion" experiment). Aromatics reach the olfactory bulb through the nose and "retro-nasally" through the opening in the back of our palate. While some taste is sapid, perceived through the tongue and palate via papillae, or taste buds, most of flavor quality is perceived through the olfactory bulb.
Related Terms:
Cupping Dry Fragrance Wet Aroma
Categories:
Flavor


Arusha
The name of a cultivar from Tanzania, as well as a general trade name for Tanzania coffees from Mount Meru area
Related Terms:
Cultivar Varietal Typica Bourbon Caturra Catimor Catuai Mundo Novo Pacamara Gesha Maragogype Arabica Robusta
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars Trade Terms


Asalan
The term in Bahasa Indonesian for green coffee that is hulled, dried, and ready to sell to an exporter. Used in North Sumatra and the Aceh coffee regions. Easy to misread as Aslan, the friendly lion, just as Aceh is so easy to read as Ache.
Related Terms:
Kopi Labu Gabah Wet-hulled Sumatra
Categories:
Processing Trade Terms


Ashy
A quality in aroma or flavor similar to that of an ashtray, the odor of smokers' fingers or the smell one gets when cleaning out a fireplace. In the most moderate amount, it may not ruin a cup, but is never used by Sweet Maria's as a positive quality. Ashy flavors can hint at roasting defects, anything from smokey unclean air being recycled through a roasting drum (or a roaster that doesn't vent, like a barbeque drum roaster set-up). Softer, lower-grown coffees will show ashy tastes before high-grown, dense coffees, given the same roast treatment
Related Terms:
Roast Defect Tipping Scorching Smokey Burnt
Categories:
Flavor Roasting Defects


Astringent
Astringency is a harsh flavor sensation, acrid flavor, that provokes a strong reaction. It can have dryness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness as components. It is certainly the opposite of sweetness and cleanness in coffee, always a defect flavor.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Cupping Defect Acrid
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Ateng
Ateng, with several sub types, is a common name for Catimor coffees widely planted in Sumatra and other Indonesia isles. One will hear of Ateng Jaluk. This cross between Arabica and Robusta has a reputation for poor flavor. However, there are numerous types of Catimor and in some conditions they can do well in the cup. Ateng name derives from the area Aceh Tenggah
Related Terms:
Caturra Catimor Catuai Mundo Novo Pacamara Gesha Maragogype Arabica Villa Sarchi Hibrido De Timor Bourbon Typica Varietal Cultivar
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Australia
Australian coffee bears resemblance in the cup to the soft, sweet "Island Coffee" flavor profile. Coffee cultivation began in Australia in 1880 and continued through 1926, but was found to be generally unprofitable, and the quality of the coffee to be poor. It was re-established in the early 1980's in much the same areas as the original plantations on the Eastern coast in New South Wales up to Queensland. Coffee is now farmed from Nimbin and Lismore, in New South Wales, to Cape York in far north Queensland where the large Skybury plantation is located. Skybury and the other larger plantations, near Mareeba on the Atherton Tablelands, are fully mechanized, but there are smaller farms where traditional hand cultivation is used. See our Australia Coffee Offerings for more information.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Origins


Backflushing
Backflushing is a process done to espresso machines to clean them: a filter basket with no holes (a "blank" basket) is inserted into the portafilter so that when the machine is activated, pressurized water cannot escape and is instead forced back into the machine to "flush" it. Often, backflushing is done with some type of coffee cleaning detergent in the basket. A typical backflushing protocol is to put coffee cleaner in the blank basket and backflush 5 times, then rinse the cleaner out and backflush 5 times without no cleaner. Note that not all machines can be backflushed.
Related Terms:
Espresso Portafilter
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Baggy
Coffees that are held for too long run the risk of this taint. Essentially the coffee comes to absorb the flavors of whatever it is stored in - usually the burlap or jute bag. Many times a darker roast on these coffees will conceal this taint. Baggy flavors are the result of several factors: the fats in the coffee absorbing the smell of burlap, the loss in moisture content as the coffee ages, and other chemical changes. For some origins theses changes in flavor can emerge in 1 year, 9 months, even 6 months for some decafs
Related Terms:
Storage Defect Skunky Past Crop
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Baked
Baked flavor happens in under-roasted coffees haven't developed their character, or coffees that simply sat in the roaster too long without enough heat. It can also happen to scorched coffees where the outside of the bean is browned and the inside is under-roasted. Flavors are typically astringent, grain-like, sour, and body is thin and possibly gritty.
Related Terms:
Under-developed Grainy
Categories:
Flavor Roasting Defects


Balance
Balance is both an obvious and slippery taste term. It implies a harmony and proportion of qualities, and perhaps a mild character since no one quality dominates. Balance can exist between aromatics, flavors, textural sensations, and aftertaste, or between competing flavors. Bittersweet is a term that implies a balance of 2 basic sapid flavors.
Related Terms:
Cultivar Flavor Origin Flavor Cupping Sensory Analysis Mouthfeel Flavor Aroma Round
Categories:
Flavor


Bali
Coffee from the Indonesian island of Bali was formerly sold exclusively to the Japanese market. Perhaps it is the changing face of world economics that finds the first exports of Balinese coffee arriving under exclusive contract in the U.S. The coffees are sophisticated and well-prepared. They are washed (wet-processed) like neighboring coffees from Java, East Timor and Papua New Guinea. The cup has traces of the earthy Indonesian island character, but only in the background. It is a classic, clean cup with great body and mildness! See our Bali Coffee Offerings for more information.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Origins


Basic Flavors
"In the mouth" sensations derived from the basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, savory (umami). These are the core sensations that can be experienced without the input of the olfactory, through the papilla located in taste buds on the tongue.
Related Terms:
Aroma Aftertaste Cupping Flavor Sensory Analysis
Categories:
Flavor


Batch
One of the most important variables in roasting coffee, the weight or volume of the coffee being put in to the roaster will dramatically effect the outcome of the roast. A good scale or the right scoop is a must when deciding what size batches to use as different coffees have varying densities and bean sizes. In using air roasters batches must be carefully measured by volume. In using drum roasters batches must be carefully weighed.
Related Terms:
Drum Roaster Air Roaster
Categories:
Roasting


Behmor Coffee Roaster
A drum roaster designed for home roasters, with variable batch sizes (from 1/4 pound to 1 pound) and a smoke-reduction system. For more information on the Behmor, check out our Behmor Roaster product pages.
Related Terms:
Coffee Roaster Drum Roaster
Categories:
Equipment


Beneficio
In Latin American countries, a wet mill is called a Beneficio, where fresh coffee cherries are brought for pulping, fermentation, and drying. In Rwanda and some other African countries it is a "washing station". In Kenya it is a "coffee factory".
Related Terms:
Factory Washing Station Wet Mill
Categories:
Processing Trade Terms


Bergamot
Bergamot orange is used to scent Earl Grey tea, in perfumery and confection baking. It is the size of an orange, with a yellow color similar to a lemon, and has a pleasant fragrance. The juice tastes less sour than lemon, but more bitter than grapefruit. It is only grown commercially in Calabria Italy
Related Terms:
Citrusy Bright Acidity
Categories:
Flavor


