February 10th, 2023
100+ Coffee Terms: The Ultimate Specialty Coffee Glossary
We recognize that coffee jargon can be difficult to grasp, which is why we've put together a coffee glossary that covers more than 100 essential terms from various areas of the coffee and specialty coffee industries. This glossary includes important terms related to espresso, brewing, coffee roasting, processing, tasting, coffee professionals, varietals, and more.
Coffee Glossary: Table of Contents
- Espresso Brewing and Espresso Machine Glossary
- Espresso Drink Glossary
- Coffee Tasting Glossary
- Coffee Roast Type Glossary
- Coffee Varietals, Origins, Blends Glossary
- Coffee Brewing Device Glossary
- Coffee Brewing and Grinding Glossary
- Coffee Roasting Glossary
- Coffee Processing Glossary
- Coffee Profession Glossary
- Coffee Organizations Glossary
- Waves of Coffee Glossary
Espresso Brewing and Machine Glossary:
As a shot of espresso is prepared, its color transitions from dark to light, and this process is referred to as blonding.
2. Brew Pressure
The pressure used for brewing a shot of espresso is typically 9 bar, but the control of the brew pressure, known as pressure profiling, can vary across different machines and can greatly affect the taste of the espresso.
3. Brewed Weight
The brewed weight is the espresso weight or liquid you have in your cup and not the amount of water used to brew the coffee.
A term used to describe the process of water seeping into cracks or flaws in an espresso puck, resulting in an uneven extraction, is called channeling.
5. Cup Warmer
An espresso machine typically features a cup warmer in the upper section that is designed to heat espresso cups and keep them warm on the surface of the machine. This is because a warm cup is ideal for brewing, as a cool cup can cause the finished beverage to cool too quickly. Most commercial espresso machines come equipped with a cup warmer, and some high-end home espresso machines also have this feature.
Dialing in your espresso refers to the fine-tuning process that a barista carries out by adjusting the grind size of the coffee beans, preparing the puck, and tamping to achieve the optimal extraction time for the best-tasting shot. This process involves finding the right balance between coarser or finer grinds, puck preparation, and tamping to produce the perfect shot.
The process of evenly spreading the grounds in a portafilter basket or filter to ensure proper extraction is referred to as distribution.
The dose refers to the amount of espresso grounds you are using in your portafilter
9. Double Basket
The double basket, typically ranging in size from 14 to 21 grams, is commonly used for brewing double shots of espresso. It is characterized by straight or slightly tapered walls. This basket is ideal for preparing espresso-based drinks with milk, such as lattes, as it provides a consistent and balanced extraction for a rich and full-bodied flavor.
10. Espresso brew ratios
What is an espresso brew ratio? Espresso brew ratios are the number of coffee grounds used versus the final extraction yield or liquid in your cup.
For example, a double espresso calls for a 1:2 ratio, meaning that for every 1 gram of ground coffee in your espresso portafilter, you aim for 2 grams of espresso yield in your cup. A standard double espresso recipe would call for 19 grams of finely ground coffee in your portafilter, yielding 38 grams of espresso in your cup and typically within 30 – 35 seconds.
11. Espresso Extraction
The term "extraction" or sometimes “strength” in espresso refers to the concentration of dissolved solids in the final coffee. A lower extraction results in fewer solids and thus a weaker espresso. An espresso that channels may have a lower extraction as more water will end up in the cup and ultimately have fewer solids.
The strength of the espresso is just as important as its extraction quality. Espresso has a higher concentration of dissolved solids (7-12%) compared to filter coffee (1-2%) and is made with a specific ratio of ground coffee to water. The ideal ratio will vary depending on the desired taste and can affect the extraction of flavors and the ability to taste distinct flavors. A stronger espresso is recommended for espresso drinks with milk, while a larger ratio is recommended for clear and distinct shots of espresso.
12. Flushing or Backflushing
Backflushing is a process used to clean the shower screen, brew group, and three-way valve of an espresso machine. This can only be done with machines that have a three-way valve, which releases the water pressure off the coffee into the drip tray after brewing. The purpose of backflushing is to remove old coffee oils and deposits that can cause bitter and rancid tasting coffee, as well as to prevent clogging of the shower screen.
To backflush, a backflush disc (either a filter basket without holes or a rubber disc) is placed in the portafilter and 0.5 teaspoons of cleaner are added. The portafilter is then inserted into the brew group and the pump is turned on, with the pressure building up until it becomes quiet. The cleaner is then released through the three-way valve into the drip tray and the process is repeated until the foam coming out is clean. Finally, the handle is removed and rinsed and the pump is turned on and off a few times to rinse the remaining cleaner out of the brew group.
13. Group Head
The group head on an espresso machine is the component that connects the portafilter and dispenses water onto the coffee grinds. It is the starting point for the espresso-making process and is a crucial component for creating a delicious cup of espresso. The E61 group head is a popular choice among commercial espresso machines and has its own specific benefits.
14. Knock box
A knock box is a handy tool used in conjunction with an espresso machine to dispose of spent coffee grounds, also known as "pucks." It's a small box with a horizontal bar inside that allows you to easily and cleanly knock out the spent grounds from the portafilter by tapping it against the bar. This helps keep your workspace clean and organized and speeds up your workflow.
A lungo is a larger espresso shot that is pulled for a longer period of time, resulting in a cup that is twice the size of a regular espresso shot. The ratio of coffee to water in a lungo is typically between 1:3 and 1:4, and this may vary depending on the barista or home brewer's personal taste preference.
16. Milk Pitcher
The milk frothing pitcher is a vital accessory for manual milk frothing that is used in making coffee drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos. There is a wide variety of milk frothing pitchers available, ranging from standard stainless steel to those with a mirror finish, Teflon coating, or those with calibrations for easier frothing. Our collection includes top brands like Espro, Rattleware, Joe-Frex, and Frieling.
17. Naked Portafilter
The naked or bottomless portafilter is a type of portafilter without spouts that exposes the filter basket. This type of portafilter allows the user to observe the brewing of the espresso, which is essential in determining the quality of the shot. The barista can visually inspect the shot for any channeling, monitor the flow rate, and see where the coffee begins and ends its flow within the basket. These visual cues provide the barista with the information they need to make adjustments to their espresso puck preparation, resulting in a better shot.
