Coffee Glossary: Talk Like a Barista, Part 2
Welcome to part 2 of our coffee glossary. The first part covered terms related to processing and roasting coffee, essentially what happens to the coffee bean before we buy it at a cafe or brew it at home. Even though becoming familiar with processing and roasting terms are key to understanding the specialty coffee industry, in this post I will cover more of the every day words you might hear or use in your local coffee shop. Because coffee is worldwide, certain terms - such as the illusive flat white - have made their way to American cafes and often confused baristas and customers alike. I hope these terms give you confidence in knowing how to describe the coffee you're tasting so you can order at your local Temple Coffee like a pro!
BREWING AND TASTING
Acidity: This term can sometimes be confusing or intimidating if you are new to specialty coffee. Acidity is a tart snap found in tactfully grown, roasted, and brewed coffee. It should be distinguished from an unpleasant sour or astringency due to improper roasting or brewing. Without acidity in coffee, a cup can taste bland, dull, or monotone, so it is essential to a dynamic and lively experience. Other positive synonyms you can use when describing acidity in coffee include: bright, zesty, citric, or tart.
Aeropress: A manual brewing device created by Aerobe (yes, the frisbee company), that is great for single cup mobile brew on the go. Marketed as a “double espresso” this portable brewing device can alternately be used to make full immersion coffee (like a French press). It is often used when traveling or camping or for coffee aficionados who love coming up with their own unique and innovative recipes.
Aroma: The smell which gives distinct inclinations of what a coffee will taste like. Aroma is determined once water is added to ground coffee, and the beverage becomes consumable. This should excite your palate and prepare it for tasting. There are over 800 aromatic and flavor compounds found in coffee, compared to 250 found in wine.
Agitation: A physical manipulation of the coffee bed. Natural agitation occurs when water is introduced during a pour over. Agitation speeds up extraction. Some baristas choose to purposefully agitate a coffee during the bloom with a spoon or other utensil to ensure all their coffee grounds are fully saturated. Others agitate during a specific time of the brew to highlight flavors or attributes extracting at that time.
Balanced: A term used to describe a coffee that is harmonious in its flavors, aroma, body, or finish. No one quality dominates the coffee, but rather its qualities are proportionate to each other.
Bitter: Although most people would believe bitterness to be a negative taste, roasted coffee can have some natural bitterness to it. Bitterness can be minimized by high quality roasting and brewing. Coffee that is too dark will contain more charred and bitter notes. Coffee that is over-extracted will also contain an unpleasant bitterness.
Bloom: A chemical reaction that occurs the moment water touches your freshly ground coffee. It is a rapid degassing pushing any CO2 or other volatile oils - imparted to the bean through roasting - out of your coffee grounds. Visually this will look as an expansion and allowing for a 30-45 second bloom in your pour over will lead to a more even extraction of solubles, oils, and flavors.
Body: Or mouthfeel is the sense of heaviness, tactile richness, or thickness when you swish the coffee around your mouth. It also describes texture: oily, buttery, creamy, juicy.
Burr Grinder: Contains two serrated plates made of either metal or ceramic called burrs. These burrs sit together at a set distance apart. One burr spins while the other stays stationary, and coffee passes through a few beans at a time and is crushed uniformly. A more uniform grind results in a better chance at a uniform extraction and tastier coffee. A burr grinder can improve your home coffee brewing dramatically, and should be your first big investment to brewing great coffee.
Caffeine: “An alkaloidal compound that has a physiological effect on humans, and a slight bittering flavor. It is found throughout the coffee plant but is more concentrated in the seed / coffee bean. Arabica ranges from 1.0 to 1.6% caffeine, and Robusta (Coffea Canephora) from 1.6 to 2.2% caffeine. It is highly water soluble. The amount of caffeine in brewed coffee is directly proportional to how much ground coffee was used to make the cup.” – Sweet Marias
Channeling: This occurs when water finds a weak area in your coffee puck, an area of less density, and flows through that area faster than the rest of the coffee bed. Channeling can lead to watery, acidic, and lackluster brews and can be avoided by careful distribution, settling, and tamping in your espresso basket. Though any manual brew can channel, they are more extreme when pressure is used such as with espresso.
