Coffee Terms – A


AA COFFEE BEANS – A grade of coffee bean. See Kenya AA Coffee Beans.

AB COFFEE BEANS – A grade of coffee bean. See Kenya AB Coffee Beans.

ABSORBING – The process of one substance assimilating into another, with the properties of the substance being assimilated being largely transformed or lost.

ACE – See Cup of Excellence.

ACERBIC – An undesirable  coffee flavor characteristic/taste fault that results from excessive heat after brewing, producing a sour and acrid sensation on the tongue.

ACIDY – Describes a coffee with a desirable level of acidity, which is one of the primary coffee flavor sensations.

Acidy coffees may be described in a range from nippy to piquant, usually pleasing to the taste, with a sharpness and snap. This is in contrast to an unpleasant, sour or fermented taste, and is also very different from a heavy coffee with a sweet, mellow flavor.

An acidy quality is typical of washed Arabica coffees grown at elevations around 4,000 feet. An acidy quality is usually very desirable in Brazil coffees, while Colombian coffees are often acidy while also having significant body. Old crops are almost never acidy.


ACRID – An intense secondary coffee flavor characteristic/taste fault sensed as a tartness toward the back of the tongue, and perhaps a piercing sourness at the sides of the tongue toward the back.

This acrid impression is typically a process taste, and is the result of a high concentration of salts and a higher than normal ratio of sour acids in the coffee. Unwashed Rio coffees out of Brazil often exhibit this acrid characteristic.

ADD-ON-SALE (Add On Sale) – Coffee sold as a second beverage, increasing overall revenue.

AERATING MILK/STEAMING MILK – The process of heating milk while simultaneously injecting air into it to prepare it for use in an espresso-based specialty coffee drink (espresso drink). See Steaming and Frothing Milk.

AFFOGATO – See Espresso Cuisine.

AFRICA FRENCH MISSION BOURBON COFFEE (African French Mission Bourbon Coffee) – The French Mission Bourbon coffee plants were first cultivated in about 1897 in East Africa by French Missionaries, leading to the French Mission Bourbon coffee plant varietal.

Like Typica, Bourbon produces an excellent brewed coffee known for its smooth and mild flavors (often sweet and nutty) with a light to medium body, low acidity, and a very pleasant aroma.

The Bourbon varietal originated after the French first planted the parent stock in 1708 in Bourbon (now Reunion Island), which is located in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The coffee plant then underwent a slight mutation, creating the Bourbon varietal.

Bourbon coffee plants grow in a shape less conical than Typica and have more secondary branches, which grow closer together off the main coffee plant stem and at less of an angle than Typica branches. Bourbon coffee plants grow best at elevations between 3,500 and 6,500 feet.

The broad leaves of the Bourbon coffee plant varietal have wavy borders and the fruits (coffee cherry) are very dense compared to many other varietals, and also relatively small. The cherry ripen rather quickly and fall off the plant fairly easily, making the plants vulnerable to wind and weather. Also see Brazil Bourbon Coffee.

AFRICA K7 COFFEE (African K7 Coffee) – This coffee plant varietal of French Mission Bourbon (Coffea arabica var. bourbon) is grown at the Legetet Estate in Muhroni, Kenya. K7 was chosen for cultivation based upon cupping trials.

K7 has some resistance to coffee berry disease as well as some forms of coffee leaf rust, and grows well at lower elevations where coffee leaf rust is more common. Also see Kenya Coffee.

AFRICA MAYAGUEZ COFFEE (African Mayaguez Coffee) – A cultivar of Bourbon (Coffea arabica var. bourbon), Coffea arabica var. mayaguez is cultivated in Rwanda. Also see Rwanda Coffee.

AFTER-DINNER ROAST – See Medium-Dark Roast.

AFTERTASTE – See Aftertaste.

AGED COFFEE – Coffee beans that have been stored, sometimes for several years, in warehouses (either intentionally or inadvertently), creating a distinct coffee flavor characteristic/taste sensation due to an increase in the coffee’s body but a decrease in the coffee’s acidity.

This aged quality is created by enzyme activity which causes chemical changes in the green coffee beans after harvesting and before roasting.