A normale shot, also known as a standard shot, typically features a brew ratio between 1:2 and 1:3. Using a higher ratio can result in a clearer espresso and a higher percentage of extraction.
A PID controls temperature stability in the espresso machine and is crucial for brewing the perfect cup of espresso.
PID is short for Proportional-Integral Derivative, which helps to ensure temperature stability in the espresso machine. These controllers use the PID algorithm to determine the best way to control the temperature in the machine and are more accurate than traditional thermostat-based espresso machines. They also allow you to directly control the temperature of the machine and are usually visible on the machine with control buttons to increase or decrease the brewing temperature. This feature is particularly useful for home baristas who like to experiment with different roasts and temperatures.
The portafilter is a key component of an espresso machine. It is the "handle" that sticks out where the coffee is dispensed and is also sometimes referred to as a "group handle". The portafilter holds a basket that contains the coffee grounds during the extraction process of the espresso shot. The handle and notches on the portafilter allow the user or barista to secure it in place on the machine so it does not come loose during use. The portafilter locks into the machine's group head, with smaller espresso machines, typically having one group head while larger commercial machines have multiple to handle a higher volume of demand.
Pre-infusion in espresso brewing refers to the step of initially saturating the ground coffee in the portafilter using a lower pressure before applying the full intended brewing pressure. This process helps to evenly extract the coffee and results in a smoother, more refined flavor profile.
22. Pressure Profiling
An example of pressure profiling is adjusting the brew pressure of your espresso from the standard 9 bar to a pattern where it gradually increases and then decreases. This deviation from the traditional Italian espresso method of a constant 9 bar throughout the shot is a common technique used to refine the flavor of the coffee. The objective of pressure profiling is to discover a personalized recipe that yields the optimal result for the specific coffee being brewed.
Espresso enthusiasts often refer to the disc of coffee grounds within an espresso portafilter as a puck, especially after it has become moist and compacted. The term "puck" is often used when describing your espresso "puck" preparation.
24. Puck Preparation
The process of preparing the coffee grounds for espresso brewing, from grinding the coffee beans to loading them into the portafilter, is referred to as espresso puck preparation. Some of the steps involved in this process include using a WDT (Weight Distribution Tool) to spread out the grounds, incorporating puck screens, and tamping the coffee before brewing.
25. Puck Screen
The espresso puck screen is a metal mesh filter that is positioned over the ground espresso in the portafilter. The use of this metal mesh filter helps to ensure an even distribution of water over the espresso puck, reducing the risk of channeling during the brewing process and contributing to a better-tasting espresso.
26. Pulling a shot
"Pulling a shot" is a common phrase used to describe the process of brewing an espresso. This term originated from the use of spring-loaded lever espresso machines where the barista had to physically pull (or press) the lever down to initiate the flow of water into the coffee grounds and make the espresso, thus "pulling a shot."
A ristretto shot, also known as a restricted shot, is characterized by a brew ratio between 1:1 and 1:1.5
28. Single Basket
A single shot basket typically holds between 7-12 grams of ground coffee and is used to prepare a single serving of espresso. The basket has a funnel-like shape and is typically paired with a single spouted portafilter. This combination allows for the optimal extraction of flavor from the ground coffee for a rich and full-bodied espresso shot.
29. Spouted Portafilter
A spouted portafilter is a type of portafilter that is equipped with a spout that guides the espresso into a cup or glass. These portafilters are particularly useful when making a double shot and splitting it into two cups. Simply pull the shot and place two cups under the two spouts to enjoy the evenly distributed espresso in each cup. This is an easy and efficient way to split shots without having to worry about uneven distribution or channeling on one side.
A "stall" in espresso brewing occurs when the grind size is too fine and/or the coffee grounds are tamped too tightly, making it difficult for the pump in the espresso machine to generate enough pressure to pass water through the grounds. To avoid this, it's recommended to always tamp with a consistent amount of pressure and adjust the grind size as needed.
An espresso tamper is a tool used to compress the ground coffee into a puck-like shape inside the portafilter of an espresso machine.
32. Tamping Pressure
Baristas often suggest using 30 pounds of pressure when tamping, although some prefer a lighter pressure of 20 pounds. An increasing number of baristas are finding that excessive tamping pressure is not necessary and can result in an over-extracted, bitter brew. To achieve a smoother result, it is recommended to use a twisting motion while lifting the tamper to "polish" the puck.
33. Tiger Striping
What is "tiger striping" in espresso? It refers to the visual appearance of espresso shots, where dark and light stripes or markings are visible in the crema. This is believed to be an indication of uneven extraction, with darker stripes indicating slower extraction and lighter stripes indicating faster extraction. However, some have noticed methodological errors in studies that have explored this concept, and it's not clear how much impact micro-channeling has on the flavor of the shot. Ultimately, the taste of the shot is what matters most, with the ideal extraction being high but not too high to ruin the flavor.
34. WDT Tool
A WDT, or the Weiss Distribution Technique, is one of the longest-standing espresso distribution methods that helps improve espresso extraction through the even distribution and removal of any clumps in your coffee grounds.
A "whirlpool" in coffee terminology refers to the ideal swirling motion of the milk in a pitcher, which creates the ideal texture for creating latte art designs.
36. Rotary and Vibratory Pump
The term "rotary pump" refers to an electric pump used in home espresso machines to generate the necessary pressure to push water through finely ground coffee. The pressure required is around 9 bars, or 130 psi. Unlike the vibratory pump, which uses an electromagnetic piston and a metal coil to generate pressure, a rotary pump is mechanical and works by spinning a disc offset inside a chamber. The vanes on the disc press against the chamber wall, reducing the section and creating pressure. Water enters the chamber during the larger phase and is expelled as the section shrinks.
Compared to vibratory pumps, rotary pumps are known for their quiet operation, consistent pressure, and longer lifespan. On the other hand, vibratory pumps are more affordable, easier to replace, and smaller in size, but tend to be noisier and have a shorter lifespan of about 5-6 years.