Chemex: Invented in 1941 by a chemist, this pour over brewing device is iconic for its hourglass shape and bonded Chemex filters which create a clean, tea-like body.
Clever Dripper: A brew device designed to prepare a single cup of filtered coffee. Clevers combine the ease and mouth-feel of a full-immersion brewer with the clean flavors of filtered pour over coffee. Because it is made of BPA free plastic, it is durable, affordable, and easy to clean.
Cupping: A standardized method of tasting coffee throughout the world. During a cupping, green coffee buyers decide which lots of coffee to purchase by scoring, pricing, and looking for defects. Because it is precise and has very little room for manual error, it allows the cupper to taste various coffees on an even playing field. Temple’s Head Roaster and Director of Coffee cup every batch we roast to ensure its quality and taste are up to our standards.
Crema: A dense foam that floats on top of espresso. Usually reddish brown with some light flecking. Crema quickly dissipates as a shot of espresso sits - usually between thirty-seconds to one-minute.
Finish: A coffee’s aftertaste; the flavor or lingering sensation left on the palate once the coffee has been spat out or swallowed. Common descriptor words used when evaluating a coffee’s finish include: bitter-sweet, lingering, fleeting, smooth.
Fragrance: The smell of freshly ground coffee determined before water is added to your grounds, whereas aroma is determined when the coffee becomes consumable.
French Press: Patented in 1929, the French Press remains one of the most popular methods of home brewing. Its full-immersion brew and mesh filter help create its distinct heavy body and saturated flavors.
Full-Immersion Brew: When ground coffee and water sit together during brewing, such as a French Press or Cold Brew. Imagine a pour over: your water only briefly passes through your coffee bed, similar to a shower. Now imagine a French Press where your coffee and water are allowed to sit together freely – to stick with the analogy, it is similar to a bath.
Over-Extraction: A term used to describe when too many coffee particles are taken from your ground coffee and into your brew water. Typically caused by the grind size being too fine for the volume of water. If water is passing through, such as with espresso or pour overs, the water will pass through too slowly. The coloring may be dark brown-black with color extremes. The flavor will be bitter, hollow, muddled, or monotone. This will also be accompanied by a drying sensation on your palate. Where proper extraction is 18%-22%, over-extraction occurs when water pulls more than 22% of solubles from your grounds.
Pre-Infusion: Referred to a process while brewing espresso, when a small amount of water is added at a low pressure to slowly wet the grounds evenly before applying full pressure to the coffee puck. Ideally it would lead to a more even extraction and less channeling.
Strength: In coffee, strength is referred to your coffee-to-water ratio, so how much coffee versus how much water you are using for your brew. For a typical drip coffee, Temple uses a 16.7:1 water:coffee ratio. However, for our Dharma Espresso Blend, we use a 1.4:1 ratio which is significantly more condensed in flavor with a thick creamy body. Your coffee-to-water ratio or strength will not affect your extraction per se, but will affect the intensity of flavors in your brew.
Total Dissolved Solids aka TDS: Coffee is roughly 98 percent water and 1+% coffee stuff – soluble flavoring material you took from the ground coffee when you poured hot water over it. TDS informs you of your brew strength – how much of your beverage is coffee stuff and how much is just water. If your TDS reading is 1.5, that means your beverage is 1.5% coffee stuff and 98.5% water. Temple uses a refractometer to calibrate TDS for all of our pour over options which influences proper coffee-to-water ratio or grind size for a specific coffee. Calibrating proper strength and extraction will allow us to serve the best tasting cup of coffee. It’s science!
Under-Extraction: A term used to describe when too few coffee particles are taken from your ground coffee and into your brew water. Typically, the grind size is too coarse for the volume of water. If water is passing through, such as with espresso or pour overs, the water will pass through too quickly. The coloring may be blonde, lighter than ideal, or washed out. The body will be thin, and the taste will be flat, sour, and lacking sweetness. Where proper extraction is 18%-22%, under-extraction is when your brew water pulls less than 18% of solubles from your grounds.