Bergendal
Bergendal is found less and less frequently in Aceh, Sumatra. It is a low-producing plant of Typica origins. Much of the Typica was lost in the late 1880s, when Coffee Leaf Rust swept through Indonesia. However, both the Bergendal and Sidikalang varieties of Typica can still be found in More remote areas. It is possible the name derives from Berg und Tal, " hill and valley."
Related Terms:
Varietal Origin Flavor Bourbon Typica Caturra Catuai Catimor Sidikalang Cultivar Ateng Timtim
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Bitter
Sweetness is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter and Umami (savory flavors). While most would say bitterness is undesirable, coffee has essential bitterness to it. Most undesirable bitterness is formed by roasting defects (flash roasting, or slow baking of the coffee), too-light roast (astringent, trigonelline bitterness) or dark roasting (burned roast taste, no remaining sucrose). Another bitterness is experienced from the rancid oils and residues of dirty brewing equipment. There are many types of bitterness, hence not one avenue to tracking down its source. Bitterness as a positive quality is balanced with residual sweetness, and we use the term bittersweet or bittersweetness to describe this, as in darker chocolate flavors.
Related Terms:
Bittersweet Umami Bitter Salty Sweet Sour
Categories:
Flavor


Bittersweet
Bittersweet is from the language of chocolate, and describes the co-presence of positive bittering compounds balanced by sweetness. It is directly related to caramelization, but has inputs from other roast reactions, as well as bittering flavors such as trigonelline. Bittersweet is usually a roast flavor term, but is always specific to the green coffee too (good bittersweetness would not develop at any roast level in a coffee without the native compounds to engender it). Usually, bittersweetness of a coffee develops as the roast gets darker and eventually overpowers other flavors. It dark roasts, acidity is reduced, while the caramely taste of sugars form the stimulating bittersweetness.
Related Terms:
Roasting Caramelization Pyrolysis
Categories:
Flavor Roasting


Black Bean
A coffee bean whose interior is totally back (endosperm), due to fungi, mold, yeast, pest. This happens with over-mature coffee cherry where the bean falls to the ground and is attacked by the Colletotrichum coffeeeanum fungus, or other aforementioned problem. Overfermentation of mature cherries can also result in back beans due to mold and yeast attack. Full black beans score 1 full defect point in coffee grading (the worst type of defect). Black beans will resist roasting and have a very harsh, acrid flavor
Related Terms:
Defect Coffee Grading
Categories:
Defects


Blackberry
Blackberry is found as a fragrance, aroma or flavor in some coffees. I find that it is less obvious at very light roast levels, such as City roast, and is more pronounced at City+ to Full City. It might be found in a wide range of origins, from Rwanda and Kenya, to Guatemala and Colombia. Mora is the blackberry found in Latin America, and is a slightly different plant than what we call blackberry in North America.
Related Terms:
Black Currant Fruity Aroma Fragrance
Categories:
Flavor


Blade Grinder
The standard home coffee grinder, which works by way of a high-speed rotating blade. Blade grinders are inexpensive, but this comes at the expense of accuracy: grounds from a blade grinder are substantially less even than those from a burr grinder. Still, they are durable and when paired with the right brew method (especially those that use paper filters) they are quite acceptable. Don't knock the blade mill! It keeps people grinding coffee fresh, right before brewing, which makes a huge difference in the coffee aromatics.
Related Terms:
Coffee Grinder Burr Grinder
Categories:
Brewing


Blended Coffee
A blend is a mixture of coffees from multiple origins. Coffees are typically blended to produce a more balanced cup. Here at Sweet Maria's, almost all of the blends you'll see are made with espresso in mind.
Related Terms:
Single Origin Espresso
Categories:
Flavor Processing Brewing Trade Terms


Blue Mountain Cultivar
A C. Arabica Var. Typica coffee that shares other features of Typica plants, but also shows some resistance to CBD: Coffee Berry Disease. It is said to be grown in Papua New Guinea but pure lots have not been found, and we buy a small lot of this cultivar from a plot in Kona, Hawaii each year.
Related Terms:
Robusta Arabica Maragogype Gesha Pacamara Mundo Novo Catuai Catimor Caturra Bourbon Typica Varietal Cultivar
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Body
Associated with and sensed by mouthfeel, body is sense of weight and thickness of the brew, caused by the percentage of soluble solids in the cup, including all organic compounds that are extracted from brewing and end up in the cup. Body refers usually to thick or thin, heavy or light, full-bodied or watery. Mouthfeel is used to describe a much broader range of characteristics and textures.
Related Terms:
Cupping Mouthfeel Aroma
Categories:
Flavor


Bold
Historically, Bold is a vague marketing term sometimes used to describe a darker roast. In our coffee reviews, use Bold as the highest level of intensity in our simple scale, and aggressive flavor profile. It does not mean a better cup than mild, delicate coffees.
Related Terms:
Intensity Strong
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Bolivia
There's no better way to learn about a coffee-producing country than to go there! And I finally had the chance to go to Bolivia as a judge for the 2nd Annual Bolivia Coffee Competition. Bolivia has always been a coffee origin with great potential, the potential to have a unique Specialty coffee offering with unique cup character. But I hadn't had much luck in sourcing clean, defect-free Bolivian coffee samples. In 2002-3 crop, our fortunes changed when we had an organic lot from the Aecar Co-op and it was a fantastic, delicate, nuanced cup, excellent in the lighter roasts. It was also perfectly prepared (without defects) and durable throughout the year. I was intrigued. As it turns out, Bolivia does have all the ingredients to produce great coffee, especially in terms of altitude (plenty of that!) and seedstock: the plants are almost all traditional Typica varietal, with some Caturra. Much of the production is traditional Organic farming practice, with a lot of the co-ops certified Organic and some Fair Trade also. Germany and Holland have been buying these coffees heavily for years. See our Bolivian Coffee Offerings for more information.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Origins


