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 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.

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

    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

    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.

    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 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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 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 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.

    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 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.

    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.

    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, 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.

    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 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 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.

    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.

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

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

    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).

    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 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 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.

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

    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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

    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.

    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 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.

    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.

    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.

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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".

    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 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.

    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.

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

    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 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.

    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.

    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 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.

    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, 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 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.

    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.

    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 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach to empowering developing country producers and promoting sustainability. Products are certified as fair trade, under guide lines developed by FLO, and administered in the USA by Transfair. It's benefit is that it is a global effort, coordinated by third-party certifiers. The problems are that it does not include the quality of the product, i.e. the taste of the coffee, as part of the certification. It applies only to products produced by co-operatives. It also DOES NOT MEAN that the cooperative member, the one who grew and picked your coffee, was paid according to any standard. It means the cooperative was paid a minimum price, and it is up to them to divide that among members fairly. Much of our African coffees are purchased directly from individual estates, paying a fair price for the product.

    A key part of the wet process of coffee fruit is overnight fermentation, to break down the fruit (mucilage) layer that tenaciously clings to the coffee seed, so it can be washed off. Fermentation must be done soon after picking the cherry from the tree, and lasts 12 - 24 hours depending on temperatures and other factors. When you feel the slimy coffee and the parchment layer feels rough like sandpaper, the coffee is ready to wash. Good fermentation and subsequent drying can lead to the cleanest coffee flavors in wet-process lots. Note that when I talk about fermentation, I don't mean to imply that the coffee seed is subject to fermentation. That would create defective coffee. The fruit coating the outer parchment skin is broken down with the action of peptic enzymes in the coffee. Cacao is fermented, coffee is not.

    As a defect flavor, a fruit quality in a coffee that is excessively ripe, toward rotten. Fermented flavor can be the result of poor wet-processing, over-ripe cherry, or some other contamination in the processing. As a processing step, all wet-process coffee is fermented to break down the mucilage. Coffee is fermented for 12-24 hours, sometimes longer, so the mucilage can be washed off the parchment layer.

    A defect flavor, a fruit quality in a coffee that is excessively ripe, toward rotten. This often takes the form of vinegar-like aroma and flavor. Fermenty or vinegar flavors can result from high levels of acetic acid, whereas moderate levels lead to positive winey flavors.

    Filter cones, as the name implies, are simply cones that hold a coffee filter. The cone fits on to the top of a coffee cup, grounds and a filter are put in, water drips straight through into the cup. A filter cones must be used with either a paper filter or a permanent filter.

    This is the part of the French Press that actually filters the coffee as the plunger is being pushed downward. It is a circular mesh screen either made of nylon or stainless steel and threads onto the plunger shaft. The screen must be cleaned after use and replaced periodically.

    Similar to aftertaste, but it refers to the impression as the coffee leaves the palate. Aftertaste is the sensations gathered after the coffee has left the mouth. We combine these to form the "final flavor impression" of the coffee.

    First crack in one of two distinct heat-induced pyrolytic reactions in coffee. It is distinguished by a cracking or popping sound in the coffee, and occurs between 390 and 410 degrees Fahrenheit in most coffee roasters. It has a sound more similar to the popping of popcorn, whereas the Second Crack that occurs around 440 to 450 Fahrenheit has a more shallow, rapid sound, like the snapping of Rice Krispies cereal in milk! First crack involves a rapid expansion of the coffee seed, and marks the point where water and carbon dioxide fracture, leading to the liberation of moisture from the coffee in the form of steam. First crack opens the crease in the bean enough to release remaining silver skin, or chaff. First crack is a clue to the roaster-operator about the roast level, and it's termination generally marks the first stage (City Roast) where coffee is acceptably dark enough to enjoy.

    Normal coffee fruit has 2 seeds inside, facing each other on their flat side. A percentage of each plant has peaberries, which are fruits where one of the ovules aborts and the remaining single seed grows to a rounded form; a "peaberry". Usually it goes without saying that a coffee is a flat bean, but in some origins like Tanzania with high percentages of peaberry, the term is used.

    A grinder with two flat, parallel disc-shaped burrs. Produces the most even grind at all settings, fine, medium and coarse. Typically more expensive than other mills.

    This is the overall impression in the mouth, including the above ratings as well as tastes that come from the roast. There are 5 "Primary Tastes" groupings (Sour, Sweet ,Salty, Bitter, Savory (Umami) and many "Secondary Tastes," as you can see on the Tasters Flavor Wheel. As the primary category in taste evaluation (what coffee would you want to drink that smelled good and tasted awful?) it is of great importance. But in a sense the flavor impression is divided between this score AND the Finish/ Aftertaste score.

    During the wet-process method, coffee cherry or the de-pulped (without skin) coffee seeds are floated in a water bath and/or transported down a channel in water. At this time, floating fruit can be skimmed off, whereas good fruit/seeds will sink. Coffee will float if the bean is hollow, undeveloped, under-developed, damaged by the coffee berry borer or other pest.

    Primarily an aromatic quality, but also a flavor, reminiscent of flowers. If generally perfumery and flower-like, it might be described simply as floral, but usually a specific type is described; jasmine, rose-like, fruit blossoms (cherry, orange, peach, etc)

    A fluid-bed roaster works by pushing hot air across coffee beans. The roast chamber is filled with heated air provided by a small fan and heating coil located beneath the chamber. In a fluid-bed roaster, the flow of air is both the heat source and the mechanism responsible for agitating the beans. Since air is the heat source, heating happens via convection, rather than via convection and conduction, as in a drum roaster. Fluid-bed roasters are generally less expensive than comparable drum roasters, and they produce a bright flavor profile. This type of roaster works well with small size batches (under half a pound).

    French Missionaries brought the original coffee to East Africa, from Reunion island to Tanzania, then Kenya. There are still areas with original Bourbon rather than the SL varieties. This Bourbon appears to have Mokka inputs as well, since coffee was brought directly from Aden, Yemen to northern Tanzania (Tanganyika) by French fathers, and the two naturally mutated into what was called French Mission coffee.

    A simple coffee brewer: grounds and hot water are added to a carafe, allowed to sit for several minutes, and then a filter is pushed down to hold the grounds at the bottom of the carafe. French presses have the advantage that they are very easy to control: dose/grind, water temperature, and extraction time are all manageable. Presses result in a high-body cup with more residual grounds that most brewing methods.

    Sugars are heavily caramelized (read as burned) and are degraded; the woody bean structure is carbonizing, the seed continues to expand and loose mass, the body of the resulting cup will be thinner/lighter as the aromatic compounds, oils, and soluble solids are being burned out of the coffee and rising up to fill your house with smoke. 474 is well beyond any roast I do on the Probat. Second crack is well finished. I will go as high as 465 on a couple blends, and that's my limit.

    In some coffee taster’s lexicon, “fruity” means the coffee is tainted with fruit, and “fruited” means a coffee is graced by positive fruit notes. We don’t exactly see the difference in terms of these two words, but the question of fruit flavors emerging in a coffee context is critical. Is it a good quality? Is it fresh, aromatic, sweet fruit? Is it ripe, or is it over-ripe, fermenty, vinegary fruit? And there’s a side argument as well: did the fruit flavors come from well-prepared coffee, or did it emerge in a process where the coffee had too much contact with the mucilage of the coffee cherry. (This might happen in over-fermenting, in a hybrid process such as Indonesia wet-hulling, or in poorly executed dry-processing).

    A coffee that has been roasted to the brink of second crack. The internal bean temperature that second crack normally occurs at is 446 degrees F. But in fact second crack is a little less predictable than first crack, in my experience. Why? It could be explained as this: first crack is the physical expansion of the coffee seed as water and carbon dioxide split and CO-2 out gassing occurs. Second Crack is the physical fracturing of the cellular matrix of the coffee. This matrix is wood, also called cellulose, and consists of organized cellulose that reacts readily to heat, and not-so-organized cellulose that does not. Since every coffee is physically different in size and density due to the cultivar, origin, altitude, etc. it might make sense that the particular cell matrix is different too, and not as universally consistent in reactiveness as H-2O and CO-2.

    A roast slightly darker than Full City. At Full City+, the roast is terminated after the first few snaps of second crack. The main cue that distinguishes the difference between the Full City (or FC) and Full City + is audible, not visual. This is a term Sweet Maria's basically invented, and while used in the trade a bit, it has it's context in our communications to home roasters more than anything. For more information and pictures of the degree of roast.

    Nearly every county of origin has its own grading scale. It can be incredibly confusing. Sometimes the coffee earns a higher grade than it deserves, sometimes the grade is actually lowered to avoid tariffs! Central and South Americans tend to follow the SHB and SHG model (Strictly Hard Bean and Strictly High Grown indicates altitudes above 1000m). So hard beans grow at higher altitude and that's good, right? Well, in Brazil's grading, Strictly Soft is a top grade. Many countries use a simple numeric scale. But a Grade 4 Ethiopian is the top Dry-Processed grade you'll see (Gr.2 in washed Ethiopians), and a Grade 1 Sumatra DP allows 8% defects (in fact Sumatra Grading is based on cup quality)! In essence, all should conform to the Green Coffee Classification System, but they don't.

    A roast-related flavor, sometimes used negatively, but it can also be a positive flavor attribute. Usually grain flavors indicate a too-light roast, stopped before 1st crack concluded, like under-developed grain flavour. It can also result from baking the coffee, long roasts at low temperatures. Grain sweetness in some coffees is desirable, like malted barley, wheat, toast, brown bread, malt-o-meal, graham cracker, etc.

    Green coffee is a dense, raw green-to-yellow colored seed. In it's essence, coffee is the dried seed from the fruit of a flowering tree - each fruit having 2 seeds facing each other (the flat side of the coffee "bean") or in the case of the peaberry, a single rounded seed. Coffee is imported from coffee-producing origins in this form, then either roasted at home in small machines, on the stove or a host of other methods ... or roasted at a small, local shop in a batch roaster ranging from 5 kilos to 50 kilos ... or roasted at a large commercial roaster, either batch or continuous. Green coffee can be stored for months, up to a year or more in vacuum packs, with little to no flavor loss (whereas roasted coffee starts to stale within 10 days from roasting.

    Appearance: This is an informal scoring of the Number of Defects per 300 gram sample (2d/300g = 2 defects) and is scored by the Specialty Coffee Association of Americas Green Coffee Classification System in most cases. It should communicate the quality of the preparation and sorting of the coffee, but doesn't directly indicate the "cup quality," which is the most important rating of coffee. A zero defect score doesn't mean that your 5 lbs. will have no defective beans either! The second number is Screen Size, expressed as 14/16 screen, or 18 screen. Once again, bigger isn't better, and small beans of varied screen size can make for a great cup too (i.e.: Ethiopian coffee).

