Coffee Glossary 101: Basic Coffee Terms You Should Know

Have you ever found yourself staring at the coffee shop menu and still cannot decide which to order because you’re unfamiliar with some terms listed on it? 

You’re not alone, as some coffee terms aren’t easy to comprehend and may also be unfamiliar for many of us.

So, in this coffee glossary, we’ve listed the basic coffee terms that every coffee lover must know. 

Let’s get started.

coffee glossary coffee terms

A

Americano

Americano, also known as Cafe Americano, combines two ingredients, a shot or two of espresso and hot or cold water. When making a cup of this popular drink, two options are available. It is either to pour the espresso shots first on a mug, add water, or the other way around. 

The intensity of its flavor depends on the amount of water added. Typically, the ratio of ingredients is the same, which means if you make a double shot of espresso, then fill a mug with the same amount of water. Check out our guide on how to the perfect americano here.

B

Blooming

It is the initial stage of pour-over coffee brewing. The process begins when freshly ground coffee releases carbon dioxide after dampening the coffee bed with hot water. Bubbles and the expansion of coffee grounds are soon to be visible.

C

Cappuccino

One of the all-time favorite espresso-based drinks of many, Cappuccino, is a blend of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. It is usually a six-ounce drink and often served in a large, round coffee mug.

Moreover, chocolate sprinkles and cinnamon are great add-ons to this popular beverage that you might want to try. If you want to make this, you can try our cappuccino recipe here.

Cold Brew

The term refers to brewing coffee through soaking the coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water for about 12 hours at an average.

It is also possible to extend the soaking time to ensure a flavorful cold brew coffee. After this process, it is served either hot or cold, with an additional ingredient like a milk splash.

Crema

The crema is a caramel-colored or reddish-brown foam that is visible during the brewing period. Both its volume and color depend on the type of beans and the process of roasting them is.

It is also an essential factor in making a quality and perfect cup of espresso. You must remember this if you love this strong coffee blend. 

D

Dark Roast

It is a type of coffee bean with a strong flavor, is dark brown in color, and has an oily surface. Dark roast coffees are also well-known for their low acidity.

The longer time the beans stay in the roaster, the more intense flavor the result will be, however. Take note of these things to set your expectations.

Drip Coffee

By its name, drip coffee refers to the coffee collected as it is dripping out of the filter during the brewing period. This type of brewed coffee is easy to make using a filter-drip coffee maker or a percolator. Also, this term helps you to distinguish coffee from espresso.

E

Espresso

Espresso is the name of a beverage with an intense flavor and use finely ground coffee. It also refers to the brewing method and the machine used for brewing. When making a perfect espresso drink, the grind size and brewing temperature are always considered essential factors. Check out our espresso guide here.

Extraction

It is the process of taking flavor from coffee grounds. Aside from doing it right, two possible things could also happen, and it will affect the drink’s taste.

One is over-extracting that results in a bitter flavor or under-extracting that could make the coffee taste sour. Thus, finding the right balance is an essential factor to make it perfect.

F

Flat White

Flat white is a small, foamy, and milky drink like a latte, cappuccino, or cortado. This popular drink is about 5 to 7 ounces and has many variations.

Sometimes this espresso-based drink could make you confused because of its similarity to some of the popular espresso-based beverages. But the sure thing is it is an espresso-based drink with steamed milk without foam or chocolate sprinkle.

Frappuccino

A frozen drink perfect for summer, Frappuccino, also called frappe, is the result of blending crushed ice, strong-flavored coffee or espresso, and milk. A flavored syrup plus whipped cream on top is perfect for the drink.

Frothing

The term refers to making froth or milk foam using an espresso machine’s steam wand. It requires a skill to do it when drawing air into the milk to make a perfect foam for a latte or cappuccino and other beverages with milk foam on top.

G

Gourmet Coffee

Gourmet coffee is a specialty coffee, which is the product of Arabica beans that grow in mountainous areas with an ideal climate perfect for growing coffees. It is also known as premium coffee. With its distinctive flavor, coffee enthusiasts love it!

