The Coffee Dictionary

Steve GSeptember 24th, 2007
By: Steve G

Arabica: Species of coffee that is indigenous to the region of Ethiopia. Known as the first species of coffee, grown for over a thousand years. Though its caffeine content is less than that of its counterpart, robusta, its flavor is several fold higher.

Barista: In the English language, Barista is the title of someone who has an exceptional level of skill in making espresso. Though it is assumed to have been created by Italians, it is a derivative of the Italian word for bartender started by Americans.

Blend: In the coffee industry, a blend is referring to a coffee grind that consists of two different types of beans.

Caffeine: A strong stimulant that is present in coffee. Different beans and species of coffee yield different amounts of caffeine. Robusta produces the most caffeine of all coffee species.

Cupping: Also known as coffee tasting, cupping is performed by novices and professionals alike. The cupping technique is used by professional tasters to determine the quality of beans. Cupping begins with a sniffing of the cup and a strong “slurping” sound, sucking the beans to the back of the mouth. The beans are tested for their acidity, body, and balance.

Robusta: Species of coffee that is grown in the Western African region of the world. It is also grown in Brazil, Central America, and Vietnam. Robusta is not as susceptible to weather as its Arabica counterpart, but lacks a lot of the flavor and aroma. Robusta yields twice as much caffeine, which makes it a good choice for espressos. It is also used with other blends as filler to add caffeine content.

Acidity: The bright, dry sensation that is created from the moment the coffee hits the tip of the tongue. Results vary depending upon beans and the blend, but most coffees that lack acidity tend to be very dull and boring.

Body: Refers to the weight of the coffee when it is in the tasters mouth. Usually body ranges from light to very heavy depending on the beans and the blend.

Steeping: Steeping in coffee terms means soaking grounds in water until it is saturated with the soluble ingredients to extract their qualities. Other types of drinks such as tea use the same techniques

Carafe: Best known as an open top glass pot with a spout or lip used for serving hot and cold beverages.

Ibrik / Cezve: A long handled pot that is traditionally used for brewing Turkish coffee. The Ibrik looks very exotic and is usually made of copper or another type of metal that is a good conductor of heat. In other regions outside of Turkey, the ibrik is called a cezve.

Tamping: Tamping basically means pack. In the coffee industry, tamping is the technique that is utilized during espresso making. While the grounds are in the portafilter, the barista packs the grounds with a tamper to a specific pressure to ensure maximum extraction of caffeine from the beans. Too much pressure can result in water not completely going through the filter and bad espresso extracted. The ideal pressure to aim for is 30 lbs. of pressure.

Portafilter: A long handled device that attaches to the head of steam-powered piston. The coffee grounds of espresso reside in the portafilter. After a perfect extraction through the portafilter, the grounds are compressed into a tightly packed puck.

Crema: Described as the golden foam that results from espresso extraction, crema is the ultimate goal for all espresso enthusiasts. During extraction, the crema resides on the top part of the espresso shot.

A cup of dark coffee.
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