Glossary of coffee related terms
and links to related articles
The professional tasters have the task of tasting the incoming beans
to figure out the proportions for the company's various 'blends'. This
is often a price vs quality issue. Here's an
article which peeks into this world.
words on the blending process.
- burr grinder
A machine which grinds coffee beans to a controlled fineness. A more common coffee
grinder is a 'blade grinder' and they are poor at getting reproducible fineness to
the resulting grounds.
Wikipedia article on caffeine. It's not very flattering.
The following clipped from
"Mental Abilities: Caffeine Helps Women, but Not Men, Stay Sharp"
- Coffee house
"SAN FRANCISCO — At Ritual Coffee Roasters, a cafe in
San Francisco’s Mission District, the aesthetic is
early socialist but the clientele are latter-day
- Coffee master
A term only used by Starbucks (?). It refers to their most highly
- Cold Brewing
Cold-brewed coffee isn't well known. It doesn't take long to make and is
said to reduce the oils and acid which are in normally brewed coffee.
Some people like it; some don't. BTW, cold-brewed coffee isn't served cold.
Microwaving it before serving does not reintroduce the now-missing acids,
oils, ketones, and amids. To me, it just tastes wonderfully smooth but
some see that as missing a big part of the taste.
Cold-brewed coffees will occasionally show up at the tastings. Note the
level of disagreement between the recipes regarding how many grounds to
add to what amount of water. With help from Yahoo Answers/Chemistry, I
conclude that the 1:16 ratio described by the Nat Coffee Assoc confused
gallons and quarts; it too should be 1:4.
Here's some background information on cold-brewing:
||1/3 cup medium ground coffee to 1.5 cups water (1:4.5), cover, wait 12 hrs
||click link to see ratio etc
|Nat. Coffee Assoc.
||1 cup grounds to one gallon water (1:16), 12-24 hours, filter.
article describes history, oil and acid differences.
||requires special, patented coffee maker.
The floating pile of grounds which forms when you just throw
coffee and water together (hot or cold). Cuppers have a
'ritual' of 'breaking the crust'.
Originally this word only refered to a professional level tasting event
which reviewed incoming beans for the purpose of making various
blends. The term 'cupping' seems to come from
the deeply curved (cupped), silver spoon used to sip the coffee.
Recently, however, the term has been used to mean tasting events
sponsored usually by coffee houses and this seems most popular
in New York City. See
Here are some web pages on
"beginner cuppings". This is from coffeegeek.com.
See coffee research article.
- Espresso cup
- Fair trade
- Flavor Wheel
Flavor Wheel, a system created by Ted R. Lingle,
the executive director of the Coffee Quality Institute.
It classifies flavors (including sweet, sour and bitter)
as well as aromas (sugar browning and dry distillation),
which are broken down into
categories such as spicy and chocolatey.
- French press
See the wiki.
These are used exclusively by Starbucks
coffee masters for their serious tastings.
The claim is that the French press delivers all of the coffee's acids
and oils where a normal coffee maker doesn't (!).
- A Peet's blend of New Guinea and
Salesi X beans
- Green coffee
- Unroasted coffee beans.
Several vendors are listed on
There are a few types of grinders to know about:
See this page.
- Iced coffee
As made by Starbucks, it's brewed hot but with twice the normal amount of
coffee grounds. Then it's chilled to serving temperature
- Instant coffee
"instant coffee lacks most of the aromatic volatile compounds
causing a dramatic decrease in the overall coffee flavor". from
The 'roast' of a coffee tells how long it was roasted. The common names
for the various roasts are given
The roasting process is described
here. A good article.
The first tasting event, Jan 18th, 2010, used the following score
old Ratings were 1 to 10 with 10 being the best. Suggested interpretations:
old Rating 10 Unbelieveably good
old Rating 9 My new favorite!
old Rating 8 whoa! gotta tell people about this!
old Rating 7 like it!
old Rating 6 hmm.
old Rating 5 so-so
old Rating 4 drinkable.
old Rating 3 nope. wouldn't look forward to this again.
old Rating 2 wouldn't drink if served again.
old Rating 1 Yuk ! Maybe I've been poisoned...
To avoid any cultural influences on the choice of scores, I've
changed the scoring system to the following.
You'd enter a score of 'FA' if you thought the coffee
"good. Would buy it if thought guests would like it."
In-between values are acceptable; that is, if you felt it wasn't
quite as good as 'FA' but better than a 'MI',
you could score it 'FA-MI' (which is the same as 'MI-FA').
I know this seems silly but people will think about the scores.
Rating LA My new favorite! I will tell people about this!
Rating SO Very good! Would buy this even if guests didn't like it.
Rating FA Good. Would buy this if I thought guests would like it.
Rating MI No complaints but wouldn't seek it out.
Rating RE Would drink it to be polite (if served)
Rating DO Would avoid drinking it even at a friend's house
- these are purposely different than school letter grades A-F
- the are purposely not in alphabetic order.
- By not being one of the more common systems (1-5, 1-10), I hope
to get people to stick to the meanings of each selection.
- I changed to a smaller, better defined set of values hoping to
ease the scoring effort while producing results with a better
- I redefined each category to address whether we'd buy it, avoid
- Un-numbered coffee
This is a coffee to be tasted just as the taster is turning in
the scorecard. The host chooses a coffee from the taster's scorecard
and asks the taster to score it without identifying even the number
of the coffee. The new score is written on the card and the host then
writes the coffee's number on the same card. There are now two scores on
the card for this coffee and a comparison of those numbers is a measure
of how well our tasting process is working.