DRINKS AND CAFE TERMS
Café Au Lait: A hot beverage containing roughly 70% coffee and 30% steamed milk.
Cappuccino: A double espresso with steamed milk and a hearty amount of micro-foam including latte art. While our lattes are 12-16 ounces, our cappuccinos are 6-8 ounces with double the foam amount. They are also served at 130 degrees Fahrenheit vs. our latte which are served at 140 degrees.
Coffee in the Dark aka Red Eye: A drip coffee with a shot of espresso.
Doppio: Means “double” in Italian and is typically used to order a “double espresso.”
Drip Coffee aka Batch Brew aka Filtered Coffee: Usually what is brewed in bulk and ready made for quick service.
Dry: simply means ‘more foam’. For example, “Can I get a dry Cappuccino?”
Espresso: Not eXpresso. A brewing method used to create a condensed, made-to-order beverage using pressurized hot water and finely ground coffee. Specialty Coffee Association defines espresso as:
“Espresso is a 25–35ml (.85–1.2 ounce [×2 for double]) beverage prepared from 7–9 grams (14–18 grams for a double) of coffee through which clean water of 195°–205°F (90.5°–96.1°C) has been forced at 9–10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brew time is 20–30 seconds. While brewing, the flow of espresso will appear to have the viscosity of warm honey and the resulting beverage will exhibit a thick, dark golden crema. Espresso should be prepared specifically for and immediately served to its intended consumer.”
Flat White: Hailing from Australia, it is espresso, steamed milk, and a small layer of microfoam. Typically served in a 4-8oz size.
Gibraltar aka Cortado: Originated in San Francisco by Blue Bottle, Gibraltars are espresso, steamed milk, with a small layer of micro-foam. The name comes from the 4.5oz clear Gibraltar glass in which it is served.
Long Black aka Short Americano: Originating in Australia and New Zealand, this drink is espresso and a small amount of hot water to create a strong espresso forward drink similar to a traditional americano.
Lungo: From the Italian word for “long” this term is used to describe a long shot of espresso, where an increased amount of water is used to extract the shot creating a weaker espresso.
Macchiato: Marked with foam. When ordering, it can be understood as two separate drinks:
- Espresso Macchiato: a traditional Italian-style macchiato with equal parts espresso and steamed milk with microfoam. Sold at most specialty coffee shops, including Temple, and is roughly a 3oz beverage
- Latte Macchiato: commonly found at Starbucks and is closer to a latte with significantly more milk and sometimes a flavoring (ex. Caramel Macchiato).
Micro-foam: Where the foam bubbles are so small and so numerous that they can’t be seen but can be felt on the palate as a creamy, sweet, marshmallow texture associated with well steamed milk. Micro-foam is what makes latte art possible.
Misto: 50% hot coffee or tea and 50% steamed milk.
Monk’s Head: A basic latte art design used in many barista competitions due to its ease and consistency. A heart with no tail. When beginning latte art, this is the best to begin with to build a solid foundation before trying more advanced designs.
Pour Over: A brew method where water is showered over a ground coffee bed and briefly dwells before passing through into a vessel below. Can be a paper or metal filter. Most often a single cup brewer. Popular brands include: Chemex, V60, Kone, Kalita Wave, Fellow Dripper.
Ristretto: A “short shot” where the water is limited resulting in a stronger tasting espresso. We serve double ristretto shots for our house Dharma Espresso Blend.
Rosetta: A classic latte art design similar to a fern, where waves of milk create leaves finished by a heart on top.
Single Origin: A coffee from one specific country, usually a single farm or lot. Single Origin coffees have highly unique terroir characteristics due to the producers control of coffee variety, soil, processing method, and farming practices.
Spro: Shortened term for espresso, “Can I get a single origin spro?”
Tulip: A latte art design identified by stacked layers of hearts using milk foam.
Wet: Less foam, “Can I get a wet cappuccino?”
Sweet Marias: Coffee Shrub Glossary. https://www.coffeeshrub.com/glossary. Accessed 21 March 2021
Specialty Coffee Association. www.sca.coffee. Accessed 14 April 2021.