Coffee Glossary

Peacock Coffee Glossary

 

 

ACIDITY

Acidity in Arabica coffees is almost always considered a positive flavor attribute, yet the term can sound unattractive. People may relate acidity to stomach discomfort, or to sour flavors. This would be incorrect. The acidity in good high-grown Arabica imbues the cup with delicate flavor accents, complexity, and dimension. Good acidity is fleetingly volatile, a momentary sensation, giving effervescence to the cup, and informing the mouth feel as well. Coffees with no acidity can taste flat. Acidity is not about quantity, it is about quality, and good coffees have a complex balance of many types of acidity: malic, citric, acetic, phosphoric, quinic, to name a few ... and a whole set of chlorogenic acids that are very important to flavor experience as well. Kenya’s, which by flavor are some of the higher acid coffees, actually have measurably less than Brazil Arabica (of quinic and citric acids), more of others (malic, phosphoric) and far less than some Robusta coffees (chlorgenic acids)! Dark roasts tend to flatten out acidity in flavor. But contrary to the taste, darker roasts have more acidity than lighter roasts. So quantity does not always follow perception. Acidity in coffee might be described by terms like bright, clear, effervescent, snappy, dry, clean, winery, etc. Coffees without acidity tend to taste flat and dull, like flat soda. Acidity is to coffee what dryness is to wine, in a sense. Different coffee origins will possess different kinds of acidity; like the wine-like high notes of some African coffees versus the crisp clear notes of high grown coffees from the Americas. Unpleasant acidy flavors may register as sourness.

 

ACRID

A general negative flavor term, from defect bean, bad roast, or bad brewing: Unpleasantly sharp, astringent or bitter to the taste or smell.
 

AFRICAN COFFEE

African coffee is known for its wild flavors, from bright Kenya’s, to floral Ethiopia Yirgacheffe’s, to rustic, earthy Ethiopia Sidamo’s. While coffee is widely grown in sub Saharan Africa, specialty coffee African origins include are generally in eastern and southern Africa.
 

AFTERNOSE

Commonly used in reference to wine, after nose compliments aftertaste, but refers to residual olfactory sensations after the coffee has left the palate.
 

AGED COFFEE

There are different methods for ageing coffee - both holding the beans in burlap and rotating the coffee frequently as is done in Sumatra, or monsooning, where the beans are held in a warehouse and exposed to the moist monsoon winds as is done in India. Coffee can be aged 2 to 3 years. Strictly speaking, aged coffee is defective coffee, but it is sought out as it can impart a specific pungency especially to espresso drinks. Aged coffee is not the same as old coffee, so it is not baggy or flat. From my own perspective, it seems that when coffee prices are high, producers hold less coffee for ageing. When prices are low, there is more aged coffee produced (intentionally or not). Aged coffee will have more body, very low acidity, and often very strong, wild flavors. It can be an acquired tast

 

ALKALOID

A taste sensation characterized by a dryness and related bitter flavors, sometimes at the posterior of the tongue, usually sensed in the aftertaste. It is not always a wholly a bad thing, in moderate intensities.
 

ALTITUDE

The height above sea level that a coffee is grown. Coffee grown at higher altitude is often considered better, though this is far from a rule. Higher-grown coffee tends to mature more slowly and have a denser bean, which may result in a more even roast. Overall quality, especially acidity, increases with altitude. In South and Central America, coffees are graded and classified based on altitude.

 

ARABICA

Arabica refers to Coffea Arabica, the taxonomic species name of the genus responsible for around 75% of the world's commercial coffee crop. Coffea Arabica is a woody perennial evergreen that belongs to the Rubiaceae family (same family as Gardenia). The other major commercial crop is Coffea Canephora, known as Robusta coffee. Arabica and Robusta differ in terms of genetics and taste. While Robusta coffee beans are more disease-resistant than the Arabica, they generally produce an inferior tasting beverage and has more caffeine. Coffea Arabica is a tetraploid (44 chromosomes) and is self-pollinating, whereas Robusta is diploid with 22 chromosomes. There are 2 main botanical cultivars of Arabica: C. Arabica Var. Arabica (Typica) and C. Arabica Var. Bourbon. Arabica was used originally to indicate Arab origins because coffee was taken from Yemen to the Dutch colony Batavia on the island of Java (via India), although C. Arabica originates in the Western Ethiopian region of Kaffa
 

