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Coffee Glossary


AA Capitalized letters are grade indicators usually describing the size of the bean. In Peru, for example, AAA is the largest bean; In India, A is the largest.

Acerbic A taste fault in the coffee brew giving an acrid and sour sensation on the tongue. The result of long-chained organic compounds due to excessive heat during the holding process after brewing.

Acid A normal characteristic of Arabica coffees, particularly of high-growth varieties. Some strains are sought for this particular taste (Kenya), which is influenced by the degree of roasting and does not seem to be objectively expressed by pH measurement. Experts recognize three types of acidity: 1) natural desirable: acid, 2) natural undesirable: sour, and 3) undesirable: process acidity (sometimes sought as a substitute for natural acidity but generally has a biting, puckery flavor.

Acidity A tart, tangy taste experienced mainly on the tip and side of the tongue. Acidity is the liveliness in coffee. In everyday conversation, "acidity" may sound unappealing, but in coffee terms it's actually a highly desirable quality. Not to be confused with the ph level, "palate acidity" is the brightness of flavor – without it, coffee tastes flat and dull. All good coffees have some acidity, but to varying degree. In general, the darker the coffee is roasted the less acidity it will have.

Acidy A primary coffee taste sensation created as acids in the coffee combine with the sugars to increase the overall sweetness of the coffee. Found most often in washed arabica coffees grown at elevations about 4,000 feet. A term used to describe a coffee in which this desirable cup characteristic occurs. Particularly desirable in Brazils and found in most Milds. Colombians have both acid and body. An acidy flavor is sharp and pleasing to the taste as opposed to sour, sourish, or fermented. It denotes a taste that has sharpness, snap, and life, compared to a sweet, heavy, mellow flavor. Old crops are never acidy.

Acrid A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly piercing sour sensation on the posterior sides of the tongue. Caused by higher-than-normal percentage of sour acids and a high concentration of salts. Typified by an unwashed Rio coffee from Brazil.

Aftertaste The result of vapors from the coffee beverage that linger on the palate after the liquid had been ingested or expectorated.

Aged Coffee Traditionally, coffee held in warehouses for several years. Such aging reduces the acidity and complexity of the coffee.

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Airpot A container in which coffee is poured into after brewing in order to maintain it's temperature without burning. Traditionally used in the food service channel.

All Method Grind Coffee which is ground slightly coarse in order to work in all types of coffeemakers. Usually used in mainstream coffees

Altura Spanish for "heights." It describes coffee that has been high grown.

American Forest Association Founded in 1875 is nation's oldest nonprofit citizens' conservation organization. The organization is a world leader in planting trees for environmental restoration, a pioneer in the science and practice of urban forestry, and a primary communicator of the benefits of trees and forests.

American Roast Coffee roasted to a medium brown color.

Ankola The seldom-used market name for Arabica coffee from northern Sumatra.

Aquapulp Term for a procedure in which the sticky fruit pulp, or mucilage, is removed from freshly picked coffee beans by scrubbing.

Arabica The earliest cultivated and most widely grown species of the coffee tree. It produces approximately 70 to 75% percent of the world's coffee and is viewed as superior to "Robusta" beans. Arabica coffee grows best between 2,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level, in warm climates along the equator. The predominant producing regions are Central America, South America and eastern Africa. Arabica's characteristics include a balanced aroma, sweet and acidic taste. It also has a higher price because of increased production costs." Coffee Arabica" is the species name assigned to the coffee tree by European botanist Linnaeus while categorizing the flora of the Arabian peninsula.

Armenia Rated one of the best coffees of Colombia, region in Colombia.

Aroma The fragrance that is released from brewed coffee. It will tell you how fresh your coffee is, as well as some of its traits.

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Aromatic Designates a coffee that fully manifests the aroma characteristic of its nature and origin.

Arusha Market name for coffee from the slopes of Mt. Meru in Tanzania.

Astringent A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly searing, salty sensation on the anterior sides of the tongue. Caused by acids increasing the saltiness. Typified by an unwashed Indonesian robusta coffee. Acids can cause astringency. In regard to coffee, astringency is identified with undesirable acidity.

Automatic Filter-Drip Coffee Makers Today's most common brewing method. Coffee brewers automatically heat and measure water into a filter and filter receptacle containing the ground coffee.

Bag A burlap sack of coffee. Weight differs from country to country. For example: in Brazil a bag is 132 pounds. In Colombia it is 154 pounds. In Hawaii it is 100 pounds. (132 pounds is the most common)

Baggy An off-taste often observed in cups from weakly roasted coffees that have been stored for a long time in unsuitable conditions.

Baked A taste and odor taint that gives the coffee brew a flat bouquet and insipid taste. The result of the roasting process proceeding with too little heat over too long a period. Generally unpleasant characteristic of having an over-baked taste in an over-heated coffee. Ranks in the following order of intensity: cooked, baked or burnt.

Balanced Tasting term applied to coffees for which no single characteristic overwhelms others.

Bamboo Filters Coffee filters made from minimally 60% bamboo, a naturally renewing resource.

Bani Market name for a good, low-acid coffee from the Dominican Republic.

Barahona Market name for coffee from the southwestern region of the Dominican Republic. It is considered to be the best coffee from that country.

Barista Italian term for a skillful and experienced espresso bar operator.

Basic Tastes Sweet, sour, salt, and bitter. Characterized respectively by sucrose, tartaric acid, sodium chloride, and quinine.

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Basket Filter Round shaped paper filter with a flat bottom and fluted sides. Used in electric coffeemakers, typically priced at under $50, with "basket-shaped" filter holder.

Batch Roaster A machine which roasts a given quantity or batch of coffee at one time.

Beany Specific aroma of an insufficiently roasted coffee that has not been able to develop its full aroma.

Bird-friendly Used almost interchangeably with "shade-grown." The shade trees that protect the coffee plants from the sun provide shelter for migrating birds. In turn, the birds help control insects on the coffee plants.

Bitter One of the four basic tastes, it is detected on the back of the tongue. A sharp biting taste, usually affected by the roasting and brewing procedures. A certain degree of bitterness adds to the fullness of coffee's flavor; also, it is a prominent aspect of very dark-roasted coffee. It is unpleasant in high degree, especially if due to over-extraction.

