Espresso and Coffee Glossary





A taste fault in the coffee brew giving an acrid and sour sensation on the tongue. The result of long-chained organic compounds due to excessive heat during the holding process after brewing.


A normal characteristic of arabica coffees, particularly of high-growth varieties. Some strains are sought for this particular taste ( Kenya ), which is influenced by the degree of roasting and does not seem to be objectively expressed by pH measurement. Experts recognize three types of acidity: 1) natural desirable: acid, 2) natural undesirable: sour, and 3) undesirable: process acidity (sometimes sought as a substitute for natural acidity but generally has a biting, puckery flavor.


A primary coffee taste sensation created as acids in the coffee combine with the sugars to increase the overall sweetness of the coffee. Found most often in washed arabica coffees grown at elevations about 4,000 feet, Acidy coffees range from piquant to nippy. A term used to describe a coffee in which this desirable cup characteristic occurs. Particularly desirable in Brazils and found in most Milds. Colombians have both acid and body. An acidy flavor is sharp and pleasing to the taste as opposed to sour, sourish, or fermented. It denotes a taste that has sharpness, snap, and life, compared to a sweet, heavy, mellow flavor. Old crops are never acidy.


Acidity is a desirable characteristic in coffee. It is the sensation of dryness that the coffee produces under the edges of your tongue and on the back of your palate. The role acidity plays in coffee is not unlike its role as related to the flavor of wine. It provides a sharp, bright, vibrant quality. Without sufficient acidity, the coffee will tend to taste flat. Acidity should not be confused with sour, which is an unpleasant, negative flavor characteristic. Also, acidity has nothing to do with pH factors. Coffees are low in acidity, between 5 and 6 on the pH scale.


A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly piercing sour sensation on the posterior sides of the tongue. Caused by higher-than-normal percentage of sour acids and a high concentration of salts.


The taste that lingers on your palate after swallowing coffee or espresso.

Aged Coffees

Refers to green coffee beans that have been "aged" for several years in proper storage conditions.  Green beans do not deteriorate but may improve in flavor.


A supplemental coffee taste sensation characterized by a dry sensation at the back of the tongue. Caused by the presence of alkaloid compounds.


A shot or two of espresso that has been poured into a glass filled with hot water.


Coffee Arabica, a coffee bean developed for wider latitudes. The most common cultivated species of coffee in the modern market. Arabicas have a wider taste range, between varieties. They range in taste from sweet-soft to sharp-tangy. Their un-roasted smell is sometimes likened to blueberries. Their roasted smell is perfumed with fruity notes and sugary tones. Arabicas are delicate, they require cool tropical climates, lots of moisture, rich soil, shade and sun. They are subject to attack from various pests, and are extremely vulnerable to cold, and bad handling.


The fragrance of brewed coffee. The smell of coffee grounds is referred to as the Bouquet.


A coffee that fully delivers the aroma characteristic of its nature and origin.


A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly searing, salty sensation on the anterior sides of the tongue. Caused by acids increasing the saltiness. Typified by an unwashed Indonesian Robusta coffee. Acids can cause astringency. In regard to coffee, astringency is an undesirable acidity.

Automatic Drip

Coffee brewers that automatically heat and filter water the coffee.


Back to top


A burlap sack of coffee. In various countries it is a different weight. For example: Brazil a bag is 132 pounds. Colombia it is 154 pounds. In Hawaii it is 100 pound. (132 lbs is the most common.)


An off-taste observed in cups from weakly roasted coffees that have been stored for a long time in unsuitable conditions.


A taste and odor taint that gives the coffee brew a flat bouquet and insipid taste. The result of the roasting process proceeding with too little heat over too long a period. Generally unpleasant characteristic of having an over-baked taste in an over-heated coffee.


Refers to coffees that have just the right combination or balance of flavor, aroma and body after extraction. Also used to describe a nicely blended coffee.


An uncommonly good espresso bartender who understands coffee and the espresso machine's purpose. A barista is an expert at making espresso and a master of a variety of espresso beverages.

