Coffee Terms – R


RAINFOREST COBAN – Coffee growing region in Guatemala in the country’s north and predominantly characterized by humid, subtropical forests where rain falls all year around totaling about 3,250 mm annually, relative humidity of around 90%, and temperatures ranging from 59 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 23 degrees Celsius), a fluctuation that is largely dependent on the north winds.

Both Hard Bean and Strictly Hard Bean coffees are grown in this region at altitudes between 4,300 feet and 5,000 feet above sea level. The coffee cherry (fruit) are harvested from December to March.

Coffees from Coban exhibit the typical Guatemalan coffee qualities which include an excellent body, usually full or medium, with a rich and spicy flavor and light fruity acidity, often floral, and a lively aroma with light winey notes.

The soil of this region is mostly clay and limestone, and the climate is affected by the Atlantic Ocean and is often cloudy with a typical day perhaps only receiving a few hours of direct sunlight. The name Coban derives from the Maya Keckchi word cob, which means “place of clouds.”

Coffee plant varietals grown in the Rainforest Coban region include Bourbon (Coffea arabica var. bourbon), Catuai (Coffea arabica var. catuai), and Caturra (Coffea arabica var. caturra). Also see Guatemala Coffee.

RANCID – A coffee taste fault and aroma defect which produces a highly offensive, sour quality. This rancid characteristic (suggestive of rancid nuts) results from oxidation of fats in the coffee beans, most likely when the coffee was stored improperly.

RED EYE (Red-Eye) – See Espresso Drink Recipes.

REFILL POLICY – A company’s (e.g., restaurant’s) decision on how to position in regards to providing customers with coffee refills at no charge.

REFRACTOMETER – A scientific device used to measure a coffee’s soluble solids by calculating the coffee’s increased light refraction (the coffee’s ability to separate light into color bands. The soluble solids derive from the addition of coffee flavoring materials to water (e.g., as in brewing coffee).

RESERVOIR – A built in tank on some espresso machines including most home espresso machines (consumer espresso machines) and some prosumer espresso machines) and also on most coffee machines (e.g., drip-filter coffee machines) which holds the water that is then used to brew the espresso or the coffee.

On espresso machines with a reservoir the water is also used to supply the steam that emits from the steam wand which is used to aerate milk to create frothed milk for espresso-based specialty coffee drinks (espresso drinks). Also see Plumbed-In.

RESONANCE – A subjective coffee descriptor denoting a coffee’s sensual power, or ability to support its taste and aroma sensations with depth – perhaps a ringing, echoing power – as opposed to a coffee that is perceived well on the palate and then stands pat or quickly fades.

REUNION BOURBON COFFEE (Bourbon Coffee) – Bourbon is a coffee plant varietal (Coffea arabica var. bourbon) that has a yield that is less than many other coffee plant varietals, though still 25% greater than the yield of the Typica varietal (Coffea arabica var. typica).

Like Typica, Bourbon produces an excellent cup of coffee, distinguished for its smooth and mild flavors that are often sweet and nutty. The body is typically light to medium, and the coffee has a low acidity and pleasant aroma.

The first Coffea arabica varietals are thought to be Arabica (Coffea arabica var. arabica) and Bourbon (Coffea Arabica var. bourbon). Virtually all other coffee plant varietals are thought to have originated from these two varietals, including the popular Arabica variety called Typica (Coffea arabica var. typica), which is derived from Coffea arabica var. arabica.

Bourbon coffee plants grow in a shape that is less conical than Typica, and they also have more secondary branches. These secondary branches also 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 feet and 6,500 feet above sea level.

The broad leaves of the Bourbon coffee plant varietal have wavy borders and the coffee fruits (coffee cherry) are very dense compared to many other coffee plant varietals, and also relatively small.

The coffee cherry ripen rather quickly and they fall off the plant fairly easily, thus the Bourbon coffee plants are somewhat vulnerable to wind and weather.

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

Bourbon was subsequently planted throughout Brazil in the late 1800s, and later planted throughout Latin America.

RICH/RICHNESS – Denotes a brewed coffee’s complex, pleasing flavors as well as aftertaste – this is a common quality among full-bodied gourmet coffees. The intensity of the richness also reflects the strength of the coffee’s gases and vapors (the volatile organic compounds).

The term rich generally refers to flavor but also may describe the quality of fullness in a coffee’s body (e.g., Sumatran coffee) or acidity (e.g., Yemen Mocha Coffee).

RIO – A class of coffee beans grown in southern Brazil and generally considered less than optimal in regards to coffee bean quality. Rio coffee beans are known for their medicinal flavor which is usually due to the poor handling of the coffee cherry (fruit) after harvest. Also see Brazil Coffee.

RIOY – A negative, highly pronounced iodine-like, medicinal coffee flavor characteristic/taste fault.

The pungent, rioy flavor/aroma is created when coffee cherry (fruit) dies on the plant and the coffee bean remains within the cherry even as enzyme activity continues. The taste may be due to the invasion of a microorganism during drying.

