Coffee Vocabulary | 59 Essential Words To Know As A Coffee Lover

coffee vocabulary

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If you’re a coffee lover, you’re in the right place!

As a beginner, it’s important that you know and understand the meaning of the words that are related to coffee.

It’s quite easy to use your morning cup of joe as a great study opportunity.

We’ve compiled this list of words specifically for you to make sure you never have an embarrassing moment in the coffee shop again and mostly to enrich your coffee vocabulary.

And once you complete this list, we’ll give you more than enough reason to buy a cup of coffee (or multiple cups).

I’m talking about 59 words for you to know even if it’s your first time in a coffee shop or just you are a regular but somehow you want to enrich your coffee vocabulary.

The list consists of words that are often used in a coffee shop and which non-coffee drinkers might be oblivious to their meaning.

So if you want to appear more sophisticated, if you want to learn about the way coffee is usually consumed, and for those who really love coffee and would like to take your knowledge there, read on.

Coffee Drinks

Espresso

A caffeine-based hot beverage that’s made by forcing pressurized water through finely-ground coffee beans. A single espresso shot is typically 30 ml to 60 ml in volume and usually contains about 100 mg caffeine.

Decaf

A caffeine-free drink made from coffee beans that have had their caffeine leached out by soaking in water for a period of time.

Cappuccino

Espresso with frothed milk, usually served in a small cup that is around 5 to 5.5oz (150-160 ml).

Drip Coffee

The most common way to make coffee at home. Water is heated and forced through ground coffee beans in a filter, usually paper or a metal mesh.

Flat White

flat white is a caffeinated drink consisting of espresso and milk/foam.

The word “flat” in the name simply refers to the lack of a layer of foam on top.

Latte

The word comes from the Italian for “milk.” A latte is a type of coffee beverage, made with espresso and steamed milk, but with foam on top.

This drink offers an additional layer of flavor to the coffee drinker.

Macchiato

An espresso with a small amount of frothed milk. It’s typically made by pouring a shot of espresso into a glass, then adding frothed milk.

Americano

An Americano is basically an espresso topped with hot water. It is usually served in a tempered glass mug ranging between 12 and 20 ounces.

Lungo

An Italian word meaning “to lengthen,” it describes a drink that’s made using a longer-than-usual espresso shot.

A lungo is typically the same as an espresso but is made with twice as much water to make an espresso.

Ristretto

An Italian word meaning “to restrict,” it describes a drink that’s made using a shorter-than-usual espresso shot. It’s also known as an “espresso reduction.”

It is made with less water than an espresso shot.

Iced Coffee

A coffee drink made iced by blending coffee into the milk or cream that makes up the remainder of the drink.

This can be done in the brew method, but it’s most commonly done by putting coffee concentrate in a blender with milk or cream and blending to create a smooth, cold beverage.

Cold Brew

Simply coarse coffee grounds left to steep in room temperature water for an extended period of time.

Breve

An espresso-based drink with steamed half-and-half instead of milk. A layer of foam is also added on top.

For a more comprehensive list and explanation of the most popular types of espresso-based drinks, read more here.

Coffee Processing

French Roast

The most common type of roasted coffee in the United States. A rich, silky brew, it generally is made by roasting coffee beans to an intense shade of brown.

The beans are cracked open and rebrokened in such a way that they end up with small pinholes.

This process develops flavors like hazelnut and chocolate that some drinkers say contribute to the drink’s full taste.

Some grocers also sell preground French roast, which is similar but tends to have less flavor and more body than whole-bean coffee.

Light-Roast

Beans that have been roasted for a shorter amount of time (usually at the sound of the first crack or slightly before). Their flavor and acidity are more pronounced as the oils in the coffee beans haven’t got the chance to be released.

Medium-Roast

A medium roast is between dark and light roast in intensity. Darker than the medium French, it’s a rich brown that’s sometimes preferred by people who drink coffee from a mug or travel with limited equipment.

Some people like to use this type of coffee for baking or as an after-dinner drink when its flavor doesn’t overwhelm their palate.

Dark-Roast

A robust, spicy brew that’s higher in oil than a light roast. It’s favored by people who drink their coffee black.

Want to know more about the different types coffee roasting? Read on here.

Wet-Process

The wet process involves plunging the coffee cherries into water to extract the valuable constituents.

Dry-Process

The opposite of wet-processed coffee, dry-processed coffees are made from roasted beans that have been dry-stored.

The process removes some of the oils and gases from the beans, but it also removes some of their flavor and aroma.

Grinding

Coffee is typically ground in two stages: first to make espresso and then for brewing the regular drink.

The first stage is called espresso and is made by forcing hot water through the beans to extract their oils.

The “coffee” brewed from the grinders is also soaked in hot water before it goes into the machine so that it can be brewed at a later time and retain more of the rich oils and flavors.

Honey-Processing

The method by which coffee cherry is dried in the sun without washing and then gathered and cleaned to remove any remaining moisture.

The result is a rich, full-bodied coffee that has a smooth taste.

Pulping

The process of removing the skin of coffee seeds in preparation for roasting. It’s done by passing the seeds between rollers, then steaming them to remove the chaff.

Mucilage

A sticky substance found in the pulp of coffee beans. It’s known for providing a rich, smooth taste to the end product.

Coffee Production

Fertile soil

The most important factor in growing coffee. Not only must the soil be rich in nitrogen and minerals, but it must also be sandy and well-drained.

Coffee plants need good air circulation as well as an ample amount of sunlight to thrive.

Coffee Cherries

It is the fruit that is on the coffee bean.

Coffee Beans

The fruit of the coffee tree, which grows as small berries. The beans are green and must be turned dry. They grow on the plant for about 6-9 months before they ripen.