AROMA

The aromatics of a coffee greatly influence its flavor profile and come from the perception of the gases released by brewed coffee. Aroma is greatest in the middle roasts and is quickly overtaken by carbony smells in darker roasts. Aroma is distinct from the dry fragrance of the coffee grounds; in general "fragrance" describes things we do not eat (like perfume) and "aroma" pertains to food and beverage we consume. In cupping, wet aroma refers to the smell of wet coffee grinds, after hot water is added. Aromatics as a term may encompass the entire aroma experience of a coffee. Aromatics are a huge part of flavor perception (remember the "hold your nose and eat an onion" experiment). Aromatics reach the olfactory bulb through the nose and "retro-nasally" through the opening in the back of our palate. While some taste is sapid, perceived through the tongue and palate via papillae, or taste buds, most of flavor quality is perceived through the olfactory bulb.
 

ASHY

A quality in aroma or flavor similar to that of an ashtray, the odor of smokers' fingers or the smell one gets when cleaning out a fireplace. In the most moderate amount, it may not ruin a cup. Ashy flavors can hint at roasting defects, anything from smoky unclean air being recycled through a roasting drum (or a roaster that doesn't vent, like a barbeque drum roaster set-up). Softer, lower-grown coffees will show ashy tastes before high-grown, dense coffees, given the same roast treatment
 

ASTRINGENT

Astringency is a harsh flavor sensation, acrid flavour, that provokes a strong reaction. It can have dryness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness as components. It is certainly the opposite of sweetness and cleanness in coffee, always a defect flavor.
 

BACKFLUSHING

Back flushing is a process done to espresso machines to clean them: a filter basket with no holes (a "blank" basket) is inserted into the portafilter so that when the machine is activated, pressurized water cannot escape and is instead forced back into the machine to "flush" it. Often, back flushing is done with some type of coffee cleaning detergent in the basket. A typical back flushing protocol is to put coffee cleaner in the blank basket and back flush 5 times, then rinse the cleaner out and back flush 5 times without no cleaner. Note that not all machines can be back flushed. View Cleaning espresso machine video.
 

BAGGY

Coffees that are held for too long run the risk of this taint. Essentially the coffee comes to absorb the flavors of whatever it is stored in - usually the burlap or jute bag. Many times a darker roast on these coffees will conceal this taint. Baggy flavors are the result of several factors: the fats in the coffee absorbing the smell of burlap, the loss in moisture content as the coffee ages, and other chemical changes. For some origins theses changes in flavor can emerge in 1 year, 9 months, even 6 months for some decafs.
 

BAKED

Baked flavor happens in under-roasted coffees haven't developed their character, or coffees that simply sat in the roaster too long without enough heat. It can also happen to scorched coffees where the outside of the bean is browned and the inside is under-roasted. Flavors are typically astringent, grain-like, sour, and body is thin and possibly gritty.
 

BALANCE

Balance is both an obvious and slippery taste term. It implies a harmony and proportion of qualities, and perhaps a mild character since no one quality dominates. Balance can exist between aromatics, flavors, textural sensations, and aftertaste, or between competing flavors. Bittersweet is a term that implies a balance of 2 basic sapid flavors.

 

BITTER

Sweetness is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter and Umami (savory flavors). While most would say bitterness is undesirable, coffee has essential bitterness to it. Most undesirable bitterness is formed by roasting defects (flash roasting, or slow baking of the coffee), too-light roast (astringent, trigonelline bitterness) or dark roasting (burned roast taste, no remaining sucrose). Bitterness is experienced from the rancid oils and residues of dirty brewing equipment. There are many types of bitterness, hence not one avenue to tracking down its source. Bitterness as a positive quality is balanced with residual sweetness, and we use the term bittersweet or bittersweetness to describe this, as in darker chocolate flavors.
 