Batch Roaster

A machine which roasts a given quantity at one time. It does not continually roast beans. There is an identifiable start and end time to the roasters capabilities.


Specific aroma of an insufficiently roasted coffee that has not been able to develop its full aroma.


The taste perceived at the back of the tongue. Dark Roasts are intentionally bitter. Over-extraction (too little coffee at too fine a grind) can cause a bad bitterness.


The pale flavor often found in low grown Robusta coffees. Also caused by under-extraction (too little coffee or too course a grind).


A mixture of two or more individual varietals of coffee (Columbian, Kenyan, Ethiopian, etc.) that improves the overall quality of taste and aroma.


The tactile impression of the weight of the coffee in the mouth. May range from thin to medium to full to buttery to syrupy.


The hot water and steam source of an espresso machine. Its purpose is to offer hot water at about 195 degrees Fahrenheit for espresso extraction and steam for heating and frothing milk.


The total aromatic profile created by the sensations of gases and vapors on the olfactory membranes as a result of the volatile organic compounds present in the fragrance, aroma, nose and aftertaste of coffee.


A taste fault giving the coffee brew a salty and alkaline sensation. The result of salts and alkaline inorganic material left after evaporation of water from the brew due to excessive heat after brewing.


Bready taste manifests in coffees that have not been roasted long enough or at a high enough temperature to bring out the flavor oils.


Any milk based espresso beverage where half-and-half is used instead of milk. Breves can also be flavored.

Brew Basket

The filter basket inside your hand filter that allows the espresso to be extracted while holding back the used grounds.


Tangy acidity is often described as bright.


The salty sensation caused by excessive heat after brewing (truck-stop coffee).


The carbonized flavor of coffee beans that have been over-roasted or very darkly roasted. The resulting coffee taste burn or charcoal like.


A relatively high level of oily material suspended in the coffee beverage. The result of substantial amounts of fat present in the beans. Most often a characteristic of high coffee-to-water ratio brews.


Back to top

Caffé Amaretto

A cafe latte with almond syrup added. (Most espresso bars offer an array of flavored syrups that can be added to coffee or used to make Italian sodas.)

Caffé Americano

Espresso that is cut with very hot water to fill an American size cup.

Caffe au Lait

This traditionally French drink is made with equal parts of brewed coffee and steamed milk topped with steamed milk foam.

Caffé Brevé

This is a milk-based espresso where half-and-half is used instead of milk.

Caffé con Leche

1.5 ounces of espresso combined with enough steamed milk to fill an eight-ounce cup.

Caffé con Panna

Espresso topped with whipped creme.

Caffé Corretto

Espresso with a shot of brandy, cognac or liqueur.

Caffé Creme

1.5 ounces of espresso combined with one ounce of heavy cream.

Caffé Doppio

A double shot of espresso with one shot of hot water.

Caffé Freddo

Chilled espresso served in a glass, often iced.

Caffé Latte

Espresso with steamed milk often topped with foamed milk. In Italian "latte" means milk. At Starbucks, ask for a no-foam Latte, because they are just as likely to give you a Cappuccino. It is all about portions of foam and milk. Even the sacred Torrefazione has a problem with this. A latte is Milk and Espresso. It is not foam and espresso. The steamed milk should never hide a bad shot of espresso. The milk should be hot but not scalding. If your Latte is tepid, like some high-brow places like to pass it off saying it is prepared for "immediate consumption", send it back. The Cafe Latte is a hot drink.

Caffé Latteccino

Espresso with two parts of steamed milk and one part foamed milk.

Caffé Lungo

A long espresso made by adding boiling water to a 1.5 ounce espresso. (Same as an Americano)

Caffé Macchiato

1.5 ounces of espresso in a demitasse, topped with a dollop of foamed milk.  (Macchiato means "marked" in Italian.)