37. Steam Valve
The steam valves allow the release of steam pressure generated in the boiler (usually up to 1.5 bars) to activate the steam wand, enabling the barista to start steaming the milk. Some espresso machines have a simple lever that switches between fully on and fully off, while others require complete opening to reach full pressure.
38. Steam Wand
A steam wand is a component on an espresso machine that generates steam, enabling the barista to heat and foam milk for use in different espresso drinks. Activation of the steam wand is controlled by a steam valve, which releases steam from the machine's boiler and reaches a pressure of typically 1.5 bars.
39. Water Reservoir
The water tank, commonly known as the reservoir, is a component in an espresso machine that stores water that is used to fill the boilers. This feature allows the machine to be more mobile as it doesn't require a connection to a plumbing system. Most home and semi-professional espresso machines are equipped with a refillable reservoir, where water can be manually poured into.
Espresso Drink Glossary:
An Affogato combines a dessert and an espresso into one delightful treat. The preparation involves pouring a shot of freshly brewed espresso over a scoop of ice cream or gelato and serving it in a small cup or glass along with a spoon. The name, which originates from the Italian word "drowned", accurately describes the process of drowning the ice cream in the rich and flavorful espresso. You can enjoy the Affogato by either eating it with a spoon or by stirring and waiting for the ice cream to melt before drinking the entire mixture.
A Caffè Americano is an espresso-based coffee drink made by topping espresso with hot water. The name of the drink has its roots in World War II when American soldiers stationed in Italy diluted the local espresso with hot water to make it less bitter and more familiar. The drink was called "caffè Americano" by the locals and the name has stuck over time. The quality of a Caffè Americano depends on the quality of the espresso and the hot water used to make it. The espresso should be made from high-quality coffee beans, single origin or a highly rated blend. The water should be clean and fresh, heated to either 185°F or 200°F. The two liquids are layered, not combined, to preserve the integrity of the crema.
Like the flat white, the cappuccino ratio perfectly balances espresso and milk. The only difference between a cappuccino and flat white is the amount of froth at the top of the drink. Also, some call for a single espresso for their cappuccinos, but we still prefer a double shot (feel free to try both!)
Our recipe calls for a 20g double shot of espresso at a 1:2 ratio resulting in 40g (1.4 ounces) of espresso extraction. We will top off our espresso with 100g (3.5 ounces) of milk resulting in a perfect 5-ounce cappuccino!
The cappuccino has the thickest milk foam at 1.5cm in terms of frothiness.
The cortado has significantly less milk than the previous drinks and is really for those who love the boldness of espresso.
We recommend using a 20g double shot of espresso at a 1:2 ratio resulting in 40g (1.4 ounces) of espresso extraction. We will top off our espresso with 55g (2.0 ounces) of milk resulting in a perfect 3.4-ounce cortado!
In terms of milk, we recommend frothing milk like a latte for this drink but only using 2 ounces of milk.
The layer of lighter-colored foam that sits atop a properly brewed shot of espresso is referred to as crema.
45. Flat White
This is a stronger milk-based drink than a latte, as it uses the same amount of espresso but with a smaller amount of steamed milk.
Flat White Recipe:
Our recipe calls for a 20g double shot of espresso at a 1:2 ratio resulting in 40g (1.4 ounces) of espresso extraction. We will top off our espresso with 100g (3.5 ounces) of milk resulting in a perfect 5-ounce Flat White!
In terms of frothiness, the flat white should only have around 0.5cm of thick milk foam at the top of the drink. This is half of the foam of a latte and 1/3 of a cappuccino.
A latte is the “milkiest” drink out of the classics and a good reason to keep the proportions of milk to espresso very tight. Our recipe calls for a 20g double shot of espresso at a 1:2 ratio resulting in 40g (1.4 ounces) of espresso extraction. We top off our espresso with 230 – 240g (8.1 ounces) of milk resulting in a 9.5 – 9.9-ounce latte!
In terms of frothiness, the latte should hit around 1cm of thick milk foam at the top of the drink. The thick foam recommendation falls right in between a flat white or cappuccino.
47. Latte Art
Latte art refers to the designs seen on top of coffee drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and similar beverages that contain both milk and espresso. There are various types of latte art, the most common one being free-pour latte art which involves using steamed milk to create compact bubbles and then pouring it into the coffee in a specific way to form different patterns like a rosetta, tulip, or heart. However, more complex designs are also possible. Basic patterns like rosetta or tulip are commonly seen in morning cappuccinos.
The macchiato is the boldest of all classic milk-based espresso drinks, and most need clarification about how little milk there is when they order one! The macchiato calls for a spot of milk and is served in an espresso cup, so it is a very small drink.
Our recipe calls for a 20g double shot of espresso at a 1:2 ratio resulting in 40g (1.4 ounces) of espresso extraction. We will top off our espresso with 25g (0.88 ounces) of milk resulting in a perfect 2.3-ounce macchiato!
In terms of milk, we recommend frothing milk like a latte for this drink but only using 25g of milk.
A Mocha is a coffee drink that combines the rich, bold flavor of coffee with the sweet, indulgent taste of chocolate. Unlike a Caffe Latte, which only has coffee as its main ingredient, a Mocha has chocolate syrup or powder added to it, resulting in a harmonious blend of coffee and chocolate flavors. While some people may use chocolate milk to make a Mocha, it is not the recommended option as flavorings tend to provide a better taste. Additionally, the sugar in chocolate milk can sometimes cause issues during the steaming process as it can crystallize on the wand, making cleaning more challenging. To add an extra layer of creamy decadence, Mochas are often topped with whipped cream.
50. Red Eye
The red eye is a strong coffee drink that originated in the US and has become a popular drink for those who need to stay awake and productive. It's made by adding a shot of espresso to brewed coffee and can be consumed on the go. The drink got its name from the red-eye flight, which is a middle-of-the-night flight from the west coast to New York City and is synonymous with the need to stay awake for long hours. The red eye has a balanced flavor of sweetness, acidity, and bitterness and gives a quick jolt of caffeine. Drinking it is like having the strength of an Americano but with the body of regular drip coffee.