BITTERSWEET

Bittersweet is from the language of chocolate, and describes the co-presence of positive bitter compounds balanced by sweetness. It is directly related to caramelisation, but has inputs from other roast reactions, as well as bitter flavors such as trigonelline. Bittersweet is usually a roast flavor term, but is always specific to the green coffee too (good bittersweetness would not develop at any roast level in a coffee without the native compounds to engender it). Usually, bittersweetness of a coffee develops as the roast gets darker and eventually overpowers other flavors. It dark roasts; acidity is reduced, while the caramel taste of sugars forms the stimulating bittersweetness.
 

BLADE GRINDER

The standard home coffee grinder, which works by way of a high-speed rotating blade. Blade grinders are inexpensive, but this comes at the expense of accuracy: grounds from a blade grinder are substantially less even than those from a burr grinder.
 

BLENDED COFFEE

A blend is a mixture of coffees from multiple origins. Coffees are typically blended to produce a more balanced cup. Most Espressos Coffee is blended for a balanced cup.
 

BOLD

Bold is a vague marketing term sometimes used to describe a darker roast. It does not mean a better cup than mild, delicate coffees.
 

BOURBON

Bourbon, along with Typica, are main Coffea Arabica cultivars. Bourbon was developed by the French on the island of Bourbon, now Reunion, in the India Ocean near Africa. The seeds were sold to the French by the British East India Company from Aden, Yemen, and were planted in 1708. After generations, it began to express unique characteristics and became more robust. Bourbon has slightly higher yields and is more robust than Typica in general. It has a broader leaf and rounder cherry (and green bean) than Typica, a conical tree form, and erect branches. It has many local variants and sub-types, including Tekisic, Jackson, Arusha, and the Kenya SL types. In general, Bourbon can have excellent cup character. The cherry ripens quickly, but is at risk from wind and hard rain. It is susceptible to major coffee diseases. Bourbon grows best at altitudes between 1100 - 2000 MASL. Bourbon coffees should have green tips (new leaves) whereas Typicas should have bronze-to-copper tips.
 

BRIGHTNESS

A term that describes acidity in coffee. A bright coffee has higher, acidic notes. Not to be confused with the brighter roast flavors of light roast levels, such as City to City+ roasts. Read more about acidity to understand its use as a flavor term, not in reference to the quantity of acidity in coffee.
 

BURLAP BAGS

Burlap bags are the traditional container in which coffee is transmitted. Burlap is cheap, but long storage in burlap bags may result in a characteristic "baggy" defect taste.
 

BURNT

Burnt flavors in coffee are the result of over-roasting, fast roasting, or roasting in a high-heat environment. This often occurs when the initial roaster temperature when the green coffee is introduced is too high. Usually, scorching and tipping result in burnt flavors. Sometimes, Smokey notes in a cup can be a result of native qualities to the coffee, and not necessarily a defect, or the result of an exotic process such as a Monsooned or Aged coffee.

 

BURR GRINDER

A coffee grinder that grinds by passing a flow of beans between a pair of rotating metal discs. The distance between the discs is adjustable, and this adjustment allows one to accurately set the size of the grind. The larger the diameter of the burrs, the faster the grinder is able to grind. Burr grinders can be either "conical" or "flat" burred, each with their own advantages. Ironically, both the cheapest and the most expensive espresso grinders have conical burrs, while mid-range burr grinders and commercial bulk coffee grinders have flat burrs. Grinders can also be divided into "doser" and "doser-less" models: a doser is a mechanism for dosing ground coffee into a portafilter for espresso. Doser models may be more convenient for espresso, but are more difficult to use when grinding coffee into a container for brewed coffee.
 