Bottomless Portafilter
An espresso portafilter with the bottom machined off so the bottom of the filterbasket is exposed. Bottomless portafilters allow you to view distribution problems and channeling: if the flow is uneven across the bottom of the filterbasket, the distribution of grounds in the basket is uneven.
Related Terms:
Portafilter Espresso Channeling
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Bourbon
Bourbon, along with Typica, are main Coffea Arabica cultivars. Bourbon was developed by the French on the island of Bourbon, now Reunion, in the India Ocean near Africa. The seeds were sold to the French by the British East India Company from Aden, Yemen, and were planted in 1708. After generations, it began to express unique characteristics and became more robust. Bourbon has slightly higher yields and is more robust than Typica in general. It has a broader leaf and rounder cherry (and green bean) than Typica, a conical tree form, and erect branches. It has many local variants and sub-types, including Tekisic, Jackson, Arusha, and the Kenya SL types. In general, Bourbon can have excellent cup character. The cherry ripens quickly, but is at risk from wind and hard rain. It is susceptible to major coffee diseases. Bourbon grows best at altitudes between 1100 - 2000 MASL. Bourbon coffees should have green tips (new leaves) whereas Typicas should have bronze-to-copper tips.
Related Terms:
Bourbon Mayaguez Robusta Arabica Maragogype Gesha Pacamara Mundo Novo Catuai Catimor Caturra Bourbon Typica Varietal Cultivar
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Bourbon Mayaguez
A Bourbon cultivar variant from Rwanda and Burundi, from the early part of the 20th century. Bourbon coffees are named for the island in the India Ocean where French colonists grew it.
Related Terms:
Origin Flavor Bourbon Typica Caturra Catuai Catimor Yellow Bourbon Arusha Jackson Varietal Cultivar Flavor
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Brazil
Brazil is a coffee giant . As Frank Sinatra sang, "they grow an awful lot of coffee in Brazil". It's the largest producer of low grade arabica coffee, and a lot of Conilon robusta too. Brazil: there is some in almost every espresso you drink. In fact, some espresso is 90% Brazil. And there is Brazil in most canned coffee and big roasters' blends. But things are changing in Brazil. There's the big push on behalf of Brazilian coffee growing associations to re-create the image of Brazilian as exquisite and distinctive Specialty-level coffee. And some of it is true Specialty coffee, but the majority is still common, low-grade, low-grown arabica. There just isn't the extreme distinction from cup to cup that distinguishes one regional coffee from another. Attention to good farming and processing techniques has helped, but the coffee is grown at lower altitudes than most Specialty coffee, in non-volcanic soils, in non-forested areas that are sometimes originally grassland (a reason why the "shade-grown issue" really doesn't apply much to Brazil ---the coffee farming areas had little shade to begin with.) Am I saying Brazilian coffee is bad --heck no! I love these high-quality Brazilian coffees, and you should try it as a Full City or even Vienna roast: its great! And nothing touches a really good Dry-processed or Pulped-Natural Brazil as a base in Espresso blends. They produce more crema and body, adding sweetness and providing a great backdrop for the feature coffees. Brazil can be nutty, sweet, low-acid, and develop exceptional bittersweet and chocolate roast tastes. The caveat is, Brazils are not dense coffee seeds: they are grown at lower altitudes than Central American coffees. Hence the very dark roasts of Brazils pick up ashy, bittering flavors. For espresso, you can roast Brazils lighter, separately, or keep the entire blend at a Vienna roast or lighter: Northern Italian Espresso re: Illy's "Normale." Note that there are 3 processes of processing Brazil coffees of interest to us; Natural Dry- Process, Pulped Natural, and Semi-Washed. They produce different types of cups. The Natural has great body, chocolate, possibly fruity notes ... and it risks being earthier and more rustic in the cup. The Pulped Natural is when the coffee cherry skin is removed and the parchment, with a lot of the mucilage attached, is sun dried on patio or raised drying bed. This coffee cups like the fully Naturals but is a bit cleaner in the cup. The Semi-Washed uses a demucilage machine to remove the skin and some or all of the mucilage. So the Semi-Washed ranges in character from being identical to Pulped Natural to being similar to a Wet-processed coffee (clean cup, uniform, less body, less chocolate, a bit brighter). I like good Naturals- they have more intensity, produce more crema, but I have to cup them rigorously to watch for defective cup character. On the other end of things, really clean Semi-Washed, where a lot of the mucilage is removed, do not have Brazil character to me. See our Brazil Coffee Offerings for more information.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Origins


Brazil Coffee Grades
Brazil has it's own grading system for defects. There is a size and physical defect grade, as well as a flavor defect grade. The Brazil flavor grading rates coffee as Strictly Soft (the best), Soft, 'Soft-ish', Hard (+1, +2), Riado, Rioy, Rio Zona (the worst).
Related Terms:
Strictly Soft Soft Hard Rioy
Categories:
Trade Terms


Break
In coffee cupping, the "breaking of the crust" of floating grounds, part of aromatic evaluation. You add water to the coffee grounds, filling the cup, and wait 4 minutes. At this point there is still a crust of floating coffee grinds. You put your nose right above the cup and "break" this crust by stirring it with the spoon. The grinds sink, and the coffee can be tasted anywhere from 5-15 minutes after the break.
Related Terms:
Crust Cupping Body Aroma Flavor
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms


Brewed Coffee
Brewed Coffee refers to all coffee preparations produced by adding non-pressurized water to coffee grounds. Contrasted with espresso coffee, which is produced under pressure, brewed coffee is primarily an extraction, and contains a lower amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) and has thinner body.
Related Terms:
Espresso Extraction Emulsion
Categories:
Brewing


Brightness
A euphemistic term to describe acidity in coffee. A bright coffee has more high, acidic notes. Not to be confused with the brighter roast flavors of light roast levels, such as City to City+ roasts. Read more about acidity to understand its use as a flavor term, not in reference to the quantity of acidity in coffee.
Related Terms:
Liveliness Acidity
Categories:
Flavor


Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is a type of sweetness found in coffee ...a sweetness characterized by a hint of molasses, yet quite refined as well. Since Brown sugar of the common type is highly refined (made by recombining molasses with refined white sugar) it makes sense that it's qualities are only mildly rustic. One might distinguish between mild light brown sugar and dark brown types.
Related Terms:
Refined Sugar Turbinado Sweet Honey Muscovado
Categories:
Flavor


Burlap Bags
Burlap bags are the traditional container in which coffee is transmitted. Burlap is cheap, but long storage in burlap bags may result in a characteristic "baggy" defect taste.
Related Terms:
Coffee Storage Vacuum Packaging Baggy GrainPro SuperGrain Bag
Categories:
Equipment Processing Trade Terms Defects


Burnt
Burnt flavors in coffee are the result of over-roasting, fast roasting, or roasting in a high-heat environment. This often occurs when the initial roaster temperature when the green coffee is introduced is too high. Usually, scorching and tipping result in burnt flavors. Sometimes, smokey notes in a cup can be a result of native qualities to the coffee, and not necessarily a defect, or the result of an exotic process such as a Monsooned or Aged coffee.
Related Terms:
Tipping Scorching Smokey
Categories:
Flavor Roasting Defects


Burr Grinder
A coffee grinder that grinds by passing a flow of beans between a pair of rotating metal discs. The distance between the discs is adjustable, and this adjustment allows one to accurately set the size of the grind. The larger the diameter of the burrs, the faster the grinder is able to grind. Burr grinders can be either "conical" or "flat" burred, each with their own advantages. Ironically, both the cheapest and the most expensive espresso grinders have conical burrs, while mid-range burr grinders and commercial bulk coffee grinders have flat burrs. Grinders can also be divided into "doser" and "doser-less" models: a doser is a mechanism for dosing ground coffee into a portafilter for espresso. Doser models may be more convenient for espresso, but are more difficult to use when grinding coffee into a container for brewed coffee.
Related Terms:
Coffee Grinder Doser Portafilter Blade Grinder
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Burundi
Burundi coffee bears striking resemblence to neighboring Rwanda, in both cup character, but also the culture surrounding coffee. Burundi is a small landlocked country at the crossroads of East and Central Africa, straddling the crest of Nile-Congo watershed. Sandwiched between Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, Burundi has beautiful Lake Tanganyika for much of its western border. This is a country dominated by hills and mountains, with considerable altitude variation, from the lowest point at 772 meters (Lake Tanganyika)to the top of Mount Heha at 2670 MASL. The first arabica coffee tree in Burundi was introduced by the Belgians in the early 1930s and has been growing in the country ever since. Coffee cultivation is an entirely small holder based activity with over 800.000 families directly involved in coffee farming with a total acreage of 60.000 hectares in the whole country with about 25 millions of coffee tree. See our Burundi Coffee Offerings for more information.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Roasting