Coffee Tasting Terms:
The aroma of coffee refers to its smell, which is responsible for many of its flavor characteristics. Over 800 different aromatic compounds have been identified in coffee, with more being discovered through improved testing equipment. Fresh coffee has a stronger aroma compared to stale coffee, and the aroma of the coffee can become stronger as the roast gets darker. The aroma of coffee can range from light and fruity to burnt, with most coffee having a light caramel and nutty aroma. A stale coffee, on the other hand, will have a musty and cardboard-like smell. The coffee aroma is usually a reference to the coffee when it is wet or brewed.
The mouthfeel of a coffee, or its body, significantly contributes to its overall quality. Coffees with a heavy body, such as those with high amounts of brew colloids and sucrose, tend to get high preference ratings. Even coffees with a lighter body can be pleasing. Scores for coffees like Sumatra, which are expected to have a heavy body, and Mexican, which are expected to have a light body, are not affected by their intensity differences.
53. Brightness (Acidity)
Acidity is often described as a positive "brightness" or a negative "sourness." When well-balanced, acidity can enhance a coffee's liveliness, sweetness, and fruity flavor, which is quickly noticed upon slurping. However, when too intense or overpowering, acidity can detract from the overall flavor experience. The score given for acidity should reflect the panelist's judgment of the acidity's quality relative to the expected flavor profile based on origin, roast level, and other relevant factors. For example, a high-acid coffee like Kenya and a low-acid coffee like Sumatra can both receive high preference scores even though their acidity levels differ significantly.
54. Flavor Notes or Flavor Profile
Flavor refers to the defining characteristic of coffee, encompassing the intermediate tastes and aromas that are perceived between the initial impression of aroma and acidity, and the final aftertaste. It is a combined sensation of taste and aroma that originates in the mouth and extends to the nose through retro-nasal pathways. When evaluating the flavor of coffee, the score should reflect the strength, quality, and complexity of the combined taste and aroma, which is best experienced when the coffee is slurped with force to activate all parts of the palate.
The scent of coffee when it is in its dry form is referred to as its fragrance, while its aroma is the odor it emits when it is wet or brewed.
Just like wine, the term "mouthfeel" in coffee refers to the sensation of the liquid in the mouth. This is typically described in terms of texture, such as silky, smooth, velvety, or rough. The mouthfeel of coffee can be affected by factors such as the degree of roasting, processing technique, the concentration of dissolved solids, the brewing method, and the temperature of the brewing process.
57. Taste Notes
Tasting notes in coffee describe the combination of acidity, sweetness, and bitterness (body) that creates the flavor profile of a coffee. These notes can vary, resulting in tastes similar to fruits, chocolates, or flowers. Roasters often use these notes as a way to communicate what they experience when "cupping" the coffee, and these notes along with roast color are often displayed on coffee packaging to help consumers understand the flavor profile before purchasing.
Terroir refers to how the origin of the coffee, its soil, climate, and elevation all impart and impact the quality, flavor, and taste of the coffee.
Coffee Roast types:
59. Dark Roast
Dark-roasted coffee is defined not only by its dark appearance but also by how "developed" the coffee is. Coffee goes through several stages during the roasting process, from drying, Maillard, caramelization, and carbonization. Dark-roasted coffee pushes beyond the third stage of development and into carbonization, picking up those classic dark-roasted notes; deep chocolate, smoky, and roasty.
You can expect dark coffees to be rich and bold with clear notes of chocolate, while some bitterness may be present. Dark roasted coffees are perfect for those who enjoy coffee with milk, as the dark roast's notes will shine through.
60. Espresso Roast
All coffee is based on a preference from taste to what color you deem light, medium, or dark roasted coffee. We define espresso-roasted coffee not only by the color but how well that coffee pairs with the espresso brewing method. As mentioned earlier, espresso does not differ from coffee though consumers sometimes perceive it as different. The only difference between espresso and coffee is that specialty coffee roasters will go out of their way to source and roast coffee to pair well with espresso-based drinks. If you read about our favorite Light Roasted Coffees, you will find that most of these coffees flavor get lost within milk-based espresso drinks. Most roasters crafting coffee for espresso will push the “development” of that coffee to bring out more of its sugars to help it shine through any addition of milk.
61. French Roast
A French roast is a type of dark and intense coffee characterized by its bittersweet flavor. It is made by roasting the coffee beans until the oils start to surface, usually after the second crack.
62. Full City Roast
A Full City Roast is a medium-dark roast that is stopped shortly before or just as the second crack begins. It is lighter in color and has fewer surface oils on the coffee beans compared to a French roast.
63. Italian Roast
The Italian Roast is the darkest commercially available roast and results in a bitter and robust flavor profile. This roast goes well beyond the second crack and has a high amount of oils on the surface of the coffee bean, giving it a strong, smoky, and charred taste.
64. Light Roast
Light roasted coffee is defined not only by the color but also by how "developed" the coffee is. Coffee goes through several stages during the roasting process, from drying, Maillard, caramelization, and carbonization. Light roast coffees typically end after first crack (when the coffee begins to pop due to built-up pressure), which is right around the start of the caramelization stage. You can expect light-roasted coffees to be brighter with higher acidity and sweetness than its darker counterparts. Light roasted coffees fall within the floral, sweet, fruity, and sour/fermented flavors while darker roasted coffees are more caramelized, nuttier, and chocolatey.
65. Medium Roast
Medium-roasted coffee is defined not only by the color but also by how "developed" the coffee is. Coffee goes through several stages during the roasting process, from drying, Maillard, caramelization, and carbonization. Medium roast coffees push beyond first crack (when the coffee begins to pop due to built-up pressure) and deeper into the caramelization stage than lighter roasted coffees.
You can expect medium-roasted coffees to be rich with clear caramelization, which brings out the coffee's sweet, brown sugar, nutty, and chocolatey notes. Coffees that are naturally fruit-forward and roasted medium have a deeper or cooked fruit flavor, while lighter roasted coffees will have more bright and acidic fruit notes.
Coffee terms from Varietals, Origins, and Blends:
66. Arabica Coffee
Coffee stems from two main species of plants: C. arabica and C. canephora (often referred to as Robusta). The species of plants are further broken down into subspecies or varietals. Arabica fulfills around 60% of global coffee production, while Robusta makes up the remaining 40%.