Caffé Mocha

This can be prepared a variety of ways. Basically this is a chocolate cafe latte. Always a risky venture when taken from an unknown vendor. Qualities of chocolate syrup and strength vary widely. Often prepared with whipped cream on top and/or swirls of flavored syrups of the butterscotch and chocolate nature.

Caffé Ristretto

This is a highly concentrated espresso (3/4 to one ounce of water is used for extraction), resulting in a denser and more aromatic espresso.

Caffé Romano

Regular espresso served with a twist of lemon or lemon peel.


The drug contained in coffee. A bitter white alkaloid derived from coffee (or tea) and used in medicine for a mild stimulant or to treat certain kinds of headache.


The coffee species second in importance to "Coffea Arabica," "Coffea Robusta" is known by botanists as "Coffea Canephora."


Cappuccino gets its name from the Italian order of Catholic Capuchin monks, whose hooded robes resemble the drink's cap of foam in shape and color. The frothed milk from the top of the steaming pitcher is spooned on top to "cap" the cappuccino and retain heat. The proportion of espresso to steamed and frothed milk for cappuccino is usually 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 frothed milk on top.


The caramel-like body found in good espresso crema or a flavor found in specific coffee beans.


The taste acquired by roasted beans that have been dipped in sugar, dextrin syrup, or molasses before roasting. Noted in spray-dried instant coffees.


An aromatic sensation created by a slightly volatile set of heterocyclic compounds found in coffee's aftertaste that produces either sensations similar to a creosol-like substance or a burnt substance.


A detrimental coffee taste sensation characterized by burning, sour sensation on the posterior sides of the tongue. Caused by alkaloids increasing the sourness of the acids in combination with a high percentage of salts.

Chaff (Roasting)

Chaff is paper-like stuff that appears though the roasting process. These little brown flakes are fragments of the innermost skin (the silverskin) of the coffee fruit that still cling to the beans after processing has been completed. Roasting causes these bits of skin to lift off the bean.


A complex bitter-acid and sweetish taste characteristic of the root of the chicory plant.


An aromatic sensation created by a moderately volatile set of pyrazine compounds found in coffee's aftertaste that produce sensations reminiscent of unsweetened chocolate of vanilla.

City or full city roast

"City" is a roast that is slightly darker than the American roasting norm. "Full City" is definitely darker than norm; sometimes patches of oil on surface.


Without off-flavor.

Coffee oil

Oils in coffee are both soluble and non-soluble. The no soluble oils are emulsified and become rich crema.


A typical taste of an instant coffee treated at too high a temperature.


A coffee that is rough on the tongue.


Moderately high level of oily material suspended in the coffee beverage. The result of pronounced amounts of fats present in the beans.


The caramel colored foam that appears on top of a shot of espresso during the brewing period. It soon dissipates after brewing. If your Crema is gone then you waited too long...or you received a bad shot! The crema makes a 'cap' which helps retain the aromatics and flavors of the espresso within the cup - the presence of crema indicates an acceptable brew.... Crema is due to colloids and lipids forced out into an emulsion under the pressure of a espresso machine.


A supplemental coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly scratching sensation at the back of the tongue. Caused by the high percentage of phenolic compounds created by a dark roast.


While tasting wine is called "tasting", tasting coffee is called "cupping".


Back to top


Roasting term meaning dark brown beans with a shiny surface; equivalent to espresso or French roast


This term describes a means of removing roughly 97% of the caffeine found in whole bean coffees. The two primary means of removing caffeine are the "Swiss Water" and the "Methylchloride Solvent" processes.


A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by fragile sweet-subtle sensation just past the tip of the tongue. Caused by the lowest possible combination of sugars and salts that still produce a sweet cast to the taste, a combination easily broken up by other taste sensations. Typified by a washed New Guinea arabica coffee.


A small (1/2 size) cup used for serving espresso. It is a French term meaning 'half cup'.


Depth describes the resonance or sensual power behind the sensations that drive the taste of the coffee. It is a tricky and subjective term, but it tries to get at the way certain coffees open up and support their sensations with a sort of ringing, echoing power, whereas others simply present themselves to the palate and then stand pat or even fade.

