Coffee Jargon Buster - How to Blag Your Way as a Coffee Expert

Author: Chris Harris

We've all been there... guilty of nodding along as our work colleagues discussing different coffee varietals or the merits of pour-over brewing, without one clue as to what they're going on about. When in fact it's a lot easier than you think to get to grips with the technical-sounding coffee jargon that's bounded around when self-professed coffee aficionados are around. But fear not - we've put together this handy guide to help you fake it till you make it...

Coffee Jargon Buster
 

Acidity - Describes certain flavour notes in coffee, such as 'tangy' or 'fruity' - not to be confused with acidy - used for coffee with high acidity on the pH scale. We prefer battery acid. 

Aero Press: A hand-powered coffee brewer. Consists of two cylinders, one sliding within the other, somewhat resembling a large syringe. Water is forced through ground coffee held in place by a paper filter, creating a concentrated filter below.

Arabica - One of the main species of coffee made from the coffea tree originating in Ethiopia, and accounts for 75-80% of the world's production of coffee. Loved by many as it gives a complex variety of flavours and tastes.

Aroma - The smell of coffee once it's just been brewed. 

Barista - The gal or guy who makes your coffee for you. Italian for Bartender, the good ones definitely know their coffee. Listen to them.

Bloom - When hot water meets fresh ground coffee, carbon dioxide is released - this is called the 'bloom'. You can tell how fresh your coffee is by the amount of gas released. 

Body - The weight of the coffee in terms of how it feels in your mouth.

Brewing - Any method for making coffee. Everyone has a favourite and will insist why it is superior. Choose a side and stick with it. 

Burr grinder - A burr grinder, or mill, is used to grind coffee beans evenly. It can usually be adjustable to grind beans very fine through to coarse depending on your brewing method. Creating consistent coffee granules is important to maintain a high brewing quality, and resulting tasty cup. 

Complexity - Describes the range of flavours when smelling and tasting coffee. 

Caffeine
- Our best friend. Caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant found in the seeds, nuts and leaves of many plants including the coffee bean. Known for its performance-enhancing effects on the body. 

Chemex
- Brand name for a pour-over-coffee brewer, in the shape of an hour-glass, invented in 1941.

Crack (first and second) - During the roasting process there are two points when a temperature reaches a certain threshold and releases a sound or crack when gases are released. Light roasts start after the first and the coffee structure will start to collapse after the second.

Crema - Top layer of foam on an espresso which adds texture and flavour.  

Cupping - Evaluating different characteristics of a particular coffee on the senses taking note of the tastes and aromas of the brewed coffee.

Drip method: A way to brew coffee where water seeps through coffee by gravity and not pressure.

Espresso - A short black, or 30 millilitre shot of coffee, extracted using an espresso machine.

Estate Coffee - Coffee that has all been grown in a certain region. Unlike single-origin coffee, estate coffee may be grown on several different farms.

Filter - Coffee that's made by coffee grounds being steeped with water and passed through a filter to remove all the solid bits.

French Press - Sometimes called a Cafetiere is a brewing device with a filter-plunger, best used with coarse ground coffee. Since the coffee is fully immersed in the French Press, the level of extraction is high. Steep the coffee for a few minutes and then serve. Over extraction will cause the coffee to taste bitter. 

Grade - Relates to the size of a coffee bean. Larger, denser beans tend to have better flavour (though there are exceptions). Coffee beans are graded by being passed through sieves before roasting.

Green coffee: - Coffee that's pre-roasted.  

Grind - Refers to the particle size of ground coffee, which is different depending on the brewing method from coarse to fine. The grind controls the level of coffee extraction. By increasing the surface area of the coffee with a finer a grind, the faster the coffee can be extracted. Finer grinds also increase surface tension and less effected by gravity during brewing. 

Microfoam -  The shaving-foam like consistency of milk you should be aiming for lattes, cappuccinos and other milky coffees.

Mouthfeel - The description of the texture of coffee in the mouth, e.g. silky. Probably guessed that one. 

Natural process - A drying method where the whole coffee cherries are dried under the sun, which ams to reduce the acidity of the coffee. 

Over extracted - What happens when ground coffee has been exposed to hot water for too long which causes a bitter or burnt taste. 

Peaberry - A coffee bean that hasn't separated into two parts, know for its intense fine flavour. 

Pour over - Method for brewing coffee that requires a steady stream of hot water poured over ground coffee within a filter cone, i.e. using a Chemex or V60. 

Puck - The residual coffee grounds from making an espresso or Aeropress, that's been compressed due to pressure that resembles a hockey 'puck'.

Pull - When you make an Espresso you 'pull' an Espresso. 

Robusta: This is a common name for Coffea Canephora plant. Coffea Canephora and Coffea Arabica are practically the only coffee species used to make coffee. Robusta trees are deemed 'robust', as they're less susceptible to pests and disease and therefore yield more crop. Coffea Canephora is the dominant coffee species grown at low elevations due to its ability to resist pests and disease. Robusta coffee tends to have twice as much caffeine compared to Arabica beans. 

Single origin - Coffee grown within a single known geographic origin. Sometimes this is a single farm or a specific collection of beans from a single country.

Siphon brewer - An unusual brewing method which works with a vacuum that draws hot water through coffee from one glass chamber to another. 

Specialty coffee - Specialty coffee should not be confused with 'gourmet' or 'premium' coffee. The latter are marketing terms with no defined standards. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), coffee which scores 80 points or above on a 100-point scale is graded 'specialty'.

Steam wand - The pipe which magically produces frothy milk on an espresso machine. 

Tamper - A device used to compress coffee inside a filter basket before beginning the brewing operation. 

Tamping - Method of putting a steady force onto coffee in the filter basket of an espresso machine, which maintains a consistent flow of water during brewing. 

Third Wave - The third wave coffee movement is the production and consumption of high-quality artisan or craft coffee which appreciates all of its processes, from the origin of the harvested bean to the roasting and brewing process.  

V60 - A pour over coffee brewer made by Hario from Japan, taking its name from the 60° angle of the V-shaped cone. 

Wet process - In the wet process, the fruit covering the seeds/beans is removed before they are dried. Coffee processed by the wet method is called wet processed or washed coffee. The wet method requires the use of specific equipment and substantial quantities of water. The coffee cherries are sorted by immersion in water.

Whole bean - Unground coffee beans that are roasted and ready to be ground to whatever size required for the brewing method. Whole beans stay fresh for longer than ground coffee.