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Glossary Glossary

Helpful Coffee Glossary

The coffee world practically has a language of its own.  We, the "coffee people", also use common words with uncommon definitions.  We thought it would make sense to create this glossary to help you, the coffee novice, as we once were, to become experts.  So if you come upon a new word or a known word with a different meaning (like quaker) on this site, or any coffee site for that matter, just check this helpful coffee glossary, or drop us a note!


acidity- a desirable flavor in high grown coffee - sharp and pleasing, but not biting (Sivetz 11). (Our Cumbre (AAA) grade was commented as with a "complex acidity, hibiscus, lighter fruit, sweet fruit fragrance" in a cupping competition).

aftertaste- the sensation of brewed coffee vapors, ranging from carbony to chocolaty to spicy to turpeny, released from the residue remaining in the mouth after swallowing (Lingle 12).  (Our Bolivian coffees are noted for having no or a very clean aftertaste).

aged- normally, a taste and mouthfeel taint that gives coffee beans a less acidy taste and greater body (Lingle 12). However, some "aged" coffees develop a superior taste and are much sought after, just like aged wine.

almond- this superb aroma of toasted almonds is reminiscent of candy made from sugared almonds or chocolate covered almonds called 'pralines' (Lenoir 30).  (Our Cumbre (AAA) grade in 2005 was commented, "very good almond" at a cupping competition).

Arabica- Considered the superior coffee plant variety.  It originated in Ethiopia, where it still grows wild.  The Arabica tree is an evergreen that can reach 20 feet and produce the coffee beans for about forty years. It requires fertile soil, plenty of rainfall and shade to grow best. The best Arabicas grow at high altitudes in volcanic soils.  The dark green, oval leaves produce smalls bouquets of white flowers, which produce a very pleasant fragrance.  Currently, only 40% of the world's coffee is Arabica.

aroma- the sensation of the gases released from brewed coffee, as they are inhaled through the nose by sniffing.

ashfourbucks- the nickname of a very large coffee chain, which, in our opinion, serves burnt coffee (e.g. "ashy") and where you cannot buy anything for a buck.


baked- a taste and odor taint that gives the coffee brew an insipid taste and a flat bouquet (Lingle 14).  Baking usually occurs when the beans are roasted too long with too little heat.

balance- the taste of a coffee has a satisfying mixture of two or more basic taste senses.

basic taste senses- salty, sour, bitter, and sweet.

body- is described in coffee as the quality of its "texture, fullness, or richness" (Pangborn 16). "A strong but pleasant full mouth feel characteristic as opposed to being thin" (ICO 16).

bouquet- the total aromatic profile of a coffee brew (Lingle 16).

brew- the complex mixture of gases, soluble material, and insoluble material extracted from roasted and ground coffee beans by submersion in water (Lingle 16).

burnt- a bitter charcoal taste generally due to over roasting (Smith 17).


caramel- this wonderful smell evokes that of caramel, coffee, grilled pineapple and strawberries, which is not surprising because all four of these contain furaneol.  This scent is a powerful flavor enhancer and an important part of the aroma of coffee, as one of the most striking features (Lenoir 17).  (Our 2005 Cumbre Supremo (A4) was commented with a "great balance, caramel, butterscotch flavor" at a cupping competition).

chocolaty- the smell of chocolate that comes from fermented, roasted, ground cocoa beans mixed with sugar (cocoa is not as rich because part of its fat is extracted by pressing).  Many of the same compounds are found in both coffee and cocoa, like thiazoles and dimethylprazine, which contribute largely to their aromas (Lenoir 19) (Bolivian coffees are noted for their excellent hints of chocolate).

clean- free from flavor taints and faults (Lingle 19); without any off-flavor (Nestle 19).  (Some of our 2007 Special Lots (A5) coffees were commented, "sweet citric, very clean, great balance" at a cupping competition).

cupping- the process of objectively evaluating coffee quality and taste. For more detail look into cupping


Fair Trade- "Fair Trade is an innovative, market-based approach to sustainable development. Fair Trade helps family farmers in developing countries to gain direct access to international markets, as well as to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace. By learning how to market their own harvests, Fair Trade farmers are able to bootstrap their own businesses and receive a fair price for their products. This leads to higher family living standards, thriving communities and more sustainable farming practices. Fair Trade empowers farming families to take care of themselves - without developing dependency on foreign aid". Fair Trade assures coffee grower families of a minimum price to cover their costs. However, it is not a measurement (nor certification) of coffee quality.

finish- the lingering taste while coffee is in the mouth before swallowed; as opposed to the aftertaste which comes after coffee is swallowed.

fragrance- having a sweet or delicate aroma; "ranges from sweetly floral to sweety spicy" (Lingle 23).  (Our 2006 Cumbre (AAA) grade was commented with a "Sweet fruit fragrance" in a cupping competition).

full- indicates a full and balanced taste (Nestle 24); a prefix to good characteristics such as acid and body, to indicate a strong character (Smith24).  (Our 2006 Premium Primera Extra (A) was commented, "Citric, full round sweet, ripe grapes, dark cherry, chocolate hint, nice smooth finish" at a cupping competition).


grading- the process of objectively evaluating the physical characteristics of green coffee prior to tasting.   For more detail look into about grading

green- a specific taste due to under-roasting the coffee.

Green coffee- Coffee beans that have not been roasted. They have no "coffee" flavor. Do not brew before roasting. It will be awful!


nose- the sensation of vapors released from brewed coffee as they are exhaled by the movement of the larynx while swallowing (Lingle 30).


oily- slick, greasy oral sensation (Pangborn 31); a term sometimes used to denote a coffee that has a roasted oily taste due to a high degree of roasting (Lingle 31).


quaker- a lighter colored, unripe or under-developed coffee been found in a batch of roasted coffee beans.


round- a balanced coffee whose basic characteristics are just at the right level, with none particularly apparent, giving an impression of roundness (Nestle 35). (Our 2006 Premium Primera Extra (A) grade was commented, "Citric, full round sweet, ripe grapes, dark cherry, chocolate hint, nice smooth finish" at a cupping competition).

Robusta- the other major commercially available coffee variety. Has twice the amount of caffeine as Arabica, and a very flat and unpleasant taste. Mostly use for blends (to lower the cost) and for instant coffee. During the past 10 years, Vietnam has come out of nowhere to become the second largest world coffee producer, behind Brazil and displacing Colombia to third place, mainly due to their "race to the bottom" coffee production efforts.


SCAA- Specialty Coffee Association of America

single-terroir- coffee that is grown at one small, geographic location

single-origin- coffee that comes from the same region. Usually lumped as the same country.

sweet- a pleasant, clean taste (Sivetz 39); a nice clean soft coffee free of any harshness. (Our Superior (AA) grade was said to have, "Sweetness and a lot of chocolate", our Primera Extra (A) grade has a "full, round sweet" flavor, while our Cumbre (AAA) grade had a "sweet fruit fragrance" and "intensely sweet, wouldn't need sugar" in a cupping competition)

Used Source: The Basics of Cupping Coffee. Lingle, Ted R. ©2003.

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