Black Beans Dead coffee beans that have dropped from the trees before harvesting. Used as the basic unit for counting imperfections in grading coffee on the New York Coffee Exchange. Has a detrimental effect on coffee taste.

Bland Lacking coffee flavor and characteristics. A primary coffee taste sensation created as the sugars in the coffee combine with the salts to reduce the overall saltiness of the coffee. Found most often in washed arabica coffees grown at elevations below 2,000 feet, such as a Guatemalan. Bland coffees range from soft to neutral.

Blend A mixture of coffee beans from more than one country of origin. Designed to create a specific flavor and aroma profile.

Blend After Roast (BAR) The process whereas each bean type within a blend is roasted to it's optimum for development and then blended prior to packing. This is opposed to "Blend Before Roast" where all bean types are blended in the green form and then roasted together

Body The viscosity or "thickness" of a coffee. Body can be described as "mouth feel" - quite literally, how a coffee feels in your mouth. It can range from full to light to thin. Light roasts have less and dark roasts have more.

Bouquet The overall aromatic profile of the fragrance, aroma, nose and aftertaste

Bourbon A botanical variety of Arabica Coffee .

Brackish A taste fault giving the coffee brew a salty and alkaline sensation. The result of salts and alkaline inorganic material left after evaporation of water from the brew due to excessive heat after brewing.

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Brazil Bourbon Santos Fruity coffee, Bourbon refers to a variety of Coffea arabica, which first appeared on the island of the same name (now Reunion Island). Santos refers to the port that the coffee shipped from. Historically the main point of export for coffee.

Bready Bready taste manifests in coffees that have not been roasted long enough or at a high enough temperature to bring out the flavor oils.

Brew The process of coffee extraction via heated water in contact with ground coffee

Brew Head The fixture protruding from the front of most espresso machines

Brickpack Ground coffee vacuum packed in foil packaging. End product resembles a hard brick. If soft, package has a leak and is letting oxygen back in to contact with the coffee.

Bright Tangy acidity is often described as bright.

Briny The salty sensation caused by excessive heat after brewing. You'll recognize it as the familiar smell of "truck stop" coffee.

Bucaramanga Very low acid, mellow Colombian coffee, region in Colombia.

Bugishu Market name for Arabica coffee from the slopes of Mt. Elgon in Uganda.

Burr Grinder Also known as a Burr Mill. Coffee grinder with two shredding discs or burrs that can be adjusted for maximum effectiveness.

Buttery Describes a full-bodied coffee with an oily and rich mouth feel. Most often a characteristic of high coffee-to-water ratio brews.

Café au Lait Traditional French beverage, combination of equal parts French Roast coffee and hot steamed milk, served in an oversized mug. A popular beverage in specialty coffeehouses. In France usually enjoyed as the morning refreshment.

Cafe Noir Coffee served without cream or milk. Cafe is French for coffee and noir is French for black.

Caffe Americano An espresso that is cut with very hot water to fill an American size cup.

Caffe Latte A serving of espresso combined with three times the amount of hot milk and then topped with froth.

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Caffe Mocha A chocolate cafe latte often prepared with whipped cream on top.

Caffeine An odorless, bitter alkaloid responsible for the stimulating effect of coffee and tea.

Canephora The coffee species second in importance to Coffea arabica, Coffea robusta is known by botanists as Coffea canephora.

Cappuccino An espresso drink comprised of one serving of espresso topped with hot milk and froth. Cappuccino gets its name from the Italian order of Catholic Capuchin monks, whose hooded robes resemble the drink's cap of foam in shape and color.

Capsule A plastic cylinder that holds ground coffee and is placed in certain types of single serve coffeemakers

Capulin Smooth, low acid coffee, subtle but complex flavor, unwashed, sun-dried, hand sorted. Nayarit Province of Mexico.

Caracas A class of Venezuelan coffees ranging from fair to excellent in quality.

Caramelized Corresponds to the taste acquired by roasted beans that have been dipped in sugar, dextrin syrup, or molasses before roasting. Also perceived in spray-dried instant coffees.

Caramelly A sweet note reminiscent of candy or syrup produced by caramelizing sugar without burning it.

Carbony An aromatic roasted or burnt taste, found in very dark-roasted coffees.

Caustic A detrimental coffee taste sensation characterized by burning, sour sensation on the posterior sides of the tongue. Caused by alkaloids increasing the sourness of the acids in combination with a high percentage of salts.

Celebes Rich flavor, light body, low acid. Also referred to as Sulawesi.

Central Hard Bean High altitude coffee beans grown in Central America. Extremely high quality

Centrals Generic term for beans grown in Central America

Certified Organically Grown Refers to coffee beans that are grown and processed according to a rigorous set of guidelines that are monitored at each stage by an independent certifying agency. The guidelines specify the type of allowable inputs of organic fertilizers, integrated pest management, and other organic weed and fungus controls.

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Chaff Chaff is paper-like stuff that appears though the roasting process. These little brown flakes are fragments of the innermost skin (the silverskin) of the coffee fruit that still cling to the beans after processing has been completed. Roasting causes these bits of skin to lift off the bean.

Chanchamayo The market name for a respected coffee from south-central Peru

Cherry Common name for the fruit of the coffee tree. Each cherry contains two regular coffee beans, or one peaberry.

Chiapas A coffee-growing state in southern Mexico. At their best, Chiapas coffees display the brisk acidity, delicate flavor, and light to medium body of the better-known Mexican coffees of Oaxaca and Vera Cruz States.

Chicory The root of the endive, roasted and ground, it is blended with coffee in New Orleans-style coffee.

Chipinga A region in eastern Zimbabwe that produces the countries best coffees.

Chocolaty A flavor reminiscent of unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder.

Cinnamon Roast Given its name due to its color. Beans light roasted are very mild and sweet with pronounced nut-like flavor and high acidity

Clean A coffee cupping term describing a coffee sample that is free from flavor defects. It has a clear and refined texture in the mouth; opposite of dry.

Coarse A coffee that is rough on the tongue.

Coarse Grind Easily depicted by large chunks. Used predominantly in percolators, urns and open-pot brewers. Allows very slow flavor extraction

Coatepec, Altura Coatepec Region in Mexico producing high-grown coffee

Coban The market name for a high-grown coffee from north-central Guatemala.

Coffee Oil The volatile coffee essence developed in a bean during roasting.