With over 120 individual species, many of the highly sought-after coffees are of the Arabica varietal due to its higher cup quality, delicate taste notes, and fruit-like aromas compared to its Robusta counterpart. Some notable Arabica varietals include Gesha, SL34/35, and Ethiopia Heirloom.
67. Coffee Cherry
A coffee cherry is the fruit produced by the coffee tree. The dried version of this fruit is referred to as dried coffee cherry or cascara.
68. Coffee Blend
Single-origin coffee is sourced from a single location (country, region, city), while blends can be made of a combination of origins or different producers from the same origin.
Blends allow coffee roasters to create something unique; think of their own signature recipe that no one else on the market has.
Coffee Blends allow coffee roasters to offer a consistent product throughout the year (like a House Blend). Blends allow roasters to rotate coffees in and out throughout the year to help with freshness and consistency, while Single-origin coffees are typically offered seasonally.
69. Coffee Grades
Green coffee grades vary between locations and are used for quality assessment and contract fulfillment. The grading system was created to ensure that buyers can expect consistent quality when ordering green coffee. Roasters can use the grades to predict quality and measure roast uniformity. Additionally, some grades measure screen size, elevation, and defects. Preparation and sorting are also taken into account when grading coffee, with acronyms such as EP, AP, DP, and TP standing for European preparation, American preparation, Double picked, and Triple picked respectively.
70. Commodity Coffee
Commodity-grade coffee is defined as being interchangeable with another coffee of the same type. Easily interchangeable coffee often means that flavor attributes lean toward neutral to the negative side.
71. Direct Trade
Direct Trade is a coffee roaster or importer's way of building a long-term relationship with a producer. This relationship often provides the producer with higher prices than if they sold their coffee to a local mill and encourages the producer to invest in their business to produce better and more valuable products each season. In exchange, the coffee roaster receives a long-term relationship, and high-quality coffee and the producer receives higher pricing for their coffee and additional funds to reinvest in their operation.
Fair Trade is an ethical certification that ensures farmers and workers in developing countries are paid fair wages and work in safe and ethical conditions. It requires certified producers to allocate a portion of their earnings to improve production, uses environmentally sound practices, and prohibits child, bonded, or forced labor. Furthermore, goods must be purchased above the "floor" price, and GMOs are prohibited. Regular audits are required for compliance. The current minimum Fair Trade price for coffee is $1.40/lb and the updated prices can be found here.
The Coffea genus has over 120 individual species, many highly sought after, such as the Gesha varietal. The Gesha varietal is one extreme example of a coffee species that is highly sought after due to its high cup quality and delicate taste notes. The Gesha variety originated in the coffee forests of Ethiopia and slowly made its way to Panama, where it gained most of its recognition.
74. Micro Lots
Micro lots are subsections of coffee farms that may have quality distinctions from the rest of the farm. These rarer lots of coffee are sought after by importers and roasters due to their characteristics and process differentiation from the main lots. Micro lots are priced higher because they are identified as unique from the rest of the farm, and may be of higher quality or a rare varietal such as Gesha. Micro lots are processed separately from the main lots of coffee and often using a different processing method.
Organic certification in coffee is a process designed to show that agricultural products have been grown and/or processed using organic practices, meaning without the use of prohibited substances and with natural practices such as crop rotation and cover crops, using organic seeds and not using GMOs, and using biological controls for disease, pests, fungus, and weeds, or approved synthetic substances. Farmers and producers must prove the absence of prohibited substances for a minimum of three years and must pass regular audits. Certifiers, who are private companies hired to perform the evaluation, will often have the accreditation to certify for most of the organic standards around the world. To be certified, producers must also have an annual gross income of at least $5,000. In order to defray the cost of certification, smallholders may join grower’s associations and cooperatives, which will hold the organic certification for the group.
Origin is the physical location to where the coffee is grown and processed. It is typically identified by the coffee's country but can also include the province, nearest city, farm, or processing mill.
77. Robusta Coffee
Coffee stems from two main species of plants: C. arabica and C. canephora (often referred to as Robusta). The species of plants are further broken down into subspecies or varietals. Arabica fulfills around 60% of global coffee production, while Robusta makes up the remaining 40%.
With over 120 individual species, many of the highly sought-after coffees are of the Arabica varietal due to its higher cup quality, delicate taste notes, and fruit-like aromas compared to its Robusta counterpart. Some notable Arabica varietals include Gesha, SL34/35, and Ethiopia Heirloom.
In addition to higher caffeine content, Robusa offers a more, earthy taste and is often described as bitter dark chocolate with a nutty aftertaste. Because of these characteristics, many espresso roasts, blends, and dark roasts highlight their inclusion of Robusta beans.
78. Single-origin coffee
Single-origin coffee is sourced from a single location (country, region, city). Coffee blends can be made of a combination of origins, different producers or coffees (varietals) from the same origin.
SL-28 and SL-34 varietals tend to have unmatched sweetness with a dynamic flavor profile. SL-28 is among the most well-known and well-regarded varieties of Africa. It has consequently spread from Kenya, where it was originally selected in the 1930s, to other parts of Africa and now to Latin America.
80. Specialty Coffee
The SCA defines Specialty Coffees as those with positive flavor attributes, minimal defects, and one assigned a score of 80+ (on a 100pt scale). Specialty coffee starts at the source with optimal growing and post-harvest processing. The care continues as the coffee leaves the country of origin and often is protected in hermetically sealed packaging that helps lock in freshness. At Coffee Bros., we focus on sourcing high-end (86pt+ coffees) great-tasting coffee from all of our blends to our single-origin and award-winning lots.
Coffee stems from two main species of plants: C. arabica and C. canephora (often referred to as Robusta). The species of plants are further broken down into subspecies or varietals. Arabica fulfills around 60% of global coffee production, while Robusta makes up the remaining 40%. Well-known coffee varietals include Gesha, SL-28, Pacamara, and Typica.