Detrimental coffee taste sensations

Common to natural coffees that are harsh due to bitter replacing sweet in the taste modulation. The result of sugars being ingested by the shrub as the cherries remain on the branches while drying. Range from medicinal to caustic.


Literally a dirty flavor, not earthy or musty.


A double shot of espresso. Also see solo.


A holding chamber for freshly ground coffee used to measure and dispense the correct amount of coffee grounds into your filter. The doser can be a separate piece of equipment but is normally connected to the front of your espresso grinder.


Two shots of espresso (1.5-2 ounces). Doppio in Italian. Average Price: 1.75-2.00.


Applied to cappuccinos meaning no liquid milk in the espresso, just foam.


A coffee is dull if it gives an impression of roundness but at the same time lacks character. Dull comes close to the meaning of flat.


Back to top


The spicy "of the earth taste" of coffees processed in the dry or natural way..


A brewing method that extracts the heart of the bean. It was invented in Italy at the turn of the century. A pump-driven machine forces hot water through fine grounds at around nine atmospheres of pressure. It should take between 18 to 23 seconds to extract a good shot. This will produce from 3/4 to one ounce of great liquid. This produces a sweet, thick and rich, smooth shot of espresso. Comes from the Latin word "Expresere" which means "to press out."

Espresso Breve

Espresso with half and half.

Espresso Lungo

A shot that is pulled long for a bit of extra espresso. While many believe this maximizes the caffeine, in most shops this merely produces a bitter cup.

Espresso Macchiato

Espresso with a minimal amount (or "mark") of steamed milk on top.

Espresso Ristretto

Literally "restricted" espresso. A shorter draw. The goal being a thicker and more flavorful espresso.

Estate Coffees

Quality Arabica coffees that are grown by a single owner or company on individual farms and which are not mixed with coffees from other plantations.


Unusual aromatic and flavor notes, such as berry or floral.




A taste fault in the coffee beans producing a highly displeasing sour sensation on the tongue. The result of enzyme activity in the green coffee beans changing the sugars to acids in the drying process during harvesting.

Fine cup

Coffee with good, positive characteristics.


If aroma is the overture of the coffee, then finish is the resonant silence at the end of the piece. Finish is a term relatively recently brought over into coffee tasting from wine connoisseurship; it describes the aftertaste that lingers on the palate after the coffee is spit out or swallowed. It is in part a reflection of body; heavier-bodied coffees like the Sumatran will have a much longer finish than lighter-bodied coffees like the Mexican.


An odor taint in the coffee bean or brew meaning that limited range of gases and vapors is present in almost imperceptible strength. Due to aromatic compounds leaving the beans as part of the staling process after roasting or the holding process after brewing.


The total impression of Aroma , Acidity , and Body.

Flavor defects

Harshness and sourness are two of the most widely used negative epithets. Harshly flavored coffees are unpleasantly bitter, sharp, or irritating. Terms like grassy, hidey, barnyard fermented, musty, and Rioy (medicinal) describe even more dramatically undesirable flavor characteristics. All of these characteristics derive from careless processing. Presumably the coffees you taste will be superior, hence free from such defects.


A term that generally covers a number of imperfect flavors coming from contamination, for example, rubbery or moldy.


A rank, strong, fermented flavor or any other strong, unpleasant defective flavor, such as hidey or oniony.


The sensation of the gases released from ground coffee as they are inhaled through the nose. Ranges from sweetly floral to sweetly spicy.

French Press

A device for making coffee in which ground coffee is steeped in water. The grounds are then removed from the coffee by means of a filter plunger which presses the grounds to the bottom of the pot. Also referred to as a plunger pot.

French Roast

Dark Roasted. Taste bittersweet but not like burnt charcoal.


Freshly roasted coffee maintains its freshness for two to three weeks. It is best stored in whole bean form at room temperature sealed from oxygen and moisture. Coffees preserved for long periods in special packaging (e.g. vacuum bags) are not considered freshly roasted coffees.