Cold-Water Method A brewing method in which ground coffee is soaked in a small amount of cold water for approximately fifteen minutes. The grounds are then strained out and the resulting coffee is stored and mixed with hot water as needed. This method produces a low-acid, light-bodied cup of coffee that some find delectable and others find tasteless.

Colombia The standard Colombian coffee is a wet-processed coffee produced by small holders, collected, milled and exported by the Colombian Coffee Federation. It is sold by grade (Supremo highest) rather than by market name or region. It can range from superb high-grown, classic, mildly fruity Latin-America coffee to rather ordinary, edge-of-fermented fruity coffee.

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Commercial Coffees Packaged, pre-ground coffees sold by brand name.

Complex A taste or aroma with many aspects (as opposed to simple).

Cone Filter Conical shaped paper filter with a tapered bottom and crimped sides. Used in higher end electric coffeemakers with "cone-shaped" filter holder. Shape considered to be superior to traditional "basket" filters due to improved coffee saturation.

Cooked A typical taste of an instant coffee treated at too high a temperature.

Costa Rica The best Costa Rican coffees display a full body and clean, robust acidity that make them among the most admired of Central American coffees.

Costa Rica Central Valley Region in Costa Rica on the slopes of the Poas, Barva and Irazu volcanoes with altitudes of 4500 to 5000 ft. Coffee is known for excellent body and finesse.

Costa Rica Orosi City in Costa Rica with surrounding area producing perfect balance between body and acidity in coffee.

Costa Rica Tarrazu Bright, crisp acidity and intense flavor, good body and exceptional aroma. Region in Costa Rica producing high-quality coffee. "The Land of the Saints" is in western Costa Rica, and has altitudes reaching 6000 ft.

Costa Rica Tres Rios Lively, tangy and fragrant, smooth and well balanced. Region in Costa Rica producing high quality coffee on the eastern outskirts of San Jose.

Costa Rica West Valley Region in Costa Rica with altitudes at 3000 to 3500 ft. Naranjo, Palmares and San Ramon are coffee-producing communities at these altitudes, producing coffee with good aroma and balanced cup.

Creamy Moderately high level of oily material suspended in the coffee beverage. The result of pronounced amounts of fats present in the beans.

Crema The caramel colored foam that appears on top of a shot of espresso during the brewing period. It soon dissipates after brewing. The crema makes a 'cap', which helps retain the aromatics and flavors of the espresso within the cup. The presence of crema indicates an acceptable brew. Crema is caused by colloids and lipids being forced out into an emulsion under the pressure of an espresso machine.

Creosol A supplemental coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly scratching sensation at the back of the tongue. Caused by the high percentage of phenolic compounds created by a dark roast.

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Crimping Used to attach ends of cone filter paper without the use of adhesives. Process includes embossing paper to fuse multiple layers together via engraved metal embossing dies, extreme pressure, and or heat.

Cucata Market name for coffee grown in northeastern Colombia.

Cup Character A means of describing a cup of coffee that includes the coffee's aroma, fragrance, acidity, body, sweetness, after taste and freshness.

Cupping A procedure used by professional tasters to perform sensory evaluation of samples of coffee beans. Tasting wine is called "tasting", while tasting coffee is called "cupping".

Dark Roast Surface is dark brown and lightly coated with oil; burnt notes become noticeable, acidity low.

Decaffeination Process Coffees are decaffeinated in the green state, currently by one of four methods: direct solvent method, indirect solvent method, water only method or carbon dioxide method.

Degassing A natural process in which recently roasted coffee releases carbon dioxide gas, temporarily protecting the coffee from the staling impact of oxygen.

Delicate A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by fragile sweet-subtle sensation just past the tip of the tongue. Caused by the lowest possible combination of sugars and salts that still produce a sweet cast to the taste, a combination easily broken up by other taste sensations. Typified by a washed New Guinea arabica coffee.

Demitasse A French term meaning 'half cup'. It is a small, half size cup used for serving espresso.

Demucilage A term for a procedure in which the sticky fruit pulp, or mucilage, is removed from freshly picked coffee beans by scrubbing in machines.

Dilution Adding water to coffee during or after the brewing process to adjust the beverage strength or yield.

Dirty Literally a dirty flavor, not earthy or musty.

Disc Coffee Filter Designed specifically for use in percolator-style coffeemakers. Round shaped paper coffee filter designed to trap bitter coffee grounds and sediment during the brewing process.

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Djimah A coffee from Ethiopia.

Dominican Republic High-grown Dominican coffee is a fairly rich, acidy coffee with classic Caribbean characteristics. Lower grown Dominican coffees tend to be softer and less acidy.

Doppio A double espresso or 1.5-3.0 oz of straight espresso.

Doser A spring-loaded device on specialized espresso grinders that dispenses single servings of ground coffee.

Double Picked The process whereas the coffee has been subjected to hand picking twice rather than once to remove imperfect beans, pebbles, and other foreign matter.

Drip Grind The most prevalent in supermarkets. Matches well with electric drip and basket brewers. Allows for good saturation in basket brewers.

Drip Method A brewing method that allows hot water to settle through a bed of ground coffee.

Dry A coffee with a parching or drying finish. It can also be called astringent.

Dull A coffee is dull if it gives an impression of roundness but at the same time lacks character. Dull comes close to the meaning of flat.

Earthiness Depending on the context, it can be a taste defect or a desirable flavor with an aromatic fresh soil or wet earth characteristic

Earthy An odor taint in the coffee beans that produces a dirt-like taste sensation. Results when fats in the coffee beans absorb organic materials from the ground in the drying process during harvesting. Also referred to as dirty and ground. The undesirable odor and taste of freshly turned soil is found in low-graded batches. Due to poor preparation conditions and botanical origins of the green coffee. Reminiscent of potato flavor also found in instant coffees.

El Salvador El Salvador coffees tend toward softer, less acidy versions of the classic Central America flavor profile. The best high-grown El Salvador's from trees of the bourbon and pacamara varieties can be fragrant, complex, lively, and gentle.

Espresso Used to describe both a roast of coffee and a method of brewing in which hot water is forced under pressure through a compressed bed of finely ground coffee. Traditional Italian coffee cordial, enjoyed afternoons and evenings: 1 1/2 ounces of pressure brewed coffee, served in a demitasse cup. The essence of coffee. Espresso is meant to be savored, with the bittersweet flavors coating one's tastebuds.Comes from the Latin word "Expresere" which means, "to press out."

