Coffee Glossary

An alphabetical list of definitions for terms you’ll hear in the coffee world. Click on the letter to jump.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M

N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


AeroPress: A brewing device invented by Alan Adler that combines a plastic brewing cylinder with a plunger to extract coffee under slight pressure.

Americano: A style of coffee made by diluting espresso with hot water.

Arabica: The most widespread coffee species in the world. At least 60 per cent of all coffee sold comes from the Arabica coffee plant.


Barista: A person whose job involves preparing and serving different types of coffee.

Basket filter: A coffee filter shaped much like a large cupcake wrapper that is designed to fit most models of drip coffee makers.

Bean: The seed of the fruit from coffee plants, which are typically dried, roasted and ground to make coffee.

Bezzera: Italian espresso machine brand named after Luigi Bezzera, who patented the prototype for the modern espresso machine back in 1901.

Blade grinder: A device that uses whirring blades to hack coffee beans into small pieces for brewing coffee.

Blend: A mixture of coffee beans from several different places, or even several different types of beans, intended to be ground and brewed together.

Blonde roast: Lightly roasted coffee beans popularized by Starbucks that produce light-bodied, acidic coffee with traces of sweetness and toasted grain.

Bloom: To remove carbon dioxide from ground coffee beans by saturating them with hot water for 30-60 seconds immediately before brewing.

Bone dry cappuccino: A cappuccino consisting only of espresso and milk foam, without the traditional layer of steamed milk.

Bottomless portafilter: A portafilter with an open bottom and no spout to direct the flow of espresso once it leaves the filter basket. Also called a naked portafilter.

Brazil: South American country sometimes known as the “coffee pot of the world” because it produces one-third of the world’s coffee and has been the No. 1 exporter for 150 years.

Breve: A latte made with steamed half-and-half cream instead of milk.

Breville: An Australian appliance brand that built its name on blenders, kettles, sandwich presses and other kitchen appliances. They are now a major manufacturer of Nespresso machines.

Burr grinder: A coffee grinder that grinds beans by crushing them between two surfaces, resulting in grounds that are quite uniform in size. Considered superior to a blade grinder.


Café allongé: French term for an espresso topped with hot water, similar to an americano.

Café au lait: A French coffee drink consisting of equal parts hot coffee and scalded milk, traditionally served in a wide-mouth cup or bowl.

Café crème: French term for an espresso topped with milk and foam, close to a cappuccino.

Café noisette: In France, a single shot of espresso with a dash of hot foam, like a macchiato. 

Caffè anisette: An anise-flavored espresso found in the northern region of Italy known as Le Marche.

Caffè corretto: Coffee with a shot of liquor such as Sambuca or grappa, or what Italians call “corrected coffee.”

Caffè d’un parrinu: An Arabic-inspired coffee with cinnamon, clove, and a dusting of cocoa that is popular in Sicily, Italy.

Cappuccino: Traditional Italian drink consisting of one-third espresso, one-third milk, and one-third milk froth.

Carafe: The part of a brewing device in which the brewed coffee is collected, typically made of glass or thermally insulated steel.

Chemex: An hourglass-shaped brewing device invented by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, known for its stylish design that incorporates only glass, wood and leather.

City roast: A term for medium-roasted coffee that attains an internal temperature of approximately 415-425 F before being pulled from the heat.

Coffee Belt: An imaginary band that circles the globe around the equator, encompassing all of the world’s coffee-growing regions. It touches primarily on Africa, Asia, South America and Central America.

Coffee pod: A vacuum-sealed capsule containing ground coffee, to be used in a machine specially designed for brewing single servings. Also called capsules, or K-Cups (a Keurig brand).

Coffee Quality Institute: Non-profit organization that works internationally to improve the quality of coffee and the lives of the people who produce it.

Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel: A graphic visualization of 99 flavor attributes that can be detected in coffee, designed in 1995 and updated in 2016 to help the coffee industry describe coffee flavor consistently.

Cold brew: Coffee brewed by steeping grounds for a long time in room temperature or cold water, distinguishing it from traditional coffee and iced coffee which are both made using hot water.

Cone filter: Coffee filter with a wide top and narrow bottom typically used for pour-over brewing methods.

Cortado: Coffee drink of Spanish origin consisting of espresso cut with steamed milk.