CAFFEINE

An alkaloid compound which has a physiological effect on humans, and a slight, bitter flavour. It is found throughout the coffee plant but is more concentrated in the seed / coffee bean. Arabica ranges from 1.0 to 1.6% caffeine and Robusta (Coffea Canephora) from 1.6 to 2.2% caffeine. It is highly water soluble. The amount of caffeine in brewed coffee is directly proportional to how much ground coffee was used to make the cup. See Decaffeinated Coffee.
 

CAPPUCCINO

Cappuccino is an espresso-based beverage with steamed silky milk on top.
 

CAPPY

A defect term; referring to oxidized, unpleasantly sharp cheese flavor, found in coffee that has not been stored correctly.
 

CARAMEL

Caramel is a desirable form of sweetness found in the flavor and aroma of coffee, and is an extension of roast taste. Extremely light or dark coffees will lose potential caramel sweetness. This is a broad term, and can find many forms since it relates to the degree of caramelization of sugars; light or dark caramel, butterscotch, cookie caramel, syrupy forms, caramel popcorn, various types of candy, caramel malt (beer brewing, many types).
 

CARBON DIOXIDE PROCESS

A decaffeination method where beans are placed in a liquid bath of highly-pressurized CO2. Supercritical CO2 acts as the solvent penetrating the coffee and extracting the caffeine, so when the coffee returns to normal temperature and pressure, there is no residue once the CO2 floats away. Some C02's approach the chemical decafs in cup quality; others are nearer to SWP decafs. Here's a longer and perhaps simpler explanation: Here is how it works: Coffee is mixed with water, and the beans expand in size, their pores get opened and the caffeine molecules become mobile. At this point carbon dioxide is added at 100 atmospheres pressure to the pure water. Basically the water and the carbon dioxide are mixed to create the sparkling water. The carbon dioxide acts like a magnet and attracts all the caffeine molecules that became movable. When the caffeine is captured by the carbon dioxide, this is removed. The carbon dioxide is very selective and it doesn't touch the carbohydrates and proteins of the coffee beans, which would damage quality. When the carbon dioxide has finished removing the caffeine, the coffee seeds are dried naturally. Carbon dioxide is then recycled and caffeine is sold for other commercial uses. See Decaffeinated Coffee.
 

CATURRA

Caturra is an Arabica cultivar discovered as a natural mutant of Bourbon in Brazil in 1937. It has a good yield potential, but was not ideal for Brazil growing conditions (due to lack of hardness and too much fruit in 3-4 production cycles). However, it flourished in Colombia and Central America and had good cup characteristics, possibly displaying citrus qualities. At higher altitudes quality increases, but production decreases, and it sometimes requires extensive care and fertilization. It has good cup quality, and perhaps shows a more citric acidity, and lighter body than Bourbon.
 

CBB

Coffee Berry Borer is a pest that burrows into the coffee seed, and a major problem in many coffee origins. In Latin America it is known as Broca.
 

CHAFF

Chaff is paper-like skin that comes off the coffee in the roasting process. Chaff from roasting is part of the innermost skin (the silverskin) of the coffee fruit that still cling to the beans after processing has been completed. Commercial roasters have a chaff collector.
 

CHERRY

Either a flavor in the coffee, or referring to the fruit of the coffee tree, which somewhat resembles a red cherry.
 

CHICORY

Chicory was a popular coffee substitute and economizer for 2 centuries, back when coffee was more prized, and pure coffee was a luxury. In that time, it became a matter of cultural preference to use chicory in coffee; in the United States it was synonymous with New Orleans coffee. The specific taste of famous New Orleans brands is due to the blend of dark roasted coffee and chicory
 

CHOCOLATE

Chocolate is a broad, general flavor or aroma term reminiscent of chocolate. But what type? There are so many forms of chocolate, either in its pure state, or as part of another confection. Chocolate flavors are often a "roast taste", and are dependent on the degree of roast. Look for more specifics; bittersweet chocolate, bakers chocolate, toffee and chocolate, rustic chocolate, cocoa powder, Dutch cocoa, cocoa nibs, Pralines and chocolate, milk chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate, etc. etc.
 