    Green coffee in general can be stored up to one year from the date of processing with no noticeable changes in flavor. Bright, delicate coffees can fade faster; earthy coffees can last a bit longer. Very often the type and quality of the processing methods used on the coffee will determine how long a coffee will hold up. For example, "Miel" or pulped natural processing very often shortens the storage life of a coffee - you will see changes in flavor sooner and in a more pronounced way than with other processing methods. Green, unroasted coffee ought to be stored in a cool dry place, ideally in a breathable container like burlap, or cotton. Coffee that is stored too long can absorb the flavor of whatever it is stored in, and so is called "baggy". This means you have an exceptional coffee ruined by storing it for too long. The refrigerator is too humid, and the freezer too dry for green coffee storage. For a hundred years or more coffee has been transported the same way, in large burlap or jute bags. More recently, producers have experimented with vacuum packaging and storage in special multi-layer poly bags to extend the life of the coffee.

    Guatemalan coffee is revered as one of the most flavorful and nuanced cups in the world. Guatemalan growing regions vary in their potential cup quality: many have sufficient altitude, soil and climate conditions. Antiguas are well-known and highly rated. Huehuetenango from the north highland can be exceptional and have distinct fruit flavors. Coban, Fraijanes and Quiche can be nice, but they need to be cupped carefully: they can have a nice cup but sometimes less complexity and depth. Atitlan has produced some very fine coffees in the past few years. But remember, you can't count on any origin to necessarily produce a great coffee: the quality cup is still hard to find among even the most celebrated and recognized regions this case Antigua.

    Practiced around the world, with both wet processed and dry processed coffees, hand sorting is generally the final step in the preparation of specialty coffees. Whether on conveyor belts or tables, the work of hand sorting is usually done by women at the mill just before coffee is bagged and labeled for export. Hand sorting removes any defective (small, broken, or discolored) that were not caught by the optical color sorter (if it was used). In the most sophisticated and the most basic coffee processing alike, hand sorting is crucial for controlling the quality of the cup.
  • HARD

    Brazilian coffee grading has a different logic than much grading in the rest of the coffee world. Terms like "hard" and "soft" describe the flavor, not the bean itself. So "hard" refers to a harsh, astringent mouth feel, "soft" is mild and fine. Note that hard in terms of bean density signifies quality and has nothing to do with hard flavors in the cup, such as SHB grade coffee - Strictly Hard Bean - from Central America.

    We use this metric term often to discuss the size of coffee farms. The hectare is a unit of area, defined as being 10000 square meters, is primarily used in the measurement of land. 1 Hectare = 10000 Square Meters = 2.471 acres.

    A flavor descriptor in coffee reminiscent of herbs, usually meaning aromatic, savory, leafy dried herbs. Usually, more specific descriptions are given, whether is is a floral herb, or sage-like, etc. HIGH GROW High Grown, or HG, is the highest quality Mexican coffee designation but in Nicaragua it means 2nd quality.

    Honduran coffee has been absent from the top ranks of the Specialty market, but that is all changing. It has all the environmental factors on its side: soil, altitude, climate. All it's neighbors have sophisticated coffee production: Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. But what is lacking is infrastructure, good coffee processing and transporting, capital and a distinct "name" in the consumer market. This means that even a good quality Honduran does not fetch a good price (and in fact many from Copan and Santa Barbara districts are smuggled into Guatemala and sold as such). Without a premium price for quality, the incentive for the farmer, the mill and the exporter have no incentive to incur the added expense that would realize the coffee's potential. So Honduran coffee ends up as a good mild blender, and not as a single-origin or farm-specific coffee.

    In coffee, honey-like sweetness is often found, but we use terms such as refined honey (highly filtered and processed) as opposed to raw honey rustic honey sweetness. This form of sweetness is largely a dynamic of roast levels and roast profiles as well. Honey (or its Spanish translation "Miel") can also refer to a pulp natural coffee.

    Hulling is the step at the dry mill where the green coffee bean is removed from the parchment shell. (See Wet Hulled for the Indonesia method).

    A pot for making Turkish coffee with wide bottom, narrow neck, and long handle. "Ibrik" is the Turkish word for this coffee pot. It is usually made out of copper or brass and lined with tin. The word ibrik is likely derived from the Greek mpriki or biriki.
  • ICO

    The ICO, International Coffee Organization, is the governing body for the world coffee trade. The ICO was responsible for the quota system that limited exports from each country, and helped maintain stable prices in the NYBOT (New York "C") coffee market, until it was dissolved in 1989.

    Indian coffees are under-represented in the coffee market: they are good balanced, mild coffees. You will find the pronounced body, low acidity and subtle spicy notes pleasing, and the Mysore coffees work well under a wide range of roasts. Sometimes you find hints of earthiness, similar to Indonesian origins like Sulawesi and Sumatra. They are also nice in espresso. India produces wet-processed and dry-processed coffees: dry-processed coffees are called "Cherry" and wet-processed arabica is called "Plantation Arabica" whereas wet-processed robusta is called "Parchment Robusta." The Monsooned coffee is a different story altogether! Potent, pungent and wild, these are great for those who like strong, deep musty flavours.

    Indonesian coffee is known for its unique earthy, potent flavors. Some like it, some hate it, but it's certainly distinctive. Much of the coffee in Indonesia is processed using the unique method called "Giling Basah," or "wet hulling." Flavour of the coffee can vary widely too, from the more earthy Sumatras to the cleaner Java or Timor coffees.

    Ah Jamaica, a great place to visit. But what about that incredibly expensive coffee? The world's best? The world's most overrated? Well, we can say for sure that it is not the world's best coffee. It is an excellent mild, lush coffee... sometimes. But it is can also be downright bad. In these cases, it's nothing short of a crime to pay those prices for coffee. On top of that, a lot of coffee sold as Jamaican is not true Jamaican Blue Mountain, or is blended. The history of coffee in Jamaica is epic ...In 1728, Sir Nicholas Lawes, the then Governor of Jamaica, imported coffee into Jamaica from Martinique. The country was ideal for this cultivation and nine years after its introduction 83,000 lbs. of coffee was exported. Between 1728 and 1768, the coffee industry developed largely in the foothills of St. Andrew, but gradually the cultivation extended into the Blue Mountains. Since then, the industry has experienced many rises and falls, some farmers abandoning coffee for livestock and other crops. In order to save the industry, in 1891 legislation was passed "to provide instructions in the art of cultivation and curing coffee by sending to certain districts, competent instructors." Efforts were made to increase the production of coffee and to establish a Central Coffee Work for processing and grading. This effort to improve quality, however, was not very successful: until 1943 it was unacceptable to the Canadian market, which at the time was the largest buyer of Jamaican coffee. In 1944 the Government established a Central Coffee Clearing House where all coffee for export had to be delivered to the Clearing House where it was cleaned and graded. Improvement in the quality of Jamaica's coffee export was underway. In June 1950 the Coffee Industry Board was established to officially raise and maintain the quality of coffee exported. At Peacock we bring you our Blue Mountain Blend, and whilst we do not pretend that this is true Jamaican Coffee, it is our attempt to bring you a true representation of what good Jamaican coffee is all about, but at a realistic price.

    A very positive floral quality in coffee, usually with a strong aromatic component, reminiscent of jasmine flower or tea. There are many forms of jasmine; the common flowering vines, teas, potpourri, etc.
  • JAVA

    Java is a clean cup for an Indonesian, a fully wet-processed coffee that has the Indonesian body and thickness in the cup without earthy or dirty flavors. Sometimes Java is pure body and nothing else which makes it very unbalanced as a straight roast, while still an effective blender.

    Java Cultivar is planted widely in Cameroon, related to Abyssinia found in East Java. It is distinct from Java Typica types, such as Bergendal, Pasumah or BLP, and from Jamaique Typica in Cameroon as well. It has resistance to CBD and due to it's vigor can recover from CLR. The fruit and seed are elongated and the tips are bronze-colored.
  • JBM

    JBM is short for Jamaica Blue Mountain, which is both a trade name for certain Jamaica coffee, and a Typica cultivar. As a cultivar, it is one of the older New World Typica types since the Typica was circulated around the Caribbean isles long before it was planted in the mainland of Central America. Not all Jamaica-grown coffee is necessarily JBM cultivar. As a trade name, it supposedly signifies the higher grown coffee from Jamaica, as opposed to Jamaica High Mountain, which is lower grown (!). There is no blue shade to the coffee or the mountain, or a specific geographical designation it indicates.
  • KENT

    Kent was the first useful CLR resistant cultivar; it was developed on the Kent estate in Mysore, India. Kent was widely planted but eventually was destroyed by a new wave of CLR; Coffee Leaf Rust fungus.

    Kenya is the East African powerhouse of the coffee world. Both in the cup, and the way they run their trade, everything is topnotch. The best Kenya coffees are not sold simply as generic AA or AB. They are specific auction lots sold to the highest bidder, and heated competition drives the prices up. Their research and development is unparalleled. Their quality control is meticulous, and many thousands of small farmers are highly educated in their agricultural practice --and rewarded -- for top level coffee. In general, this is a bright coffee that lights up the palate from front to back. It is not for people who do not like acidity in coffee (acidity being the prized bright notes in the cup due to an interrelated set of chlorogenic acids). A great Kenya is complex, and has interesting fruit (berry, citrus) flavours, Sometimes alternating with spice. Some are clean and bright, others have cherished winery flavours.

    Along with Aldehydes, Ketones are important carbonyl compound that contribute over 20% to coffee aromatics. Formed from carbohydrates in the roast process, they result in aroma and flavor ranging from floral, herbaceous, buttery, caramel, vanilla, milky, saffron, beef, etc.
  • KONA

    Kona coffee comes from farms along the Kona Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii. Coffee is grown at elevations relatively low compared to other coffee-growing origins; 800 to 1500 FEET above sea level, whereas coffee in Guatemala comes from 800 to 2000 METERS. The nicer coffees come from small family farms above the old road (Mauka coffees) and are grown from Kona Typica type seeds. Note that "Cona" is the brand of vacuum coffee brewer.

    Kona is a special cultivar, Kona Typica, a traditional varietals that cannot be grown at low elevations.
  • KVW

    A decaf plant in Germany specializing in the methylene chloride solvent method. KVW stands for Kaffee Veredelungs Werk. Solvent based methods have been shown to leave insignificant traces of chemicals that are fully dispatched by roasting the coffee.

    An espresso-based beverage with steamed silky milk on top, averaging 190-220 ml with 20 ml espresso, served in a ceramic cup or bowl.

    Laurina or "Bourbon Pointu" is a cultivar with low caffeine content, at .6% compared to 1-1.2% for many Arabica types, and 2.2% for some Robusta types. It is a dwarf form from Reunion island, and is highly susceptible to CLR disease.