Dark roast: A term for coffee beans that have been roasted past second crack, into the 465-480 F internal temperature range. Their flavor becomes less distinguishable from that of other beans at this point

De’Longhi: A global leader in small appliances for the residential market which began marketing in the U.S. in the early 1980s and has partnered with Nespresso to manufacture capsule coffee machines.

Dirty coffee: Hot espresso pour over chilled milk, so that the gradual “leaking” of espresso down into the milk produces a layered, marbled look.

Double brew: A brewing method in which brewed coffee is used in place of water to make a second brew. The aim is extra strong coffee.

Drip coffee: The automated version of pour-over coffee, in which water distributed by a machine flows through a bed of coffee grounds and extracts coffee before dripping into a carafe.


Espresso: A highly concentrated coffee made by forcing hot water through a packed bed of coffee grounds at high pressure.

Extraction: The chemical process that happens after you mix coffee grounds and water together. The hot (or sometimes cold) water pulls flavor compounds, acids and oils out from the coffee itself and dissolves them.


Filter: A paper or mesh barrier designed to separate water from coffee grounds by allowing water through, but not the grounds.

First crack: The stage of a coffee roast at which the beans reach an internal temperature of about 385 F and evaporating moisture cracks them from the inside, creating an audible crack.

Flat white: An espresso drink with a layer of steamed milk on top, using less milk and less froth than a cappuccino or latte..

Frappuccino: A blended beverage made from coffee, either cream or milk, and ice. The name combines the French word frapper (to hit or strike) with cappuccino.

French press: A brewing device featuring a mesh filter on the end of a plunger that is used to press coffee grounds to the bottom after they have steeped in hot water. May also refer to the method, or the coffee.

Full city roast: A term for roasted coffee that straddles the line between medium and dark, usually pulled from the heat at second crack or an internal temperature of around 430 F.

Fully automatic: Describes a push-button espresso machine that regulates water temperature and flow on its own, so the barista has only to grind the beans and load and lock the portafilter.


Gaggia: Italian brand credited with creating the modern home espresso machine

Gooseneck kettle: A kettle with a long, narrow, curved spout that allows the brewer to pour with control and precision.

Granita di caffè: Italian term for a blended, sugary beverage usually topped with whip cream, which is quite likely the precursor to Starbucks’ Frappuccino.

Grinder: A device used to break whole coffee beans into smaller particles in preparation for brewing.


Hario V60: A pour-over brewing cone from Japanese company Hario that gets its name from its V shape and the 60-degree angle of its sides.


Iced coffee: Coffee that is brewed using hot water then cooled in the refrigerator or poured over ice after brewing.

Instant coffee: Coffee that has been turned solid by either freeze-drying or spray-drying, so it can be liquefied again by simply mixing with hot water.


Japanese iced coffee: Iced coffee made by brewing hot coffee directly onto ice for immediate cooling.

Java: An island in Indonesia that became synonymous with coffee after 17th-century Dutch colonists planted coffee there to be marketed in Europe.


K-Cup: Brand name for the vacuum-sealed coffee capsule that fuels Keurig coffee machines.

Keurig: The brand with the most popular capsule coffee-brewing system in North America.

Kissaten: A traditional Japanese tea house that has become a vital part of Japanese coffee culture since incorporating coffee in the 1960s.

Knock box: A receptacle kept on hand near espresso machines for knocking spent coffee pucks out of the portafilter after brewing.


La Marzocco: Well known Italian espresso machine brand that patented the first horizontal-boiler coffee machine.

Latte: Espresso and steamed milk with a dash of froth on top.

Light roast: Describes coffee beans that have been roasted until just after first crack, or to an internal temperature of about 385-395 F.

Long black: An espresso drink made by pouring hot water into a cup, followed by espresso. This order is the reverse of making an Americano.

Long espresso: An espresso coffee that is less intense than a typical Italian-style espresso, because the barista pulls about twice as much water through the coffee grounds, taking twice as much time.

Lungo: A long espresso.


Macchiato: A cup of espresso just barely marked with steamed milk, hitting the spot between an espresso and a cappuccino.

Manual espresso machine: An espresso machine that uses a straightforward mechanical design to harness the physical effort of the barista and produce the pressure needed to brew espresso. Also called a lever espresso machine or hand pull espresso machine.

Mastrena: A commercial espresso machine made exclusively for Starbucks by Swiss company Thermoplan AG.

Medium roast: A term for coffee beans that have been roasted to between first and second crack, to an internal temperature of approximately 415-425 F.