Buttery
Buttery is primarily a mouthfeel description indicating thickness and creamyness. It indicates a high level of lipids (fats) in the coffee, often. Buttery can also be a flavor description, or a combination of both mouthfeel and flavor
Related Terms:
Creamy Cupping Sensory Analysis Aftertaste Mouthfeel Body
Categories:
Flavor


Caffeine
An alkaloidal compound that has a physiological effect on humans, and a slight bittering flavor. It is found throughout the coffee plant but is more concentrated in the seed / coffee bean. Arabica ranges from 1.0 to 1.6% caffeine, and Robusta (Coffea Canephora) from 1.6 to 2.2% caffeine. It is highly water soluble. The amount of caffeine in brewed coffee is directly proportional to how much ground coffee was used to make the cup. See the Caffeine FAQ for more: http://coffeefaq.com/site/node/25
Related Terms:
Bitter Acetic Acid Malic Acid Phosphoric Acid Citric Acid Robusta Arabica
Categories:
Chemistry


Cajuela
A standard volume measurement for coffee cherry used in Costa Rica. A Cajuela is a standard box size, or can also be a basket. One Cajuela can result in about 1.5 kilos green coffee. A good picker can pick 15 cajuelas per day.
Related Terms:
Fanega Lata Crop Wet Mill Beneficio
Categories:
Processing Trade Terms


Cane Sugar
A lightly refined sugar, that has a slight rustic sweetness, but without molasses-like flavors of brown sugar or raw sugar. It refers to a sugar that has not fully refined, yet is bleached white. This is commonly found in sugar-producing countries. Sugar bleached white by this sulfitation process is called "mill white", "plantation white", and "crystal sugar".
Related Terms:
Turbinado Sweet Brown Sugar Muscovado Refined Sugar
Categories:
Flavor


Cappuccino
Cappuccino is an espresso-based beverage with steamed silky milk on top, averaging 150-190 ml.
Related Terms:
Latte Macchiato Ristretto
Categories:
Brewing


Cappy
A defect term referring to oxidized, unpleasantly sharp cheese flavor, found in coffee that has not been stored correctly, or shipped with cheese.
Related Terms:
Cheesy Yeasty Mildewy Baggy
Categories:
Flavor Defects


Caracol
The Spanish-language term for Peaberry, Caracol, is the same for "snail".
Related Terms:
Peaberry Flat Bean
Categories:
Trade Terms


Caramel
Caramel is a desirable form of sweetness found in the flavor and aroma of coffee, and is an extension of roast taste. Extremely light or dark coffees will lose potential caramel sweetness. This is a broad term, and can find many forms since it relates to the degree of caramelization of sugars; light or dark caramel, butterscotch, cookie caramel, syrupy forms, caramel popcorn, various types of candy, caramel malt (beer brewing, many types).
Related Terms:
Roasting Caramelization Sweet
Categories:
Flavor


Caramelization
Caramelization is slower than Maillard reactions, and requires higher temperatures. These reactions involve only sugars. They really begin up around 150C to 180C, with water being lost from the sugar molecule beginning the chain of events. In all cases the sugar is converted to a furfuryl. These are a type of furans that have a caramelly, slightly burnt and also slightly meaty notes. The same compound is produced via a different route in the Maillard reactions. However it is with prolonged high temperature that many other types of aromas are generated. Caramelisation is more predictable than Maillard reaction due to less variation in the starting compounds. Without the sulphur or nitrogen found in the amino acids caramelization is unable to produce flavors as meaty as Maillard reactions. It is interesting to note how the sugar solutions taste changes in caramelization. A sugar solution initially will be sweet with no aroma. Through caramelization it becomes both sour and a little bitter, as a rich aroma develops. Generally the longer sugar is caramelized the less sweet it tastes, so the key is to balance the benefits of uncaramelized sugar sweetness while avoiding light roast astringency and sourness.
Related Terms:
Maillard Reaction Pyrolysis Roasting Roast Taste
Categories:
Chemistry Roasting


Carbon Dioxide Process
A decaffeination method where beans are placed in a liquid bath of highly-pressurized CO2. As I understand it, supercritical CO2 acts as the solvent penetrating the coffee and extracting the caffeine, so when the coffee returns to normal temperature and pressure, there is no residue once the CO2 floats away. Some C02's approach the chemical decafs in cup quality, others are nearer to SWP decafs. Here's a longer and perhaps simpler explanation: Here is how it works: Coffee is mixed with water, and the beans expand in size, their pores get opened and the caffeine molecules become mobile. At this point carbon dioxide is added at 100 atmospheres pressure to the pure water. Basically the water and the carbon dioxide are mixed to create the sparkling water. The carbon dioxide acts like a magnet and attracts all the caffeine molecules that became movable. When the caffeine is captured by the carbon dioxide, this is removed. The carbon dioxide is very selective and it doesn't touch the carbohydrates and proteins of the coffee beans, which would damage quality. When the carbon dioxide has finished removing the caffeine, the coffee seeds are dried naturally. Carbon dioxide is then recycled and caffeine is sold for other commercial uses.
Related Terms:
Decaffeinated Coffee SWP WP
Categories:
Processing Trade Terms


Carbony
A roast-related flavor term, referring to burnt flavors from dark roast levels. For some this is a pleasant flavor if residual sweetness is present, but plain carbon flavor is usually not pleasant.
Related Terms:
Roasting First Crack Second Crack Degree Of Roast Flavor Aroma Creasol Tarry
Categories:
Flavor


CATIE
CATIE graduate school and training program, research headquarters and an outreach center focused on coffee. CATIE, or Centro Agronomico Tropical de Invetigacion y Enseñanza (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), has dedicated itself to sustainable rural development and poverty reduction in tropical America. The center, located in Turrialba, Costa Rica. “CATIE has one of the largest collections of Arabica coffee germplasms in the world. That is to say a collection of plants that represent a large number of different varieties, but most importantly a large number of plants that came from collections made in Ethiopia; the CATIE collection has over 900 such landraces."
Related Terms:
Coffee Research CATIE CENICAFE PROCAFE
Categories:


Catimor
Catimor is a broad group of cultivars derived from HdT (Hibrido de Timor) and Caturra cross, highly productive, sometimes with inferior cup flavor. The main issue is the Robusta content in HdT, although this has given Catimor types some resistance to Coffee Berry Disease, and Rust (CLR), and in some cases to Nematodes. One issue is that Catimor is over-bearing, requires much fertilizer input, and might "wear itself out" in a short time span (5-10 years). The first research in this cross was at CIFC in Portugal in the late '60s, tested in Angola and Brazil. It was introduced in the 1980s in multiple places, one of the first being the Variedad Colombia released in 1985. Based on Brazilian and Portuguese types, IHCAFE 90 and IHCAFE 95 (Costa Rica 95) were widely planted. Honduras has Lempira, El Salvador has Catisic, Nicaragua has Catrenic. Cauvery was developed in India from plant material direct from Portugal. Indonesia is widely planted in Catimor types, such as Ateng, the main benefit being this resistance to Coffee Leaf Rust.
Related Terms:
Maragogype Gesha Pacamara Mundo Novo Catuai Catimor Caturra Bourbon Typica Varietal Cultivar Arabica Robusta Maracatu
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Catuai
Catuai is a high-yield Arabica cultivar resulting from a cross of Mundo Novo and Caturra. The tree is short, with lateral branches forming close angles to the primary branches. It is robust and can tolerate areas with strong winds or rain. Catuai requires fertilization and care. It was developed by the Instituto Agronomico do Campinas in Brazil in the '50s and '60s, and is widely used in Brazil and Central America. There are yellow-fruited and red-fruited types, and many selections. In 2000, a new type called Ouro Verde was released with more vigor than Red Catuai.
Related Terms:
Gesha Pacamara Mundo Novo Catuai Catimor Caturra Bourbon Typica Varietal Cultivar Maragogype Arabica Robusta
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Caturra
Caturra is an Arabica cultivar discovered as a natural mutant of Bourbon in Brazil in 1937. It has a good yield potential, but was not ideal for Brazil growing conditions (due to lack of hardness and too much fruit in 3-4 production cycles). However, it flourished in Colombia and Central America and had good cup characteristics, possibly displaying citrus qualities. At higher altitudes quality increases, but production decreases, and it sometimes requires extensive care and fertilization. It has a good cup quality, and perhaps shows a more citric acidity, and lighter body than Bourbon.
Related Terms:
Pacamara Mundo Novo Catuai Catimor Caturra Bourbon Typica Varietal Cultivar Maragogype Gesha Arabica Robusta
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


CBB
Coffee Berry Borer is a pest that burrows into the coffee seed, and a major problem in many coffee origins. In Latin America it is known as Broca
Related Terms:
Coffee Diseases Coffee Leaf Rust Nematodes
Categories:
Origins Biology/Cultivars Defects


Cellulose
Cellulose is the principle fiber of the cell wall of coffee. It is partially ordered (crystalline) and partially disordered (amorphous). The amorphous regions are highly accessible and react readily, but the crystalline regions with close packing and hydrogen bonding may be completely inaccessible. Native cellulose, or cellulose 1, is converted to polymorphs cellulose III and cellulose IV when exposed to heat. Coffee's structure is a well developed matrix enhancing the mass uniformity and aiding in the even propagation of heat during roasting. Cellulose exists in coffee embedded in lignocellulose (an amorphous matrix of hemicellulose and lignin containing cellulose), making up the matrix cell walls. Hemicellusloses are polysaccharides of branched sugars and uronic acids. Lignin is of special note because it is a highly polymerized aromatic. Severe damage occurs to the cell walls of the matrix at distributed temperatures above 446 degrees F and bean surface temperatures over 536 degrees F The actual temperature values will change due to varying levels of other constituents. Second crack, associated with darker roasts, is the fracturing of this matrix, possibly associated with the volatilization of lignin and other aromatics. Under controlled roasting conditions, the bean environment temperature should never exceed 536 degrees F. A wider safety margin would be achieved by limiting the maximum environment temperature to 520 degrees F. These temperature limits minimize damage to the cell matrix and enhances cup complexity, roasting yield, and product shelf life.
Related Terms:
Roasting First Crack Second Crack Origin Flavor Pyrolysis Maillard Reaction Caramelization
Categories:
Chemistry


Cenicafe
Cenicafe promotes research in coffee to aid Colombia coffee farmers, as part of the FNC
Related Terms:
CENICAFE CATIE Coffee Research PROCAFE IHCAFE FNC
Categories:


Central American Coffee
Central American coffee is known for its "classic," balanced profile. Centrals are primarily wet-processed since the climate is too humid for dry processing and hence cleaner and brighter than their dry-processed counterparts.
Related Terms:
Nicaragua Mexico Honduras Guatemala Costa Rica Coffee Growing Regions Origin Flavor Panama El Salvador
Categories:
Origins


Chaff
Chaff is paper-like skin that comes off the coffee in the roasting process. Chaff from roasting is part of the innermost skin (the silverskin) of the coffee fruit that still cling to the beans after processing has been completed.
Related Terms:
Roasting First Crack Second Crack Degree Of Roast Flavor Aroma
Categories:
Roasting


Channeling
Channeling refers to the formation of small water jets during espresso brewing due to poorly distributed grounds. When high-pressure water is forced toward the espresso puck, the water attempts to find the path of least resistance out, so if the coffee is not distributed evenly the water may form a small "channel" through the puck, rather than being forced through the coffee. This will result in a watery, under-extracted cup.
Related Terms:
Bottomless Portafilter Espresso
Categories:
Brewing


Charrieriana
This is a new caffeine-free coffee from Cameroon, the first record of a caffeine-free species from Central Africa. Cameroon is a center of diversity for the genus Coffea and such wild species are potentially important in breeding programs. In this case the new species could be used for breeding of naturally decaffeinated beans. Type Locality: Bakossi Forest Reserve, Tombel Division, Southwest Province, Cameroon. Etymology: "The name is in honour of a Professor A. Charrier, who managed coffee breeding research and collecting missions at IRD during the last 30 years of the 20th century."
Related Terms:
Caturra Typica Robusta Arabica Cultivar Bourbon
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars


Cheesy
A coffee that has a kitchy quality, or literally cheese-like flavors in the cup. The second is actually a trade term, when their is a dairy-like sourness in the cup. We had this once in a Jamaica coffee. Also see Cappy
Related Terms:
Defect Cappy Flavor
Categories:
Flavor


Chemex Coffee Brewer
A glass filter drip coffee brewer with an extended brew time. For more information on Chemex brewers, check out our Chemex product page.
Related Terms:
Brewed Coffee
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Chemical Process
A decaffeination method where beans are soaked in hot water, which is then treated with a chemical that bonds to caffeine (either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate).
Related Terms:
Decaffeinated Coffee
Categories:
Chemistry


Cherimoya
The fruit is fleshy and soft, sweet, white in color, with a sherbet-like texture, which gives it its secondary name, custard apple. Some characterize the flavor as a blend of banana, pineapple, and strawberry. Others describe it as tasting like commercial bubblegum. It is native to the Andes
Related Terms:
Flavor Cupping Sensory Analysis Aftertaste Aroma Fruited Guayaba Guanabana
Categories:
Flavor


Cherry
Either a flavor in the coffee, or referring to the fruit of the coffee tree, which somewhat resembles a red cherry. Coffee cherry is also called "coffee berry" especially in older English literature.
Related Terms:
Preparation Dry-Milling Beneficio Wet Process Dry Process Coffee Cherry
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms


Chicory
Chicory was a popular coffee substitute and economizer for 2 centuries, back when coffee was more prized, and pure coffee was a luxury. In that time, it became a matter of cultural preference to use chicory in coffee, in the United States it was synonymous with New Orleans coffee. The specific taste of famous New Orleans brands is due to the blend of dark roasted coffee and chicory. But when I worked in New Orleans I found how stale the coffee was, and what low quality chicory was being used. If you use high quality coffee, like our French Roast Blend that you roast yourself, and a true imported French Chicory, you will get optimal results with that typical New Orleans Cafe au Lait cup character. Read the review below for the ratio of coffee-to-chicory typically used. I was always told that Chicory was related to the Radish and that is what I wrote on this page. But you savvy readers won't let me make such errors: Chicory is in the plant family Compositae or Asteraceae, the sunflower family. Think Jerusalem artichoke. Radish is in the Brassicaceae or Cruciferae family, the mustard family. See our Chicory Offerings for more information.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Origins


