Howden Coffee’s Terminology Dictionary

Welcome to our comprehensive coffee terminology dictionary! If you’re a coffee lover, you probably know that there’s a lot more to this beloved beverage than just a simple mug of ground beans. 

If you’re new to coffee though, you might feel confused. From different brewing methods and roast profiles to specialized drinks and sourcing models, the world of coffee is rich and complex, with a language all its own. That’s why as coffee specialists, we’ve put together our coffee dictionary.

Whether you’re a seasoned coffee aficionado or just getting started on your journey, it’s essential to understand the various terms and jargon used in the industry. Knowing the difference between a cappuccino and a latte, or a light roast and a dark roast, can help you make informed choices about what to order or how to brew your own coffee at home.

In this coffee terminology dictionary, we’ll provide clear definitions and explanations for some of the most common (and confusing) coffee-related terms. From the basics of espresso and drip coffee to more specialized brewing methods like pour-over and French press, we’ll cover it all. We’ll also dive into the world of coffee roasting and explore the different roast profiles that can affect the flavour and aroma of your coffee.

In addition to the technical terms, we’ll also touch on some of the social and ethical terms surrounding the coffee industry, including fair trade and direct trade models and the third-wave movement. By the end of this coffee terminology dictionary, you’ll have a better understanding of the language and culture of coffee and be able to order or make your perfect cup of coffee with confidence. So grab a mug, sit back, and let’s dive into the world of coffee!

Coffee Terms

AeroPress: A compact coffee brewing device that uses air pressure to extract coffee from ground beans.

Arabica: One of the two main species of coffee beans, known for its smooth taste and lower caffeine content.

Blend: Mixing two or more types of different origin coffee beans together to create a unique flavour.

Bloom: The initial release of carbon dioxide from freshly roasted coffee when hot water is added, which helps build the flavour of the coffee.

Body: The thickness or weight of a coffee’s texture, which can range from light to heavy.

Cafetière (AKA French press): A coffee brewing method that uses a plunger and a metal or glass container to extract coffee from coarsely ground beans. 

Cappuccino: A popular espresso-based drink made with equal parts steamed milk and foam.

Cold brew: A method of brewing coffee using cold water and a long steeping process, resulting in a smooth and less acidic taste.

Crema: The layer of foam that forms on top of a quality shot of espresso, created by the pressurised extraction process.

Cupping: The process of evaluating the aroma, flavour, and other characteristics of different coffee beans. Like wine tasting, but for coffee!

Dark roast: Coffee beans that have been heated for a longer amount of time. This makes the coffee very full-bodied.

Decaffeinated: Coffee that has had most or all of its caffeine (the stimulant in coffee) removed. 

Direct trade: A coffee sourcing model where roasters purchase beans directly from farmers, without intermediaries, to ensure fair prices and sustainable practices.

Drip coffee (AKA filter coffee): A popular coffee brewing method that involves dripping hot water over a bed of coffee grounds placed in a filter.

Espresso: A strong and concentrated coffee beverage made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans.

Extraction: The process of using hot water to pull the flavours and caffeine from the coffee.

Fairtrade: A certification program that ensures coffee farmers receive fair prices and work under ethical conditions, as well as promoting sustainable farming practices.

French press (AKA cafetière): A coffee brewing method that uses a plunger and a metal or glass container to extract coffee from coarsely ground beans.

Filter coffee (AKA drip coffee): A method of brewing coffee where hot water passes through ground coffee placed in a filter.

Grind size: The degree to which coffee beans are ground, which affects the rate of extraction and the resulting flavour. Coffee beans can be ground either finely or coarsely.

Latte: A popular espresso-based drink made with steamed milk and a small amount of foam.

Light roast: Coffee beans that are roasted for a shorter period of time, resulting in a lighter colour and a more complex taste.

Macchiato: A shot of espresso with a small amount of steamed milk added.

Medium roast: Coffee beans that are roasted for a moderate amount of time, resulting in a balanced flavour with a medium body and subtle complexities.

Moka pot: A small metal pot that brews coffee on the stove by steaming the ground coffee within it.

Pour-over: A manual coffee brewing method where hot water is poured over ground coffee beans and placed in a filter. This is the process used by the well-known V60 system.

Roast: The process of heating raw coffee beans to bring out their flavour and aroma. A shorter roast results in a lighter roast, while a longer roast results in a darker roast.

Roast profile: The specific temperature and time parameters used to roast coffee beans, which influences the flavour and aroma.

Robusta: The other main species of coffee beans, known for its stronger taste and higher caffeine content.

Single-origin: Coffee beans that come from a specific geographic region and are not mixed with beans from other regions.

Tamping: The act of compressing ground coffee into a compact puck before brewing using an espresso machine. Tamping ensures an even extraction.

Third wave: A movement in the speciality coffee industry that emphasises high-quality, artisanal coffee and a focus on the origin and quality of the beans.

Unwashed coffee: Also known as natural or dry-processed coffee, where the beans are dried with the fruit still intact.

V60: A cone-shaped pour-over coffee dripper that uses paper filters and produces a clean and bright cup.

As you can see, coffee has a language entirely of its own. Whether you are a seasoned coffee lover or just starting your journey, this guide will help you make informed choices about your coffee orders and home brewing. From different brewing methods to roast profiles and sourcing models, this dictionary covers it all. 

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