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Espresso Breve Espresso with half and half.

Espresso Grind Powder-like grind allows for instantaneous extraction, flushing oils, flavor and the essence of the coffee into the cup

Espresso Lungo A shot that is pulled long for a bit of extra espresso. While many believe this maximizes the caffeine, in most shops this merely produces a bitter cup.

Espresso Macchiato Espresso with a minimal amount (or "mark") of steamed milk on top.

Espresso Ristretto Literally "restricted" espresso. A shorter draw. The goal being a thicker and more flavorful espresso.

Espresso Roast A roast of coffee that is darker than French Roast. It is almost black in color with a shiny surface, bittersweet in flavor, and an overlay of burned or charcoal-like tones.

Estate Coffee Coffee produced by a single farm, single mill, or single group of farms.

Ethiopia Bebeka Lowland plantation-grown washed coffee. Government owned plantation.

Ethiopia Djimmah Region in Ethiopia producing natural coffee, usually used in blends.

Ethiopia Ghimbi (Lekempti) Natural coffee from Wellega region. Light to medium acidity, clean cup with fruity character.

Ethiopia Harrar Region and city in Ethiopia. Legendary for mocha flavor, very distinctive unwashed character.

Ethiopia Limmu Name given to washed coffee from Djimmah. Exhibits winy characteristics.

Ethiopia Sidamo Region in Ethiopia, fairly balanced cup regarding acidity and body. Both washed and natural.

Ethiopia Tepi Lowland plantation-grown washed coffee from Kaffa region. Government owned plantation.

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Premium quality from highest elevation in Sidamo region. Washed, clean cup with lemon-like acidity.

European Preparation Used to describe coffee from which imperfect beans, pebbles, and other foreign matter have been removed by hand.

Exotic Refers to a coffee with unusual aromatic and flavor notes, such as floral, berry, and sweet spice-like qualities. Coffees from East Africa and Indonesia often have such characteristics.

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Extra Fine Grind Specially designed for cone coffee brewers to allow for higher extraction

Extraction Removing coffee flavoring materials, soluble solids from roasted and ground coffee through contact with water

Fair Trade Coffee Coffee that has been purchased from farmers at a "fair" price as defined by international agencies.

Fermented A taste fault in the coffee beans producing a highly displeasing sour sensation on the tongue. The result of enzyme activity in the green coffee beans changing the sugars to acids in the drying process during harvesting.

Filter Method Any brewing method in which water filters through a bed of ground coffee. Also describes drip method brewers utilizing a paper filter to separate grounds from brewed coffee.

Finca Individual farm or estate growing high quality coffee beans. Often Finca's grow, process and export only their own coffee.

Fine Grind Designed for Neapolitan drip pots and cone shaped coffee brewers

Finish The sensory experience of coffee just as it is swallowed

Five Horseman Blend Coffee quality delivered against contract that is one of the following: Prime Mexican, Central Standard El Salvador, Prime Guatemalan, Standard Honduras, Hard Bean Costa Rica.

Flat A lifeless coffee lacking in any acidity.

Flavor Is the combination of aroma, acidity, and body. It can be balanced, or dominated by one quality. Flavor can also be used to describe the other notes that are found in coffee such as chocolate, fruit, or flowers

Flavor Defects Unpleasant flavor characteristics caused by problems during picking, processing, drying, sorting, storage, or transportation. Harshness and sourness are two of the most widely used negative epithets. Harshly flavored coffees are unpleasantly bitter, sharp, or irritating. Terms like grassy, hidey, barnyard fermented, musty, and Rioy (medicinal) describe even more dramatically undesirable flavor characteristics.

Flavored Coffees Coffees that in their roasted, whole-bean form have been mixed with flavoring agents.

Floral Reminiscent of flowers.

Four Horseman Blend Coffee quality delivered against contract that is one of the following: Prime Mexican, Central Standard El Salvador, Prime Guatemalan, Standard Honduras.

Frac Pack Coffee packed in small soft foil bags which typically make only one 10 cup pot. Fracs (short for fractional) are the most common package type within the food service industry. Some are also sold in the grocery channel. Typically shelf life is only 3 to 4 months so it is common that product tastes stale when purchased.

Fragrance As a specialized term in cupping, or sensory evaluation of coffee, fragrance describes the scent of dry coffee immediately after it has been ground, but before it is brewed.

French Press Brewing method that separates spent grounds from brewed coffee by pressing them to the bottom of the brewing receptacle with a mesh plunger. Also referred to as a plunger pot.

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French Roast Dark roasted coffee that tastes bittersweet. The bean is roasted high enough to bring the natural oil of the coffee to the surface.

Fresh Opposite of stale. Applies to roasted coffees. It usually applies to recently manufactured coffees and teas and those which have not been on the shelf so long as to become stale.

Frothed Milk Milk that is heated and frothed with steam, used in specialty drinks such as cappuccino and lattes

Frother Electric or battery operated hand held device that froths milk for cappuccino. Also, the steam wand used for the same purpose that is attached to some coffeemakers

Fruity Indicates a sweet, aromatic flavor like citrus or berries

Full A prefix to good characteristics such as acidity, body, or range of flavors, to indicate a strong character.

Full-City Roast Term for coffee brought to degrees of roast somewhat darker that the traditional American norm, but lighter that the classic dark roast.

Fully Automatic Coffeemakers that with one push of the button grind the whole bean coffee, initiate the brewing process, and then pour brewed coffee into a single cup. Higher end machines also steam milk for cappuccino's and latte's

Ghimbi A wet-processed coffee from western Ethiopia.
Gourmet Coffee A generic term typically used for higher end premium coffees made with 100% arabica coffees. True gourmet coffees should use only 100% high grown coffees

Grading The criteria used for grading coffee beans include, but are not limited to 1) Number of physical defects in a sample of beans. For example, black, broken or cracked beans, stones and sticks; 2) Altitude of the coffee growth; 3) Age of the beans; 4) Cup flavor characteristics

Grassy A odor taint giving the coffee beans a distinct herbal character similar to freshly mown alfalfa combined with the astringency of green grass. Created by the prominence of nitrogen compounds in the green beans while the cherries are maturing. Typical taste of unripe beans and of certain freshly harvested coffee batches, corresponding to the beginning of the harvest.