H

Half Caf

Half Caf is the term for a coffee drink, also known as split shot, with only half caffeine content. It is the opposite of Red Eye since this drink is a blend of decaffeinated and regular coffee. And in making a Half Caf, the ingredients should be of equal parts. It is ideal for those who cannot drink coffee with a high caffeine content.

I

Iced Coffee

This perfect and easy-to-make summer drink is a combination of espresso and chilled milk. Usually, after mixing the two main ingredients, the mixture is poured into a glass filled with ice cubes. It is also often served with chocolate syrup on top.

Irish Coffee

Irish coffee is a combination of black coffee, brown sugar, and Irish whiskey with whipped cream on top. The barista serves the cocktail hot using an Irish coffee mug. It is ideal for those who want a taste of whiskey and coffee at the same time. 

L

Latte

Latte or café latte is one of the most popular espresso-based drinks anyone can make at home. This 8-ounce creamy drink served in a tall glass is the combination of a shot of espresso and steamed milk.

It also has milk foam on top and sprinkled with chocolate powder. Some cafes or coffee shops also serve this drink with a double shot of espresso.

Flavored lattes, which are popular options, are also available in most cafes and coffee shops, such as caramel, vanilla, and cinnamon. But if you want to try making this at home, check out our latte recipe here.

Latte Art

Latte art refers to creative designs visible on the surface of an espresso-based drink, such as a latte or Cappuccino.

Free pour and etching are the two methods that the artist applies to make latte art. And there are necessary factors to consider when making this great work of art, such as a perfect shot of espresso and steamed milk.

M

Macchiato

It is a 2 to 3-ounce espresso-based drink with a layer of milk foam on top. In Italian, this coffee term means marked or spotted. Some macchiato drink recipes have caramel or chocolate toppings. Aside from cafe macchiato, cafes and coffee shops also serve a latte macchiato. 

Mocha

Mocha or cafe mocha is also known as mochaccino. The foundation of the drink is espresso, topped with milk foam and chocolate syrup or cocoa powder. Cafes and coffee shops also serve White Mocha. It also refers to the name of a small, irregular coffee bean from Mocha Yemen.

N

Nel Drip

The Nel Drip is a short term for Flannel Drip and is a form of drip coffee. The barista uses imported flannel filters from Japan to make this drink. After using the filters, proper cleaning is necessary. They should be hand-washed and kept chilled, especially when not in use.

P

Pour-over Coffee

It is a popular method of preparing coffee using a coffee maker. In this method developed in Japan, hot water passes through coffee grounds in a filter. It is also known as filter coffee or drip coffee. In making a cup of coffee using this method, the brewing time takes about three minutes.

Among the coffee brewing methods, most high-end cafes prefer pour-over to make coffee with complex flavors. When making a pour-over coffee at home, you will need a coffee maker or dripper, grinder, coffee filters, kettle, and a scale.

R

Red Eye

Red Eye is a highly caffeinated drink known as a Hammerhead or a Shot in the Dark. It results from mixing a single shot or more of espresso and a cup of regular coffee. Additionally, this drink has many variations and is famous for its high caffeine content.

S

Skinny

The term skinny when the barista uses non-fat milk to make an espresso-based drink. It could be a skinny Latte or any espresso coffee recipe.

Solo

The term refers to a single shot of espresso wherein its principal portions, such as crema, body, and heart, are visible when poured into a clear demitasse. It also refers to a coffee drink with a single shot of espresso.

Which among these terms have you recently encountered in a coffee shop’s menu?  

Did you find this list of the basic coffee terms useful?

Also, we want you to be part of this list. If you have other coffee terms you want added on this glossary, let us know! 

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Cuppabean
Charles is the author and managing editor of Cuppabean.com. A self-admitted coffee addict, he drinks 2-4 cups of coffee a day to get his fix. Read more about the site here.

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