CITRIC ACID

Citric acid is, in moderate amounts, a component of good, bright coffees. It is a positive flavor acid in coffee that often leads to the perception of citrus fruits and adds high notes to the cup. Fine high-grown Arabica coffees have more citric acid than Robusta types.
 

CITY ROAST

City roast is what we define as the earliest palatable stage that the roast process can be stopped and result in good quality coffee. City roast occurs roughly between 213 and 218 degrees Centigrade in many coffee roasters with a responsive bean probe where First Crack starts in the 202 to 207 degree range. The benefits of City roasts are that the origin flavor of the coffee is not eclipsed by the development of strong roast flavors, but the risk is that sourness, astringency, or under-developed sweetness makes the cup unpleasant. City roast generally has a light brown color with strong surface texture, even dark creases in the bean surface, and only moderate expansion of the bean size. This varies greatly in different coffees though. As a very general rule, to reach City roast the coffee is removed from heat at the last detectable sound of First Crack, or very soon after, with no further development toward 2nd crack. We define this as a light Roast.
 

CITY +ROAST

City+ roast is an ideal roast level that occurs roughly between 218 and 224 degrees Fahrenheit in many coffee roasters with a responsive bean probe where First Crack starts in the 202 to 207 degree range. also called a medium roast. This range of roast temperatures is after City roast (hence the + !) and indicates that the coffee has been allowed to develop further, anywhere from 10 seconds to 1 minute or more depending on roast method, after the last "pop" of First Crack was heard. These times and heat ranges vary greatly depending on the roast machine and green coffee. The benefits of City+ roasts is the balance between moderate roast flavor and the origin flavor of the green bean; astringent, sour or "baked" light roast flavors are reduced, yet the flavors specific to a particular coffee lot are still expressed in the cup flavor. City+ has a brown color and may not yet have the smooth surface that comes as further browning and bean expansion occur as the coffee approaches 2nd crack. All Peacock Roasts are Medium Roasts, with the exception of Espresso Coffee and French Roast.
 

CLASSIC

Classic is a term used to describe coffees made in the tradition of a particular growing region, and specific to that area. It is a general characterization of a coffee, implying that it fits an ideal, predetermined taste profile for that particular origin. For wet-processed Central American coffees a balanced cup with clean flavors, light-to-medium body, and good acidity would be "classic" for that area. Traditional cultivars, Typica and Bourbon coffees, often recall classic flavor profiles, well-documented for a growing area.
 

CLEAN CUP

Clean cup refers to a coffee free of taints and defects. It does not imply sanitary cleanliness, or that coffees that are not clean (which are dirty) are unsanitary. It refers to the flavors, specifically the absence of hard notes, fruity-furmenty flavors, earthy flavors or other off notes.
 

COFFEE

Coffee is a flowering shrub that produces fruit. The seeds of the fruit are separated through various processing methods (wet or dry processing, or something in between) and dried to about 12% moisture for long term storage. The seeds are roasted and ground prior to being prepared as an infusion. The term "coffee" is applied to the plant, the seeds and the infusion alike, see Processing and Roasting.
 

COFFEE BERRY DISEASE

A fungal disease that results in cherry dying and dropping to the ground before it is ripe. It is a serious problem in Kenya, and most of East Africa, and can be transmitted by the coffee seed.
 

COFFEE BREWING

The process of making an infusion of roasted, ground coffee beans. In the most basic sense, hot water is added to coffee ground to produce a drink. Some brewing methods (espresso, turkish coffee) produce a dense concentrate while other methods (filter drip, vacuum pot) produce a cleaner, more refined cup. Coffee brewing methods have changed much over time and are likely to continue to do so.
 

COFFEE CHERRY

Coffee is a fruit from a flowering shrubby tree; we have come to call the whole fruit coffee cherry. It usually ripens to a red color, although some types ripen to yellow, and is smaller than most real cherries, but close enough. In other regards, the tree and fruit do not resemble a cherry. Old European texts often refer to the fruit as the "coffee berry". Coffee cherry can also be a flavor accent in the cup.