Green Coffee Unroasted coffee.

Green Coffee Processing Cherries are ripe when they have reached a bright red color. At this point, you may either dry- or wet process them. The wet (washed) method, primarily used for Arabica's, uses a hulling machine to remove the beans from the cherry and completes the cleaning stage with water. Wet processed coffee has greater acidity and a clean flavor, and is free from undesirable elements. The dry (unwashed) method involves drying the entire fruit in the sun before removing the beans from the pulp. It is commonly used in countries where sufficient water is not available, such as Brazil and Ethiopia. Dry processed coffees have a heavier body and can develop an off-taste or be inconsistent.

Grinder Grinds whole bean coffee. There are basically two different types of grinders for home use. One works with blades and is less expensive, but because it does not grind beans uniformly, it is generally best for use with manual and automatic drip coffeemakers with paper filters. The other type has burrs, like commercial grinders, that grind more uniformly and are thus suited for use with any type of coffeemaker.

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Guatemala Guatemala is a complex coffee origin. Hard Bean grade coffees from the central highlands tend to exhibit a rich, spicy or floral acidity and excellent body. Coffees from mountainous areas exposed to either Pacific or Caribbean weather tend to display less acidity and more fruit.

Guatemala Antigua Region in Guatemala stated to be the birthplace for all coffee in Guatemala, with majestic volcanoes: Fuego, Agua and Acatenengo.

Guatemala Atitlan Region in Guatemala framed by three volcanoes: Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro, and containing lake Atitlan. Small plantations in this region often use avocado trees to shade the coffee plants.

Guatemala Coban Region in Guatemala containing rugged limestone mountains that have rainfall all year.

Guatemala Fraijanes Located south of Guatemala City, this region is so high in altitude, and it is not always considered a plateau, with soil frequently nourished by Guatemala's most active volcano, Pacaya.

Guatemala Huehuetenango Region in Guatemala located northwest of Guatemala City. Surrounded by mountains and many rivers, which nourish its soil.

Guatemala Oriente Easternmost gourmet coffee region in Guatemala with the newest plantation.

Guatemala San Marcos Region west of Guatemala City, has the country's two highest volcanoes, Tacana and Tajumulco, the latter being the highest in Central America at 13,800 ft.

Haiti The best Haiti coffees are low acid, medium-bodied, soft and rich. Virtually all Haiti coffees entering the United States are produced by a large group of cooperatives and marketed under the name Haitian Bleu.

Hard Bean The term often used to describe coffees grown at relatively high altitudes, 4,000 to 4,500 feet. Coffee grown above 4,500 feet is referred to as strictly hard bean. The higher altitudes and lower temperatures produce a slower-maturing fruit and a harder, less porous bean. Hard bean coffees are traditionally excellent in quality

Harrar The best of the dry-processed coffees of Ethiopia grown in eastern Ethiopia near the city of Harrar. Usually light-bodied, but fragrant with complex fruit or floral-toned acidity.

Harsh Unpleasant taste. similar to bitter, charred or earthy. Characteristic often found in Robusta coffee.

Harvesting Harvesting methods primarily depend on flowering cycle and terrain. There are three harvesting methods: Selective (or individual) picking of the ripe cherries is used primarily on farms producing high grade Arabica's, because only the ripe cherries are picked. Strip Picking removing all cherries from the branch in one rapid movement. This is not a desirable method of harvesting, because cherries which are at different stages of ripening are picked. Mechanical Harvesting (agitating trees with machines) has limited application, because it requires relatively level terrain and long, even rows of trees.

Hawaiian Kona A single-origin coffee from the Kona coast of the Island of Hawaii. It displays classic balance, with medium body, good acidity, and rich, complex aroma and flavor.

Heavy A moderately high level of solid material suspended in the coffee beverage. Result of fine particles of bean fiber and insoluble proteins present in pronounced amounts.

Heavy Roast Coffee beans roasted to a very dark brown, with a shiny surface; equivalent to Italian Roast.

Herbal An aroma reminiscent of grass, dried herbs or grains, or fresh foliage.

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Heredia The market name for a respected coffee of Costa Rica.

Hidey An odor taint that gives the coffee beans a tallowy and leather-like odor. Result of a breakdown of fats in the coffee beans, due to an excessive amount of heat applied in the drying process during harvesting, usually when dried with a mechanical dryer.

High Grown Coffee grown at altitudes of 3,500 feet above sea level or higher

High Roast A term for coffee brought to degrees of roast somewhat darker than the traditional American norm, but lighter than the classic dark roast such as espresso, French, or Italian.

Hydrolyzed: Refers to conventional type of instant coffee having an undesirable acidity due to treatment. Generally associated with over-extraction.

India Mysore From Karnatake state (formerly Mysore)

Indian Monsooned Malabar Extremely low acid coffee, complex flavored bean, created by leaving Mysore beans out in open silos during the Indian monsoon season. Malabar is a region in India.

Indonesia Catchall phrase for coffee from Java, Celebes or Sumatra. Indonesia coffees are usually marketed under the name of the island of origin. Most are distinguished by full body, rich flavor, and a low-toned, vibrant acidity.

Insipid A taste taint giving the coffee brew a lifeless character, due to a loss of organic material in the coffee bean. Result of oxygen and moisture penetrating the bean fiber after roasting.

Intensity A qualitative measure of the number and relative strengths of the gases and vapors present in the bouquet of the coffee.

International Coffee Agreement (ICA) The ICA is an international trade agreement, created in 1962, to stabilize the supply of coffee between producing and consuming countries. The agreement ensures adequate supplies at fair prices to consumers, as well as sufficient profits for producers to continue production. This agreement expired on July 4, 1989, and has not been re-established since then. Coffee is now traded in a free market economy, based on supply and demand.

International Coffee Organization (ICO) This organization, based in London, England, was established in 1963 to administer the International Coffee Agreement (ICA). The International Coffee Organization membership includes 74 countries, including 50 exporting members and 24 importing members. The ICO is not a cartel or a monopoly; producing and consuming nations have equal numbers of votes.

Italian Roast A roast of coffee similar to espresso. Usually dark brown in color and rich and bittersweet in flavor, but may range in color to almost black, and in flavor to nearly burned.