Moccamaster: Line of high-end drip coffee machines made by Dutch company Technivorm.

Mocha: A drink made by adding steamed milk, frothed milk and chocolate to espresso.

Moka pot: A two-chambered brewing device in which water is heated in a lower chamber and rises as steam through a bed of coffee grounds, before spilling into an upper chamber as coffee.


Naked portafilter: A bottomless portafilter.

Nespresso: A type of espresso machine marketed by the Nestlé Group that brews coffee from hermetically sealed coffee capsules, sometimes known as pods.

Nuova Simonelli: A leading brand of professional Italian espresso machines.


Organic coffee: Coffee that is grown and processed without the use of any chemical pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers or other additives.


Percolator: A coffee maker that brews by recycling coffee through the grounds repeatedly after it has dripped through the filter.

Plunger: The mechanism in a French press that is used to push the coffee grounds to the bottom of the carafe.

Portafilter: The spoon-like component of an espresso machine that holds the ground coffee and attaches to the machine’s brew group.

Pour over: A brewing method that involves methodically pouring hot water over ground coffee in a filter, then letting it seep through the coffee and funnel into a collection vessel.

Pre-infusion: The preliminary step of allowing a small amount of water into the portafilter to soak the coffee before pulling an espresso shot, to ensure an even flow of water through the grounds during the brew. 

Pressurized portafilter: A portafilter that adds extra pressure immediately after coffee extraction, through a design that features a basket with a two-layer bottom. Sometimes called a “double-wall” portafilter.

Puck: Compressed, damp coffee grounds that remain in the portafilter after an espresso shot is pulled. Can often be knocked out of the portafilter in a single clump that resembles a hockey puck.


Q Grader: An expert trained and certified by the Coffee Quality Institute to grade coffee accurately and consistently by its aroma, flavor, acidity, body, balance and more.


Rancilio: Italian espresso machine brand that was the first to introduce the vertical boiler.

Red eye: A drink consisting of one or more shots of espresso added to normal cup of drip or black coffee. 

Ristretto: A low-volume, more concentrated espresso that presses less water through the coffee grounds as the shot is being pulled.

Robusta: The second most popular coffee species in the world. Its beans contain twice the caffeine of Arabica beans and produce a stronger, more acidic flavor. Often used in espresso blends.


Second crack: The stage of a coffee roast at which beans crack for a second time, the result of their cellular matrices breaking down after reaching an internal temperature of approximately 430 F.

Semi-automatic: An espresso machine with electronic temperature controls and built-in pumps that relies on the barista to decide when to start and stop the flow of water.

Shakerato: Italian drink consisting of espresso shaken with ice in a cocktail shaker until it’s frosty and frothy.

Single origin: Coffee beans that have been harvested from one specific location and not mixed with beans from anywhere else.

Single serve: Describes a coffee maker or device that makes one cup of coffee at a time, or one large mug at a time.

Siphon coffee: Coffee brewed using a device that relies on heat and water vapor to create pressure discrepancies between an upper chamber where the coffee is brewed, and a lower chamber where the coffee is collected. Also known as vacuum coffee.

Specialty coffee: Coffee that is well prepared, freshly roasted and properly brewed from beans with unique flavor profiles grown in special geographic microclimates. The technical definition of specialty coffee, as described by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), is Arabica coffee with a total quality (Q) score of at least 80 out of 100.

Super automatic: An espresso machine equipped with a bean hopper and grinder that can turn roasted beans into finished espresso with the touch of a single button.


Tamper: A tool used for evenly packing finely ground coffee into a portafilter in preparation for brewing espresso.

Technivorm: A company based in Amerongen, Netherlands that makes Moccamaster coffee makers.

Thermal carafe: A vessel for collecting, holding and serving coffee that is typically made of stainless steel and insulated by a double wall vacuum.

Total dissolved solids: A measure of the chemical substances in coffee that aren’t part of the water used to brew it—typically calculated with an instrument called a refractometer.

Turkish coffee: Coffee brewed with very finely ground coffee immersed directly in water and not filtered out before serving.



Vacuum coffee: See siphon coffee.

V60: Shorter version of Hario V60.


Whirley Pop: Stovetop popcorn maker invented in 1980 by Indiana farmer Mike Williams that has become popular as an affordable device for roasting coffee beans at home.




Are there any terms missing from our Coffee Glossary that you think ought to be there? Email us at and we’ll see if we can include them.