Peacock Coffee beans Glossary

COFFEE CROP CYCLE

The Coffee Crop Cycle refers to the period of growth of the cherry to maturation and harvest. Coffee has one harvest period a year, although in some there is a second small harvest. From the flowering, to the fruit development and ripening, the coffee fruit is on the tree for a long period. The crop cycle differs for many origins.
 

COFFEE DISEASES

Coffea Arabica is susceptible to a host of diseases, such as Coffee Berry Disease (CBD), Coffee Berry Borer (CBB, also known as Broca), and Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR). There are many others, but these diseases do the most economic damage to the coffee crop worldwide.
 

COFFEE FILTER

A mechanism (usually paper or a metal or nylon mesh) for straining coffee ground from brewed coffee.
 

COFFEE GROWING REGIONS

Coffee is grown in a belt around the world - roughly from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn, in 50 different countries. For specialty grade coffee, altitude ranges from 1800- 6000 feet. The optimum temperature is between 15-24ºC (59-75ºF) year round. Soils and rainfall vary widely from one origin to the next - or even within a large coffee producing country like Ethiopia.
 

COFFEE LEAF RUST

A major fungal coffee disease affecting Coffea Arabica. It can be treated with fungicide, or with good pruning regimen and cultivar selection. It was first noticed in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1869. Ceylon was formerly the largest coffee producing country, until rust wiped out the tree stock and tea was hastily planted. CLR spread to Sumatra in 1876, Java in 1878, Africa in the 1880s. It spread to Brazil in 1970, then rapidly to Central America.
 

COFFEE ROASTER

A mechanism for roasting coffee. The basic requirements for a coffee roaster are a heating element that gets suitably hot and a mechanism for agitating the beans. Broadly there are two types of roasting (i.e. heat transfer), conduction and convection. A drum roaster will be mostly a conduction roast, but some convection as well. A hot air corn popper is a convection roast. At Peacock we use drum roasters.
 

COMPLEX

The co-presence of many aroma and flavor attributes, with multiple layers. A general impression of a coffee, similar to judgments such as "balanced" or "structured".
 

CONICAL BURR GRINDER

A conical burr grinder has two cone-shaped burrs that sit inside one another; coffee bean fall between the two burrs and is ground between them. Produces a much more even grind than a whirly blade grinder. Conical burr mills are very even at medium and fine grinds, less so at coarse grinds. The mill can be electrical or cranked by hand.
 

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN

Country of Origin is where the coffee is grown in general terms. Region is a more specific area within the country. Arabica coffee grows in only in particular environments with adequate rainfall, temperate climates, good soil (often volcanic), sufficient altitude, and roughly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
 

CRACK

An audible popping sound heard during roasting. In coffee, one refers to "first crack" and "second crack," which come from two different classes of chemical reactions.
 

CREAMY

Mouths feel description indicating thickness and soft, rounded texture. See also buttery.
 

CREMA

Crema is a dense foam that floats on top of a shot of espresso. It ranges in color from blond to reddish-brown to black. Blond crema may be evidence of under-extraction or old coffee, while black crema is a sign of over-extraction or an overly hot boiler.
 

CRISP

Crisp can have several meanings, since it modifies other flavor terms. Crisp acidity might mean bracing, fresh fruit acids. Crisp chocolate notes might refer to tangy bitter sweetness. It involves something that occurs briefly, and that provokes reaction, normally positive.
 

CROP

This is the crop year the coffee was harvested and processed in, and provided that the coffee has been properly stored and is the MOST current available crop, shouldn't be a primary consideration in buying a green coffee. It is sometimes expressed as a single year or a split year ('01/'02 for example). The industry standard is that the crop year as inked on the burlap bag means the year it was grown- picked-milled-shipped and then arrived at market. But this is a very long process which means that a very fresh green coffee selling in December of 2008 will be '07/'08 since '08/'09 crop would not arrive until March-April. So the dates are a bit confusing.