    This descriptor is somewhat reminiscent of the leather, and is sometimes distinguished as "fresh leather". It is not necessarily a defect, but does describe a quality that is intense and rustic. Mocha coffees can have leathery character as a positive attribute, but a wet-process Panama, for example, should not be leathery.

    Coffea Liberica is a distinct Species in the Genus Coffea originating in Liberia, West Africa. It is a tree-like form, with mild cup that is more similar to Robusta in terms of the plant and the cup quality, than to Arabica. The branches and leaves have an inclined attitude in relation to the trunk, the seeds are large and skin tough. It is found in Indonesia and other parts of Asia. A varietal of Liberica, known as Baraco, is a major crop in the Philippines.

    Another euphemistic term to describe acidity in coffee. A lively coffee has more high, acidic notes. Not to be confused with the brighter roast flavors of light roast levels, such as City ot City+ roasts. Read more about acidity to understand it's use as a flavor term, not in reference to the quantity of acidity in coffee.
  • LOT

    Coffee can be separated by lot in any number of ways usually by the processor to distinguish one area of the farm, a particular altitude, particular trees, a particular day's pickings, a particular processing method, etc. For our purposes, the greater the delineation between coffees, the better; it allows us to taste new and different things in coffees that we thought we knew. Differentiating between coffees is the opposite of the commodity approach to coffee, where coffee is treated as corn or soybeans or steel, with batches being interchangeable.

    A simple espresso drink: a shot of espresso with a small dollop of foamed milk on top.

    The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, induced by heat in the coffee roasting process. It results in the browning color of coffee (from melanoidins, which are key to espresso crema too), as well as many volatile aromatics and flavors. It is not unique to coffee, and is at work in a variety of food conversion or cooking operations: toasted bread, malted barley, roasted or seared meat, dried or condensed milk.

    Malic acid is yet another of the many acids that adds to favourable perceptions of cup quality; malic acid often adds apple-like flavors. In Kenya coffees, it reaches levels of 6.6 g/kg whereas Robusta coffees measure about one-third to one-half of that level.

    A trade name used for wet-hulled Sumatra coffees. It is an area and a culture group as well (spelled Mandailing often) but there is little coffee production in this area anymore. Mandheling coffees might have originated from anywhere in North Sumatra or Aceh provinces. They are graded on flavor defects in a very loose way, so a "Grade One" Mandheling might, in fact, have many physical defects.

    A burr grinder powered by hand-turning a crank. Manual grinders can be cheaper than their electric counterparts, and they produce comparable quality grinds, but since they require a fair amount of effort to operate, they are not for everyone. Finer grinds will require more revolutions of the crank, and so take more time and effort.

    As the name indicates cross between large-bean Maragogype and Catuai cultivars. It has a larger than average bean and interesting cup flavors, similar to Pacamara.

    As the name indicates cross between large-bean Maragogype and Caturra cultivars. It seems to be found most in Nicaragua, although I am not sure exactly why. It can be grown elsewhere, certainly. It has a larger than average bean and interesting cup flavors, similar to Pacamara.

    Maragogype is a mutation of Typica coffee and was discovered in Brazil. The Maragogype is a large plant with big leaves, low production and very large fruits (and seeds / green beans). It has been called the "Elephant Bean coffee." Maragogype adapts best between 2,000-2,500 feet. The mild cup characteristics and bean size were historically sought-after in Europe.
  • MARK

    Mark: We use this term to include any other significant proper name that tells of the coffee's origin. This might be an Estate name, but it can also be an Exporter, a Beneficio (mill), or other recognized Trade name, as long as it actually signifies the quality of the coffee ...and doesn't just make it sound fancier than it is.

    Also spelled M'buni or Buni, this is a Swahili term that refers to dry-process coffee. In Kenya, M'buni coffees are harvested at the end of the season and sell for much less than red rip cherry from the middle of the season, which are wet-processed.

    Mechanical dryers are used as an alternative to sun-drying coffee on a patio, either due to poor weather, or when the patio does not have enough capacity. It is not considered as good as sun-drying coffee. The drum type dryer, called a Guardiola, is considered better than the vertical dryers.

    A defective flavor characterized by a penetrating medicine-like, alcohol or chemical type taint flavor. This type of defect usually comes from poor processing or storage, but could indicate that the coffee has absorbed the smell of some industrial material: tainted jute bags, stored it plastic at high temperatures, etc.

    A blend containing a coffee that has been roasted to a different levels (or steps) - light to dark.

    Coffee that has been hanging out in the warehouse, but not really helping out with the work, just relaxing over in the corner, can be described as "mellow coffee". If the coffee gets up and stretches its legs every so often, it is still mellow. But if it starts to complain about being bored, it is no longer mellow.

    The Methylene Chloride decaf method is a solvent-based process for washing the caffeine out of coffee. Called MC decaf for short. MC decafs have been shown to leave insignificant trace amounts of solvent that are fully dispatched in the roast process.

    Mexican coffee originates from South-central to Southern regions of the country. For that reason, coffees from Coatepec and Veracruz are much different from Oaxacan Plumas, which are in turn much different from the Southernmost region of Chiapas. The later is a growing region bordering the Guatemalan growing area of Huehuetenango, and you will find similarities between those coffees. In general you can expect a light-bodied coffee, mild but with delicate flavours. But there are exceptions of course. Mexico is one of the largest producers of certified organic coffees. Mexican coffees are worth exploring for the variety of cup characteristics they present, and their great price! Mexicans are moderately priced, lighter bodied, and wide-ranging in their cup character.

    A Bourbon cultivar variant from Rwanda and Burundi. Bourbon coffees are named for the island in the India Ocean where French colonists grew it.

    Micro-Lot is a term often abused. It's a term that designates not only a small volume of coffee, but a lot produced separately, discretely picked or processed to have special character. In other words, a Micro-lot should have been harvested from a particular cultivar, from a particular plot of land, from a particular band of altitude, processed in a separate way ...or a combination of these things. Ultimately, it is the result of some concerted effort to separate and carefully prepare a lot of coffee that will have special characteristics. If a large lot of, say 250 bags, is divided up into 25 bags lots and sold to small/medium roasters, that is NOT a Micro-Lot. It also implies some experimental or investigative input on behalf of the grower, the buyer or both working in relation with each other. Further, it implies cupping of lots and making qualitative selection, in an active relationship between farmer and buyer. Many lots sold in the trade as "Micro-lot" do not meet these standards, so it becomes a marketing word, as "natural" was in the '70s and '80s, used to imply a value to a product that it does not truly possess.

    A Micro-Mill is a tiny low-volume, farm-specific coffee producer who have their lots separate, mill it themselves, gaining total control of the process, and tuning it to yield the best possible flavours (and the best price!) In Costa Rica, farmers usually belonged to large cooperative mills, or simply harvested cherry and sold it to a big mill. Large estates might have complete processing facilities. Now farmers of modest size can craft small micro-lots with complete control on scaled-down equipment.

    Micro-Region is more specific coffee-producing zone. For example, if the Country for a specific lot is Nicaragua, the region might be Nueva Segovia (a state as well), the Micro-Region might be Dipilto, and then perhaps a nearby city name would locate the coffee even further.

    Off aroma and flavor that reminds one of a dank, moldy closet. This flavour can hint at a dangerous coffee mold and should not be consumed. Most common in Sumatra coffees that ship with a high moisture content, and industrial grade Robusta coffees.
  • MILL

    A coffee mill might mean a coffee grinder, but we usually use the term to refer to a coffee processing facility, either a Wet-Mill or a Dry Mill. A wet mill will be part of the wet-process, where coffee is pulped (peeled), fermented in concrete tanks, and then washed and dried. Then it is ready for the dry mill, which may or may not be at the same location. At the dry mill it is hulled out of the parchment skin that surrounds the green bean, classified by density and size, sometimes by color too, and bagged for export. A wet mill can be called a Washing Station or a Factory (Kenya) or a Beneficio Humido (as opposed to a Benificio Seco for a Dry Mill).

    A flavour or aroma reminiscent of minerals, which can be a positive characteristic if it is a secondary flavor sensation. Salty coffees can be similar to minerally coffees. This is sometimes found in softer Brazils, but we have found it in high grown lots from Guatemala, Panama and other areas, when the coffee has good quality but is not sweet.

    Moka Pot stovetop brewers produce a dense concentrated cup that's something between espresso and Turkish coffee. Coffee is placed into a filter between the lower chamber (that you fill with water) and the upper chamber that will contain the finished beverage after brewing. Since the water is forced through the cake of coffee by pressure, the process bears more resemblance to espresso extraction that infusion (gravity-based) brewing.

    Mokha Yemeni type of coffee, both in terms of the family of cultivars planted there, and the general trade name. The alternate spellings are Mocca, Moka, Mocha. The name refers to the former coffee port on the Red Sea called Al Mahka, and all the spellings are derived from a phonetic interpretation of the Arabic pronunciation for this town. It is no longer a coffee port, and most Yemeni coffee ships from Hodeidah, also on the Red Sea. In terms of cultivar, all types of Mokha coffee are proved to come from Harar, Ethiopia or other areas on the Eastern side of the Rift Valley. Yemeni Mokha coffee is the first commercially planted "farms" (the coffee is grown on stone walled terraces) and the source for what would become Typica and Bourbon cultivars. So all coffee comes from West Ethiopia and the Boma plateau of Sudan, then to Eastern Ethiopia and Harar via the slave trade route, then to Yemen, then to the rest of the world. Moka is an established cultivar as well, found in many ICO coffee research gardens and grown in some locales (such as Maui, Hawaii).

    Monsooned coffees are stored in special warehouses until the Monsoon season comes around. The sides of the structure are opened and moist monsoon winds circulate around the coffee making it swell in size and take on a mellowed but aggressive, musty flavor. In their monsooning process, Arabica coffee is spread on the floor of the special monsooning warehouse, raked and turned around by hand to enable them to soak in moisture of the humid winds. The monsooning process takes around 12 to 16 months of duration, where in the beans swell to twice their original size and turn into pale golden colour. Then there are additional hand-sorting to remove any coffee that did not expand properly, and the coffee is prepared for export. This is an extremely earthy, musty, pungent cup with a unique combination of caramelly finish and potent flavours. It is not for those who like a "clean" cup, or sweet coffees! By all standard definitions, this is a defective set of cup flavors. But Monsooned Malabar gets a free pass by the coffee censors because of cultural tradition, history, and the fact that (while it doesn't conform to the traditional ideas of good coffee) it is in it's own right a unique coffee flavor. It has some use in espresso blending with a preparation of longer drum roasting and resting (after roasting) of 3+ days. There are Italian espresso roasting companies that use this coffee in their "exotic" blend offering, along with 2-3 other non-monsooned Arabicas to even out the cup and provide aroma and some sweetness. Even as a drip/infusion brew, the coffee mellows after 2 days and the cup is more balanced so resting is key to best cup results.