Coffee Brewing Devices
The Aeropress is a popular small brewer that makes a single serving of coffee by forcing it through a thin paper filter and directly into the cup. This method produces clean-tasting coffee with clear flavor notes, and its portability makes it especially favored by campers and travelers. There are two distinct ways to use the Aeropress, standard or inverted method, which can be experimented with using adjustable variables like grind size and brew time to create different types of coffee or even make espresso-like concentrate.
83. Cold Brew
Cold brew coffee is made by steeping grounds in cold or room temperature water for 8-24 hours, resulting in a mild, low acidity flavor. It can also be made as a concentrate to control the strength of the coffee. Cold brew differs from iced coffee which is brewed hot and then cooled down quickly (“flash chill/brew”) or diluted with ice.
84. Drip machine
Auto-drip coffee pots are machines that heat up and drip water over coffee grounds, allowing gravity to pull the water through and into the carafe below. Unfortunately, they tend to lack control options, having one preset recipe and a few adjustable buttons—this can lead to lower water temperatures and inconsistent pouring, resulting in sour or unbalanced flavor. For those who don't want to settle for "good enough" coffee and desire greater control over their brews, alternatives like manual pour-overs may be worth considering.
Espresso is a brewing method that requires coffee beans to be ground to a very fine consistency. The pressure used in an espresso machine forces hot water through the grounds, resulting in a concentrated and caramel-sweet shot with a crema or layer of foam on top. Espresso is not a type of bean, rather it's any kind of coffee that has been brewed in an espresso maker.
86. French Press
The French Press is a convenient and reliable manual coffee-making device. It consists of a tall carafe and a metal filter attached to a stem, used to steep coarse-ground beans in hot water. This creates a rich cup of coffee with unique texture and flavor that some find desirable, while others may not. A standard-sized carafe can produce up to two mugs' worth of coffee, without needing any supervision while steeping. The lengthy steeping process and the mesh filter allow oils, sediment, and small particles to pass through the filter which results in the distinct characteristics of French Press coffee.
87. Japanese Iced Coffee
Japanese-style iced coffee is made by pouring hot-brewed coffee directly onto ice, resulting in a cup of coffee that tastes more like a hot cup of coffee versus the flavor profiles one can achieve when making cold brew. This method preserves the coffee's bright, clean flavor, since the brewed coffee is quickly chilled. With this style of iced coffee, it's crucial to not allow it to cool down slowly or chill in the refrigerator, as doing so will produce stale flavors.
Pour Over coffee is a manual brewing process made popular in recent years for its ability to give the user complete control over brewing. A separate kettle is used to heat the water, which can be poured at different speeds and locations to promote even saturation of ground beans. Brewing with pour-over has been praised for its improved control and taste compared to other methods of making coffee. Examples of pour-over brewing devices include the V60, Chemex, Kalita Wave, and the Origami dripper.
89. Stovetop Espresso
Stovetop espresso machines, often referred to as Moka Pots and first created by the Italian company Bialetti, are popular throughout Europe, especially in Italy. Hot steam pressure is used to push hot water through finely ground coffee, producing a concentrated shot of espresso in the top chamber.
90. Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee is a finely ground coffee brewed by boiling. It is usually made with arabica beans, however, Robusta or a blend may also be used. The grounds are left in the coffee when served and can be ground at home, purchased pre-ground, or ground to order by merchants. Coffee and water are boiled in a cezve pot until it begins to froth, then taken off the heat and split between cups before being reheated. Sugar can be added and it is often accompanied by sweet treats like Turkish delight. The coffee may also be flavored with cardamom, mastic, salep, or ambergris. In the cup, some of the grounds will settle on the bottom but much remains in suspension and is consumed with the coffee.
Coffee Brewing and Grinding Terms
The blooming process in coffee is the release of carbon dioxide gas that occurs when water is poured over freshly roasted coffee grounds. This process enhances the flavor of coffee and is a quickened degassing that results from the reaction of water and coffee. The degassing process begins shortly after roasting and lasts for about 14 days, with the most gas being released in the first four hours. The process is accelerated by grinding the coffee beans, which increases their surface area and the release of gas, and by pouring water over the grounds. To let the coffee bloom, simply pour a small amount of water over the grounds and wait for 30 to 40 seconds for the gas to escape.
92. Brew Temperature
To get the best results while brewing coffee, it's important to keep the water temperature between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because colder water leads to a flat and under-extracted coffee, while excessively hot water can negatively impact the taste. To avoid this, you should bring the water to a boil and let it cool for a minute before using it for brewing. The ideal drinking temperature of coffee varies from person to person, but it is also influenced by the roast depth and type of coffee. Darker-roasted coffee is better brewed at lower temperatures, while lighter-roasted coffee with high acidity is best brewed at higher temperatures.
93. Brew Time
The duration of contact between the water and coffee grounds is a crucial factor in the flavor of the coffee. For a drip brewing system, the ideal contact time is between 3-5 minutes, 2-4 minutes for a French Press, and 20-30 seconds for espresso. On the other hand, cold brew should steep overnight for around 12 hours. If the flavor of the final product is unsatisfactory, it may be due to either over-extraction (brew time is too long) or under-extraction (brew time is too short).
In espresso brewing, timing is vital in determining any issues with the extraction or taste of the espresso. To get the perfect extraction, the ideal shot time is 20-30 seconds, but this may vary depending on the recipe. If the shot pulls too fast, it may indicate a need for a finer grind or tighter tamp, while a slow pull may mean the opposite. Timing your shots is crucial in diagnosing extraction issues, as a poorly extracted shot can have a sour or bitter flavor. To ensure precise timing, consider using a machine with a built-in shot timer. This helps to ensure that all elements are perfectly synchronized.
Coarseness is a term used to describe the texture of coffee grounds, which is determined by their size. Essentially, the smaller the size of the grounds, the finer they are considered to be. Conversely, larger coffee grounds are referred to as coarser.
In terms of brewing methods, finer coffee grounds are typically used for espresso as they create a more concentrated and intense flavor. On the other hand, coarser grounds are better suited for methods such as pour-over, drip, French press, and cold brew. These brewing methods require a coarser grind as it allows for better extraction of the coffee's flavors and aromas, resulting in a smoother, less intense taste.
