Sweet Maria's Coffee Glossary

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

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


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


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


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


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


Deep Roasted
Coffee that turns from green to brown under the watchful, loving supervision of a "roast master" is called "Deep Roasted Coffee". Only a craftsperson with years of experience can truly "deep roast" a coffee.
Related Terms:
After-dinner Roast Americano
Categories:
Sweet Maria's Terms


Dry Fragrance
In the cupping procedure for tasting and scoring coffee, this is the smell of the dry, ground coffee before hot water is added. The term fragrance is used since it is normally applied to things we smell but do not consume (perfume, for example), whereas aroma is usually applied to foods and beverages.
Related Terms:
Wet Aroma Cupping
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Effervescent
While coffee is not a carbonated beverage, at times a combination of factors (brightness/acidity with a light mouthfeel) can make the coffee dance on the palate. I use the term effervescent to describe this light and lively sensation.
Related Terms:
Mouthfeel Acidity Brightness
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Erna Knutsen
Erna is known as the first dedicated "Specialty Coffee" importers/brokers in the US ... in fact she coined the term Specialty Coffee! Here bio reads, "After several years in the bay area Erna took a part time job as an executive secretary at a coffee and spice company. In addition to keeping the extensive "position book", taking dictation, and handling correspondence for the president of the company, she was called upon to deal with odd lots of coffee, and sell to the "small trade"." In other words, there were small Italian roasters still remaining in the Bay Area, and the salespeople did want to deal with them and their demands for better quality coffee from specific origins. She has a coffee importing business at www.knutsencoffees.com
Related Terms:
George Howell Kenneth Davids Cup Of Excellence Willem Boot Alfred Peet
Categories:
Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Espresso Standard Blends
When we maintain an Espresso Standard blend, like Espresso Monkey Blend, we have to find new lots to maintain the flavors of the blend as the coffee crops change. That can be a tough job, to optimize the blend and, at the same time, to maintain the "spirit of the blend" ... its original intent. There will be shifts in the blend, inevitably.
Related Terms:
Espresso Workshop Blends
Categories:
Sweet Maria's Terms


Espresso Workshop Blends
"Espresso Workshop"? We are going to divide our blend offerings into Standards, blends with the same name we maintain and are consistently offered, and new Espresso Workshop editions. The later are blends that are only offered for as long as we have the specific lots of coffee we used to design the blend, and then it's gone. When we maintain an Espresso Standard blend, like Espresso Monkey Blend, we have to find new lots to maintain the flavors of the blend as the coffee crops change. That can be a tough job, to optimize the blend and, at the same time, to maintain the "spirit of the blend" ... it's original intent. There will be shifts in the blend, inevitably. In a sense, Workshop Espresso editions are pure and uncompromising: specific coffees are found that inspire testing, and a new blend idea is born. Instead of maintaining the blend and making ingredient substitutions down the line, the Workshop editions follow the crop cycle of the coffee; they come and go.
Related Terms:
Espresso Standard Blends
Categories:
Sweet Maria's Terms


Farm Gate
Farm Gate Coffee is the name we give to our direct trade coffee buying program. Farm Gate pricing means that we have negotiated a price directly with the farmer "at the farm gate," that is, without any of the confusing export and import fees. The prices we pay for our coffees are above Fair Trade minimums, and with our Farm Gate coffees we can easily verify that the good price we pay makes it to the people who do the work, and are responsible for the great cup quality of our coffee. Farm Gate is a simple principle that allows coffee producers to make premium prices in reward for coffee quality, and to reinvest to improve quality even more in the future. See http://www.sweetmarias.com/farmgatecoffee.html for more information. We guarantee that Farm Gate prices are 50% over Fair Trade (FT) pricing, but often they are 100%+ more that FT minimums. We support FT, and continue to offer FT lots. Fair Trade is a co-op certification - that is, it also does not allow certification for small independent farms - it is for co-ops only. We do support coffee co-ops, they are often not what consumers might think. There are many excellent co-ops, and many that are large, powerful, corrupt, and mired in bureaucracy. We avoid the bureaucracy of coops that sometimes do not share premium prices with their farmer members. Fair Trade certifies that the co-operative received the FT price, but it does not guarantee that the men and women who produce your coffee were paid the FT price. On the flip side, bear in mind that FT is a global standard, is verified by certifiers that make regular (if infrequent) visits to the coops. We don't have a third-party certifier. Instead we substitute our direct involvement at ground level in the buying process with farms, that we know what they received if we are paying them through a middle-person. Exporters and importers have a changing role, offering a service as logisitcs coordinators (and an important one at that) rather than coffee resellers. Any coffee bought off an importer/broker list does not qualify for Farm Gate, and we do still buy some coffees that way. Further, lots from origins where hundreds of tiny farms contribute to even the smallest importable lots, such as Sumatra, or Yemen, can't qualify for Farm Gate in many cases nor can Auction Lot Kenyas, even though we pay extremely high prices for all these coffees, and know from direct observation that a premium reaches the farmer.
Related Terms:
Fair Trade Organic
Categories:
Sweet Maria's Terms