    A major component in the flavour profile of a coffee, it is a tactile sensation in the mouth used in cupping. quite literally can refer to how a coffee feels in the mouth or its apparent texture. In cupping mouth feel is scored at light City roast level but mouth feel can be directly affected in other ways by roast level as well, brew strength, and proper resting of the coffee after roasting. That is, Espresso and Dark Roast coffees have noticeably different mouth feel than the same coffees at lighter levels. Body is synonymous with mouth feel, but the latter implies a wider range of possible qualities, whereas body traditionally implies viscosity only. Mouth feel is perceived by the trigeminal receptors, nerve fibers that surround taste buds.

    Indicating the fruity layer of the coffee cherry, between the outer skin and the parchment layer that surrounds the seed.

    Mundo Novo is a commercial coffee cultivar; a natural hybrid between Typica and Bourbon, originally grown in Brazil. Be aware that when many farmers and brokers refer to Brazilian Bourbon coffees, they might mean Mundo Novo. It has a rounded seed form. The plant is strong and resistant to disease. Mundo Novo has a high production, but matures slightly later than other kinds of coffee. It does well between 1000-1200 meters above sea level, which suits Brazil coffee altitudes, with an annual rainfall of 1,200-1,800 mm.

    Also known as "Barbados sugar" or "moist sugar," it is very dark brown and slightly coarser and stickier than most brown sugars. Unlike most other brown sugars, which are made by adding molasses to refined white sugar, muscovado takes its flavor and color from its source, sugarcane juice. This is a flavour that can be found in the sweetness of dry-processed or pulp natural coffees, mostly.

    Musty refers to an aroma and/or flavor that ranges from slight intensity to a mildew defect flavour. Unlike Mildew taint, musty can have a slight (VERY slight) positive connotation when it is extremely mild, and linked to forestry flavours in Indonesia coffees. It can also relate to the hidey, leathery flavors of dry-process Yemeni coffees. In any greater intensity, or in a coffee profile that should be clean, musty is NOT a positive quality.

    Refers to fresh shipments of green coffee within the first month or two of the earliest arrivals ... not quite the same as Current Crop.
  • NEW YORK “C”

    The New York "C" market is the NYBOT (New York Board of Trade) trading platform for Arabica coffees that determine base contract pricing. Prices on coffee futures are fixed against the C market.

    Nicaraguan coffees from the Segovia, Jinotega and Matagalpa regions are underrated. They often possess interesting cup character along with body and balance, outperforming many other balanced Central American and South American high-grown coffees in the cup. Nicaragua coffees have a wide range of flavour attributes: Some cup like Mexican coffees from Oaxaca, others like Guatemala. Some are citrusy and bright, such as the coffees of Dipilto in Nueva Segovia department. The botanical cultivars utilized are traditional: Typica, some Bourbon and Maragogype dominate, along with Caturra and Paca. There is some of the dreaded Catimor varietal, but many farms have removed it after the "catimor craze" 10-20 years ago. Good Nicaraguan coffees are considered a "classic" cup: great body, clean flavor, and balance. They are unique among Centrals in the fact that the highest grown (SHG grade: Strictly High Grown) do not develop the pronounced and sharp acidity of other Centrals.

    Pushing nitrogen, an unreactive gas, into a bag of coffee to force out oxygen, which is more reactive. Nitrogen flushing is often done as part of vacuum packaging, since vacuuming out oxygen is not sufficient to remove all oxygen in a bag.

    Nutty is a broad flavour term, reminiscent of nuts. It is tied intrinsically to roast taste and the degree of roast, since a coffee that cups nutty at City+ will not be so at FC+. Nutty is usually a positive term but varies greatly as there are so many forms: hazelnut, walnuts, peanut, cashew, almond, etc. Occasionally, nutty can be a negative taste term, especially if it is out of character for a coffee. Some lower grown coffees can have less favourable nut flavors that imply a softness in bean density, and lack of quality. Nut skins is also a flavor tied to a drying, slightly astringent mouth feel.

    Organic coffee has been grown according to organic farming techniques, typically without the use of artificial fertilizers. Some farms have more local Organic Certification than the more well-known USDA Organic branding. Normally, when the "organic" label is used, it means (or it should mean) that the coffee is certified organic. There are plenty of areas where farmers are too poor to afford pesticides and so use other non-chemical methods to manage production and pests, but alas, they are also too poor to afford organic certification. In areas where coffee is handled many times between the farmer and the mill, and hence the exact location of its production is not known, organic certification is unavailable. At Peacock we offer a number of certified Organic coffees, but we would point out that most African coffee whilst not certified is grown using traditional organic farming methods, as these small growers can not afford industrial fertilizers.

    In coffee talk, it refers to a coffee-producing region or country. Peacock specialises in bring you the best coffee of origin.

    An outturn is a term used in East Africa to describe a dry mill "batch" from a particular estate or coop. Each Outturn will be separated into AA, AB, Peaberry and other lower grades.

    As the name implies, Pacamara is a large bean cultivar, a cross between Pacas and Maragogype with unique flavour properties. This variant originated in El Salvador in 1958, and has spread to nearby Central American countries, but is still chiefly grown in El Salvador. It has unique flavors that range from chocolate and fruit, to herbal or, in the worse coffees, vegetal (green onion specifically).

    Pacas is a natural mutation of Bourbon cultivar that appeared in El Salvador in 1949. It has good cup character, and is an input into Pacamara cultivar as well. Caturra and Villa Sarchi are also natural dwarf Bourbon mutations.

    Papilla (or Papillae in plural) mushroom-like projections on the tongue that contain taste buds. These perceive basic flavours and textures, whereas much of what is sensed as flavour is informed by the aromatics perceived by the olfactory. There are 4 types of papilla on the palate: Circumvallate papillae (contains taste buds) Fungiform papilla (contains taste buds) Filiform papilla (does not contain taste buds) Foliate papillae (contains taste buds)

    Papua New Guinea is a distinct coffee among the Indonesians, even though it doesn't even have an entire island to call it's own. Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half of the island it shares with the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya (no organized coffee production originates from Irian Jaya). The small-farm "Coffee Gardens" have a unique wild note in the cup but are in no way as earthy as other Indonesian coffees such as Sumatra and Sulawesi. These small farms are often organized into coops that share wet-milling facilities and are Organic certified, The Plantation coffees are the larger farms and have the cleaner, more delicate and sophisticated cup character. While a lighter body than Java's, good PNG has the delicate notes, complexity, and sometimes the acidity or brightness of the best Central Americans.

    Green coffee still in it's outer shell, before dry-milling, is called Parchment coffee (pergamino). In the wet process, coffee is peeled, fermented, washed and then ready for drying on the patio, bed, or a mechanical dryer. It is called parchment coffee because it is protected by an outer shell, which will be removed as the first step of dry milling, when the coffee is ready to export. While in parchment, it is critical that parchment coffee is rested for between 30-60 days. In Spanish, parchment coffee is called pergamino.

    It is native to South America and widely grown in India, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, California, southern Florida, Hawaii, Australia, East Africa, Israel and South Africa. The passion fruit is round to oval, yellow or dark purple at maturity, with a soft to firm, juicy interior filled with numerous seeds. The fruit can be grown to eat or for its juice, which is often added to other fruit juices to enhance aroma.

    Refers to an older coffee not from the "New Crop" or the "Current Crop". Cuppers will even use it as a general term for baggy, old hay or straw flavors; faded sensations of what it might have been when the green coffee was fresh.

    Coffee is the dried seed from the fruit of a flowering tree - each fruit having 2 seeds facing each other (the flat side of the coffee "bean") or in the case of the peaberry, a single rounded seed. On the coffee tree, there is usually a percentage of fruit that has one seed within, i.e. a peaberry, and many more that are "flat beans" with the usual 2 seeds per fruit.

    In some coffee-producing origins, there is a period of time in the middle of the crop where the higher altitudes mature, and where each tree has the highest percentage of mature cherry. Under the best conditions, this is a time when the cup is possibly better, because the pickers bring in fewer under-ripe green cherries, and because the most dense, slow-to-mature cherries are including in their pickings. Of course, other problems can emerge (too much coffee cherry, the mill can't keep up, ripe cherry sits) that actually work against this heavy load; it would be lazy to say "mid-harvest" coffee is better. But it is rarely true that the very first pickings, nor the last where the trees are being "cleaned" of cherry yield good results.

    A type of coffee brewer where water is "percolated" through a mass of ground coffee to extract the flavour. Was much in use in mid-19th century US. Often associated with bad coffee, percolators can actually produce a good flavored brew when using good coffee and the equipment is kept clean. Still the best way to produce a large quantity of coffee at once, hence their use (usually as large urns) in hotels and catering.
  • PERU

    Organic Peru ... The Peruvian coffee industry took note of the premium prices paid for Organic coffee, and realized they could produce Organic for less cost, focusing on quantity, not quality. They wanted to be to Organic coffee what Vietnam is to Robusta. There are stories of forest being clear-cut for organic farm (it takes 3 years for an existing farm to become certified organic... not so with a "new" farm. I doubt the image of cutting forest to grow organic product is an image consumers have in mind. The problem is, the Peruvian organic coffee glut forces quality-oriented farmers within Peru and everywhere else too to accept lower prices for their crop in order to compete. And a farm that is trying to produce a truly excellent coffee in a conscientious way cannot compete with a larger quantity-oriented farm, whether its a co-op or not. The Chanchamayo where our coffee comes from, is the top region.

    Phenols are a set of organic compounds, relatively stable, that contribute to coffee aroma and flavor. They can have negative characteristics: tarry, smoky, medicinal, woody, leathery. But, especially at lower levels, can be spicy, vanilla, clove, anise, even floral in nature. Phenols are mainly derived from Chlorogenic acids.

    One of many acids that contribute to positive flavor perception in coffee. More phosphoric acid might lead to the sense of higher acidity overall. Since perception of acidity gives a cup finer cup quality, brightness and vibrancy, phosphoric acid is considered desirable in Arabica coffees.

    Meaning pleasantly pungent or zesty in taste, spicy, provocative, sapid.

    The part of an espresso machine which holds the filter basket, into which coffee grounds are placed.

    New attention is being given to pour-over drip brewing, but the terminology is definitely not set yet. Pour-over drip brewing is simple and can yield great results based on technique. The older methods are Chemex and Melitta type filter cones. These use paper filters, usually.

    An espresso machine is said to use pre-infusion if it applies a moderate amount of pressure to the coffee before applying full brew pressure. Pre-infusion is often said to improve extraction by causing the coffee to swell, filling fissures in the puck that might otherwise cause channeling. Our premier range of espresso machines, the Appia manufactured by Nuova Simonelli in Italy offers you pre-infusion.