95. Conical Burrs
Conversely to flat burr grinders, conical burr grinders work in a vertical manner, with one burr nested inside the other. The outer burr is shaped like a circular, hollow ring with slanted teeth, similar to a cupcake wrapper without the base. The inner burr is cone-shaped with a broader base, which appears star- or flower-like from above due to its channels and small angled teeth. The design of the burrs results in uniform grinding and high control over grind size, and is also highly efficient, leading to lower-speed grinders and less noise and heat generation.
96. Flat Burrs
A flat burr grinder features two horizontal blades, one positioned upwards and the other facing downwards. The coffee beans are placed between the burrs and ground, before being dropped and turned twice at 90 degrees.
In general, flat burr grinders tend to generate more heat and noise compared to conical burr grinders. However, they are also known for producing some of the most consistent coffee grounds due to their flat and large surface area, which leads to a smoother and uniform size. This results in a consistent taste in every cup of coffee.
Hoppers are containers used to store coffee beans that are positioned above the grinder. The beans are dispensed into the grinder through gravity, where they are then ground. Some hoppers have the capacity to store multiple pounds of coffee, while others, typically referred to as single-dose grinders, are designed to hold only enough for a single serving.
98. Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
TDS stands for Total Dissolved Solids and is a measurement of the amount of "stuff" or soluble solids in a liquid. In coffee, TDS reflects the level of extraction and the presence of dissolved solids in the water. The TDS of water is measured using a refractometer, which calculates the degree to which light is refracted by the liquid and compares it to an index to give a percentage extraction. TDS provides valuable data for coffee roasters and baristas to control extraction, resulting in a well-balanced coffee with a good level of complexity and sweetness. The use of TDS technology in coffee has evolved from analyzing water to measuring brewed coffee, leading to more interesting insights.
Coffee Roasting Terms
99. Coffee Roasting
Roasting is a heat process that transforms green coffee beans into the fragrant and flavorful dark brown coffee beans that we all know. This process is essential to bring out the aroma and flavor of the coffee, as the green beans are stored in a state where they maintain their quality and taste. Roasting causes chemical changes in the beans by rapidly heating them to high temperatures and then quickly cooling them to stop the process. The resulting roasted beans have a distinct coffee aroma, weigh less due to the loss of moisture, and are crunchy to the bite, ready for grinding and brewing. It is important to consume roasted coffee beans as soon as possible to enjoy the fresh roast flavor before it starts to diminish.
100. Charge Temperature
The initial temperature at which a batch of coffee beans is roasted in a machine is referred to as the charge temperature. This temperature plays a crucial role in determining the overall outcome of the roast, as making changes to it can greatly affect the rest of the roasting process.
101. End Temp
The end temperature is the point at which the roasting of coffee beans is completed. This temperature largely determines the color of the coffee and the extent to which it has been developed. A coffee that reaches a high-end temperature produces a darker roast, which will have a bold, rounded, and roasty flavor when consumed.
102. First Crack
Roasting coffee involves a series of chemical reactions caused by heat transfer that determine the final flavor and aroma of the coffee. Roasters use the first and second cracks, which are audible popping sounds that occur at 380°F and 430°F, to reach their desired roast profile. The first crack is when the beans enter an exothermic reaction and release steam, CO2, and energy from their core. It is marked by the sound of the beans cracking, which is similar to corn kernels popping. The beans start to give off smoke and their surface temperature decreases briefly as water rapidly escapes. Specialty coffee roasters often end the roast shortly after first crack to bring out the bright and natural characteristics of the coffee, but whether they continue depends on their customers' preferences. The point at which first crack occurs is defined as when all the beans in the chamber begin to crack, not just a few.
103. Green coffee of Green beans
The coffee you are currently drinking started as an unroasted, raw coffee seed known as green coffee beans. These beans are extracted from processed coffee cherries and contain all the potential flavor and taste. Roasters then take these green coffee beans and roast them to a range of roast levels including light, medium, and dark to bring out the desired flavors and taste.
104. Maillard Reaction
The Maillard reaction is a series of chemical reactions that impact the flavor and color of roasted coffee, as well as other foods like chocolate, toast, and steak. The reaction is named after French doctor Louis Camille Maillard, who first described it in 1910. It occurs when reducing sugars and amino acids react with each other. The length of the Maillard reaction can affect the characteristics of the coffee. If the reaction is too short, there will be too many organic acids in the coffee which will be unpleasant. On the other hand, if the reaction takes too long, too many soluble will dissolve, resulting in more body but with dirty and earthy tones. Roasting expert Rob Hoos says that manipulating the Maillard reaction can impact the coffee's complexity, sweetness, texture, and mouthfeel.
105. Roast date
The "roast date" on coffee bags is used by most coffee companies to inform consumers about when to brew the coffee for optimal taste. Freshly roasted coffee may contain built-up carbon, which can lead to a cup with ash or roast flavor notes. To prevent this, it is recommended to wait a few days after the roast date to allow the coffee to "rest" or degas before brewing. This will greatly enhance the taste of the coffee.
106. Roast Profile
A roast profile refers to a set of specifications that determine the desired or actual characteristics of a coffee roast.
Many coffee roasters are equipped with a probe to measure the temperature of the beans inside the drum, another probe to measure the exhaust gas, and a heat input that can be adjusted. Roasters specializing in specialty coffee use this data, along with time, to develop a consistent roast profile.
Software, such as Cropster, is utilized to log the data from the roast and display it in real time on a graph, allowing roasters to make necessary modifications.
According to renowned coffee roaster Scott Rao, a standard roast profile usually follows an "S" curve pattern, where the bean temperature drops for 70 to 90 seconds, reaches a minimum, and then rapidly increases.
107. Second Crack
The coffee roasting process is characterized by two main stages: first crack and second crack. First crack occurs at around 380°F and is defined as the point when all the coffee beans in the chamber begin to emit a cracking sound. This marks the transition from an endothermic to an exothermic reaction, where the beans begin releasing energy, steam, and carbon dioxide. Second crack occurs at around 440°F and is characterized by the migration of oils to the surface of the beans and the darkening of the roasting smoke. However, if the beans are roasted too deep into second crack, they will start to taste burnt and smoky and much of the original taste notes of the coffee will be masked.