Aged coffee is also known as vintage coffee, and is stored in warehouses, and aged longer than mature coffees or old crop coffees. Also see Mature Coffee; Old Crop Coffee; New Crop Coffee.

AGGLOMERATION (Belt Agglomeration) – A process used during the production of instant coffee to turn extremely fine particles into larger particles.

AGTRON RATING – A method of characterizing the degree of a coffee roast. The technology provided by the Agtron company, measures the luminance of the coffee beans or ground coffee. The coffee is rated from 0 to 100, with 0 being black and 100 being white. Most roasted coffee falls in the range from 20 to 65.

AIR-PUMP ESPRESSO MACHINES – See Air-Pump Espresso Machines.

AIR ROASTER – A type of coffee roaster that uses a strong upflow of hot air to both heat and agitate the coffee beans.

ALAJUELA COFFEE – See Costa Rica Alajuela Coffee.

ALKALINE – A secondary (supplemental) coffee flavor characteristic/taste sensation creating a dryness toward the back of the tongue when the coffee is sipped. This alkaline quality in coffee is created by alkaloid compounds in the coffee beans.

ALTERNATIVE TRADING ORGANIZATIONS (ATO) – See Organic and Fair Trade Organizations.

ALTURA COATEPEC COFFEE – See Mexican Altura Coatepec Coffee.

ALTURA HUATUSCO COFFEE – A respected coffee grown in Veracruz State in Mexico. Also see Mexican Coffee.

ALTURA ORIZABA COFFEE – A respected coffee grown in Veracruz State in Mexico. Also see Mexican Coffee.

AMARELLO – A Coffea arabica coffee plant varietal (Coffea arabica var. amarello) commonly called Amarello. The varietal Amarello produces yellow fruit and is not widely planted.

AMARETTO COFFEE – Coffee beans infused with amaretto liquor flavor and aroma. The process of making Amaretto Coffee typically involves adding about 3% by weight of amaretto flavoring. Amaretto coffee is often served as a dessert coffee. Also see Flavored Coffees.


AMERICANO (Caffé Americano) – See Espresso Drink Recipes.

AMERICAN ROAST – Also called a Brown Roast, Medium-Brown Roast or Standard American Roast, an American Roast is a fairly light roast though not quite as light as a New England Roast (Cinnamon Roast).

An American Roast is used by many major commercial coffee brands (e.g., Maxwell House) on their Robusta coffee. Also see Medium Roast; Roasting Coffee.

ANIMAL-LIKE (Animal Like) – An aroma/odor descriptor suggesting the odor of animals (e.g., wet fur, leather, hides, urine, sweat but not a musk-like fragrance). The term animal-like is not always considered negative as it is sometimes used to describe a coffee with strong notes.

ANKOLA – See Sumatra Ankola Coffee.

ANTIGUA COFFEE – See Guatemala Antigua Coffee.

AQUAPULP – The process of removing the freshly-picked coffee cherry’s sticky pulp, or mucilage, through mechanical demucilaging, which utilizes machines to scrub the cherry.

The aquapulp process has gradually been replacing the traditional wet processing methods of removing the mucilage through fermentation and washing.

ARABIAN MOCHA COFFEE (Arabian Yemen Mocha Coffee; Arabian Moka Coffee; Arabian Mocca Coffee) – See Yemen Mocha Coffee.


ARABIAN MOCHA MATTARI COFFEE (Arabian Mocha Matari Coffee) – See Mocha Mattari Coffee.

ARABIAN MOCHA SANANI – See Mocha Sanani Coffee.

ARABICA COFFEE (Arabica Coffee Beans) – See Arabica Coffee.

ARABUSTA COFFEE – An interspecific hybrid of Robusta (Coffea canephora var. robusta) and Coffea arabica. Arabusta is grown almost exclusively in Africa.

AROMA – See Aroma.


AROMATIC – Describes a gourmet coffee that fully manifests the distinct characteristics of its growing region, plant type (e.g., botanical variety, coffee plant varietal), and any other natural variables that may affect a coffee’s flavor/aroma profile.