The rioy quality is commonly associated with natural (unwashed) coffees from Brazil’s Rio district. Though the rioy quality is generally considered rank among North America consumers, other coffee drinkers, particularly those from Middle Eastern and Balkan countries.

RISTRETTO (Espresso Ristretto) – See Espresso Drink Recipes.
See Coffee Websites.

ROASTING COFFEE – See Roasting Coffee.

ROASTING MACHINES – See Coffee Roasters.

ROAST MAGAZINE – See Coffee Websites.

ROASTMASTER – The skilled roastmaster strives to apply the proper temperature for just the right amount of time to bring out the best flavors of the particular coffee beans being roasted.

Roastmasters pay close attention to the color level of the roasting coffee beans as they expand and change color from Light Roast to Medium Roast to Medium-Dark Roast to Dark Roast.

The roastmaster pays attention to the roasting time and temperature as well as more subtle considerations such as the appearance and smell of the coffee during roasting.

The roastmaster also listens for the popping sounds of the roasting coffee. These distinct “cracks” of the coffee beans occur at particular roasting stages, and there is a first crack and a second crack. See Roasting Coffee.

ROAST PROFILE – The roast profile of a coffee is a graph of the temperature of the coffee beans during the time of the coffee roasting.

ROAST TASTE – A general term describing the various sensations associated with dark-roasted coffee, including sweet and subtle caramel flavors and pungent notes in contrast to acidy notes of light roasted coffee. Also called taste of the roast.

ROASTY – A smoky, pleasant coffee flavor characteristic/taste sensation typical of properly dark-roasted, premium gourmet coffees. The coffee’s natural components are somewhat modified by the degree of the roast, increasing the coffee’s overall character.

ROBUSTA COFFEE – See Robusta Coffee.

ROMANO (Espresso Romano) – See Espresso Drink Recipes.

ROTARY PUMP – A type of pump found on commercial, plumbed-in espresso machine s (espresso coffee makers) using vanes that oscillate rapidly within a sealed container with the effect of creating the high pressure needed (e.g., 135 pounds per square inch) to push water through roasted and ground coffee to brew espresso shot(s). Also called Volumetric Pump.

ROTTEN – A highly displeasing taste fault resulting from deterioration of the coffee beans.

ROUGH – A secondary coffee flavor characteristic providing a mostly salty, raspy taste sensation on the tongue and palate. This rough quality is a result of the additive property of the taste sensations caused by the coffee’s salts.

ROUND/ROUNDNESS – Denotes a well-balanced coffee with just the right level of organoleptic characteristics, none of which dominate the others or are even particularly apparent.

ROUNDED – Describes a reduction in the range of gases and vapors – volatile organic compounds – whose intensity (strength) is only moderately perceptible.

RUBBERY – A coffee taste fault/aroma fault producing a burnt rubber quality. This rubber characteristic is created by the continuing enzyme activity that occurs within the coffee bean when the coffee cherry (fruit) is not harvested at peak ripeness but instead is allowed to dry on the coffee plant.

Dry processed (natural) Robusta coffees from Africa typically exhibit this rubbery taste sensation.

RUBBER-LIKE – An aroma descriptor denoting a coffee with strong notes of rubber (e.g., hot tires, rubber stopper, rubber band); generally not considered to be a negative attribute.

RUIRI 11 COFFEE – A Coffea arabica coffee plant varietal (dwarf hybrid; Coffea arabica var. ruiri 11) valued for its relatively high yield (and can be planted at twice typical density) as well as its ability to resist coffee diseases such as coffee berry disease (Colletotrichum coffeanum) as well as coffee leaf rust (Hemileia vastatrix), though the brewed coffee produced by Ruiri 11 beans is considered inferior to African K7, SL34, and SL28.

The Kenyan Coffee Research Station released the Ruiri 11 coffee plant varietal in 1985. Also see Kenya Coffee.

RUIRI COFFEE RESEARCH STATION – See Kenya Coffee Research Station.

RUST – A coffee disease that is caused by the fungus Hemileia vastatrix and can devastate an Arabica coffee plantation. The first signs of the disease are yellow or yellow-orange spots on the underside of the coffee plant’s leaves. This causes defoliation which in turn reduces the growth of coffee cherry (fruit).

Leaf rust was first noted in 1861 in Kenya, and then was widespread by the 1920s throughout the coffee-growing countries of Africa and Asia.

Coffee rust began to show up in the Western hemisphere in the 1970s, and by the mid-1980s was found in all of the West’s major coffee-growing countries. One of the very few coffee-growing areas free of coffee rust is Hawaii. Also called Coffee Rust; Coffee Leaf Rust; Orange Leaf Rust.

RWANDA COFFEE (Rwandan Coffee) – See Rwanda Coffee.

RWANDA MAYAGUEZ COFFEE – A cultivar of Bourbon (Coffea arabica var. bourbon), Coffea arabica var. mayaguez is commonly known as Mayaguez and is cultivated in Rwanda. Also see Rwanda Coffee.

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