Chirimoya
In coffee, a specific multi-faceted tropical fruit flavor found in Chirimoya (Cherimoya). Wikipedia: Some characterize the flavor as a blend of banana, pineapple, papaya, peach, and strawberry. Others describe it as tasting like commercial bubblegum. Similar in size to a grapefruit, it has large, glossy, dark seeds that are easily removed. When ripe, the skin is green and gives slightly to pressure, similar to the avocado.
Related Terms:
Flavor Fruited Guava Acidity
Categories:
Flavor


Chlorogenic Acid
Chlorogenic acids (CGAs) are important to coffee flavor, contributing to flavor when in the proper balance and level. They are a group of phenolic acids esterified to quinic acid, and account for up to 10% of the weight of green coffee. They are known to have antioxidant properties. Like all acids, its levels are reduced in roasting; darker roasts result in less acidity in the cup. Since it reduces to quinic acid in roasting, and quinic acid in high levels results in perceived bitterness and sourness, too much CGA is not desireable. Robusta coffees have roughly 25% more CGA than arabica!
Related Terms:
Phosphoric Acid Malic Acid Acetic Acid Liveliness Brightness Acidity Citric Acid
Categories:
Flavor Chemistry


Chocolate
Chocolate is a broad, general flavor or aroma term reminiscent of chocolate. But what type? There are so many forms of chocolate, either in its pure state, or as part of another confection. Chocolate flavors are often a "roast taste", and are dependent on the degree of roast. Look for more specifics; bittersweet chocolate, bakers chocolate, toffee and chocolate, rustic chocolate, cocoa powder, Dutch cocoa, cocoa nibs, Pralines and chocolate, milk chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate, etc. etc.
Related Terms:
Degree Of Roast Second Crack First Crack Roasting Flavor Aroma
Categories:
Flavor Roasting


Chop
Chop is an old term for the lot mark on a coffee bag, since the numbers are divided with forward slash marks. That is now correctly called the ICO number. Chops do not refer to music!
Related Terms:
Lot ICO
Categories:
Trade Terms


Citric Acid
Citric acid is, in moderate amounts, a component of good, bright coffees. It is a positive flavor acid in coffee that often leads to the perception of citrus fruits and adds high notes to the cup. Fine high-grown arabica coffees have more citric acid than robusta types.
Related Terms:
Acetic Acid Chlorogenic Acid Liveliness Brightness Malic Acid Phosphoric Acid Acidity
Categories:
Flavor Chemistry


Citrus
Qualities in coffee that are reminiscent of a citrus fruit; orange, lemon, grapefruit, kumquat, etc. Usually these terms imply a brightness in the coffee, a more acidic, wet-processed type of coffee.
Related Terms:
Citric Acid Fruited
Categories:
Flavor


City Roast
City roast is what we define as the earliest palatable stage that the roast process can be stopped and result in good quality coffee. City roast occurs roughly between 415 and 425 degrees Fahrenheit in many coffee roasters with a responsive bean probe where First Crack starts in the 395 to 405 degree range. The benefits of City roasts are that the origin flavor of the coffee is not eclipsed by the development of strong roast flavors, but the risk is that sourness, astringency, or under-developed sweetness makes the cup unpleasant. City roast generally has a light brown color with strong surface texture, even dark creases in the bean surface, and only moderate expansion of the bean size. This varies greatly in different coffees though. As a very general rule, to reach City roast the coffee is removed from heat at the last detectable sound of First Crack, or very soon after, with no further development toward 2nd crack. For more information and pictures of the degree of roast, see our Roasted Coffee Pictorial Guide.
Related Terms:
Roasting Second Crack First Crack Pyrolysis
Categories:
Roasting


City+ Roast
City+ roast is an ideal roast level that occurs roughly between 425 and 435 degrees Fahrenheit in many coffee roasters with a responsive bean probe where First Crack starts in the 395 to 405 degree range. Also called a medium roast. This range of roast temperatures is after City roast (hence the + !) and indicates that the coffee has been allowed to develop further, anywhere from 10 seconds to 1 minute or more depending on roast method, after the last "pop" of First Crack was heard. These times and heat ranges vary greatly depending on the roast machine and green coffee. The benefits of City+ roasts is the balance between moderate roast flavor and the origin flavor of the green bean; astringent, sour or "baked" light roast flavors are reduced, yet the flavors specific to a particular coffee lot are still expressed in the cup flavor. City+ has a brown color and may not yet have the smooth surface that comes as further browning and bean expansion occur as the coffee approaches 2nd crack. This is a term Sweet Maria's basically invented (well, designating a +), and while used in the trade a bit, it has it's context in our communications to home roasters more than anything. For more information and pictures of the degree of roast, see our Roasted Coffee Pictorial Guide.
Related Terms:
Full City Roast Second Crack City Roast First Crack Full City+ Roast Roasting Pyrolysis
Categories:
Roasting Sweet Maria's Terms


Classic
Classic is a term I use to describe coffees made in the tradition of a particular growing region, and specific to that area. It is a general characterization of a coffee, implying that it fits an ideal, predetermined taste profile for that particular origin. For wet-processed Central American coffees a balanced cup with clean flavors, light-to-medium body, and good acidity would be "classic" for that area. Traditional cultivars, Typica and Bourbon coffees, often recall classic flavor profiles, well-documented for a growing area.
Related Terms:
Restrained Aroma Flavor Mouthfeel Cultivar Flavor Origin Flavor Cupping Sensory Analysis
Categories:
Flavor


Clean Cup
Clean cup refers to a coffee free of taints and defects. It does not imply sanitary cleanliness, or that coffees that are not clean (which are dirty) are unsanitary. It refers to the flavors, specifically the absence of hard notes, fruity-fermenty flavors, earthy flavors or other off notes.
Related Terms:
Cupping Origin Flavor Cultivar Flavor Mouthfeel Flavor Aroma Sensory Analysis Clear
Categories:
Flavor


Clear
Clarity refers to well-defined characteristics in the cup, aromas or flavors that come into sharp focus and are recognized easily and distinctly. It also implies clarity of the brew, perhaps lighter mouthfeel, and sharper (good acidic) qualities
Related Terms:
Well-knit Balance Structured
Categories:
Flavor


Coffee
Coffee is a flowering shrub that produces fruit. The seeds of the fruit are separated through various processing methods (wet or dry processing, or something in between) and dried to about 12% moisture for long term storage. The seeds are roasted and ground prior to being prepared as an infusion. The term "coffee" is applied to the plant, the seeds and the infusion alike.
Related Terms:
Processing Roasting Brewing
Categories:
Origins Brewing


Coffee Berry Disease
A fungal disease that results in cherry dying and dropping to the ground before it is ripe. It is a serious problem in Kenya, and most of East Africa, and can be transmitted by the coffee seed.
Related Terms:
Coffee Berry Borer Coffee Leaf Rust
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars Trade Terms


Coffee Brewing
The process of making an infusion of roasted, ground coffee beans. In the most basic sense, hot water is added to coffee ground to produce a drink. Some brewing methods (espresso, turkish coffee) produce a dense concentrate while other methods (filter drip, vacuum pot) produce a cleaner, more refined cup. Coffee brewing methods have changed much over time and are likely to continue to do so.
Related Terms:
Vacuum Brewer Brewed Coffee Percolator French Press Espresso
Categories:
Brewing