 

CULTIVAR

The naming of a cultivar should conform to the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (the ICNCP, commonly known as the Cultivated Plant Code). A cultivar is a particular variety of a plant species or hybrid that is being cultivated and/or is recognized as a cultivar under the ICNCP. The concept of cultivar is driven by pragmatism, and serves the practical needs of horticulture, agriculture, forestry, etc. The plant chosen as a cultivar may have been bred deliberately, selected from plants in cultivation. 
 

CUP OF EXCELLENCE

The Cup of Excellence (COE) is a competition held more-or-less yearly in many coffee producing countries. Until 2008, the COE was limited to Central and South America, but with the 2008 Rwanda Cup of Excellence the competition has expanded to Africa, as well. In the COE, coffees are rated by an international jury and then auctioned off. COE coffees regularly fetch many times normal market rates for coffee. The Cup of Excellence was founded in 1999 in Brazil and expanded to other countries in the coming years.
 

CUPPING

Cupping is a method of tasting coffee by steeping grounds in separate cups for discrete amounts of ground coffee, to reveal good flavors and defects to their fullest. It has formal elements and methodology in order to treat all samples equally and empirically, without bias. In one long sentence ... a discrete amount of ground coffee is dosed into multiple cups or bowls for each sample, dry fragrance in evaluated, hot water is added, wet aroma is evaluated, the floating crust of grounds are "broken" with a fancy "cupping spoon" and the aroma is again evaluated, the cupper waits for a cooler temperature and skims the lingering foam from the top, then, after cleaning a spoon in hot water, carefully removes coffee from the top of the cup without stirring, and sucks the liquid across the palate, atomizing it into the olfactory bulb as much as possible, judging flavor, acidity, aftertaste, mouth feel, and any other number of quality categories.
 

DECAFFEINATED COFFEE

Coffee from which caffeine has been removed, either chemically or using water filtration. A variety of methods for decaffeination exist, but all operate on the same basic principle: coffee is soaked in a liquid (water or pressurized carbon dioxide) bath and the caffeine is extracted from the liquid. See SWP, CO2 process, Ethyl Acetate. Decaffeinated beans have a much darker appearance and give off little chaff when roasting. Decafs will roast differently than regular coffees because of their altered state; in most roasting methods, they will roast faster than regular beans.
 

DEGASSING

Degassing, or resting refers to the step after home roasting a batch; coffee brewed immediately has so much C0-2 coming off it that it prevents good extraction or infusion of water. Time is often needed to allow the coffee to off-gas. Also, certain characteristics are not developed immediately after roasting, such as body. A rest of 12-24 hours is recommended, or up to 3-5 days for some espresso coffees.
 

DEGREE OF ROAST

Degree of Roast simply means the roast level of a coffee, how dark it has been roasted. The longer a coffee is exposed to a constant heated environment, the darker it roasts. One part of roasting consistency is to match degree-of-roast from batch to batch, if that is desired. The second is to match the Roast Profile (AKA Roast Curve), the time-temperature relationship that was applied to the roast.
 

DEMUCILAGE

Mucilage is the fruity layer of the coffee cherry, between the outer skin and the parchment layer that surrounds the seed. In the traditional wet-process method, the mucilage is broken down by fermentation and then washed off. A forced Demucilage machine does this with water and friction, such as a Penagos or Pinhalense Demucilager. The early machines were called "Aqua-pulpers" but they damaged the coffee, resulting in fruity or furmenty flavors.
 

DENSITY

The density of a coffee bean is often taken as a sign of quality, as a denser bean will roast more evenly. The higher a coffee is grown, the denser it is likely to be. Coffee is sorted at origin by density, with the most dense beans graded as specialty coffee.
 

DENSITY SORTING

Density sorting is a step at the dry mill where coffee is run across a density table. Tilted at an angle, the table vibrates and dense coffee beans travel to the TOP or the highest side of the table, whereas less dense seeds go to the LOWER angle of the table. Less dense seeds are either outright defects, or tend to have poor cup character because they are damaged, or under-developed. The density table is often called an Oliver table, and there are inferior air-based sorters as well.
 

