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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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 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 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 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


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


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


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


Descaling
The process of removing harmful scale buildup from a boiler. Descaling is usually accomplished by adding a commercial descaling product or citric acid to water and running this solution through a machine. Espresso machines and brewers should be descaled regularly (with the frequency depending on the hardness of water used) to maintain optimal functionality.
Related Terms:
Scale
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Doser
A doser is a mechanism, usually attached to the front of a burr grinder, for putting coffee into an espresso portafilter basket. Ground coffee sits in the doser and is pushed out and into the portafilter by the pull of a lever. Dosers are designed to push out the same amount of coffee (typically 6-7 grams) every time the lever is pulled, but, in practice, this feature only works is the doser if full of grounds, which is unlikely to happen in the case of a home user.
Related Terms:
Burr Grinder Espresso Portafilter
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


E61
A classic espresso group-head design, originally invented by Faema and used on a variety of machines. The E61 is easily identified by its pre-infusion chamber located just behind the portafilter and by its small external lever used for activating the brew cycle.
Related Terms:
Pre-infusion Espresso
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Emulsion
In coffee, "emulsion" typically refers to the suspension of coffee oils in water. While brewed coffee is primarily an extraction, espresso is both an extraction and an emulsion because it occurs under pressure.
Related Terms:
Espresso Brewed Coffee Extraction
Categories:
Chemistry Brewing


Espresso
In its most stripped-down, basic form, this is a working definition for espresso: A small coffee beverage, about 20 ml, prepared on an espresso machine where pressurized hot water extracted through compressed coffee. A smaller version where extraction is restricted is called a Ristretto
Related Terms:
Ristretto Cappuccino Macchiato Latte
Categories:
Brewing


Extraction
Refers to the process of infusing coffee with hot water. Hot water releases or "extracts" the flavor from the roasted, ground coffee.
Related Terms:
Brewed Coffee Brewing
Categories:
Chemistry Brewing


Filtercone
Filtercones, as the name implies, are simply cones that hold a coffee filter. The cone fits on to the top of a coffee cup, grounds and a filter are put in, water drips straight through into the cup. A filtercones must be used with either a paper filter or a permanent filter.
Related Terms:
Drip Infusion Drip Brewing Filter Brewed Coffee Drip Coffee
Categories:
Brewing


Filterscreen
This is the part of the French Press that actually filters the coffee as the plunger is being pushed downward. It is a circular mesh screen either made of nylon or stainless steel and threads onto the plunger shaft. The screen must be cleaned after use and replaced periodically.
Related Terms:
Filter
Categories:
Brewing


Flat Burr Grinder
A grinder with two flat, parallel disc-shaped burrs. Produces the most even grind at all settings, fine, medium and coarse. Typically more expensive than other mills.
Related Terms:
Conical Burr Grinder Burr Grinder
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


French Press
A simple coffee brewer: grounds and hot water are added to a carafe, allowed to sit for several minutes, and then a filter is pushed down to hold the grounds at the bottom of the carafe. French presses have the advantage that they are very easy to control: dose/grind, water temperature, and extraction time are all manageable. Presses result in a high-body cup with more residual grounds that most brewing methods. See our French Press Tip sheet for further information on this brewing method.
Related Terms:
Brewed Coffee
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Ibrik
A pot for making turkish coffee with wide bottom, narrow neck, and long handle. "Ibrik" is the Turkish word for this coffee pot. It is usually made out of copper or brass and lined with tin. The word ibrik is likely derived from the Greek mpriki or biriki. See our Ibrik Tip sheet for further information on this brewing method.
Related Terms:
Turkish Coffee
Categories:
Brewing


Latte
An espresso-based beverage with steamed silky milk on top, averaging 190-220 ml with 20 ml espresso, served in a ceramic cup or bowl.
Related Terms:
Espresso Cappuccino Macchiato
Categories:
Brewing


Macchiato
A simple espresso drink: a shot of espresso with a small dollop of foamed milk on top.
Related Terms:
Espresso Cappuccino
Categories:
Brewing


Moka Pot
Moka Pot stovetop brewers produce a dense concentrated cup that's something between espresso and Turkish coffee. Coffee is placed into a filter between the lower chamber (that you fill with water) and the upper chamber that will contain the finished beverage after brewing. Since the water is forced through the cake of coffee by pressure, the process bears more resemblance to espresso extraction that infusion (gravity-based) brewing.
Related Terms:
Espresso Brewed Coffee Emulsion
Categories:
Brewing


Percolator
A type of coffee brewer where water is "percolated" through a mass of ground coffee to extract the flavor. Was much in use in mid-19th century US. Often associated with bad coffee, percolators can actually produce a good flavored brew when using good coffee and the equipment is kept clean. Still the best way to produce a large quantity of coffee at once, hence their use (usually as large urns) in hotels and catering.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Portafilter
The part of an espresso machine which holds the filter basket, into which coffee grounds are placed.
Related Terms:
Espresso
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Pour-Over Drip
New attention is being given to pour-over drip brewing, but the terminology is definitely not set yet. Pour-over drip brewing is simple and can yield great results based on technique. The older methods are Chemex and Melitta type filter cones. These use paper filters, usually. Newer types are the Hario V60, a modified ceramic come with a large orifice like the Chemex, and the Clever Coffee Dripper.
Related Terms:
Espresso Brewed Coffee SO Espresso
Categories:
Brewing Trade Terms


