We realized in our quest for the freshest, best tasting, environmentally friendly coffee that there are many coffee terms that we were using that were not fully understood. Here is a glossary of “coffee basics” terms. We hope you are as passionate about your coffee as we are with ours.

Acidity Defines the pleasant tartness of a great cup of coffee . Acidity in coffee is a good thing. It indicates the coffee is bright. Acidity in coffee is not to be confused with bitterness. Acidity is one of the key categories used by professional tasters in cupping coffee when evaluating sample coffee beans.
Aftertaste The sensation of brewed coffee vapors that range for carbony to chocolately, spicy to turpeny, as they are released from the the residue remaining in the mouth after swallowing.
Arabica One of the two main coffee species. Coffea arabica commonly known as Arabica. Arabica is grown in altitudes greater than 3,000 feet and are usually superior in quality to Robusta coffees grown in lower altitudes and contain approximately half of the caffeine. Arabic coffee beans are those used by specialty coffee roasters.
Aroma Is the odor or the fragrance of freshly brewed coffee. Aroma in combination with flavor, acidity and body is the key categories used by professional coffee tasters or cuppers. Terms to describe the aroma of coffee include chocolately, fruity, floral, nutty, round, spicy, etc. Aroma is one of the key categories used by professional tasters in cupping coffee when evaluating sample coffee beans.
Balance Denotes that one characteristic of the coffee does not overwhelm the others. Implies that there is sufficient complexity to be an interesting coffee.
Bird Friendly Under a program established by the Smithsonian Institution to protect the habitat of songbirds in rapidly-deforested coffee-growing regions, Bird Friendly coffee must be shade grown as well as organic; companies selling these coffees contribute 25 cents per pound sold to the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center to support research and conservation programs.
Bitterness A term describing that the flavor of the coffee is unpleasant unless it is darkly roasted. Bitterness typically means the coffee is overextracted, has been on the burner too long, or was under roasted.
Blend A mixture of two or more single origin coffees that could be from different parts of the world as well as different roast temperatures.
Body Describes the weight, heaviness, richness, or thickness one feels on the palate when one tastes coffee. Body is one of the key categories used by professional tasters in cupping coffee when evaluating sample coffee beans.
Buttery Describes the rich and oily flavor, and texture that comes about when there are relatively high levels of fat in the beans.
Caffeine An odorless, bitter alkaloid responsible for the stimulation one feels when one has drank coffee or tea.
Caramelized A sweet, almost burnt, syrupy flavor found in darker roasts.
Cherry Common term for the fruit of the coffee tree which is called a cherry because of its color and size. Each cherry contains either two regular coffee beans or one peaberry coffee bean.
Columbia It is a versatile bean roasted anywhere from Light to French and produces a sweet rich tasting brew with mild acidity and body.
Complexity A term that denotes when a coffees taste shifts and layer pleasurably.
Creamy Denotes a relatively high level of oily material suspended in the coffee that are the result of pronounced amounts of fats present in the beans.
Cupping The process used by professional taster to evaluate sample coffee beans. The coffee beans are roasted and ground. Coffee is then poured over the grounds and the liquid is tasted both hot and as it cools. The evaluative categories are aroma, acidity, body and flavor.
Dark Roast Term meaning that coffee beans are roasted darker than traditional American norms resulting in beans with a shiny surface such as a French roast.
Degassing When coffee beans are roasted they can produce up the three times their volume in carbon dioxide gas, which must be released before they are packaged unless they are packaged in a valve-lock bag.
Earthy A pleasant or unpleasant coffee taste (depending on the viewpoint of the taster) that comes from the literal contact of wet coffee with earth during the beans drying process.
Fair-Trade Coffee Fair trade coffee is coffee which is purchased directly from the growers for a higher price than standard coffee. Fair Trade coffee is one of many Fair Trade certified products available around the world. The purpose of fair trade is to promote healthier working conditions and greater economic incentive for producers. Coffee farmers producing Fair Trade certified coffee are required to be part of a coop with other local growers. The coops determine how the premiums from Fair Trade coffee will be spent. Growers are guaranteed a minimum price for the coffee, and if market prices exceed the minimum, they receive a per pound premium.
Flavor Flavor refers to the tasters total impression of aroma, body and acidity. This term typically indicates intensity and acknowledges specific characteristics of the coffee (i.e. chocolaty, fully bodies, lively, etc.).
Fragrance The scent of dry coffee from the gases released from ground coffee as they are inhaled through the nose. Ranges from sweetly floral to sweetly spicy.
French Press A preferred coffee-making device in which ground coffee is topped with hot water. Then the grounds are manually pressed to the bottom of the pot with a plunger-like filter mechanism that separates the grounds from the brewed coffee. Makes a flavorful cup.
French Roast Denotes that the coffee bean is roasted high enough to bring the natural oil of the coffee to the surface. Typically beans are dark brown to nearly black with a roasted flavor to the cup. As a note, the French do not roast their coffee this dark and many coffee connoisseurs believe that no one else should as well.
Fruity Aroma of a coffee either a sweet citrus smell or a dry berry like smell.
Full-City Roast Denotes coffee that has been roasted to a degree that is just slightly above the traditional American norm, but one that is lighter that a Dark Roast.
Full-City Roast Denotes coffee that has been roasted to a degree that is just slightly above the traditional American norm, but one that is lighter that a Dark Roast.
Good Hard Bean (GHB) A grade designation given to beans grown in a certain altitude in some Central American countries.
Grassy A taste and order defect that gives coffee the character of newly mowed grass. Typical taste of unripe beans and of certain freshly harvested coffee batches at the beginning of harvest.
Green Beans Coffee beans that have not been roasted.
Hard Bean Coffee that is grown in high altitudes with lower temperatures, resulting in beans that are harder and less porous and typically make a more acidic and favorable cup than soft beans.
High Grown Arabic coffees grown in altitudes greater than 3,000 feet.
Indonesia Coffees grown in Indonesia that are usually sold under the name of the island of origin (i.e., Sumatra, Sulawesi, Java). Indonesia coffees typically have full body, a rich flavor and low, vivid acidity.
Italian Roast Denotes coffee that has been roasted to a degree that is a dark brown in color, rich and bittersweet or burned in flavor.
Light Roast Coffee that has been roasted to a degree that is lighter than the traditional American norm resulting in a grain like flavor with a sharp, almost sour acidity.
Mellow Well balanced coffee with low to med acidity.
Mild Coffee with harmonious, delicate flavors.
Musty An odor contaminate that give coffee beans a moldy order that is caused by the presence of fungus on or in the coffee beans during the drying process or the shipment.
Neutral Coffee that is characterized by the absence of a predominant taste sensation on any part of the tongue when the coffee is first sipped but causes a distinct parching sensation on the sides of the tongue
Nutty Denotes coffee that has the aroma of roasted nuts.
Organic Coffee Coffee that has been certified by a third-party agency as having been grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals.
Richness A coffee that has a satisfying fullness in flavor, body or acidity.
Robusta One of two main types of coffee specifies. Robusta is the common name for coffea canephora. Robusta grows well at sea level and the coffee plants typically yield a higher bean than it’s competitor arabica. Robusta is high in caffeine and rather bitter. Generally less acid and less aromatic than arabica coffee. Often slightly woody
Soft A tasting term which describes coffees that are low in acidity.
Soft Bean Coffee that is grown in low altitudes.
Spicy Denotes coffee that has the aroma of a particular spice (i.e., peppery, cigar-like, clove, cinnamon, cardamom-like).
Vienna Roast Denotes coffee that has been roasted to a degree that is just slightly above the traditional American norm, but one that is lighter that a Dark Roast.