Full City+ Roast
A roast slightly darker than Full City. At Full City+, the roast is terminated after the first few snaps of second crack. The main cue that distinguishes the difference between the Full City (or FC) and Full City + is audible, not visual. This is a term Sweet Maria's basically invented, 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:
Second Crack First Crack Roasting Roast Taste Degree Of Roast Pyrolysis Origin Flavor Caramelization
Categories:
Roasting Sweet Maria's Terms


George Howell
George Howell is a founder of the Cup of Excellence, devised the CoE cupping form, and is one who argues passionately for clean cup quality, free of flavors derived from processing. He currently owns Terroir coffee, and founded The Coffee Connection in the Boston area.
Related Terms:
Erna Knutsen Alfred Peet Willem Boot SCAA Cup Of Excellence Kenneth Davids
Categories:
Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Gneiss
A banded or foliated metamorphic rock, usually of the same composition as granite.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Sweet Maria's Terms


Green Coffee Appearance
Appearance: This is an informal scoring of the Number of Defects per 300 gram sample (2d/300g = 2 defects) and is scored by the Specialty Coffee Association of Americas Green Coffee Classification System in most cases. It should communicate the quality of the preparation and sorting of the coffee, but doesn't directly indicate the "cup quality," which is the most important rating of coffee. A zero defect score doesn't mean that your 5 lbs. will have no defective beans either! The second number is Screen Size, expressed as 14/16 scr, or 18 scr. Once again, bigger isn't better, and small beans of varied screen size can make for a great cup too (i.e.: Yemeni coffee).
Related Terms:
Grade Preparation
Categories:
Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Intensity
We have a simple scale to rate intensity, from Mild to Bold. Low intensity does not mean low quality! Delicate, mild coffees can be top notch, whereas some may not like the aggressive, over-the-top character of coffees we rate as Bold.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Flavor Cupping Aftertaste Afternose Aroma
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Island Coffee
"Island Coffee" is our term for coffees from various islands (Hawaii, Jamaica, Australia, etc.). Island coffees typically have a mild profile. They are typically wet-processed and grown at a lower altitude that most other specialty coffee. See the specific origin for more information.
Related Terms:
Puerto Rico Hawaii Australia Origin Flavor Jamaica Dominican Republic
Categories:
Origins Sweet Maria's Terms


Jacu
Bird indigenous to Brazil. On some Specialty Coffee farms, the cherries/coffee seeds digested by the Jacu are collected for a special "Jacu"-grade Specialty Coffee preparation. It is believed that the Jacu only feast on a certain ripeness of coffee cherry, thus the demand for and separation of these coffee beans for export.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Biology/Cultivars Sweet Maria's Terms


Kenneth Davids
A coffee writer and taster, he wrote the book on Home Coffee Roasting, literally, as well as other coffee subjects. He is known for his descriptive abilities, and has made much of his writing available through his web site: www.coffeereview.com .
Related Terms:
George Howell
Categories:
Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Mark
Mark: We use this term to include any other significant proper name that tells of the coffee's origin. This might be an Estate name, but it can also be an Exporter, a Beneficio (mill), or other recognized Trade name, as long as it actually signifies the quality of the coffee ...and doesn't just make it sound fancier than it is.
Related Terms:
Dry Mill Preparation Processing Wet Process Dry Process
Categories:
Sweet Maria's Terms


Mellow
Coffee that has been hanging out in the warehouse, but not really helping out with the work, just relaxing over in the corner, can be described as "mellow coffee". If the coffee gets up and stretches its legs every so often, it is still mellow. But if it starts to complain about being bored, it is no longer mellow.
Related Terms:
After-dinner Roast Smooth Rich
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Mouthfeel
A major component in the flavor profile of a coffee, it is a tactile sensation in the mouth used in cupping. quite literally can refer to how a coffee feels in the mouth or its apparent texture. In cupping mouthfeel is scored at light City roast level but mouthfeel can be directly affected in other ways by roast level as well, brew strength, and proper resting of the coffee after roasting. That is, Espresso and Dark Roast coffees have noticeably different mouthfeel than the same coffees at lighter levels. Body is synonymous with mouthfeel, but the latter implies a wider range of possible qualities, whereas body traditionally implies viscosity only. Mouthfeel is perceived by the trigemenal receptors, nerve fibers that surround taste buds.
Related Terms:
Aroma Body Cupping Flavor
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Origin
In coffee talk, it refers to a coffee-producing region or country; such as, "I was just at origin."
Related Terms:
Country Micro-Region Department
Categories:
Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Paul Songer
Currently on the staff of Cup of Excellence, Paul is head judge for many of the competitions, and an expert in sensory analysis. He is known for his knowledge of scientific and statistic principles, and synthesizing these in a meaningful way in sensory exercises. His consulting company is Songer and Associates.
Related Terms:
George Howell Kenneth Davids Cup Of Excellence
Categories:
Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Prime Attribute
Part of our coffee reviews, we summarize the main (most obvious) sensory experience of a coffee. This is rated right after Intensity
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Flavor Cupping Aftertaste Afternose Aroma Intensity
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Pulpy
Can refer to flavor or mouthfeel. In terms of flavor, it means the negative flavor of fermenty coffee fruit, indicating there were errors in the coffee processing.
Related Terms:
Taint Sensory Analysis Defect
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms Defects


