Coffee Terminology...

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Alright all of you coffee lovers out there. Do you think you know your coffee? Can you walk into your favorite Starbucks in “Zombie mode” and order your morning coffee, making it sure it's made skinny, with soy, extra hot, with two shots of espresso and cream on top?

If you have a hard time understanding the difference between an Americano and a latte, this post is for you. We have created a list of some of the most popular coffee terms and some that you are sure to hear when sitting in your favorite coffee house.

AFFOGATO... Ice cream “drowned” with a shot of espresso.

AMERICANO... A shot of espresso diluted with hot water. (So, basically just coffee).

BARISTA... The person who prepares coffee at a coffee bar. If they are good (and friendly), remember to tip them well.

CAPPUCCINO... An espresso shot combined with foamed steamed milk.

CHEMEX... The classic hourglass-shaped filter coffee brewer. Chemex filters are denser than other paper filters, and many believe that this creates a sweeter, well-balanced cup of coffee.

COLD DRIP COFFEE... Coffee grounds are steeped in cold water for about 12 hours, then strained to make a concentrate that is often used for iced coffee and cut with milk or water. 12 hours?!

CORTADO... Espresso topped with flat steamed milk.

CREMA... Thick, caramel-colored emulsified oils that sit on top of an espresso.

CUPPING... Tasting method used by coffee professionals. Coarsely ground coffee is steeped with hot water in shallow bowls, then slurped from flat spoons.

DARK ROAST... Coffee beans roasted until they exude oils.

DIRECT TRADE... When coffee roasters buy directly from farms rather than from brokers. Proponents say it increases coffee quality and gives farmers more power.

DRIP COFFEE... Coffee made with a filter, a press pot, a percolator or a countertop coffee maker. Flavor is extracted by contact with water not under pressure.

ESPRESSO... Concentrated coffee made when hot water is forced at pressure through fine coffee grounds.

EXTRACTION... Drawing flavor from coffee grounds. Coffee can be under extracted and taste sour or over extracted and taste bitter.

FAIR TRADE... Private programs that certifies that farmers or coffee growers are paid a fair price for coffee.

FILTER COFFEE... Drip coffee made with a ceramic, glass or plastic cone lined with a paper filter.

FLAT WHITE... Espresso with flat, steamed milk.

FRENCH PRESS... Coffee made by steeping grounds with hot water in a vessel with a plunger and metal filter that pushes the grounds to the bottom. Often used in coffee bars for limited-edition coffees.

GREEN BEANS... “Un-roasted” coffee beans.

LATTE... Espresso with steamed milk.

LATTE ART... The pattern formed by rhythmically pouring steamed milk into an espresso drink. Decorative and demonstrative; only properly steamed milk will hold a form. 

MACCHIATO... Espresso topped with a dab of foamed steamed milk.

MICRO-LOT... Coffee from a single farm, or a specific part of that farm.

MOCHA... Espresso mixed with chocolate syrup and steamed milk.

NEL DRIP... Short for “flannel drip,” it’s a form of drip coffee that uses flannel filters imported from Japan. The filters are temperamental, and must be washed by hand and kept chilled when not in use. Not the most efficient way to make a cup of coffee.

PORTAFILTER... The filter basket and handle on an espresso machine.

POUR-OVER COFFEE... A method of drip coffee developed in Japan in which the water is poured in a thin, steady, slow stream over a filter cone. One cup of coffee takes as long as three minutes to brew. Three minutes doesn’t seem that bad unless you are just staring at the coffee dripping into the cup.

PULL... Espresso shots are “pulled.” The term is a holdover from when machines were lever operated.

REDEYE... A cup of brewed coffee with espresso. Also called a Shot in the Dark.

RISTRETTO... Espresso pulled short, meaning with less water. This creates a smaller, more concentrated drink.

ROAST... Unpalatable green beans are heated to create complex flavors that are extracted during brewing.

ROAST DATE... Most small-batch roasters print the roast date on bags of coffee. The rule of thumb is that coffee should be used within two weeks, and some coffee bars won’t sell beans more than a week after they have been roasted. But who here let’s a bag of coffee sit around that long?

SEASONAL COFFEE... Coffee beans ripen at different times of the year in different regions, and can appear in markets and coffee bars for limited times.

SINGLE ORIGIN... Coffee from a particular region, farm or area within a farm.

SIPHON... A coffee making device, using vacuum pressure and a series of vessels, that originated in the 19th century. It recently gained popularity in Japan and is being used more in the United States. Despite its complications, it is known for producing fruity, bright coffee.

SLOW DRIPPER... Unusual devices imported from Japan with a glass sphere and a series of tubes and valves that make coffee with cold water in about 12 hours. 12 hours for a cup of coffee?!


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