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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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 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


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
Categories:
Equipment


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
Categories:
Equipment Processing


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


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


Doserless
A grinder that ejects its grounds directly through a chute, rather than into a doser.
Related Terms:
Doser Burr Grinder
Categories:
Equipment


Drum Roaster
A roaster with a rotating drum that provides agitation to the beans, while a heating element (typically either electric or gas) provides heat. The metal drum conducts heat to the beans, so drum roasters heat beans both by convection and conduction. Drum roasters typically roast more slowly than air roasters, and impart a more rounded, less bright flavor profile.
Related Terms:
Coffee Roaster Fluid Bed Roaster
Categories:
Equipment Roasting


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


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


Fluid Bed Roaster
A fluid-bed roaster works by pushing hot air across coffee beans. The roast chamber is filled with heated air provided by a small fan and heating coil located beneath the chamber. In a fluid-bed roaster, the flow of air is both the heat source and the mechanism responsible for agitating the beans. Since air is the heat source, heating happens via convection, rather than via convection and conduction, as in a drum roaster. Fluid-bed roasters are generally less expensive than comparable drum roasters, and they produce a bright flavor profile. This type of roaster works well with small size batches (under half a pound).
Related Terms:
Drum Roaster Coffee Roaster
Categories:
Equipment Roasting


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


Fresh Roast Coffee Roaster
A home air roaster with a 2.25oz capacity. For more information, check out our Fresh Roast product page.
Related Terms:
Coffee Roaster Roasting Roast Profiling
Categories:
Equipment


Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster
A home drum roaster with an 8oz capacity and adjustable temperature. For more information, check out our Gene Cafe product page.
Related Terms:
Coffee Roaster Roasting Roast Profiling
Categories:
Equipment


Gerstel-Twister
The Gerstel-Twister allows analysis of organic compounds from aqueous matrices by Stir Bar Sorptive Extraction (SBSE): Faster than with conventional techniques, omitting time-costly preparation steps and solvents and up to 1000´ more sensitive than SPME. The GERSTEL-Twister looks like a conventional magnetic stirring rod, and works the same - except for one small difference: While it is stirring, it adsorbs and concentrates the organic contents onto its coating of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS).
Related Terms:
Sensory Analysis Flavor
Categories:
Equipment


GrainPro SuperGrain Bag
A multi-layer plastic bag with a gas barrier enabling coffee "to build up a modified atmosphere, similar to the principle of the Cocoon" (quoted from the GrainPro literature). The bags can be used with any kind of commodity, and in tests using coffee, the bags have been shown to extend the flavor life of the coffee. We started using them extensively in 2008 to store delicate coffees and have found them to work very well. It means that we can buy more coffee at the peak of the season, when the best coffee is available, and then hold it in GrainPro for a few months with no flavor loss. In our coffee reviews, when we indicate GrainPro arrivals we are saying that, independent of the arrival month, the coffee is being stored to optimize freshness. For example, ordering a Costa Rica in Decemeber that arrived in jute bags in June formerly meant the coffee was on it's last legs, and might be showing some age in the cup flavors. Last year, we tapped into GrainPro shipments that arrived in June the following February and they were spectacular, with no indication of age in the cup flavor! These bags are for resealable safe storage of dry commodities. The bags act as a gas and moisture-proof barrier which guards against the ingress of water vapor, while retaining low Oxygen and Carbon-Dioxide levels created by the respiration of the commodity. They are made of tough, multi-layer plastic with gas barrier between layers of PE 0.078mm thick material. They are sealed using tie-wraps and placed inside the large jute bags of coffee in our warehouse.
Related Terms:
Vacuum Packaging Jute
Categories:
Equipment Processing Trade Terms


Hearthware Roaster
A company that makes several of the home air roasters we have stocked: the Precision (now discontinued), the iRoast (no longer in stock), and the iRoast2 (our current model).
Related Terms:
Hearthware Precision Hearthware IRoast Hearthware IRoast2
Categories:
Equipment


HotTop Coffee Roaster
A home drum roaster with a 9oz capacity, adjustable heat and airflow profiling, and an external cooling tray. For more information on the HotTop, visit our HotTop product page.
Related Terms:
Coffee Roaster Roasting Roast Profiling
Categories:
Equipment


Manual Grinder
A burr grinder powered by hand-turning a crank. Manual grinders can be cheaper than their electric counterparts, and they produce comparable quality grinds, but since they require a fair amount of effort to operate, they are not for everyone. Finer grinds will require more revolutions of the crank, and so take more time and effort.
Related Terms:
Burr Grinder
Categories:
Equipment


Nesco Coffee Roaster
A home air roaster with a 4oz capacity, a smoke reduction system, and auger-driven bean agitation. Formerly known as the Zach and Dani's Home Roaster (the same manufacturer made the unit under a private label). For more information, check out our Nesco product page.
Related Terms:
Roast Profiling Roasting Coffee Roaster
Categories:
Equipment


Nitrogen Flushing
Pushing nitrogen, an unreactive gas, into a bag of coffee to force out oxygen, which is more reactive. Nitrogen flushing is often done as part of vacuum packaging, since vacuuming out oxygen is not sufficient to remove all oxygen in a bag.
Related Terms:
Coffee Storage Vacuum Packaging
Categories:
Equipment Processing Trade Terms


Penagos
Peñagos is a Colombian company that produces demucilage coffee processors. This is a forced demucilage machine that uses little water, and removes the coffee fruit layer from the parchment seed using friction and a small amount of water. It is key to the newer Micro-Mill facilities. With this machine, you can adjust the water pressure level, and control exactly how much mucilage to leave on the seed; you can produce a fully-washed style coffee, or a pulp-natural style coffee.
Related Terms:
Pulp-Natural Process Pinhalense
Categories:
Equipment Processing


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


Pinhalense
A Brazilian coffee equipment manufacturer, that produces a wide range of equipment for wet-mills and dry-mills, coffee hullers, density sorters, graders, screening machines, roasters, dryers etc. They make a forced demucilage machine to compete with the Penagos from Colombia.
Related Terms:
Penagos
Categories:
Equipment


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


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


Raised Beds
Raised beds, also refered to as "african-style beds" are elevated beds used for drying coffee when dry-processing. Coffee can either be dried on raised beds or patio-dried (dried on the ground). Raised beds promote airflow, and thus they may promote even and rapid drying.
Related Terms:
Dry Process Pulp Natural
Categories:
Equipment Processing


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


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