    Preparation refers to the dry-milling steps of preparing coffee for export: hulling, grading, classifying, sorting. Sorting means using density sorters (like the Oliver table), optical color sorting, and hand sorting. Then the coffee is bagged and ready to load in the shipping container. EP is a standard called Euro Prep.

    Coffee is either wet-processed (also called washed or wet-milled) or dry-processed (also called wild, natural or natural dry, and we abbreviate it DP sometimes). The type of processing is chosen to produce different cup qualities, or sometimes is just a matter of tradition, logistics or economics. In a nutshell, washed coffees are brought to a mill soon after picking, the coffee cherry is depulped, allowed to ferment, washed to remove all pulp, laid on patios or run through an electric dryer, removed from their final skin called parchment, and sorted. Dry - processing involves laying out the cherries on patios or roofs, and later removing the skin, pulp and parchment in one fell swoop. Dry processed coffees are more yellowish-green because there's more silver skin (chaff) attached to the bean. They look rangy, but often have more body and character in the cup.

    Pulp natural is a hybrid method of processing coffee to transform it from the tree fruit to a green bean, ready for export. Specifically, it involves the removal of the skin from the coffee, like the first step of the wet process, but instead of fermenting and removing the fruity mucilage, the coffee is dried with the fruit clinging to the parchment layer. Pulp natural can be performed with a traditional pulper, or with newer forced demucilage equipment, which allows for greater control of exactly how much mucilage is left to dry on the coffee. Pulp natural coffees tend to have more body and less acidity than their wet process equivalents, and can have a cleaner, more uniform quality than full natural dry-process coffees. This is called "Miel" process in Costa Rica, meaning "honey." We at Peacock are proud to being able to bring you Bella Giana Pulped Natural from Brazil, a truly great coffee for the espresso drinker.

    The first step in processing wet-process coffee, pulp natural or forced demucilage coffees. Pulping simply refers to removing the skins from the coffee fruit, leaving parchment coffee.

    Can refer to flavour or mouth feel. In terms of flavor, it means the negative flavour of fermenty coffee fruit, indicating there were errors in the coffee processing.

    Refers to an aggressive, intense aroma or flavor, often related to spices (pepper) or roast tastes. Pungent foods are often called "spicy", meaning a sharp or biting character, but not unpleasant. Bittersweet tangy roast flavors are something we sometimes call pungent, but otherwise it is strong spice notes.

    A Quaker is an industry term to describe under-ripe, undeveloped coffee seeds that fail to roast properly. These are most often the result of unripe, green coffee cherry making it into the final product. Normally, these are skimmed off as floaters (in the wet-process) or visually removed in the dry-process method. They are removed on the density table (Oliver table) as well. They occur much more often in dry-process coffees due to the lack of water flotation of the fruit, and the difficult task of removing them visually. Even the best coffees might have occasional Quakers, and they can be removed post-roast when they are easy to see. Under-developed coffees do not have the compounds to have a proper browning reaction in the roaster, so they remain pale in colour.

    Quinic acid is another double-edged proposition in coffee. In moderate amounts it adds a slight astringency, positive in brighter coffees such as Kenya's or high-grown Centrals. Because of how it reacts with salivary glands, this can lead to heightened senses of body. But too much leads to sour, unfavorable astringency. Chlorogenic acids are largely transformed to quinic acids in the roast process. Quinic Acid melts in pure crystalline form at 325 degrees E, well below the temperatures associated with the roasting environment. Quinic Acid is water soluble and imparts a slightly sour (not unfavorably as in fermented beans) and sharp quality, which adds to the character and complexity of the cup. Surprisingly, it adds cleanness to the finish of the cup as well. it is a stable compound at roasting temperatures.

    Rainforest Alliance certification is a broad certification guaranteeing that an agricultural product has met certain economic, ecological, and social standards.

    Raised beds, also referred to as "African-style beds" are elevated beds used for drying coffee when dry-processing. Coffee can either be dried on raised beds or patio-dried (dried on the ground). Raised beds promote airflow, and thus they may promote even and rapid drying.

    An Ethiopia cultivar brought to Java in 1928, along with a type called Abyssinia.

    Refined sugar refers to common white sugar. In coffee tasting, it refers to a clear, clean sweetness, with an absence of other characteristics, as might be found in Muscavado, Turbinado or Brown sugars.

    Region is a more specific area within the country. Arabica coffee grows roughly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Country of Origin is where the coffee is grown in general terms. Micro-Region is more specific. For example of a Country for a specific lot is Brazil, the region might be Minas Gerais ( a state as well, the Micro-Region might be Sul de Minas, and then perhaps a nearby city name would locate the coffee even further.

    Resting is the time after drying the parchment coffee, when it is held for 30-60 days to stabilize. In Brazil, the resting time is longer. This step is critical for longevity of the coffee and occurs before processing/removal of the parchment. Coffee that is not rested in this way will fade quickly, becoming baggy. Resting might also refer 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. 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.
  • RFA

    Rain Forest Alliance designation for coffee grown under sustainable conditions working towards organic farming when possible. RFA certification is applied in a sensible way, working with farmers to employ best practices for water and soil management. It is considered at easier certification to receive than a USDA compatible Organic certificate, as the use of nitrogen fertilizers and moderate use of pesticide is allowed.

    The lowest grade in the Brazil scoring system.
  • RIOY

    Result of continued enzyme activity when coffee beans remain in the fruit and the fruit dries on the shrub. Usually associated with natural processed coffees grown in Brazil. The Brazil grading rates coffee as Strictly Soft (the best), Soft, 'Soft-ish', Hard (+1, +2), Riado, Rioy, Rio Zona (the worst).

    A smaller version of espresso where extraction is restricted is called a Ristretto. While espresso averages 20 ml, a ristretto is 15 ml.

    Roast defects indicate a problem with the roasting machine or process, resulting in off flavors in the cup. These are distinct from flavor defects that are a result of green coffee processing, or other factors from the plant itself. While roasting cannot make bad coffee good, it can easily make good coffee bad! Roast defects are sometimes characterized by a lack of sweetness, whether that be caramel, sugar, chocolate, syrup, etc.

    Roast Profile refers to the relationship between time and temperature in coffee roasting, with the endpoint being the "degree of roast". Roast profiling is the active manipulation of the "roast curve" or graphed plot of bean temperature during the roast, to optimize the results in terms of flavour. Two batches might be roasted to the exact same degree of roast, temperature endpoint or time, and have very different cup results due to different roast profiles. It's not just important how dark a coffee is roasted, it is equally important how it got there, and that is expressed in the roast profile.

    "Roast Taste" is a term we started to distinguish it from "Origin Flavor". We use the "roast taste" term define the set of flavours that result from the degree-of-roast, how light or dark a coffee is roasted. These are flavours related to caramelisation, the browning of sugars, or other roast reactions. The wide range of flavors from sweet to bittersweet, from caramel to chocolate to carbony burnt tones, are the ones most often assigned to the set of "roast tastes". These are conceptually useful, but flawed distinctions since the compounds that form "roast taste" flavours are inextricably linked to the compounds that result in the "origin" flavours.

    As coffee rests after roasting, it releases CO2. This process is called "out gassing". This generally prevents staling, or oxidation, for the first few days of a roast. Dark roasts will out gas longer than medium or light roasts, and hence they can benefit from a longer resting period. Generally coffee is best rested for 24 hours before brewing. Once cool, roasted coffee is best stored in an air tight container or container with a one-way valve designed to release CO2. Roasted coffee can be double wrapped and placed in a freezer and left there to prolong its freshness. Once you are using the coffee, it is best to leave it out at room temperature and not store it in the freezer as the temperature changes are not good for the coffee.

    Coffee roasting is a chemical process induced by heat, by which aromatics, acids, and other flavour components are either created, balanced, or altered in a way that should augment the flavour, acidity, aftertaste and body of the coffee as desired by the roaster. Pyrolysis, Caramelization and the Maillard Reaction are several thermal events that are important to the conversion of the many complex raw materials in the green coffee seed to positive flavor attributes in the roasted coffee bean.

    Robusta usually refers to Coffea Robusta, responsible for roughly 25% of the world's commercial coffee. Taxonomy of Robusta is debated: some sources use “ Robusta” to refer to any variety of Coffea Canephora, and some use "Robusta” as a species name. Caffeine content of Robusta beans is about twice that of Arabica. Robusta can be used in espresso blending to increase body and crema content. ROUND Usually referring to mouth feel, a sense of completeness and fullness.

    A taste fault giving the coffee beans a highly pronounced burnt-rubber character. Result of continued enzyme activity in the coffee bean when it remains in the fruit and the fruit is allowed to dry on the shrub. Usually associated with natural processed Robusta coffees grown in Africa.

    It is believed that coffee was introduced in Rwanda in 1904 by German missionaries. Around 1930, a considerable interest in coffee developed as it was the sole revenues generating commodity for rural families. The government encouraged (actually, they mandated) low quality, high-volume production. Even with this low grade coffee production, coffee played a considerable role in the economic development of the country because it was one of the few cash crops.
  • S-LINE

    S-line coffees include the heavily planted S795 and the earlier S288, which have good rust (CLR) fungus resistance. In Indonesia they are planted widely as well, and called Linie S, found in Lintong, Aceh, Flores, Sulawesi, Papua, Bali and Java.

    Salty is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter (and possibly a 5th called Umami which indicates savory flavors). In coffee, saltiness is not usually a positive quality, but more moderate amounts related to minerals flavours can be positive. We have found some Brazil coffees to have salty and mineral-like character.

    Pleasant tastes, referring to "in the mouth" sensations derived from the basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, savory (umami).

    Sarchimor is a disease-resistant Catimor-relative, crossed between Villa Sarchi and Hibrido de Timor.
  • SCAA

    The SCAA stands for Specialty Coffee Association of America, and is a trade group. The SCAA was formed by a group of roasters and importers who felt they did not have a trade association that represented their interests. The main commercial coffee group is the NCA (National Coffee Association), which tends to cater to larger roasters, although that has changed over time. The annual SCAA trade show in one of the major gatherings for coffee people from all parts of the business, and all over the world. There is also the SCAE for Europe and SCAJ for Japan, who also have smaller trade shows each year.

    Mineral buildup formed over time as hard water is heated in a boiler. Excess scale causes brew problems and eventually shortens the life of a machine, so espresso machines and brewers should be regularly de-scaled.