Coffee Cherry
Coffee is a fruit from a flowering shrubby tree; we have come to call the whole fruit coffee cherry. It usually ripens to a red color, although some types ripen to yellow, and is smaller than most real cherries, but close enough. In other regards, the tree and fruit do not resemble a cherry. Old European texts often refer to the fruit as the "coffee berry". Coffee cherry can also be a flavor accent in the cup.
Related Terms:
Varietal Coffee Tree Cultivar Cherry
Categories:


Coffee Crop Cycle
The Coffee Crop Cycle refers to the period of growth of the cherry to maturation and harvest. Coffee has one harvest period a year, although in some there is a second small harvest. From the flowering, to the fruit development and ripening, the coffee fruit is on the tree for a long period. The crop cycle differs for many origins. We have a chart that offers a rough estimate , but this too varies from year to year.
Related Terms:
Peak Of Harvest
Categories:


Coffee Diseases
Coffea Arabica is susceptible to a host of diseases, such as Coffee Berry Disease (CBD), Coffee Berry Borer (CBB, also known as Broca), and Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR). There are many others, but these diseases do the most economic damage to the coffee crop worldwide.
Related Terms:
Coffee Berry Disease Coffee Berry Borer Coffee Leaf Rust
Categories:


Coffee Filter
A mechanism (usually paper or a metal or nylon mesh) for straining coffee ground from brewed coffee.
Related Terms:
Swissgold Brewed Coffee Filtercone
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Coffee Grading
Coffee grading is the technical skill of evaluating and scoring of physical coffee defects in green coffee. The sample is 300 grams, and there is a particular point system to score the intensity of each defect, based on the full "black bean" which equals 1. Size is also rated in the unit of 1/64ths, so 17 screen means 17/64ths.
Related Terms:
Brazil Coffee Grades Screening
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Trade Terms


Coffee Grinder
A device for grinding coffee beans. Grinders can be broadly classified into blade grinders and burr grinders.
Related Terms:
Blade Grinder Burr Grinder
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Coffee Growing Regions
Coffee is grown in a belt around the world - roughly from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn, in 50 different countries. For specialty grade coffee, altitude ranges from 1800- 6000 feet. The optimum temperature is between 15-24ºC (59-75ºF) year round. Soils and rainfall vary widely from one origin to the next - or even within a large coffee producing country like Ethiopia.
Related Terms:
Altitude
Categories:
Roasting


Coffee Research
The study of the agronomy of coffee, its chemistry, or other improvements. There are coffee research organizations throughout the world. In Central America, there are CATIE, IHCAFE and PROCAFE. In Colombia, there is CENICAFE run as part of the FNC.
Related Terms:
CATIE CENICAFE PROCAFE IHCAFE
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Coffee Roaster
A mechanism for roasting coffee. The basic requirements for a coffee roaster are a heating element that gets suitably hot and a mechanism for agitating the beans. Broadly there are two types of roasting (i.e. heat transfer), conduction and convection. A drum roaster will be mostly a conduction roast, but some convection as well. A hot air corn poppper is a convection roast.
Related Terms:
Drum Roaster Fluid Bed Roaster Roasting
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Equipment


Colombia
As you know, Colombian coffee is highly marketed and widely available in the US. They have been largely successful at equating the name Colombian Coffee with "Good" Coffee. This is half-true. Colombian can be very balanced, with good body, brightness (acidity) and flavor. But much of it is a bit boring, and most of it that you find in Supermarket bins etc. is simply a decent clean cup with almost no aftertaste (if its fresh from the roaster, which is not likely). So, is there good Colombian coffee? Absolutely yes. It just takes work to find it. Good Colombian is rarely sold simply as Supremo or Excelso. Colombian that has more "cup character" is usually pooled from particular regions and will have the regional name identifying it. Sometimes a generic Colombian just happens to cup really nice, but that's rare, and it requires cupping each lot to find the special one. Last year was poor in general but the current Colombians are really outstanding. I wouldn't normally offer so many types but that's what happens when you "follow your nose..." See our Colombian Coffee Offerings for more information.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Origins


Color Sorting
Sorting coffee by removing beans that have a color that indicates a defect. Color coffee sorting is often done by an optical sorting machine, which has a high speed camera that watches a stream of beans and actuates a jet of air to remove off-colored beans. Most high quality coffee also involves hand color sorting, which is traditionally done by women sitting either at conveyor belts or at tables.
Related Terms:
Defects Size Sorting Grading
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Equipment Processing


Complex
The co-presence of many aroma and flavor attributes, with multiple layers. A general impression of a coffee, similar to judgments such as "balanced" or "structured"
Related Terms:
Aroma Afternose Aftertaste Cupping Flavor Sensory Analysis Intensity Balance Structured
Categories:
Flavor


Conduction
The transfer of heat between matter. In coffee, conduction heating is contrasted with convection heating, which occurs in a moving fluid.
Related Terms:
Air Roasting Roasting Convection Drum Roasting
Categories:
Roasting


Congo
Kivu is the general name for East Congo (Kinshasa), covering a very broad geographical area. It borders on Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Lake Tanganyika on the east. Kivu is divided into three provinces, Nord-Kivu (North Kivu), Sud-Kivu (South Kivu), and Maniema. Coffee, cotton, rice, and palm oil are produced, and tin and some gold are mined. The Ruwenzori mountains, Kahuzi-Biega National Park, and part of Maiko National Park are in the region. See our Congo Coffee Offerings for more information.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Roasting


Conical Burr Grinder
A conical burr grinder has two cone-shaped burrs that sit inside one another; coffee bean fall between the two burrs and are ground between them. Produces a much more even grind than a whirley blade grinder. Concical burr mills are very even at medium and fine grinds, less so at coarse grinds. The mill can be electrical or cranked by hand.
Related Terms:
Flat Burr Grinder Burr Grinder
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Convection
Transfer of heat through the bulk movement of a fluid. In the case of coffee roasting, we discuss convection in the context of heated air moving as a fluid through a roast chamber.
Related Terms:
Air Roaster Roasting Conduction Drum Roaster
Categories:
Roasting


Conventional
Conventional means that a coffee is not organic certified, in the coffee trade.
Related Terms:
Organic Fair Trade RFA
Categories:
Trade Terms


Costa Rica
Can a coffee be too perfect, too balanced, so all you can say about it is ," Hmm ... it has coffee flavor"? That's the criticism that used to be leveled at the coffees from Costa Rica - too balanced, too clean, too mild. We categorize this type of coffee as the "classic cup," the traditional balanced coffee that has no defects or taints. Coffee cuppers call it "clean" and it's not the same thing as "boring." Yet many Costa Ricas from the large farms and mills are exactly that; middle-of-the-road arabicas. But there's can be more to a Costa Rican coffee than neutrality. They are prized for their high notes: bright citrus or berry-like flavors in the acidity, with distinct nut-to-chocolate roasty flavors. Now, everything is changing in Costa Rica, and the orthodoxy, big farms and big powerful cooperative mills, have a reason to do a double-take. There is a new quality initiative coming from the Micro-Mills, tiny low-volume farm-specific coffee producers who now keep their lots separate, mill it themselves, gaining total control of the process, and tuning it to yield the best possible flavors (and the best price!) The revolution is possible due to new environmentally friendly small milling equipment, and the disatisfaction of small producers who sell coffee at market prices, only to see it blended with average, carelessly harvested lots. With an independent Micro-Mill, a farmer can become a true "coffee craftsperson," maximize the cup quality of their coffee, dividing lots by elevation or cutivar, and receiving the highest prices for their Micro-Lot coffees. In turn, we get unique and diverse Micro-Lots, and a transparent, long-term relationship with the small farmer. See our Costa Rica Coffee Offerings for more information.
Related Terms:
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Origins


