coffee words
Coffee Culture

Coffee Words & Jargon: Coffee Terms Made Simpler

Do you get confused or frustrated by all the coffee jargon you hear at the local coffee shop? Maybe you are just doing online research for your next coffee maker purchase and you can keep seeing terms that are unfamiliar to you. This coffee glossary will break down some coffee words and terms and simply explain what they mean. 

Alphabetical Coffee Words

A

Aeropress – An Aeropress is a device that is used to manually brew a perfect cup of coffee. Coffee is steeped in hot water before a plunger is depressed through a filtered tube. This method of brewing coffee is popular amongst hikers and campers.

Affogato – An affogato is an espresso shot that is poured over the top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Americano – A shot of espresso that is topped off with water. In Italy, this is known as a Caffe Lungo. 

Arabica – A species of coffee tree that more than 70% of the world’s coffee comes from. 

B

Barista – A skilled coffee making professional, the term is Italian in origin. 

Blend – A blend is a mixture of two or more different origin coffee beans that are mixed together. Blends are designed to take the best qualities from different origins to create a smooth, well-balanced cup of coffee. 

Bloom – The bloom is a part of the coffee brewing process where the gasses from the coffee are released as the water hits the grind, and this causes the grinds to grow and rise. The CO2 inside of the grinds is released and is replaced with water. 

Body – Body refers to the feel of the coffee inside of your mouth. The texture or heaviness of the coffee inside of the mouth can be determined by the coffee’s origin. 

Boiler – The boiler is the heating element used in an espresso machine to heat water to temperature before it is used. An espresso machine may have a single boiler or a double boiler if there are two boilers one is used to heat the water for espresso and the other is used to heat steam. 

Bulletproof coffee – Bulletproof coffee is brewed coffee blended with grass-fed unsalted butter and medium-chain triglyceride such as coconut oil. Bulletproof coffee is popular with those who follow the ketogenic diet and is thought to boost metabolism and increase weight loss. 

Burr grinder – A burr grinder is a machine that uses two adjustable revolving surfaces, known as burrs, that coffee beans are ground in between. This is thought to produce a higher quality grind than a traditional blade grinder offers. 

C

Cafe au lait – Cafe au lait is simply brewed coffee with hot milk added into it. It is not the same thing as white coffee which is brewed coffee with cold milk or other whiteners added to it. 

Cafetiere – A cafetiere is a cylindrical coffee pot where the grounds are fully immersed in hot water to extract more flavour. Grounds are placed on the bottom of the pot with a filter on top of them, and hot water is then poured over the grounds. After steeping for several minutes a plunger is slowly pressed on the pot to further separate the brew from the grounds. 

Caffeine – A natural stimulant compound found in coffee. 

Cappucino – Cappucino is a type of coffee that contains equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. There will be 1/3 (2 oz) steamed milk on the bottom of the cup, 1/3 (2 oz) espresso over the milk, and 1/3 (2 oz) milk foam placed on the top. The foam may be sprinkled with chocolate powder and is served in a 6 oz coffee cup. 

Capsule – Coffee capsules are plastic containers with an aluminium foil seal that you place in a single brew coffee machine. The machine punctures the aluminium foil and pushes hot water through the grounds with hot water under high pressure to brew a cup of coffee. Capsules have grown beyond just coffee, you can now find them with hot chocolate, and a variety of teas as well. 

Cold Brew – Cold brew coffee is made from grounds that have been steeped in room temperature or chilled water for several hours. A popular smooth style of coffee in the warmer months. 

Crema – Crema is the caramel coloured aromatic and tasty foam that sits on top of a shot of espresso. 

D

Dark roast – Dark roast coffee is a dark brown colour and the beans have an almost oily surface. They have a heavy body and low acidity with deep flavours. 

Decaffeinated – Coffee beans that have at least 97% of their caffeine content removed. 

Doppio – A doppio is a double shot of espresso (60 ml instead of 30 ml in a single shot), with a small dash of hot water. 

Drip coffee – A type of coffee where the flavour of the coffee comes from the beans coming in contact with water under no pressure. The water drips down over the grind in a filter and then down into a pot. 

E

Espresso – An Italian style of coffee brewing where a small amount of hot water is forced under pressure through finely-ground coffee beans, resulting in a shot of strong coffee. 

Extraction – The part of the brewing process where the coffee flavour is extracted from ground coffee by dissolving them in water. 

F

Flat white – A type of coffee that is made with espresso and then topped with flat steamed milk. A flat white has 5-7 ounces of total volume with less milk than a latte and less foam than a cappuccino. 

French press – Sometimes referred to as a cafetiere, coffee that is made by steeping the grounds in a cylinder under a filter with hot water. After steeping a strainer plate is pushed down over the mixture to remove the grounds from the brew. 

G

Gooseneck Kettle – A gooseneck, or pour over kettle, has a long, thin, slender “gooseneck” spout that offers more precision in pouring hot water over the bed of coffee grounds when making pour-over coffee. 

Heard about Pour Over Coffee? Learn more about it here.

Grind – Grind refers to the size of the ground coffee beans. Different types of beans and brewing methods require different types of grinds for the coffee to taste best. 

Group Head – The group head is the part of an espresso machine that holds the portafilter in place during the brewing process. 