ARMENIA COFFEE (Armenian Coffee) – A Colombian coffee that is one of the principal Milds. Also see Colombian Medellin Supremo Coffee; Colombian Manizales Coffee; Colombian Coffee.

AROMATIC PROFILE – The coffee’s fragrant aroma as well as the finish/aftertaste. Also a part of a coffee’s Aromatic Profile is the smell of the freshly-roasted whole bean coffee as well as the fragrant scent of freshly ground coffee beans before brewing. Also see Aroma; Bouquet; Nose; Fragrance.

AROMATIZATION – The process of adding aromatic flavor materials back into soluble coffee (instant coffee) after these materials are lost during the brewing or drying process, and before the product’s conversion into a soluble form.

ARONA COFFEE – See New Guinea Arona Coffee.

ARTISANS DU MONDE (Federation Artisans du Monde) – See Organic and Fair Trade Organizations.

ARUSHA COFFEE – An Arabica coffee plant varietal that is either a Typica or French Mission variety, grown in Tanzania as well as Papua New Guinea. In Tanzania, Arusha coffee is grown on the slopes of Mt. Meru. Also see Papua New Guinea Coffee.

ASHY – A coffee aroma descriptor used by cuppers (professional coffee tasters) to indicate the degree of roast of particular coffee beans. Despite the fact that this descriptor denotes an aroma reminiscent of ash (e.g., an ashtray, cleaning out a fireplace) it is not considered a negative attribute.

ASIC – See Association for Science and Information on Coffee.

ASPIRATION – A cupping (professional coffee tasting) technique of drawing the brewed coffee into the mouth using a vigorous sucking motion that sprays the coffee evenly across the tongue and palate. The goal of aspiration is to provide the optimal opportunity for sensory evaluation of the brewed coffee.

ASSOCIATION FOR SCIENCE AND INFORMATION ON COFFEE (Association Scientifique Internationale du Café) – See Coffee Associations, Organizations, and Boards.

ASTRINGENT – An intense, undesirable, briny aftertaste impression on the anterior (tip) and sides of the tongue when the coffee is sipped.

This astringent coffee flavor characteristic, which is a secondary taste sensation, may be searing and salty, and also consistent with a dry feeling in the mouth. The astringency is likely the result of an undesirable amount of acidity in the coffee (acids increase the saltiness and cause astringency).

Astringency is often quite pronounced in unwashed Indonesian Robusta coffees.

ATITLAN COFFEE – This coffee growing region surrounds Lake Atitlan in Guatemala near three volcanic mountains and not far from the Pacific Ocean. This region receives plentiful rainfall all year around with no month receiving less than 50 mm of rain.

Coffees from the Atitlan region are known for their rich flavor and full body with an aromatic, spicy or floral acidity that is crisp and pronounced.

The coffee cherry (fruit) are harvested from December to March and most of the coffee plants are of the coffee plant varietal Bourbon (Coffea arabica var. bourbon). Also grown in Atitlan are the coffee plant varietals Typica (Coffea arabica var. typica), Catuai (Coffea arabica var. catuai), and Caturra (Coffea arabica var. caturra).

The coffee plants of the Atitlan region are grown at elevations from 4,000 feet to 5,900 feet above sea level where the humidity is about 75%, and where coffee plant diseases and pests provide very few problems. Most farm sizes in this region are about 12 hectares.

Most of the coffee plants are fertilized with organic matter rather than with chemical fertilizers, and the waters of Lake Atitlan may be used during the wet processing of the coffee. The beans are then sun-dried. Also see Guatemala Coffee.

ATO (Alternative Trading Organization) – See Organic and Fair Trade Organizations.

AUTOMATIC DRIP COFFEE MAKERS (Automatic-Drip Coffee Makers; Automatic Drip Coffee Machines; Automatic-Drip Coffee Machine; Automatic Drip Machine; Automatic-Drip Machine; Autodrip Coffee Machine; Automatic Drip Brewing Machine; Automatic Drip Coffeemaker) – See Automatic Drip Coffee Makers.

AUTOMATIC ESPRESSO MACHINES – See Automatic Espresso Machines.

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