Country Of Origin
Country of Origin is where the coffee is grown in general terms. Region is a more specific area within the country. Arabica coffee grows in only in particular environments with adequate rainfall, temperate climates, good soil (often volcanic), sufficient altitude, and roughly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
Related Terms:
Region Micro-Region
Categories:
Origins


Crack
An audible popping sound heard during roasting. In coffee, one refers to "first crack" and "second crack," which come from two different classes of chemical reactions.
Related Terms:
First Crack Second Crack Roasting
Categories:
Roasting


Creamy
A mouthfeel description indicating thickness and soft, rounded texture. See also buttery.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Aftertaste Mouthfeel Body Cupping Buttery
Categories:
Flavor


Crema
Crema is a dense foam that floats on top of a shot of espresso. It ranges in color from blond to reddish-brown to black. Blond crema may be evidence of under-extraction or old coffee, while black crema is a sign of over-extraction or an overly hot boiler.
Related Terms:
Espresso Extraction
Categories:
Brewing


Creosol
A burnt flavor taste caused by phenolic compounds from dark roast levels.
Related Terms:
Roasting First Crack Second Crack Degree Of Roast Flavor Aroma
Categories:
Flavor Roasting


Crisp
Crisp can have several meanings, since it modifies other flavor terms. Crisp acidity might mean bracing, fresh fruit acids. Crisp chocolate notes might refer to tangy bittersweetness. It involves something that occurs briefly, and that provokes reaction, normally positive.
Related Terms:
Structure Clean Clear Balance
Categories:
Flavor


Crop
This is the crop year the coffee was harvested and processed in, and provided that the coffee has been properly stored and is the MOST current available crop, shouldn't be a primary consideration in buying a green coffee from us. It is sometimes expressed as a single year or a split year ('01/'02 for example). The industry standard is that the crop year as inked on the burlap bag means the year it was grown-picked-milled-shipped and then arrived at market. But this is a very long process which means that a very fresh green coffee selling in December of 2008 will be '07/'08 since '08/'09 crop would not arrive until March-April '03. So the dates are a bit confusing but Sweet Maria's is really obsessed with green coffee freshness, and I think that many in the trade are not always paying attention to this issue. Crop is marked on all coffee bags, and is Cosecha in Spanish. Now that we use vacuum packing, we have extended the life of coffee and mazimized it's freshness.
Related Terms:
Coffee Crop Cycle Country Of Origin
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Crust
In coffee cupping (tasting), you first judge the Dry Fragrance by smelling the ground coffee. Then you add hot water and judge the wet aroma. This is done in 2 steps: first by sniffing the crust of floating grounds that naturally caps the liquid mixture, then by "breaking" the crust with a cupping spoon.
Related Terms:
Aroma Body Cupping Flavor Break Fragrance
Categories:
Trade Terms


Cultivar
The naming of a cultivar should conform to the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (the ICNCP, commonly known as the Cultivated Plant Code). A cultivar is a particular variety of a plant species or hybrid that is being cultivated and/or is recognised as a cultivar under the ICNCP. The concept of cultivar is driven by pragmatism, and serves the practical needs of horticulture, agriculture, forestry, etc. The plant chosen as a cultivar may have been bred deliberately, selected from plants in cultivation. This is the term we prefer to Varietal in terms of coffee, since it implies the intentional cultivation for organoleptic and production results.
Related Terms:
Caturra Typica Bourbon Origin Flavor Varietal Cultivar Flavor Catuai Catimor Organoleptic
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Biology/Cultivars Trade Terms


Cultivar Flavor
In-the-cup coffee flavors (and in extension aromatics) that result from the plant material used to produce the coffee. In general, the Coffea Arabica sub-species does not display strong flavor distinctions between cultivars as one might find with wine or other fruits. Any flavors from the cultivar are highly influenced by the growing environment and processing, but in some cases cultivars have distinct taste recognizable to most coffee drinkers, as with Pacamara or Gesha types. Robusta and Liberica have distinct flavors, but these are different sub-species: Coffea Canephora (robusta) and Coffea Liberica.
Related Terms:
Catuai Caturra Typica Bourbon Origin Flavor Varietal Cultivar Catimor Organoleptic
Categories:
Flavor


Cup Of Excellence
The Cup of Excellence (COE) is a competition held more-or-less yearly in many coffee producing countries. Until 2008, the COE was limited to Central and South America, but with the 2008 Rwanda Cup of Excellence the competition has expanded to Africa, as well. In the COE, coffees are rated by an international jury and then auctioned off. COE coffees regularly fetch many times normal market rates for coffee, with the top coffees ofter selling for more than $20/pound. The Cup of Excellence was founded in 1999 in Brazil and expanded to other countries in the coming years.
Related Terms:
Cupping SCAA Specialty Coffee
Categories:
Trade Terms


Cupper
A cupper is a person who performs the somewhat formal analysis of coffee quality, called cupping. See the definition of cupping for more information. It has nothing to do with ancient Chinese medicine!
Related Terms:
Cupping
Categories:
Trade Terms


Cuppers Correction
The cupper's correction is a term we use to measure the "intangible" qualities of a cup: if, for instance, a coffee totals 88 points, but it is high quality enough that we feel it should be a 90, we add in a +2 cupper's correction.
Related Terms:
Cupping
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Cupping
Cupping is a method of tasting coffee by steeping grounds in separate cups for discrete amounts of ground coffee, to reveal good flavors and defects to their fullest. It has formal elements and methodology in order to treat all samples equally and empirically, without bias. In one long sentence ... a discrete amount of ground coffee is dosed into multiple cups or bowls for each sample, dry fragrance in evaluated, hot water is added, wet aroma is evaluated, the floating crust of grounds are "broken" with a fancy "cupping spoon" and the aroma is again evaluated, the cupper waits for a cooler temperature and skims the lingering foam from the top, then, after cleaning a spoon in hot water, carefully removes coffee from the top of the cup without stirring, and sucks the liquid across the palate, atomizing it into the olfactory bulb as much as possible, judging flavor, acidity, aftertaste, mouthfeel, and any other number of quality categories. Whew!
Related Terms:
Cup Tester Cupper Taster Liquorer
Categories:
Brewing Trade Terms


Cupping Spoon
A cupping spoon is specifically designed for the tasting procedure of the same name, cupping. It is similar to some bouillon spoons or gumbo spoons, and features (usually) a round deep bowl and arched handle. They are highly fetishized objects by the coffee cupper, and some guard their favorite spoon jealously!
Related Terms:
Cupping Cupper
Categories:
Trade Terms


Current Crop
Refers to any coffee that has not been replaced by new crop shipments, even if it was shipped from origin many months before. See Past Crop and New Crop as well.
Related Terms:
Past Crop New Crop Crop
Categories:
Trade Terms