Froth or Foam

Milk which has been made thick and foamy by aerating it with hot steam.


An aromatic sensation created by a highly volatile set of aldehydes and esters found in coffee's aroma. Either a sweet sensation reminiscent of citrus fruit or a dry sensation reminiscent of berry fruit.


An intensity description of bouquet indicating gases and vapors are present at a moderately pronounced strength.


Back to top


Term used by customers after sipping a Perfect Cup coffee.  As in "Taste gewd!"


Any espresso drink (single or double) in a 16 ounce cup.


A odor taint giving the coffee beans a distinct herbal character similar to freshly mown alfalfa combined with the astringency of green grass. Created by the prominence of nitrogen compounds in the green beans while the cherries are maturing. Typical taste of unripe beans and of certain freshly harvested coffee batches, corresponding to the beginning of the harvest.

Green Coffee

The processed seeds of the coffee cherry are greenish in appearance and are referred to as green coffee. Unripe coffee cherries are sometimes called green coffee too.


There are essentially three types of coffee bean grinders on the market today:  hand mill grinders; electric blade grinders; and burr grinders. The burr grinder is normally the only type of grinder used in the production of espresso coffee. Electric blade grinders, popular in many households, may tend to burn the bean as it grinds due to friction. Aimee's Coffeehouse uses only burr grinders and recommends the same for our customers.


The metal brewing chamber on your espresso machine where espresso is extracted from the coffee in the filter.



Hard Bean

Coffee grown at relatively high altitudes, 4,000 to 4,500 feet. Coffee grown above 4,500 feet is referred to as strictly hard bean. This terminology says that beans grown at higher altitudes mature more slowly and are harder and denser than other beans and are thus more desirable.


Acrid. Sensation at the same time bitter and astringent, raspy, and disagreeable. Particularly found in some poor quality robusta coffees. Often due to imperfect beans.


A moderately high level of solid material suspended in the coffee beverage. Result of fine particles of bean fiber and insoluble proteins present in pronounced amounts.

Heavy roast

Coffee beans roasted to a very dark brown, with a shiny surface; equivalent to Italian Roast.


An aromatic sensation created by a highly volatile set of aldehydes and esters found in coffee's aroma. Produces either an sensation reminiscent of an onion or green vegetable.

High grown

A term that refers to the Arabica coffee species, normally grown at altitudes greater than 2,000 feet above sea level. Most quality Arabicas are grown beyond the 3,000 foot level.



Iced Espresso Based Beverages

These are served in clear plastic or clear glassware. If flavored, the flavoring is added first followed by the espresso. When thick syrup is used the beverage is stirred before adding ice. The cup is then filled with cold milk and may be topped with whipped cream if desired.


A taste taint giving the coffee brew a lifeless character, due to a loss of organic material in the coffee bean. Result of oxygen and moisture penetrating the bean fiber after roasting.

Instant taste

Reflects fewer of the organoleptic characteristics that typify home-brewed coffee.


A qualitative measure of the number and relative strengths of the gases and vapors present in the bouquet of the coffee.

Italian Cream Soda (Cremosa)

Similar to an Italian soda except soda water is poured to 1/2" from the top of the cup. The cup is then filled with approximately two ounces of half-and-half. One may top an Italian cream soda with whipped cream.

Italian roast

Term applied to coffee that has been roasted darker than French Roast. Much used by Italians, as well as in many of the coffee producing countries.

Italian Soda

An iced beverage usually served in a 14 or 16 ounce plastic cup. The drink is flavored with two ounces of Italian style syrup or syrups, generally fruit flavored and filled to the top with soda water. Italian sodas may be topped with whipped cream.


Back to top


A shot or two of espresso that has been poured into a cup filled with steamed milk and topped off with foamed milk (about a 1/4").


An espresso beverage with two parts steamed milk and one part steamed milk foam, a cross between a cappuccino and a latte.


A moderately low level of solid material suspended in the coffee beverage. Result of fine particles of bean fiber and insoluble proteins present in perceptible amounts.