Single-Origin

A coffee that comes from a given cultivar, or type, or coffee tree. Each specific type of coffee, such as Guatemalan or Costa Rican, tends to have different flavors.

Single-origin coffees are often characterized by the country of origin as well as by the variety of the bean’s characteristics.

Organic

The cultivation methods used on certified organic farms don’t have a negative effect on the environment.

A coffee grown using these methods may be “certified organic” or “made with organic ingredients.

Fair Trade

Coffee that has been grown under fair trade conditions. These are agreements between growers and buyers set up by organizations, including the Fair Trade Federation, which ensures that growers receive a fair price for their crops.

Coffee Blends

A coffee recipe with many different types of beans and origins used to create a special tasting coffee drink. Some blends have been created using multiple types of beans and unique flavors.

Coffee Beans

Green Beans

The seeds of the coffee plant. The beans are green in color when freshly picked, but as they’re exposed to heat (roasting), they turn either blonde, medium or dark in color.

Peaberry Beans

Occasionally found among coffee beans, these are coffee cherries that have already begun to ripen on their own. Because they have one type of bean, they fetch a higher price than other beans. Peaberry beans are used in signature blends to provide unique and flavorful flavors.

Arabica Beans

The Arabica coffee bean is most common type of coffee. It’s named for the Arab country of origin, Ethiopia, where it was first discovered.

The beans are rich in caffeine and tend to be less acidic than other types of coffee.

Robusta Beans

Also known as Coffea canephora, they have a high caffeine content but tend to have more pungent flavors than Arabica. The beans have been brewed since the Middle Ages.

Common Coffee Terminology

Crema

A thin layer of froth that floats on top of an espresso drink when it is prepared correctly.

Aroma

A characteristic of coffee. It’s the aroma that comes from roasting the beans while they are still green.

Chaff

The husk of the coffee cherry that is removed before roasting the beans.

Caffeine

The stimulant that is found in coffee beans.

Cup of Joe

Slang for a cup of coffee.

Java

The nickname for coffee, which is said to have come from the island of Java, where it was first imported.

Coffee Culture

The term used to describe the culture of people who drink coffee.

Coffee Making From Beans To Cup

Barista

A person employed to prepare a range of coffee types, usually as part of a job that includes other duties, such as beverage service, food preparation and janitorial tasks.

Baristas often have more education than most counter staff. The name “barista” derives from the Italian term for “bartender.”

Extraction

Extraction is a process in which hot water moves through the coffee beans to extract their flavors. The more the beans are extracted, the stronger the coffee will be.

Espresso Machine

A machine for brewing espresso that heats water to almost boiling temperature and then forces it through the ground coffee.

The pressure of the water helps transfer flavors from one cup of coffee to another.

Creamer

A powdered coffee additive usually dairy-free used to reduce acidity and enhance flavor.

Drip Coffee Filters

Paper filters that are used to filter brewed coffee. They are also used in drip coffee-making machines.

Chemex

A coffee maker created by Peter Schlumbohm that has a cone-shaped filter. The coffee is poured into the cone, then the grounds are immersed in steam water and drip through a separate chamber.

Vacuum Pot

A coffee brewer that requires a vacuum to be created before steeping the grounds.

Ground coffee is placed in an upper cylinder with cold water and was sucked out of the chamber once it was heated to boiling temperature.

French Press

A coffee brewer made from glass or sturdy plastic. The grounds are steeped in hot water for a few minutes, then pressed to separate the coffee grounds from the liquid.

Moka Pot

A coffee maker that uses steam pressure to pressurize a metal pot. Not a fancy coffee machine but you only need to put it on the stove to get your cup of joe.

The water boils and then rises through the ground coffee, making the coffee grounds open up and release flavor.

Percolator

A device that uses slow and steady steam pressure, instead of gravity, to extract coffee.

Siphon

A device for making coffee using pressure from steam to force ground coffee through the filter and into a receiving cup.

Milk Frother

A device used to froth milk that is poured on top of certain types of coffee drinks. A milk frother will heat the milk while creating large bubbles in the milk.

The texture is more airy and light.

Steaming Wand

A metal wand designed for steam to pass through. It is usually attached to the side of most espresso coffee machines.

Contrary to the milk frother, the steaming wand will create smaller microfoam in the milk. This results in a more dense and velvety textured hot milk.

Latte Art

A design made in the top of the coffee after the steaming process of the milk. Some skilfull baristas can make very beautiful and creative latte art in the forms of a leaf or a heart.

Ground Coffee

Consisting of crushed coffee beans, it is used in an espresso machine, Moka pots, drip etc.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee can be found in the form of granules or powder. The process to obtain instant coffee is lengthier as the green coffee beans are roasted, ground, brewed.

The brewed coffee is reduced to a more concentrated liquid then freeze-dried until granules are obtained.

This type of coffee is soluble in hot water and was made to cut significant brewing time unlike ground coffee beans would normally take.

Portafilter

A metal device that is used to hold a group of ground coffee beans between two metal arms.

The portafilter holds the tamped coffee grounds and this is where the extraction process of the espresso takes place. Also known as the filter holder.

Pour-Over Coffee Maker

A coffee brewer that uses gravity to transfer hot water over freshly ground beans.

Final Thought About Coffee Vocabulary

I hope this extensive list of coffee vocabulary will help you in your coffee journey.

As a coffee lover or amateur, I think it’s always better to know which type of coffee contains what and the amount of coffee to milk ratio.

Ordering a coffee in your local coffee shop or anywhere in the world will surely be a nice experience when you know exactly what you want and know the coffee terms.

Since you are now ready to start exploring the world of coffee-making, I suggest you learn more. I have a whole lot of detailed articles on coffee that I’m sure you’ll love.

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