    Scorching refers to a roast error that can be discerned by inspecting the roasted coffee, where darker burn marks appear in patches, especially on the flat surfaces. These can be seen as the coffee reaches 1st crack, but can sometimes be hidden by roast colour at darker roast levels. But the flavour defect that results will remain. It can easily be tasted in the cup; burnt or smoke flavors, or a lack of sweetness. It is usually the result of an overheated roast environment (initial drum temperature too high), or over-charged roast drum (too much coffee in the drum, or possibly not enough air movement. Natural coffees from lower-grown sites can be more susceptible to tipping and scorching. Scorching is also called Facing.

    The Kenya research organization that was contracted with cultivar development from 1934-1963. Scott Labs was responsible for the development of the SL varieties, based on the Mokka and Bourbon types brought by the Scottish Mission and French Mission to Kenya from Yemen and Bourbon island.

    The Scottish Mission introduced Mokka coffee from Yemen to their site in Kibwezi Kenya in 1893, and later at Kikuyu. These were called the St. Austin and St. Augustine types in Yemen, but morphed into something new in Kenya. The French Mission coffee introduced from Tanzania to Kenya a few years later (1897) was more popular and had better characteristics.

    Screen-drying is also called Raised Bed or Africa Bed drying because of it's original use in Ethiopia. It is a method of drying coffee in the sun, laying it on elevated screens or mats to allow air movement through the coffee. It is now used in many countries because it allows for even drying with both sun and convective air movements through the elevated coffee beds. It is considered better than Patio-drying by many.

    Running coffee through a screen with holes of a fixed size to sort beans for size.

    Second Crack is the second audible clue the roaster-operator receives about the degree-of-roast, following First Crack. Whereas First Crack sounds a bit like popcorn popping, Second Crack has a faster, shallower patter, much like Rice Crispies in milk, electrical sparking, a snapping sound. Second crack is a further stage of the pyrolytic conversion of compounds in coffee and occurs around 440 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The 2nd crack is a physical fracturing of the cellular matrix of the coffee, and results in an eventual migration of oils to the outside of the bean, as they are freed from their chambers within the coffee. When second crack is volatile, it can blow small discs off the coffee bean.

    Semi-washed has been used, most commonly in Brazil, to describe a hybrid coffee process. But it is uncertain if the term always indicates the same method. Semi-washed coffees are also very common in Sumatra, where they are called Giling Basah. Semi-washed coffees are best described as "wet-hulled", and will have more body and often more of the "character" that makes Indonesians so appealing and slightly funky. In this process, the parchment coffee (the green seed with the parchment shell still attached) is very marginally dried, then stripped of the outer layer, revealing a white-coloured, swollen green bean. Then the drying is completed on the patio (or in some cases, on the dirt), and the seed quickly turns to a dark green colour.

    Semperflorens is a mutant cultivar with Bourbon genetic background, named for the fact it flowers year round (is resistant to photoperiodism). It was found in Brazil in 1934.

    Sensory Analysis is a broader term for all qualitative evaluation of food and beverage. In coffee, it is a better term for what we call "cupping".

    An ambiguous term used to describe coffee grown under shade. Shade grown coffee is said to better preserve animal habitats and avoid mono-culture on farms, but the truth of this may depend on the growing region. If a farm exists on the top of an arid plateau, for instance, it might be above the tree-line and, hence, naturally exposed to the sun. "Shade Grown" is also not an official certification (e.g. "Organic," "Fair Trade"), so no official standards for determining "shade grown" status exist.

    A mouth feel description indicating a delicate, light, elegant softness and smoothness. Usually refers to a lighter body than terms such as velvety, or creamy.

    Skunky is a defect term related to improper roasting; tipping or scorching of coffee. It relates to a lack of sweetness, a presence of bitterness, and a particular skunk-like animal character. SL-28 Scot Labs selection 28 Kenya cultivar, a preferred type with Bourbon and Mokka heritage. It supposedly is selected from Tanganyika DR cultivar, found by A.D. Trench on a trip through Tanzania, and has similar drought resistant properties. DR is of French Mission Bourbon origin. Many prefer SL-28 to the other successful, widely used cultivar, SL-34.

    "Single Origin" refers to coffee from one location, in contrast to blended coffee. This term is particularly useful in discussing espresso, since most commercial espressos are made from blends.
  • SL-34

    Scott Labs selection 34 Kenya cultivar, a preferred type with French Mission Bourbon heritage. It supposedly is selected from French Mission Bourbon trees at Loresho Estate in Kabete Kenya. SL types are responsible for 90% of Kenya coffees. SL_34 has better yields.

    This smell and flavour is similar to fireplace effluence, campfire, or burnt food. Dark-roasted or oven-roasted coffees can have smoky flavors, or roasters where the air is recycled in the roast drum (or does not vent at all). Sometimes green coffee can have a smoky hint, and this might be found in the roasted coffee too, suggesting bad mechanical drying at the coffee mill. Smokey hints might be a positive quality in certain exotic coffees (Monsooned India, Aged Java and Aged Sumatra come to mind) or in rustic Yemeni coffees.

    Short for Single Origin espresso, meaning using one origin specific coffee to make espresso, as opposed to using a blended coffee.
  • SOFT

    Brazil has it's own grading system for coffee, and Soft is the grade just under Strictly Soft, meant to describe clean, mild cup flavors, and as opposed to "Hard" the grade below it.

    Sorting refers to several steps performed in the preparation of coffee for export. Coffee is sorted by size on a grader or screener (and peaberry is sometimes removed as well). It is sorted by density on a density table (Oliver table, or rarely an air density sorter). It is sorted by colour with a high tech optical colour sorter, and/or by hand, visually.
  • SOUR

    Sour is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter (and possibly a 5th called Umami which indicates savory flavors). In coffee, sourness in moderate amounts is favorable, although the term has negative connotations. Sourness can result from too-light roasts, which have a corresponding bitterness. It can also be the result of acidity, which is usually a favorable characteristic.

    A "sour" is a physical coffee bean defect due to excess fermentation where bacteria or xerophilic mould attack the seed. They range from yellow to brown in color, and can occur from several conditions: over-fermentation, falling to the ground, excessive time between harvest from the tree and processing. The favor from sours is (no surprise) sour, fermented, acetic, fruity, sulfurous, vinegary.

    Specialty coffee was a term devised to mean higher levels of green coffee quality than average "industrial coffee" or "commercial coffee". At this point, the term is of limited use, since every multi-national coffee broker opened a "specialty division" and because, under the same term, coffees of highly varying quality, high to low, are imported. Some say Erna Knutsen, the San Francisco coffee broker, coined this term. Some say it was Rod Lazar's grandfather, Frenchie Lazar. At the time the SCAA was formed, it certainly meant something more than now.

    A reference to the mouth feel of a coffee when it leaves a tactile impression of sponges. This is often found in Liberica coffees, and can be unpleasant if excessive.

    Green coffee in general can be stored up to one year from the date of processing with no noticeable changes in flavour. Bright, delicate coffees can fade faster; earthy coffees can last a bit longer. Very often the type and quality of the processing methods used on the coffee will determine how long a coffee will hold up. For example, "Miel" or pulped natural processing very often shortens the storage life of a coffee - you will see changes in flavour sooner and in a more pronounced way than with other processing methods. Coffee ought to be stored in a cool dry place, ideally in a breathable container like burlap, or cotton. For a hundred years or more coffee has been transported the same way, in large burlap or jute bags. More recently, producers have experimented with vacuum packaging and storage in special multi-layer poly bags to extend the life of the coffee. It has been more recently that Storage has become a greater factor in the processing chain of coffee.

    A dried hay-like character due to age of the green coffee and the corresponding loss of organic material storage.

    In Costa Rica, a classification/grading for specialty coffee. indicates the coffees was grown at an altitude above 1200 meters/4000 feet. Beans grown at a higher altitude, have a greater density, and thus a better specialty cup.

    A general Specialty Coffee classification/grading. It indicates the coffees was grown at an altitude above 1200 meters/4000 feet. Beans grown at a higher altitude, have a greater density, and thus a better specialty cup. It is pretty much synonymous with SHB, Strictly Hard Bean, the classification used in Costa Rica for the same grade of coffee.

    Brazil has it's own grading system for defects in the cup - Strictly Soft is the highest grade in the schema. Hard is considered a middle grade defective/commercial level coffee, so the term soft expresses clean, mild flavors.

    Many people say that they like "strong coffee" but this term needs to be pulled apart a bit to have any meaning. Some origins can be more pungent or intense than others, usually due to the processing methods or the preparation. Dry-processed coffees will in general have more earthy and potentially wild flavours. Aged coffees definitely have strong flavours - pleasant to some, not so much to others. Strong is in opposition to "weak" and can only mean brew strength, the intensity of the brewed coffee, if it is brewed in a more concentrated way, with too much ground coffee in respect to the amount of water used. Espresso is obviously one of the strongest coffee drinks since by definition it is a coffee extract, i.e. very little water in proportion to a large dose of coffee. Strong might also be interchangeable with "Bold", another vague descriptor and both of these could also refer to a dark roast level.

    Like Balance, structure is an esoteric term. After all, you can't taste a "structure" nor can you taste a "balance." They come from a sense of all the sensory components of a coffee, characterizing the relation between flavors, acids, mouth feel and aftertaste as well-defined and comprehensive. Well-structured coffee has an architectural feel, as something that is "built", well-founded, solid, with flavours and sapid experiences that relate well to each other.

    Sucrose is largely destroyed by the roasting process through various reactions and thermal caramelization. It is destroyed at this rate: 2.9% remains in a light roast; 0.9% in a medium roast, 0% in a dark roast. Sucrose is sweeter before caramelization, but perhaps more aromatic after caramelization. Still, if there is no sweet taste, the perception of caramelized sucrose will not be sweet. "Sucrose is the principle sugar in coffee. The melting point of pure crystalline sucrose is in the 320-392 degrees F with 370 degrees F most commonly accepted. Degradation of dry sucrose can occur as low as 194 degrees F. and begins with the cleavage of the glycosidic bond followed by condensation and the formation of water. Between 338 and 392 degrees F, caramelization begins. It is at this point that water and carbon dioxide fracture and out-gassing begins causing the first mechanical crack. These are the chemical reactions, occurring at approximately 356 degrees F, that are exothermic. Once caramelization begins, it is very important that the coffee mass does not exotherm (lose heat) or the coffee will taste "baked" in the cup. A possible explanation is that exothermy of the charge mass interrupts long chain polymerization and allows cross linking to other constituents. Both the actual melting point of sucrose and the subsequent transformation, or caramelization, reaction are effected by the presence of water, ammonia, and proteinaceous substances. Dark roasts represent a higher degree of sugar caramelization than light roasts. The degree of caramelization is an excellent and high resolution method for classifying roasts."