Jamaica Blue Mountain A celebrated single-origin coffee from above 3,000 feet elevation in the Blue Mountain District of Jamaica. It is a balanced classic coffee with rich flavor, full body, and a smooth yet vibrant acidity. These characteristics and its relatively short supply have made it one of the world's most celebrated coffees.

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Java Java coffees are grown on large Indonesian farms or estates, operated by the government, and are wet-processed using modern methods.

Jinotegoa The market name for a respected Nicaragua coffee.

Kalossi A growing region in the southeastern highlands of Sulawesi. It is distinguished by full body, expansive flavor, and a low-toned, vibrant acidity.

Kauai Hawaiian island producing smooth, medium body coffee with low/medium acidity

Kenya Kenya coffees are celebrated for their deep, winy acidity, resonant cup presence, and complex fruit and berry tones. Of the world's great coffees, Kenyan is the most widely available and consistent in quality.

Kenya AA Rich and sweet with a hint of black currant. "AA" refers to grade and size of the beans.

Kona Hawaiian region, smooth, medium body, low/medium acidity. Believed by some to be the best overall coffee available.

Lavado Fino The finest grade of Venezuela coffee.

Light Roast A coffee brought to a degree of roast of coffee lighter that the traditional American norm. Can be weak and thin.

Limu The market name for a respected floral and fruity, wet-processed coffee from south-central Ethiopia.

Lively A coffee with high palate acidity.

Low Acid Coffee that has gone through a process to reduce or eliminate it's ph acid content. Products produced for those consumers that suffer from acid sensitivity or acid reflux

Macchiato Either a serving of espresso "stained" or marked with a small quantity of hot frothed milk (espresso macchiato).

Macchinetta A relatively inexpensive, traditional Italian coffeemaker that delivers coffee by boiling water and creating enough steam pressure to climb through the grounds. The higher water temperature causes the cup to be strong but somewhat thin and bitter, by comparison to espresso produced by the pump variety of machines.

Mainstream Coffee Generic term for everyday grocery store coffees. These coffees are typically inexpensive and are a blend of lower grade arabica coffees and/or robusta coffees.

MAM An acronym for Medellín, Armenia, and Manizales, three of the best and most famous coffees of Colombia. To simplify large-scale coffee contracts, coffees from these three regions are sold together as MAM.

Mandheling The most famous coffee of Sumatra, Indonesia. From the Lake Toba area toward the northern end of the island.

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Manual A non-electric coffeemaker that utilizes a "pour-over" method for coffee brewing process. Viewed by traditionalists as the superior method for coffee extraction, near boiling water is poured over ground coffee contained in a cone-style filter. Process creates turbulence which evenly soaks and distributes the ground coffee which then drips through a paper filter that traps sediments and oils.

Matagalpa The market name for a respected coffee of Nicaragua.

Matari The market name for one of the most admired coffees of Yemen.

Mature Coffee Coffee held in warehouses for two to three years. Mature coffee has been held longer than old crop coffee. Usually provides a flavor that is not favorable

Medicinal A detrimental coffee taste sensation characterized by a penetrating sour sensation on the posterior sides of the tongue. Caused by alkaloids increasing the sourness of the acids without any taste modulation of sweetness.

Medium Roast Coffee beans roasted to the American norm.

Melitta Bentz The inventor of drip style coffee preparation. In 1908 in Minden Germany, Melitta Bentz (a German housewife) experimented with a brass pot and her son's blotting paper to devise a method of coffee preparation where hot water was poured over ground coffee contained in the paper "filter". Previously, to make coffee people soaked ground coffee in a pot of boiling water and then strained the grounds out of the coffee. Melitta's Bentz's invention is the precursor to modern day drip coffeemakers.

Merida The market name for one of the most respected and most characteristic Venezuelan coffees.

Mexico Altura High grown coffee from Mexico, light with snappy, nutty flavor.

Mexico Chiapas Region in Mexico where coffee is produced; best coffee is from closest to the Guatemala border.

Mild A rounded and balanced coffee that is smooth and mellow. Can also be used to describe coffee with lower ph acidity

Milling The mechanical removal of the dry parchment skin or the entire dried fruit husk from wet-processed coffee beans.

Minibrick Smaller version of a brickpack. Vacuum packed in foil packaging. The small hard package is typically produced in a size that only makes one 10 cup pot of coffee.

Mocha A single-origin coffee from Yemen; also a drink combining chocolate and usually espresso coffee. It is the world's oldest commercially cultivated coffee.

Moldy Coffee may acquire a moldy taste if kept in poor conditions. Moldiness also depends on conditions during the pulping and cleaning of green beans.

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Monsooned Coffee Dry-processed, single-origin coffee from southern India deliberately exposed to monsoon winds in open warehouse to increase body and reduce acidity.

Moshi The market name for coffee from the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Musty A pleasant "old" or "cellared" aroma sometimes found in aged coffees.

Narino Supremo Highest quality and largest bean from Colombia.

Natural Brown Paper Coffee filter paper made from unbleached pulp with no bleaching agents added.

Neapolitan Macchinetta A style of drip method brewer in which the ground coffee is secured in a two-sided strainer at the waist of the pot between two closed compartments. The brewing water is heated in one compartment, then the pot is flipped over, and the hot water drips through the coffee into the opposite compartment.

Neapolitan Roast A term for coffee brought to a degree of roast darker than the typical espresso roast, but not quite black.

Neutral A secondary coffee taste characterized by the absence of a predominant taste sensation on any part of the tongue but causing a distinct parching sensation on the sides of the tongue. Caused by a concentration of salts high enough to neutralize both acids and sugars but not enough to provoke a salty sensation. Typified by washed Uganda robusta coffee.

New Guinea A single-origin coffee from Papua New Guinea. The best-known New Guinea coffees are produced on very large, state of the art estates that produce a very well prepared, clean, fragrant, deeply dimensioned, moderately acidy coffee.

New Orleans Coffee Traditionally, dark-roast coffee blended with up to 40 percent roasted and ground chicory roots.

Nicaragua Medium body coffee, medium to high acidity.

Nitrogen Flushed A process that utilizes nitrogen to remove the oxygen from packaged coffees in order to preserve it's freshness

Nose The sensation of the vapors released from brewed coffee as they are exhaled while swallowing. Ranges from caramelly to nutty to malty.