Pre-infusion
An espresso machine is said to use pre-infusion if it applies a moderate amount of pressure to the coffee before applying full brew pressure. Pre-infusion is often said to improve extraction by causing the coffee to swell, filling fissures in the puck that might otherwise cause channeling.
Related Terms:
Espresso E61 Channeling
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Qishr
Qishr is an infused tea beverage that you make using the dried coffee husks of the coffee fruit, a by-product of of the natural dry-process method. How to brew it? The husks themselves do not need to be ground - you can brew it as it comes to you from us. Use the same proportions as coffee brewing, one SCAA coffee scoop of Qishr to 5 oz very hot water. I make it just as you "cup" coffee, put one scoop in a cup, pour over with water just off a boil. It benefits greatly from stirring during infusion. Steep 4-6+ minutes. The husks will (mostly) sink, and you can simply drink right from the cup. It actually improves as it steeps longer. Of course you can use tea-brewing devices, but a tea ball won't be large enough, generally. You can use a woven tea basket. But, you can make Qishr best in a French Press if you are preparing more than one cup. To make the flavored Yemen Ginger Tea with Qishr you boil it with the hot water and other additives. In Ethiopia, I am told they roast the Qishr first, but I am not familiar with this technique
Related Terms:
Categories:
Brewing


Ristretto
A smaller version of espresso where extraction is restricted is called a Ristretto. While espresso averages 20 ml, a ristretto is 15 ml.
Related Terms:
Espresso Cappuccino Macchiato Latte
Categories:
Brewing


Scale
Mineral buildup formed over time as hard water is heated in a boiler. Excess scale causes brew problems and eventually shortens the life of a machine, so espresso machines and brewers should be regularly descaled.
Related Terms:
Descaling
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


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


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


Strong
Many people say that they like "strong coffee" but this term needs to be pulled apart a bit to have any meaning. Some origins can be more pungent or intense than others, usually due to the processing methods or the preparation. Dry-processed coffees will in general have more earthy and potentially wild flavors. Aged coffees definitely have strong flavors - pleasant to some, not so much to others. We refer to this as "Bold" in our reviews - a vague term, but opposed to mild. Strong is in opposition to "weak" and can only mean brew strength, the intensity of the brewed coffee, if it is brewed in a more concentrated way, with too much ground coffee in respect to the amount of water used. Espresso is obviously one of the strongest coffee drinks since by definition it is a coffee extract, i.e. very little water in proportion to a large dose of coffee. Strong might also be interchangeable with "Bold", another vague descriptor and both of these could also refer to a dark roast level.
Related Terms:
Bold Brewing
Categories:
Brewing


SwissGold Filter
A brand of reusable metal filter for drip coffee brewing. Swissgolds are alternatives to paper coffee filters. They have the advantage that they do not impact a taste to the cup (paper filters can give a paper-y taste), and they are reusable. Swissgolds have larger pores than paper filters, which means larger particles make their way into the cup.
Related Terms:
Brewed Coffee
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Tamper
A handheld instrument for compacting ("tamping") ground coffee for espresso into a portafilter basket. Tampers should match the size of a machine's basket, with common sizes including 53mm and 58mm.
Related Terms:
Espresso Tamping Portafilter
Categories:
Equipment Brewing


Tamping
Compacting coffee grounds for espresso into a portafilter basket, usually by means of a tamper. Proper tamping technique is critical to proper espresso extraction: a tamp should be level, properly seal the grounds against the sides of the basket, and fill any fissures in the espresso "puck." It is generally recommended that 30 pounds of tamping force be applied, though it is more important that the tamp be consistent between shots than that it be exactly 30 pounds.
Related Terms:
Espresso Tamper Portafilter
Categories:
Brewing


Tasse
Related Terms:
Categories:
Brewing


Technivorm
The Technivorm is a Dutch-made electric drip brewer for the home that is known for it's good design, and good results. You can find them for sale on our site, the only standard electric drip brewer we carry.
Related Terms:
French Press Filtercone
Categories:
Brewing


Turkish Coffee
A strong preparation of coffee, finely ground, and often prepared in an Ibrik over a heat source like a gas stove. Traditionally it was placed in hot sands and the vessel itself would hold 1 or 2 servings. This is still the case today when prepared on a stove. One traditional recipe calls for a blend and to roast one third light, one third medium and one third dark, grind finely as is typical. See our our page on the Ibrik with instructions on how to prepare Turkish Coffee ...
Related Terms:
Pannikin Dalla Toorka Jezve Mbiki Briki Cezve Ibrik Jesvah
Categories:
Brewing


Vacuum Brewer
A vacuum brewer works by heating water, pushing it into a chamber with coffee grounds, and then sucking the water back. Vacuum brewers produce a clean, aromatic cup.
Related Terms:
Categories:
Brewing