This is the Italian word for "long" and refers to a long pour of espresso. This extraction usually takes 25 to 30 seconds and is primarily used for straight shots of espresso.




The Italian word for "marked." There are two types of macchiatos: straight espresso marked with a dollop of warm milk froth; and a steamed milk macchiato, latte or cappuccino, where the steamed milk is marked with an espresso poured slowly over the milk foam at the side of a clear glass. This technique allows for a layered effect and is mostly for presentation.


An aromatic sensation created by a moderately volatile set of aldehydes and ketones that produces sensations reminiscent of toasted grains.


A detrimental coffee taste sensation characterized by a penetrating sour sensation on the posterior sides of the tongue. Caused by alkaloids increasing the sourness of the acids without any taste modulation of sweetness.

Medium roast

Coffee beans roasted to the American norm.


A primary coffee taste sensation created as salts in the coffee combine with sugars to increase the overall sweetness. Characteristic found most often in washed arabica coffees grown at elevations below 4,000 feet, such Kona coffee from Hawaii. Mellow ranges from mild to delicate.


This is an industry name for quality Arabica beans processed by the wet method. The wet method is a quality process to remove the pulp and skin from the seeds.


A small irregular bean. Has a unique acid character. Generally shipped from Mocha Yemen. It is sometimes mixed with coffee shipped from Mocha Yemen.


This is a stove top espresso pot. This appliance is used widely in Europe, especially in Italy . Steam pressure created from hot water in the bottom chamber pushes hot water up a metal tube to extract the espresso in the top chamber.


Coffee may acquire a moldy taste if kept in poor conditions. Moldiness also depends on conditions during the pulping and cleaning of green beans.

Monsooned Coffee

Coffee deliberately exposed to monsoon winds in open warehouse to increase body and reduce acidity.

Mouth feel

This is the sensation of coffee clinging to the inside of your mouth. Body and aromatics are experienced during mouth feel.


Characterizes a large quantity of particles in suspension in the beverage.


An odor taint giving the coffee beans a moldy odor. Result of fats in coffee beans absorbing organic material from molds on or in contact with the coffee beans during the drying process. Often the result of insufficient or proper drying and aging.


Back to top


A secondary coffee taste characterized by the absence of a predominant taste sensation on any part of the tongue but causing a distinct parching sensation on the sides of the tongue. Caused by a concentration of salts high enough to neutralize both acids and sugars but not enough to provoke a salty sensation. Typified by washed Uganda robusta coffee.


A secondary coffee taste characterized by a predominantly sweet, nipping sensation at the tip of the tongue. Caused by a higher-than-normal percentage of acids being sour.


The sensation of the vapors released from brewed coffee as they are exhaled while swallowing. Ranges from caramelly to nutty to malty.


Nuttiness is a flavor perceived in freshly roasted coffee similar to that experienced in eating roasted sunflower seeds. Nuttiness is normally considered a good flavor if it is in balance with other aromatic qualities of the coffee.




A term sometimes used to denote a coffee that has a roasted oily taste due to a high degree of roasting or an oily coffee having a greasy but not rancid taste.


A roasted coffee that has been left for too long changes aroma and acquires a specific and disagreeable flavor. Similar to oldish but with stronger hay-like flavor.


A complete lack of freshness. Somewhat flat taste with a slight flavor of hay.


Organic is an important descriptive term in the contemporary coffee world. An organically-grown coffee must be certified by an international agency as having been grown without synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. Somewhat lower yields and the considerable cost of the certification process account for the higher prices demanded for many organic coffees.


Below average quality for growth, grade and type. Bland.


Caused by the continuous flow of hot water over ground coffee (espresso) even after all the good qualities have been released. Overextraction is also caused by too fine a grind or hot water temperatures above 197 degrees F. which causes bitterness.


Back to top


Normally, each coffee cherry contains two beans. Occasionally, a cherry will form with only one bean. These are called pea berries and are frequently separated and sold as its own distinct varietals. New Guinea is one of the more popular ones.


