Open login
Add Your Business to the fastest growing Coffee Industry Business Directory for FREE!
Expose your business to a worldwide audience. Find out how a listing can work for you or add your business.
Coffee Terminology
PDF Print E-mail
Article Index
Coffee Terminology
Roast Levels
Espresso Terms
Industry Politics and Environment
All Pages
We at are pleased to be able to introduce this wonderful coffee terminology guide written by Jason Haeger, a coffee professional working to bring quality coffee to Lubbock, Texas. A transplant from AZ, he is in a unique position to draw a comparison between the similarities of the growing coffee scene between TX and AZ.

He contributed this article:

Coffee Terminology

The Specialty Coffee Industry is full of lots of jargon that isn’t normally used by the general population of consumers. I understand how confusing it can be. I remember when I first began asking about the differences between a latte and a cappuccino. I didn’t have a clue and, it seemed, that neither did anyone else.

Here is a list of different terms and terminology and their definitions in layman’s terms. If anything needs to be added, or if there are any questions I have not addressed, please feel free to leave a comment and I will add to the list as necessary.

I hope this proves to be a helpful guide.

coffee terminology guideBeverages

Americano: Espresso diluted with hot water to roughly the consistency of drip coffee. Similar to drip, but with more complexity, and the benefits of the espresso’s crema.

Cappuccino: 1/3 Espresso (2oz.) 1/3 Milk (2oz.) 1/3 soft microfoam (2oz.) This drink is always free-poured, and never spooned. If your coffee house spoons their foam, find a new shop. Sometimes topped with Cinnamon or Chocolate powder, but left alone for the purists.

Chai: A spiced Indian tea beverage with varying ingredients, but usually including ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, sugar, milk, and, of course, Tea. There are many variations of this list of ingredients, but most will contain at least this, if not anise or fennel, or maybe even black peppercorns. Pronounced “CHigh”

Cuppa: Short for “cup-of-coffee”

Cappa: (or Cappu) Short for “cappuccino”.

Espresso: A ~1oz (single) or ~2oz (double) beverage created by a high pressure extraction at ~9bar pressure from ~8 (single) or ~15 grams (double) of fine, evenly ground coffee, evenly distributed and compacted into what is known as a puck. The Espresso has three major parts to its anatomy. The Crema, the Body, and the Heart. If your coffee house’s espresso lacks Crema, it’s time to find a new shop.

Flat White: Usually ~6oz. In all. Similar to a cappuccino, but with latte proportions of foam.

Frappe: Common terminology for an iced, blended beverage. Often containing coffee. Starbucks has a well-known rendition of their own known as a Frappuccino Blended Coffee (or Frappuccino Blended Crème, depending on the recipe)

Iced Coffee: Just like it sounds. Coffee, cold, and on the rocks.

Latte: A little bit of espresso and a lot of milk, with a thin cap of foam. Generally anything 10oz. And up. Flavorings may be added to form flavored lattes. (i.e.- vanilla latte, hazelnut latte, etc..). Milk may be substituted with Soy milk for a Soy Latte. A latte made with nonfat (or skim) milk is often known as a Skinny Latte.

Latte Macchiato: A latte made by pouring the espresso in last, on top of the milk and foam.

Macchiato: Macchiato is an Italian word meaning “to mark” or “to stain”. A Macchiato is a single or double shot of espresso, marked with a bit of foam or frothed milk, usually with close to equal portions espresso and foam or frothed milk.

Mocha: Named for the drink made popular by Portuguese traders at the port of Mocha, it’s a drink made with chocolate, espresso, steamed (sometimes frothed) milk, and topped with whipped cream.

Processing and Roasting

Coffee Cherry: Coffee beans are actually coffee seeds that make up the pit of a coffee cherry. Coffee cherries are picked when they are ripe, and bright red in color. The pulp and mucus is removed, most of the time mechanically, and the coffee seeds are then either set out to dry (natural dry process), or sent to a fermentation tank where the coffee seeds are set in water, and allowed to ferment for anywhere from ~.5day or 1.5days, removing the mucilage from the seed. The coffee seeds are often sorted out by density (higher density being higher quality) at this time, as higher density coffee seeds will sink.

Coffee Processing: See Coffee Cherry

Cooling tray: The cooling tray is usually circular, and equipped with stirring arms that agitate the just-out-of-the-roaster coffee with air being pulled through the tray (and through the mass of freshly roasted beans) to halt the roast by bringing the temperature of the beans down from over 400F down to room temperature. Without forced cooling, the beans would continue to roast beyond the intended rate.

Degas: The time needed for a batch of coffee to release Carbon Dioxide for optimum flavor. More degassing is necessary for optimum espresso than is needed for brewed coffee.

Green Coffee: The coffee seed before it is roasted, and after it is processed and dried. This is the form coffee is in when it is purchased by a roasting company.

Roast Profile: The rate, timing, temperature, and homogeneity of roast rate at various layers of the bean (external and internal). Roast profiling is critical for allowing the coffee’s own characteristics to be highlighted as well as for blending different coffees to be used as espresso, or as brewed coffee.

Tryer: On a drum roaster, the tryer is the tool used to collect a sample of coffee to be observed by the roastmaster during roasting in order to track the profile and progress of the roast.

Light Roast: No oil, usually cinnamon, or a little darker in color. Lighter body, more flavor of origin and acidity comes through.

Medium Roast: Very little to no oil present. Milk chocolate in color, has added depth of body at the cost of some acidity, and possibly at the cost of some origin characteristics.

Dark Roast: Dark, almost black, with ample amounts of oil present on the surface. Almost, or all origin characteristics are gone, the body is beginning to decrease, the flavor is thin, and usually tastes of the roast, including charcoal, bitter flavors, and very low acidity.

First Crack: A roasting term. The coffee bean’s first expansion as vaporized moisture escapes. The coffee been expands to nearly double its volumetric size, and a popping sound almost like popping popcorn can be heard.

Second Crack: The coffee bean’s second expansion as vaporized moisture is released, and the bean structure itself begins to fracture. Many of the flavors of origin are burned off during second crack, while body is increased, and acidity becomes more muted, or possibly lacking entirely. A noise sounding much like rice cereal in milk can be heard as the second crack develops.

Facebook MySpace Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Google Bookmarks