    Sulawesi coffees are low-acid with great body and that deep, brooding cup profile akin to Sumatra. The coffee is sometimes known as Celebes, which was the Dutch colonial name for the island. Indonesians are available as semi-washed (or wet-hulled) coffees and less frequently as washed coffees. While a fully washed coffee may appear to have less defects, it may not satisfy the expected flavour profile of this coffee origin. People look to Sulawesi and Sumatra for heavy body, low acidity, intense forestry or earthy flavours, chocolate roast notes. Those flavours are largely the result of how the coffee is processed after the coffee cherry is harvested, and more specifically, these types of flavours come from the wet-hull method, called Giling Basah in Indonesia. There are risks with this type of process. The green coffee is dried further on the patio or (in the worst cases) on the dirt! And if a sudden rain comes along and the coffee is not quickly gathered, it can develop musty off notes. Even without added moisture, the fruity mucilage layer can ferment into a very undesirable off cup flavor. Giling Basah method requires as much care as any other type of processing to achieve the best results, and a rigorous cupping regimen can distinguish between positive fruited or earth notes, and rank dirty or fermented defects.

    Arabica coffee production in Sumatra began in the 18th century under Dutch colonial domination, introduced first to the northern region of Aceh around Lake Tawar. Coffee is still widely produced in these northern regions of Aceh (Takengon, Bener Mariah) as well as in the Lake Toba region (Lintong Nihuta, Dairi-Sidikalang, Siborongborong, Dolok Sanggul, and Seribu Dolok) to the southwest of Medan. In the past, Sumatra coffees have not been sold by region, because presumably the regional differences are not that distinct. Rather, the quality of the picking, preparation and processing of the coffee determines much of the cup character in this coffee. In fact, Sumatras are sold as Mandheling (Mandailing) which is simply the Indonesian ethnic group that was once involved in coffee production (see note on origin page). The coffee is scored by defects in the cup, not physical defects of the green coffee. So a fairly ugly-looking green coffee can technically be called Grade 1 Mandheling. Indonesians are available as a unique semi-washed process and (rarely) fully-washed coffees. Semi-washed coffees are best described as "wet-hulled", locally called Giling Basah, and will have more body and often more of the "character" that makes Indonesians so appealing and slightly funky. In this process, the parchment coffee (the green seed with the parchment shell still attached) is very marginally dried, then stripped of the outer layer, revealing a white-colored, swollen green bean. Then the drying is completed on the patio (or in some cases, on the dirt), and the seed quickly turns to a dark green colour.

    A Colombian coffee grade referring to screen size of 17-18 screen. In the traditional bulk Arabica business, Supremo was the top grade Colombia, with Excelso one step below at 15-16 screen. Neither of these refer to cup quality, only bean size.

    Usually a taste defect, reminiscent of the smell of flavor of sweat, sometimes considered mildly positive. It can be the result of bad storage conditions for green coffee, but we have also experienced it from roast profiles where the seed is over roasted on the interior due to too much conduction in the thermal transfer. It is an un-sweet taste. Some Kenya's can be mildly sweaty, i.e. akin to mineral, not with a stench of foul sweat. It can be found in Yemeni coffees as well, along with leather and hide notes, and has some relation to musty flavours in Indonesia coffees.

    Sweetness is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter (and possibly a 5th called Umami which indicates savory flavours). In coffee, sweetness is a highly desirable quality, and the green bean has many sugars and polysaccharides. However, the main sugar, sucrose, is largely destroyed by roasting, with only 2.9% remaining at a light roast, and 0% at a darker roast. When caramelized sugars have aromatic sweetness, but not sapid sweetness on the palate. Hence, over-roasting is to be avoided to preserve some sweetness.

    A brand of reusable metal filter for drip coffee brewing. Swiss gold's are alternatives to paper coffee filters. They have the advantage that they do not impact a taste to the cup (paper filters can give a paper-y taste), and they are reusable. Swiss gold's have larger pores than paper filters, which means larger particles make their way into the cup. In particular used for Bosch domestic machines.
  • SWP

    Swiss Water Process is a patented water filtration decaf method, not a chemical solvent method. The plant is in Canada.

    A handheld instrument for compacting ("tamping") ground coffee for espresso into a portafilter basket. Tampers should match the size of a machine's basket, with common sizes including 53mm and 58mm.

    Compacting coffee grounds for espresso into a portafilter basket, usually by means of a tamper. Proper tamping technique is critical to proper espresso extraction: a tamp should be level, properly seal the grounds against the sides of the basket, and fill any fissures in the espresso "puck." It is generally recommended that 30 pounds of tamping force be applied, though it is more important that the tamp be consistent between shots than that it be exactly 30 pounds.

    An adjective modifying a flavour descriptor, describing a sharp effect; tangy citrus, tangy bittersweet flavor, tangy green apple.

    The term Tannins refers to the use of wood tannins from oak in tanning animal hides into leather. Having the bitterness or astringency of Tannins. Tannins are plant polyphenols found across the flora kingdom.

    In terms of the Tanzania coffee character, it belongs to the Central/East African family of washed (wet processed) coffees, bright (acidy), and mostly aggressively flavourful of which Kenya is certainly the dominant coffee. Peaberries are often sorted out and sold at high premiums, but the cup is sometimes tainted and not worth the price.

    A dark roast-related flavor of pungent, intense bittering roast flavor, reminiscent of the smell of tar.

    A term used to describe coffees with light, astringent body and potent aromatics. A flavour associate with Indian Specialty coffee more than not as well as some Rwandan flavour profiles.

    The Technivorm is a Dutch-made electric drip brewer for the office or home that is known for it's good design, and good results. You can find them for sale on our site.

    Tekisic is a Bourbon cultivar variant still grown in El Salvador. Bourbon coffees are named for the island in the India Ocean where French colonists grew it.

    Timor-Leste (East Timor) is a tiny island between Australia and Sulawesi, annexed by Indonesia and liberated in a referendum several years ago. Small scale coffee farming was jump-started before the independence by cooperative farming associations with funding by USAID grants to revitalize the rural economy and give small farmers a cash crop. The independence of the coops and the presence of NGO groups in the country emboldened the spirit of the Timorese toward independence. The majority of the coffee is from East Timor and directly benefits the organic farmer's cooperatives, rather than being directed to the pockets of exporters and middlemen. Timor has 2 major regions producing coffee: Maubesse is higher-altitude terrain than Aifu region. Timor coffee is also cultivated from its own distinct Timor varietals, which was crossed with Caturra to create the dreaded Catimor. While both Caturra and Timor are respected old-school varietals, Catimor is appreciated by farmers for its rapid growth and production of coffee cherry, but does not cup well next to either of its parent varietals. Coffee was planted in Timor and East Timor by colonial powers and by the mid-nineteenth century it was a major export crop of the island. East Timor's coffee producers are more gatherers than growers - as they do not intensively farm the coffee. This may be a reflection of the animistic beliefs of the Timorese; while the majority of the population is now Roman Catholic (which came to the island with colonial powers), animistic practices remain. Producers gather coffee from trees on their own land as well as trees on from formerly managed estates.

    Tipping refers to a roast error that can be discerned by inspecting the roasted coffee, where the ends of the elongated bean appear burnt. It can easily be tasted in the cup too; burnt or smoke flavours, or a lack of sweetness. It is usually the result of an over-heated roast environment (initial drum temperature too high), an over-charged roast drum (too much coffee in the drum), or possibly not enough air movement. Natural coffees from lower-grown sites can be more susceptible to tipping and scorching.

    Transparency is a flavour characterization synonymous with clarity, or a business ethics term, implying that as much information as possible about a coffee is made available to the consumer.

    This name designates a particular type of dry process coffee where the fruit dries partially or entirely while still on the tree branch. It is possible only in some areas (parts of Brazil, as well as some areas of India, sometimes in parts of Central America and East Africa), where there are dramatic dry seasons.

    Trigonelline is a bittering compound that is reduced as the roast gets progressively darker. Trigonelline is 100% soluble in water and therefore will end up in the cup. Trigonelline is probably the most significant constituent contributing to excessive bitterness.

    A strong preparation of coffee, finely ground, and often prepared in an Ibrik over a heat source like a gas stove. Traditionally it was placed in hot sands and the vessel itself would hold 1 or 2 servings. This is still the case today when prepared on a stove. One traditional recipe calls for a blend and to roast one third light, one third medium and one third dark, grind finely as is typical.

    Typica is one of the main cultivars of Coffea Arabica, and one from which many other commercial types have been derived. It has a longer seed form than the other main cultivar, Bourbon. Typica coffee plants are tall and have a conical shape with branches that grow at a slight slant. It has a rangy, open form. The lateral branches form 50-70° angles with the vertical stem. It has fairly low production and good cup quality. C. Arabica Var. Typica is sometimes expressed as C. Arabica Var. Arabica as a group that contains Typica ... confusing. The issue is that "Typical Arabica" indicates the common form, as well as the original form, so when the Scottish Mission brought Arabica from Yemen direct to Kikuyu Kenya from Yemen, that was Typica (with dark bronze tips - new leaf) and when Kona Hawaii was replanted that was Typica from Guatemala, with bronze tips, but over so much time and geography, these two Typicas would hardly be the same. Typica has a host of sub-types, from Blue Mountain to Bergendal, Java Typica to Guatemala Typica. All should have dark tips. Typica was the first coffee in the New World; Java-grown plants were a gift from the Dutch to Louis XIV, were cultivated in Parisian gardens, then thousands of seedlings were sent to the French colony in Martinique in 1720.

    While Arabica was introduced at the beginning of the 1900's, Robusta coffee is indigenous to the country, and has been a part of Ugandan life for centuries. The variety of Wild Robusta Coffee still growing today in Uganda's rain forests are thought to be some of the rarest examples of naturally occurring coffee trees anywhere in the world. The coffee trees are intercropped with traditional food crops and grown in the shade of banana trees and other shade trees. In these self-sustaining conditions, coffee is left to grow naturally, flowering on average twice a year. Uganda has the unfortunate circumstance of being landlocked, and needing good relations with its neighbors to move its coffee crop to a port city. Transportation bottlenecks can result in containers of full of steaming coffee beans stuck on the back of a truck or a dock somewhere ...not good for quality!

    Umami is a Japanese word meaning savory, a "deliciousness" factor deriving specifically from detection of the natural amino acid, glutamic acid, or glutamates common in meats, cheese, broth, stock, and other protein-heavy foods. The action of umami receptors explains why foods treated with monosodium glutamate (MSG) often taste "heartier". In coffee, savory relates to specific brothy, food-like character and can conflict with other basic flavors such as sweet, but is not undesirable. It can be found in Indonesia coffees, but has appeared favorably in Colombians as well.

    A general negative description of dirty or hard flavors in a coffee that should have none. These are flavours without positive qualities, that distract from the cup. Also simply called "off"
  • USDA

    USDA is The United States Department of Agriculture, that inspects coffee shipments and sets guidelines for importation. It is also an Indonesian cultivar of Ethiopian heritage that was part of varietals tests in the 1950's.