A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly sweet, prickling sensation at the tip of the tongue. Caused by a higher-than-normal percentage of acids actually sweet to the taste instead of sour. Typified by a Kenya AA coffee.


A portable hand filter used to hold coffee during the espresso extraction process. The actual filter basket is removable and is held in place by a single circular spring. Generally there are two types of porta-filters: a single which has a single spout for the pour and holds between seven and eight grams of finely ground espresso to be extracted; and a double which has two spouts below the filter basket for the pour. A double basket will hold 14 to 16 grams of coffee. The output can be used to serve one double or two single espressos.


First step after picking in preparing coffee by the wet method. It consists of removing the outer skin. Machines rub away the pulp without crushing the beans.


Strong, pungent, fruit-like flavor from coffee cherry skins.


Applies essentially to a full-bodied and slightly aggressive coffee.


The chemical changes occurring during the roasting process. Compounds are developed that will become aroma, taste and body upon completion.




Term applied to unripe, blighted, or underdeveloped coffee beans.


A taste taint giving coffee brew a pronounced peanutty flavor. Result of the presence of light colored, underdeveloped, roasted coffee beans. Caused by picking unripe, green, coffee cherries during harvesting.


Back to top


The tainting or spoiling of the coffee oils which produces bitterness and a rancid flavor.

Recovery Time

A time that refers to the amount of time an espresso machine may need to recover either the proper hot water temperature for extraction or the proper temperature to produce steam. Today recovery time is either reduced or eliminated by a) adequate boiler size; b) configuration and size of heating element; and c) fresh water heat exchangers.


The intensity of aromatic flavors in the body of a good coffee blend, especially in espresso blends.


This is the strongest and most concentrated espresso drink. It is made with about half the amount of water but the same amount of coffee as a regular espresso. It is pure, intense, and wonderful in taste. Ristretto in Italian means "restricted."


Relative strength of the natural components of the coffee flavor is modified by the degree of roasting, resulting in high character.

Roast taste

Terms describing the characteristic collective flavor complex of darker roasts. The acidy notes are gone, replaced by pungent notes combined with a subtle, caramel sweetness. Some people call this often unnamed group of sensations "roast taste" or the "taste of the roast."


One of the species of coffee in the modern market. Robustas taste range is neutral to harsh. And are often described as tasting grain-like, oat-mealy. Their un-roasted small is often described as raw-peanut. Their roasted smell is often likened to burnt rubber. Robustas are hardier plants, capable of growing well at low altitudes, less subject to problems related to pests, and rough handling. They yield more pounds of finished goods per acre at a lower cost of production.


A secondary coffee sensation characterized by a predominantly rasping, salty sensation on the palette or tongue. Caused by the additive property of salt taste sensations.


A balanced coffee whose basic organoleptic characteristics are just at the right level, with none particularly apparent, giving the impression of roundness.


An intensity description indicating a reduced range of gases and vapors is present at a moderately perceptible strength.


A taste fault giving the coffee beans a highly pronounced burnt-rubber character. Result of continued enzyme activity in the coffee bean when it remains in the fruit and the fruit is allowed to dry on the shrub. Usually associated with natural processed Robusta coffees grown in Africa.


Back to top


An odor taint that gives the coffee brew a slight aftertaste of phenolic and pyridine character with an underdevelopment of the caramelization of compounds. Result of applying too much heat and charring the surface of the bean during the roasting process.


A primary coffee taste sensation created as acids in the coffee combine with salts to increase the overall saltiness. Characteristic found most often in unwashed Robusta coffee. Sharp coffee ranges from rough to astringent.


A shot of espresso (3/4-1 ounce). Average Price 1.25


Any style espresso drink (single or double) in an 8 ounce cup.


An espresso drink prepared with non-fat milk.


A moderately low level of oily material suspended in the coffee beverage. Result of fats in the beans present in perceptible amounts.