Restrained
A descriptive term I use to communicate a well-structured, classic, clean flavor profile from a wet-processed coffee. This would be in opposition to coffees with exotic character, flamboyant and "loud", a fruity dry process coffee, a gesha coffee, etc. But restrained coffees are great "daily drinkers", and more approachable as well.
Related Terms:
Classic Balanced
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Rich
Rich almost never refers to coffee, but instead to the coffee buyer who can afford over-priced Jamaica Blue Mountain and such.
Related Terms:
Strong
Categories:
Sweet Maria's Terms


Rustic
What is Rustic? This is a general term we came up with: A general characterization of pleasanty "natural" flavors, less spohisticated and less refined, but appealing. Dried Apricots from Sunmaid at the supermarket, vs. unsulphered dried apricots from the bin at the Health Food Coop. White sugar vs. Muscovado natural dry brown sugar. Buckwheat pancakes vs Bisquick. Bacon from the supermarket vs bacon from the farm. None of those are what I am talking about with the Robusta, but rustic is a lower process level in general, and might involve more earthy, woody, foresty, mushroom, mossy hints like a Sumatra, or might be more fruity, pulpy, winey, ripe fruit, light ferment, balsamic vinegar etc etc in a fruited natural coffee. Sometimes I refer to lemonade from a mix and homemade honey lemonade, hand-pulped, etc. So it's a very general and broad comparison. It could be made along many flavor lines, such as fruity, or sweet, or herbal (which tends to be weighted toward rustic), or even floral. Very clean coffees, traditional wet process types, would rarely have rustic flavors. Natural dry-process coffees would almost always have rustic flavors. Hybrid processes such as pulp natural (miel or honey coffees) range between wet- and dry-process. Mechanical demucilage coffees can be very clean, very rustic, or anything inbetween depending on process conditions.
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Flavor Cupping Aftertaste Afternose Aroma Intensity
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Single Origin
"Single Origin" refers to coffee from one location, in contrast to blended coffee. This term is particularly useful in discussing espresso, since most commercial espressos are made from blends. This is what the term "SO Espresso" means.
Related Terms:
Origin Flavor Blended Coffee Sensory Analysis Espresso
Categories:
Brewing Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


SM
Our shorthand for Sweet Maria's.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Sweet Maria's Terms


SO Espresso
Short for Single Origin espresso, meaning using one origin specific coffee to make espresso, as opposed to using a blended coffee.
Related Terms:
Espresso Pour-Over Drip
Categories:
Brewing Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Sparkles
Sparkles is a key coffee quality term, and refers to brightness in the cup. Bright things often shine, both visually and in a gustatory sense, and that is expressed among tradespeople as sparkley, sparkles, or "this coffee is well-sparkled." It is not related to crystals, as in the proprietary "flavor crystals".
Related Terms:
Bright Acidity Effervescent
Categories:
Flavor Chemistry Sweet Maria's Terms


Spongy
A reference to the mouthfeel of a coffee when it leaves a tactile impression of sponges. This is often found in Liberica coffees, and can be unpleasant if excessive.
Related Terms:
Strecker Degradation Body Mouthfeel Umami
Categories:
Flavor Sweet Maria's Terms


Transparency
Transparency is a flavor characterization synonymous with clarity, or a business ethics term, implying that as much information as possible about a coffee is made available to the consumer.
Related Terms:
Direct Trade Fair Trade Farm Gate
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Wet Aroma
In cupping, wet aroma refers to the smell of wet coffee grinds, after hot water is added. The aromatics of a coffee greatly influence it's flavor profile, and comes 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 from the coffee grounds; in general fragrance describes things we do not eat (like perfume) and aroma pertains to food and beverage we consume. 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-nasaly" 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:
Sensory Analysis Cupping Dry Fragrance Aroma Aromatics
Categories:
Flavor Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms


Willem Boot
Willem is a coffee consultant and taster, with a skill for leading panels. His company is Boot Coffee, based in the North Bay of San Francisco: www.bootcoffee.com
Related Terms:
George Howell Kenneth Davids Cup Of Excellence
Categories:
Trade Terms Sweet Maria's Terms