I

Iced coffee – Iced coffee is brewed with hot water, cooled down and added to ice. Iced coffee is not the same as cold brew coffee, which is made with cold water only, and generally tastes better and costs more than iced coffee. 

Irish coffee – Irish coffee is coffee with a splash of whiskey added to it and cream placed on the top. 

L

Latte – A latte is a type of coffee made with espresso and steamed milk and topped with foam. Sometimes referred to as the “big brother” of cappuccino, since lattes are usually served in 8 -10 oz cups. 

Light roast – Light roast coffee is light brown in colour and there is no oil on the surface of the beans. These roasts have a mellow body and bright flavours. 

Lungo – Lungo is a coffee beverage made with one shot of espresso and additional water to make a larger beverage. A lungo is not as strong as an espresso, but the taste is more bitter because the extra water passing through the grounds extracts components that are undissolved in an espresso. 

M

Macchiato – A macchiato is a coffee drink made with espresso and a small dash of foam or steamed milk. In Italian macchiato means “stained” or “spotted” and the drink is typically served in 2-3 oz servings. 

Medium roast – Medium roast beans are milk chocolate in colour and have very little oil. They are less acidic, have a medium body, and a well-rounded flavour profile. 

Microfoam – Microfoam is finely textured milk that has been heated with the steam wand of an espresso machine in a pitcher of milk. The foam is commonly used for latte art on the top of espresso drinks. 

Milk frother – A utensil used to make milk froth that is added to coffee. The frother aerates the milk which creates a thick, heavy foam. The tiny bubbles formed in the process make the texture of the milk lighter and increases its volume. 

Mocha – A coffee drink made with espresso, chocolate syrup, and steamed milk that may be topped with cream. Learn more about mocha coffee here.

Moka Pot – A Moka pot is an electric or stovetop coffee maker that brews coffee by pushing boiling water that has been pressurized by steam through coffee grounds. 

P

Percolator – Percolators brew coffee by cycling boiling or near-boiling water through the coffee grounds multiple times until the desired strength of the coffee is achieved. This particular brewing method is susceptible to the over-extraction of the coffee and may result in a bitter-tasting brew. 

Piccolo Latte – A piccolo latte is a single shot of espresso (about 30 ml) that is then topped off with steamed milk and served in a demitasse glass that is 80 ml in volume. Often referred to as a “baby latte”.  Learn more about Piccolo Coffee here.

Plunger Coffee – Plunger coffee also referred to as French Press coffee or a cafetiere. The plunger has grounds on the bottom, a filter on top, hot water is poured over the top, and then left to sit for four minutes. After the coffee sits, the plunger is slowly pushed down to separate the grounds from the brew. 

Portafilter – The part of an espresso machine, typically a metal basket with a plastic handle, that holds the coffee grounds and attaches to the group head. 

Puck – The used coffee grounds from a portafilter basket on an espresso machine. 

Pull – The traditional term for an espresso shot from when espresso machines had levers. An espresso shot is “pulled”. 

R

Red Eye Coffee – A red-eye coffee is a cup of brewed coffee that is then topped off with a shot of espresso. 

Ristretto – Ristretto is a type of coffee drink where the espresso shot is pulled short (using less water) resulting in a stronger drink. 

Robusta – Robusta is a species of coffee from the Coffee Canephora plant in central and western Africa. It accounts for about 30% of the world’s total coffee plant production. Robusta coffee has a higher caffeine concentration and a harsher flavour than Arabica coffee making it perfect for instant coffee powder and granules. 

S

Shot – A single shot of espresso, typically a 2 oz serving. 

Single Origin – Refers to coffee that comes from a single country, place, or farm. 

Siphon Brewing – A siphon brewer consists of two chambers the first of which is filled with water and then heated. By heating the bottom chamber vapour pressure causes the water to rise into the upper chamber where it mixes with the coffee grounds. The water now mixed with coffee is then dropped back down into the lower chamber which fills with brewed coffee. The grounds are trapped by a filter in the bottom of the upper chamber. 

Steamer Wand – A small metal pipe on the espresso machine that is used to heat and froth the milk used in espresso. Pressurized steam is released through the wand into the milk to aerate it and cause foam. 

T

Tamper – A small circular device that is used to distribute and compress ground coffee into the filter basket. 

Thermoblock – The heating element in the espresso machines that is used to heat water. It takes water from the reservoir and it heats it on demand for brewing or steaming milk. This usually works faster than a boiler. 

Turkish Coffee – A coffee drink prepared with very finely ground coffee beans, and occasionally sugar, that is brought to a boil and served unfiltered. The coffee is poured and left to sit so that the grounds settle on the bottom of the cup. Learn how to make Turkish Coffee here.

V

Vienna Coffee – An espresso-based coffee drink with two shots of espresso which is then infused with cream until the cup is full. The cream is used as a replacement for milk and sugar. 

Vietnamese Coffee – Vietnamese iced coffee or cafe da is made with dark Vietnamese grown beans in a medium to coarse grind through a Vietnamese drip filter. After brewing the coffee is mixed with ice and condensed milk. 

Now you have a pretty good idea of what a lot of previously unknown coffee terms mean. Share this with your friends and you can all sit around sipping on your favourite coffees all while using the proper coffee terminology, feeling pretty smug about yourself. Who said coffee shop terms had to be complicated?!

Now you know all the important coffee related words, why not read up on all the different types of coffee machines or check out our brewing guides.