Soft Bean

Describes coffee grown at relatively low altitudes (under 4,000 ft). Beans grown at lower altitudes mature more quickly and produce a lighter, more porous bean.


A single shot of espresso. Also see doppio.


A taste associated with coffees picked before ripening or with coffees that are overpoweringly acidic.

Specialty Coffees

Also known as gourmet coffees or whole bean coffees that has been freshly roasted. These coffees will be quality Arabicas that are sold as a blend from a roaster's recipe or as straight varietals.


The flavor of particular spices.


Coffee that has been exposed to oxygen for too long. It becomes flat and has a cardboard taste.

Steam Wand

A long metal tube or wand that connects to the top of the boiler to draw pressurized steam. This wand is used for heating and frothing milk as an ingredient in espresso beverages.


A serving of steamed and foamed milk which has been flavored with one ounce of Italian style syrup. Usually topped with whipped cream. There is NO ESPRESSO in a steamer. This is made the same way as hot chocolate except for using Italian style syrup for flavoring the milk.


A taste of coffee infusion that has been heated after cooling and lost its initial aroma.


A coffee with no particular positive characteristics and without negative characteristics.


A taste taint that gives the coffee bean a distinct hay-like character. Result of the loss of organic material from the green coffee beans while in storage, occurring in the aging process after harvesting.


Coffee giving a pungent impression in the cup, rich in flavor. Developed by roasting or having a consistent mouthfeel.


Smooth and palatable coffee that is free from defects and harsh flavors.


Back to top


A coffee with a slightly defective flavor.


Any espresso drink (single or double) in a 12 ounce cup.


A tool for firmly packing fresh espresso coffee into the filter basket held by your porta-filter. The best tampers are handheld and offer control of pressure and levelness of packing.


A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly darting, sour sensation along the sides of the tongue. Caused by a high-than-normal percentage of sugars, giving the taste almost a fruity sensation. Typified by unwashed India Arabica coffees.


A taste fault giving the coffee brews an unpleasant burnt character. Occurs during the holding process after brewing, a result of condensation and scorching of proteins.


A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly puckering, sour sensation along the sides of the tongue. Caused by higher-than-normal percentage of sour acids, almost giving the taste a puckering sensation.


A relatively high level of solid material suspended in the coffee beverage. A result of fine particles of bean fiber and insoluble proteins present in substantial amounts. Most often characteristic of espresso-style coffee.


A relatively low level of solid material suspended in the coffee beverage. A result of fine particles of bean fiber and insoluble proteins present in imperceptible amounts. Lacks body or substance and is insufficiently concentrated and roasted.


The appearance or color of coffee. i.e. "This light toned coffee resembles the brown robes of the Franciscan Order."


Back to top


This is one of the most common failures of the extraction process. Proper extraction only occurs when all of the best of the coffee has been removed and offered in the cup. When hot water passes too quickly through the coffee, or when the hot water temperature is below 192 degrees F, some of the goodness remains in the coffee grounds.




The term used for the coffee that comes from a geographical region. A Sumatra, Kenya , Costa Rica or a Java are varietals. As in wine...soil, climate and cultivation methods affect the taste of your coffee. The term varietal is actually a misnomer, since Arabica coffee plants are basically of the same species, unlike wine grapes which come from different species of grape vines.




Coffee that lacks body but is not flat.


The opposite of dry, meaning a cappuccino with a small amount of liquid milk added to the espresso in addition to foam.

Whole Bean Coffee

This refers to coffee sold in the whole bean state. Normally, Arabica beans of good quality are sold this way.


A taste fault in the coffee beans characterized by extreme variation between sample cups. Usually marked by unpleasant sourness. Result of internal chemical changes in the green coffee beans or external contamination.


A flavor reminiscent of fine red wine. Kenya is one of the most notables.


A taste fault giving the coffee beans a distinct, unpleasant wood-like character. Result of an almost complete loss of organic material in the green beans during storage. Makes coffee unsuitable for commercial purposes. Reminiscent of the odor of dry wood.

Back to top