    A vacuum brewer works by heating water, pushing it into a chamber with coffee grounds, and then sucking the water back. Vacuum brewers produce a clean, aromatic cup.

    Sealing coffee in an air-tight container, with the air removed via vacuum. Green coffee and roasted coffee can both be vacuum packed to extend shelf life.

    Varietal is commonly used in wine to indicate Variety of a particular plant material, a type that results in specific flavors. Variety is a low-level taxonomic distinction under Species and Sub Species, and signifies members of different populations can interbreed easily, but not usually such that all traits (appearance attributes) will run true, and in fact usually will blend. In coffee, we prefer to use Cultivar to Varietal or Variety, since it implies the intentional cultivation for organoleptic and production results. The plant chosen as a cultivar may have been bred deliberately, selected from plants in cultivation. On our coffee reviews, we use Varietal category header. Varietal does NOT refer to region ...its about the botanical variety (or cultivar) of the coffee tree. It's not easy information to gather, and has some bearing on the cup but not a lot. Ideally, coffee is grown using old Arabica varietals such as Bourbon and Typica, or Kent in India. Controversial varietals such as Ruiri 11 in Kenya and other high-yield, disease resistant hybrids can produce a diminished cup, but growing conditions and processing play a much greater role than the varietal.

    A mouth feel description indicating elegant softness, refined smoothness. See Silky as well.

    Vienna roast occurs at the beginning of second crack. The Vienna stage (also called Continental) to Light French stage is where you begin to find origin character eclipsed by roast character. If you buy coffee for its distinct origin qualities, it makes sense that heavy roasting is at odds with revealing the full effect of the differences we can sense in coffee due to distinct origins. Nonetheless, some coffees are excellent at this stage. Vienna is a common roast level for espresso. By the way; Espresso is not a roast. But Northern Italian style espresso is usually roasted to 440 - 446 internal bean temperature. Southern Italian (Scura) is generally a Light French Roast or a tad darker.

    An Arabica cultivar that is a natural dwarf mutation of Bourbon, and in that way is similar to Caturra (as well as Pacas).

    A natural dwarf mutation of Typica, found mostly in Costa Rica.

    Vinegar-like qualities are a defective flavor taint in coffee, resulting perhaps from poor processing, fermentation, sanitation. Usually, this comes from high levels of acetic acid, and come with a sour edge. Lower levels can lead to positive winery notes. Over-ripe coffee cherries, or delays in getting picked cherry to the mill can be the cause as well.

    A term indicating a spice blend with ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, anise pepper. While it is not exactly the same thing, warming spice blends are often similar to mulling spice mixes used for hot apple ciders and such. Indian foods are also big on warming qualities of spice blends.

    In Rwanda and some other East African countries, a wet mill is called a Washing Station. In Latin American countries, a wet mill is called a Beneficio, where fresh coffee cherries are brought for pulping, fermentation, and drying.

    We use WP to mean Water Process, a non-chemical decaffeination method. This is an "indirect" decaffeination method. Beans are soaked in near boiling water, extracting the flavor oils and caffeine from the coffee. The water is separated into a tank where it is forced through charcoal filters and generally stirred around in hot water to remove the caffeine. The beans are then reintroduced to the swill, absorbing their flavour. Since no chemicals are used, there's nothing to worry about but higher prices and duller coffee. We have had trouble in the past with the cup quality of SWP coffees; bright, lively coffees especially can end up cupping quite flat.

    In cupping, wet aroma refers to the smell of wet coffee grinds, after hot water is added. The aromatics of a coffee greatly influence it's flavour profile, and comes 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 from the coffee grounds; in general fragrance describes things we do not eat (like perfume) and aroma pertains to food and beverage we consume. 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 flavour quality is perceived through the olfactory bulb.

    Wet-hulled process is a hybrid coffee method used in parts of Indonesia, especially Sumatra. It results in a dark, opal-green coffee with little silverskin clinging to it, and a particular low-acid, earthy, heavy body flavour profile. In this method, the farmer picks ripe coffee cherry, pulps off the skin and either dries it immediately for one day, or lets it sit overnight in a bucket (with our without water), then washes it the next day and dries it. In either case, the coffee is partially dried with some or all of the mucilage clinging to the parchment- covered seed. It is then sold at a local market to a coffee processor. They receive coffee at 40-50% moisture content, then dry it to 25-30%, and run it though the wet-hull machine. Friction strips off the parchment, and the bean emerges swollen and whitish green. Then it is dried on the patio down to 11-14% moisture, ready for sorting, grading, bagging and export.

    The wet mill goes by many names (Beneficio, Factory, Washing Station, Receiving Station) and can serve several different functions. Wet mill, as the name implies, involves water to process and transport coffee, but new ecological wet mills might use very little. But in nearly all cases, it is the place where whole coffee cherry fruit is brought for the first stages of it's transformation to dried green, exportable coffee. In traditional wet-processing, the wet mill is where the coffee is pulped (the outer fruit skin removed), floated in water (to remove defective beans), fermented (to break down the fruit mucilage layer), washed (to remove the fruit) and dried on a patio, a screen (raised bed), or a mechanical dryer. At this point green coffee seed is inside an outer parchment shell.

    Wet-process coffee (or washed coffee) is a method to transform the fruit from the tree into a green coffee bean for roasting. This process uses water at the wet mill to transport the seed through the process, allowing for the removal of defects that float to the surface. In traditional wet-processing, the wet mill is where the coffee is pulped (the outer fruit skin removed), floated in water (to remove defective beans), fermented (to break down the fruit mucilage layer), washed (to remove the fruit) and dried on a patio, a screen (raised bed), or a mechanical dryer. At this point green coffee seed is inside an outer parchment shell, rested for a period of time then milled at the dry mill into the green bean. Wet processing often produces a brighter, cleaner flavour profile, with lighter body than dry process coffees or the hybrid pulp natural process. Wet process coffees are referred to also as washed coffees, or fully washed. Note that the coffee seed is not fermented in this process, just the other fruit layer between the skin and the parchment shell. This is a natural action of peptic enzymes in the coffee. In different countries they might use a submerged wet fermentation, or a water-less dry fermentation, which is a faster method.
  • WILD

    Wild flavours in coffee is a general characterization that connotes something foreign or exotic in a flavor profile, usually somewhat unclean. This can be found in some East African coffees, although it is usually the result of poor processing or handling. For example Yemeni coffees have wild notes of hide, leather, earth, and such. To some these are defect flavours.

    Describes a wine-like flavour with a similar perceived acidity and fruit. Found most commonly in East African specialty coffees as well as in some centrals like Costa Rica.

    Generally a taste defect from age; old green coffee, perhaps yellowing in color. This is due to the drying out of the coffee over time, and as the moisture leaves the seed it takes organic compounds with it. Also, when coffee rehydrates itself, it brings in foreign odors, baggy and dirty tastes and smells. Aged coffees can have a positive hickory-like taste and aroma. This entry does not address positive wood qualities like cedar, and such. Also not to be confused with foresty or woodsy character in Indonesia coffees.

    A defect term referring to "honey" flavour but a bad rustic, yeast-like flavour. This is on the opposite end of the spectrum away from pure honey-like tastes.

    Yellow Bourbon is a sub-type that has fruit which ripens to a yellow colour, found mainly in Brazil where it was first grown. Bourbon coffees are named for the island in the India Ocean where French colonists grew it. It is possible that Yellow Bourbon is a natural mutation of a cross between Bourbon and a yellow-fruited Typica called "Amarelo de Botocatu".

    Technically, Yemen is on the Asian continent (on the Arabian Peninsula) although it is really just a stone's throw from Africa, across the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. For coffee reasons, and since there is no other "Arabian" coffee, we put it in the family of tastes that are North African. Now, what is Mocha? Al Mokha (Al-Mahka) is the port city that Yemeni coffee ships from! It has nothing to do with chocolate. Why is the coffee called Mokha? Because in the coffee trade it was too complicated to name all the little sub-regions where the coffee is actually grown, even though they do produce notably different coffees in terms of the cup. Many of the dry-process Ethiopian coffees will also call themselves Mocha: Mocha Harar etc. Yemeni are one of the most distinct and prized coffees in the world, but this is what we call a "wild" or natural cup ...Earthy, complex, pungent ---to some it may be strange and bitter. Yemen has a coffee culture like no other place, and perhaps some of what we enjoy in this cup is due to their old style of trade. Exporters do not buy from farms, but through an extensive network of middlemen. Local buyers receive coffee in the pod, the entire dried cherry, and that is stored, usually in underground caverns! The coffee actually exported is usually the oldest of their stocks, not new crop coffee! But this is the way it has been, and is one reason that new Yemen arrivals often have moisture content readings in the 10.5% range. Yemeni growers are not hurt by this system with so many middlemen, largely because the coffee land under cultivation is limited, production is fairly low due to high altitude and limited inputs, and the crop is in such high demand. Competition from the Saudis also keeps Yemeni coffee prices very high.

    Zacapa is the famous sweet and spicy rum of Guatemala. Sometimes this vanilla-laced rum note appears in coffee flavours.

    From the country formerly known as upper Rhodesia in a country now named for the Zambezi River, Zambian coffees range from Kenya-like brightness to subtle, balanced coffee with complexity, body and nuanced flavors... Zambia has variable quality: it has the potential to be, and it can be very off-tasting and. Coffee is grown in the Northern district of the Muchinga Mountains (regions of Nakonde, Kasama and Isoka) and in the vicinity of the capital city of Lusaka. Coffee was introduced in the 1950's with cultivar seed stock from Tanzania and Kenya.

    A flavour or mouth feel characteristic, hinting at a tingly, prickly, lively or piquant aspect. Peppers, spice or citrus can all be zesty.

    Zimbabwe, formerly known as lower Rhodesia until independence in 1980, has produced great coffee since production was introduced in the 1960s. Like Zambian coffees, these coffees are often overshadowed by the great East African coffee: Kenya. But they can have great balance, complexity, body and finesse. (But note that not all do! It sometimes takes some rigorous cupping to find truly great estate Zimbabwe. Coffee production is chiefly from the Manicaland and Mashonaland provinces along the border of Mozambique. Coffee production towns are Chipinge (also spelled Chapina) and Mutare. Top AA quality coffee is often marked "Code 53" on the bags, an enigmatic and perhaps arbitrary internal designation for best quality. Lately, the power-grabbing by Mugabe and suppression of democratic media in Zimbabwe is very troubling. While land reform doesn't affect the coffee areas, and perhaps has its merits, the way it was done was regrettable. Zimbabwe's future does not look as bright as it did 10 years ago, when it was a model of progress in East Africa. Currently we offer no coffee from this region as we do not feel that it is right to support the many human right violations taking part in the country.

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