DESCALING

The process of removing harmful scale buildup from a boiler. De-scaling is usually accomplished by adding a commercial de-scaling product or citric acid to water and running this solution through a machine. Espresso machines and brewers should be de-scaled regularly (with the frequency depending on the hardness of water used) to maintain optimal functionality.
 

DOSER

A doser is a mechanism, usually attached to the front of a burr grinder, for putting coffee into an espresso portafilter basket. Ground coffee sits in the doser and is pushed out and into the portafilter by the pull of a lever. Dosers are designed to push out the same amount of coffee (typically 6-7 grams) every time the lever is pulled, but, in practice, this feature only works is the doser if full of grounds. 
 

DRUM ROASTER

A roaster with a rotating drum that provides agitation to the beans, while a heating element (typically either electric or gas) provides heat. The metal drum conducts heat to the beans, so drum roasters heat beans both by convection and conduction. Drum roasters typically roast more slowly than air roasters, and impart a more rounded, less bright flavor profile. We at Peacock use Drum Roasters.
 

DRY FRAGRANCE

In the cupping procedure for tasting and scoring coffee, this is the smell of the dry ground coffee before hot water is added. The term fragrance is used since it is normally applied to things we smell but do not consume (perfume, for example), whereas aroma is usually applied to foods and beverages.
 

DRY MILL

A facility that accepts dried coffee cherry and mechanically separates the coffee bean from the dried fruit and parchment layer. The facility can be highly mechanized, as in Ethiopia, or very simple, as in Yemen. 
 

DRY PROCESS

Dry process is a method to transform coffee from the fruit of the coffee tree to the green coffee bean, ready for export. Dry processing is the original method, and the wet process was devised later (as well as the very recent pulp natural process). It is a simple method, using less machinery and more hand labor, and has been a tradition in some growing origins for centuries. It risks tainting the coffee with defect flavors due to poor handling, drying, or ineffective hand-sorting. In dry processing the fruit is picked from the tree and dried directly in the sun or on raised screens, without peeling the skin, or any water-based sorting or fermenting. The dried coffee turns to a hard, dark brown pod, and the green seed is torn out from the skin and parchment layers in one step, or pounded out by hand. Because there is no chance to skim off floating defects, or removed under-ripes as with the wet process, most defects must be removed visually, by hand. Dry process coffees generally have more body and lower acidity than their wet process counterparts, with more rustic flavors due to the long contact between the drying fruit and the seed. They also can have more defects, taints, and lack of uniformity both in the roast and in cupping. A dry process coffee is sometimes referred to as natural coffee, full natural, or traditional dry process, or abbreviated DP.
 

EARTHY

Sumatra coffees can have a positive earthy flavor, sometimes described as "wet earth" or "humus" or "forest" flavors. But Earthy is a flavor term with some ambivalence, used positively in some cases, negatively in others. Usually, if we use the term dirty, groundy or swampy, we are implying a negative earth flavor, but earthy itself in Indonesia coffees is a positive assertion. Earthy in a Central America wet-process coffee is NOT a positive term though, since it is out of character, and does not fit the flavor profile.
 

EMULSION

In coffee, "emulsion" typically refers to the suspension of coffee oils in water. While brewed coffee is primarily an extraction, espresso is both an extraction and an emulsion because it occurs under pressure.
 

ESPRESSO

In its most stripped-down, basic form, this is a working definition for espresso: A small coffee beverage, about 20 ml, prepared on an espresso machine where pressurized hot water extracted through compressed coffee. A smaller version where extraction is restricted is called a Ristretto.
 

ESTATE

A "coffee estate" is used to imply a farm that has it's own processing facility, a wet-mill. In Spanish this is called an Hacienda. A Finca (farm) does not necessarily have a mill. (And Finca is not a coffee-specific term). In a strict sense an Estate would have both a wet mill and dry mill, meaning they prepare coffee from the tree all the way to ready-to-export green coffee in jute bags. Estate coffee is not necessarily better than any other type, except that they have the possibility of controlling quality all through the process.
 

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