Nutty Reminiscent of freshly roasted peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc.

Oaxaca Pluma Market name for coffee from the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca.

Ocoa The market name for one of the well-respected coffees of the Dominican Republic.

Oily A term sometimes used to denote a coffee that has a roasted oily taste due to a high degree of roasting or an oily coffee having a greasy but not rancid taste.

Open Pot Method A brewing method in which the ground coffee is steeped (not boiled) in an open pot, and separated from the brewed coffee by settling or straining.

Organic Coffee Coffee that has been grown and processed without the use of pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals.

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Oxygen Cleansed Paper A cleaning process of pulp that typically involves the use of peroxide compounds. Oxygen is released by these compounds which accomplishes the cleansing and color removing action.

Paper Filters Disposable coffee filters made from paper. Can be cone or basket shaped. Considered superior to permanent filters due to its ability to trap coffee oils and sediments. In addition to improving flavor, some scientific studies have indicated that trapping these oils and sediments decrease level of cholesterol in coffee

Papua New Guinea Rich and tangy coffee with medium body.

Pare The market names for coffee from the south of Tanzania.

Past Crop Coffee that is sold for processing more than a year after it was harvested. Typically flavor has off notes and is sold at a discount for blending into mainstream and institutional coffees

Peaberry A small, round bean formed when only one seed, rather than the usual two, develops at the heart of the coffee fruit. Frequently, peaberries are separated and sold as a distinct grade of coffee.

Percolation A method of coffee brewing in which hot water filters down through a bed of ground coffee.

Permanent Filter A reusable "sieve" made from plastic and/or metal. Must be washed after each use. Unlike disposable paper filters, does not trap all sediments and oils from coffee.

Piston Machine An espresso machine that uses a piston operated by a lever to force brewing water at high pressure through the compacted bed of ground coffee.

Pod For use in one cup pod coffeemakers. Pod encompasses an enclosed disc shaped filter that contains coffee grounds. Premium pods are wrapped in air tight foil pouches to preserve freshness.

Polishing An optional procedure at the end of coffee processing in which the dried, shipment-ready beans are polished to remove silverskin and improve their appearance. Polishing does nothing to help flavor and often alters the taste, therefore most specialty coffee buyers do not encourage this practice.

Premium Coffee Generic term for coffees that are made with 100% arabica coffee beans

Pump Machine An espresso machine that uses a pump to force high-pressure brewing water through the compacted bed of ground coffee.

Pungent Often describes strong, full flavor that can be very pleasant

Pyrolysis The temperature (around 465F/240C) at which chemical changes in roasting coffee beans cause them to emit their own heat, thus raising the temperature of the roasting chamber.

Quakers Defective coffee beans that remain light colored and fail to roast properly.

Rich An indicator of a coffee with depth and complexity of flavor, full body, and an overall satisfying taste.

Ristretto This is the strongest and most concentrated espresso drink. It is made with half the amount of water but the same amount of coffee as a regular espresso. It is pure, intense, and wonderful in taste. Ristretto in Italian means "restricted."

Roasty A bittersweet smoky or carbony flavor created by dark-roasting coffee. It can sometimes be described as the taste of the roast, rather than an inherent flavor of the bean.

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Robusta Robusta (row-bus-ta) coffee represents 25% of the world’s coffee production. Robusta grows from sea level to 2,000 feet, in wet valley lands and humid tropical forests. The predominant producing regions are West Africa and Indonesia. Compared to Arabica, Robusta characteristics include a higher caffeine content, stronger flavor and heavier body. Robusta trees yields are double those of Arabica, and are more resistant to disease and insects. The coffee industry uses Robusta in soluble coffee, instant coffee, and as a price stabilizer in blends.

Rounded A balanced coffee whose basic characteristics are just at the right level, with none particularly apparent, giving the impression of roundness.

Santos A market name for a category of high-quality coffee from Brazil.

Scorched An unpleasant bitter or acrid taste, created by brewing coffee with boiling water.

Semi-Dry Processed Coffee Coffee prepared by removing the outer skin of the coffee fruit and drying the skinned coffee with the sticky mucilage and the inner skins still adhering to the bean.

Shade Grown Refers to coffee trees that are interspersed with various species of trees that intermittently protect the coffee from the direct rays of the sun

Sharp A primary coffee taste sensation created as acids in the coffee combine with salts to increase the overall saltiness. Characteristic found most often in unwashed robusta coffee. Sharp coffee ranges from rough to astringent.

Shelf Life The amount of time a packaged coffee has from the time it was packed to the time it begins to taste stale. Traditionally, canned and brickpack coffees have a shelf life of 18 to 24 months. Nitrogen flushed bagged coffees typically have a shelf life of between 12 and 18 months.

Sidamo The market name for a fruity wet-processed coffee from southern Ethiopia.

Silverskin The thin, innermost skin of the coffee fruit. It clings to the dried coffee beans until it is either removed by polishing or floats free during roasting.

Single Serve Generic term for coffeemakers that brew one cup of coffee at a time. Most popular single serve machine for the home utilizes coffee "pods". Most institutional single serve machines utilize coffee "capsules".

Single-Origin Unblended coffee from a single country, region, and crop.

Sivetz Roaster A type of coffee roaster named after inventor Michael Sivetz. A roasting apparatus that works like a giant popcorn popper by utilizing a column of forced hot air to simultaneously agitate and roast green coffee beans. Also known by the generic terms Fluid Bed Roaster, Fluidized Bed Roaster, and Air Roaster.

Smoky A naturally occurring aroma of wood smoke, or a synonym for roasty.

Smooth A coffee low in palate acidity.

Sock Usually made of cotton and looks like a sock. Coffee is placed inside it and infuse in hot water. This method seems to be preferred in South American countries

Soft Bean Coffee grown at relatively low altitudes (under 4,000 ft). The lower altitudes and consequently warmer temperatures produce a faster maturing fruit and a lighter, more porous bean.

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Sour A primary coffee taste sensation created as acids in the coffee combine with salts to increase overall saltiness. Characteristic found most often in unwashed robusta coffees. Soury ranges from hard to acrid.

Sour Not to be confused with acidity. A distinctly sour, rank or rancid taste is a defect, often due to improper processing.

Specialty Coffee The practice of selling coffees by country of origin, roast, flavoring, or special blend, rather than by brand or trademark.

Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Headquartered in Long Beach, California, an important and influential association of specialty coffee roasters, wholesalers, retailers, importers and growers

Spicy Aromatics reminiscent of various spices, detectable either when smelling or tasting coffee. Also, a slightly "hot" sensation in the finish.

Stale Coffee that has been exposed to oxygen and/or moisture for too long becomes flat and tastes of cardboard.

Steam Wand A small, protruding pipe on most espresso machines that provides steam for the milk-frothing operation. Also known as a nozzle, piper or stylus.

Strength The ratio of ground coffee to water.

Strong Coffee giving a pungent impression in the cup, rich in flavor. Developed by roasting or having a consistent mouth feel.

Sulawesi A single-origin coffee from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Sumatra Full bodied syrupy, earthy coffee.

Sumatra Ankola Usually rated a top quality coffee from Sumatra.

Sun Drying The process of drying coffee directly after picking or after fruit removal, by exposing it to the heat of the sun by spreading and raking it in thin layers on drying racks or patios.

Supremo The highest grade of Colombia coffee.

Sustainable agriculture A very broad term referring to farming practices that emphasize the long-term health of the soil and the environment. Sustainable agriculture methods include erosion control, composting, shading and biological pest control.

Sweet One of the four basic tastes, detected at the tip of the tongue. A mild coffee with sweet fruity, caramelly, or chocolaty flavors.

Swiss Water Process A trademarked decaffeination method that removes caffeine from coffee beans using hot water, steam, and activated charcoal rather than chemicals or solvents.

Syrupy Sweet, rich, and viscous mouth feel.

Tainted A coffee with a slightly defective flavor.

Tamper In espresso brewing, the small, pestle-like device with a round, flat end used to distribute and compress the ground coffee inside the filter basket.

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Tangy A darting sourness, almost fruit-like in nature, related to winey-ness.

Tanzania Clean flavored coffee, brisk acidity

Tart A secondary coffee taste sensation characterized by a predominantly puckering, sour sensation along the sides of the tongue. Caused by higher-than-normal percentage of sour acids, almost giving the taste a puckering sensation.

Thermal Block A system for heating water in espresso brewers that uses coils of pipe enclosed inside a heating element or hot water tank.

Thin A relatively low level of solid material suspended in the coffee beverage. A result of fine particles of bean fiber and insoluble proteins present in imperceptible amounts. Lacks body or substance and is insufficiently concentrated and roasted.

Three Horseman Blend Coffee quality delivered against contract that is one of the following: Prime Mexican, Central Standard El Salvador, Prime Guatemala.

Tone The appearance or color of coffee.

Toraja Said to be highest quality coffee from Celebes.

Traditional Process A group of decaffeination methods that use solvents to remove caffeine from green coffee beans.

Turkish Coffee Coffee ground to a powder, sweetened, brought to a boil, and served with the grounds.

Typica A botanical variety of Coffea Arabica.

Urn Large size percolator which is often used at banquet halls, motel lobbies, and large events. Typically, these appliances are capable of making from 30 to 100 cups of coffee, depending on the size of the urn.

Vacuum Packed Process in which oxygen is removed from a package by drawing out atmosphere, leaving only the natural gases emitted from the coffee. The more oxygen drawn out of the package, the longer the coffee's shelf life will be.

Vacuum-Filter Method A brewing method that differs from other filter methods in that the brewing water is drawn through the ground coffee by means of a partial vacuum.

Varietal Coffee A term used by many people in the American specialty coffee industry, to describe an unblended coffee from a single country, region, and crop.

Varietal Distinction A cupping term describing positive characteristics that distinguish a given coffee from coffee from other regions.

Viennese Coffee Coffee brewed by the drip or filter method from a blend of coffee brought to a degree or darkness of roast called Viennese Roast; also refers to brewed coffee of any roast or origin topped with whipped cream.

Viennese Roast A term for coffee brought to a degree of roast slightly darker than the traditional American norm, but lighter than espresso, French, or Italian. It is less acidy and smoother than the typical American roast, but may display fewer of the distinctive taste characteristics of the original coffee. Viennese roast may also refer to a mixture of beans roasted to a dark brown and beans roasted to the traditional American medium brown.

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Weak Coffee that lacks body but is not flat.

Wellenford Estate At one time the most celebrated Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. Now, any Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee from the Wellensford mill.

Wet-Processed Coffee Coffee prepared by removing the skin and pulp from the bean while the coffee fruit is still fresh. Most of the world's coffees are processed by the wet method, which generally intensifies acidity.

Whole-Bean Coffee Coffee that has been roasted but not yet ground.

Wild A taste fault in the coffee beans characterized by extreme variation between sample cups. Usually marked by unpleasant sourness. Can also describe coffee with extreme flavor characteristics. It can be defect or a positive attribute and denotes odd, racy nuances of flavor and aroma.

Winy Describes a taste reminiscent of wine, or a thick body and mellow quality. Found in acidic coffees

Woody A taste fault giving the coffee beans a distinct, unpleasant wood-like character. Result of an almost complete loss of organic material in the green beans during storage. Makes coffee unsuitable for commercial purposes. Reminiscent of the odor of dry wood.

Wrap Coffee Filter Designed specifically for use in percolator style coffeemakers. Square shaped paper coffee filter designed to be folded and encompass coffee grounds during the brewing process.

Yauco Selecto Believed to be highest quality estate coffee from Puerto Rico.

Yemen Mattari Region in Yemen producing high quality coffee.

Yemen Mocha Full bodied, medium acidity, also known as Arabian mocha, Yemen or Mocha. The name mocha comes from the ancient port, presumably from where this coffee was often shipped.

Yemen Sanani Low acid Yemen coffee, medium body, said to be one of the best from Yemen.

Yemen Sharki Region in Yemen.

Zambia Estate coffees from eastern Zambia, located in south-central Africa, that appear in the North American specialty market. They tend toward the softer, less acidy version of the Africa profile.

Zimbabwe Zimbabwe coffee exhibits excellent cup presence and the vibrant, winy acidity characteristic of East Africa coffees. Some rank it second in quality only to Kenya among Africa coffees. Most is grown in the Chipinga region, along the eastern border with Mozambique.