Coffee Processing terms
108. Anaerobic Fermentation
Anaerobic fermentation is a process gaining popularity in the coffee industry where coffee is fermented in a low-oxygen environment for a certain period of time. The coffee is loaded into a sealed container which creates a low-oxygen environment and allows certain microbial species to thrive and contribute to the flavor profile of the coffee. However, it's important to note that the term "anaerobic" only refers to one step in the coffee's processing and does not give the complete picture of the coffee's post-harvest treatment. Different farms and countries have varying methods of anaerobic fermentation, and the process could include additional steps such as koji fermentation or being fermented again in an open-air tank. It's more accurate to use terms like "an anaerobic step for X duration of time" or "fermented in an anaerobic environment for X period of time."
109. Coffee Processing
The process of the coffee (Natural, Washed, Honeyed, etc.) loosely defines how the coffee was processed post-harvest. The post-harvest process has a great deal of impact on potential taste attributes and the quality of the finished product. While great-tasting coffee has come from every type of process, you will learn that specific processes may have flavor profiles more in line with your palette.
Decaffeination is a process used to remove caffeine from coffee beans. There are several methods for decaffeination, including the use of solvents (such as methylene chloride or ethyl acetate), carbon dioxide, and water.
111. Honey Process
The honey processing method for coffee involves removing the cherry but retaining the sticky mucilage layer. This layer imparts flavor to the coffee and results in a heavier body, sweet fruitiness, and moderate acidity. There are three variations of the honey process: Yellow Honey, Red Honey, and Black Honey, which differ in the frequency of turning the coffee during drying. On average, the drying time is 18 to 25 days and the result is a coffee that has a lower acidity and a sweetness reminiscent of caramel or burnt sugar.
112. Natural Decaffeination
The process works by soaking green coffee in a solution of E.A., which bonds to the salts of chlorogenic acid in the coffee and allows for the removal of caffeine. The coffee is removed from the solvent and steamed at low pressure to remove the E.A. compounds, and the finished product retains its flavor integrity but contains almost no caffeine at all. (The beans will contain a maximum of 0.01–0.03% caffeine.)
113. Natural Process
The natural process of coffee preparation involves picking the coffee cherries when they are ripe and allowing them to dry around the seed before removing the fruit. This method is different from the washed process where the fruit is removed quickly after harvesting. The natural process is mostly used in Ethiopia, Yemen, Brazil, and Costa Rica, but is also being experimented with by coffee producers around the world. The fermentation process of the coffee starts from the moment it is picked and can continue until it reaches a moisture level of 11%. This process can be influenced by temperature, exposure to sun or shade, depth on the drying bed, and rotation during drying. The natural process takes longer and is riskier than the washed process as it requires more space, attention, and labor to prevent mold and infestation during drying. The natural process is the oldest method of coffee preparation and in some cultures, the coffee fruit was allowed to dry completely on the branch. Modern natural coffees are harvested ripe and dried intentionally, typically on patios, raised beds, or drying tables, and cannot be dried in mechanical dryers like washed coffees.
114. Post-processing Care
Post-processing prep concerns how the coffee leaves the farm and arrives at the purchasing country (ultimately the roaster). The foundation of any post-processing prep is a good shipping program involving hermetically sealed bags (GrainPro is one we always look for). The GrainPro bags are an extra layer beneath coffee's traditional burlap sacks, which help prevent odors, mold, or moisture buildup. The extra layer means that coffee will maintain its quality and freshness longer than coffee arriving solely in a burlap sack.
the ripeness of the coffee cherry when harvested (also the proper sorting of under or overripe cherries)
116. Swiss Water Decaffeination
One of the most common methods is the Swiss water method, which uses only water to remove caffeine. In this method, the coffee beans are soaked in water, which dissolves the caffeine and other soluble substances. The water is then passed through a carbon filter that removes the caffeine, while the other soluble substances are left behind in the water. The coffee beans are then re-soaked in the same water, which restores the soluble substances to the beans while removing the remaining caffeine.
117. Washed Process
Washed or Wet process is considered the quickest and most efficient post-harvest processing method and is commonly used to prepare specialty-quality coffee in most of Africa, Central and South America (except Brazil), and some parts of the Asia-Pacific region. The term "Washed" usually refers to the process of removing the coffee fruit from the seed as cleanly and quickly as possible. However, there are different interpretations of "Washed" coffee, such as "Fully Washed" which uses water and others that have their mucilage mechanically removed.
118. Wet Mill and Dry Mill
The process of making coffee involves three main stages: harvesting, wet milling, and dry milling. After the coffee cherries are harvested, they go through the wet milling process to separate the beans from the fruit. This is done through the use of a pulper, a spiked drum that tears off the pulp from the seeds, which then ferment and are washed. This process takes place at washing stations. After washing, the coffee must be dried, either manually or in mechanical dryers, to halt fermentation. Once the coffee reaches the desired moisture level, it goes to the dry mill, where the parchment is removed from the beans and they are sorted to be a uniform size. Proper wet and dry milling are important steps in making high-quality coffee as poor milling can affect the flavor profile of the beans.
Coffee Professional terms
A barista is a coffee professional who prepares and serves espresso-based drinks, such as lattes and cappuccinos, as well as coffee beverages like French press, pour over and drip coffee. Baristas generally work in coffeehouses, coffee shops or coffee bars using commercial espresso machines. The term "barista" originated in Italy and refers to someone who is skilled in making espresso shots and espresso drinks. The training to become a barista can be through courses or on the job by experienced employees. Beyond making espresso and coffee drinks, baristas must also understand customer service and the differences between espresso-based drinks. Barista training can involve mastering basic drinks, creating specialized drinks and operating the complex machinery.
120. Coffee Producer
A coffee producer is a person involved in the coffee production process which includes cultivation, harvesting, post-harvest processing, storage, and grading of green coffee. The definition of a coffee producer may vary depending on the geography, but generally, a producer may be involved in post-harvest processing and commercial operations, while a farmer is more focused on growing and harvesting coffee plants. However, there can be an overlap between the two roles, and some producers may also grow coffee while some farmers may sell coffee they didn't produce. The distinction between the two is sometimes confusing, even within the coffee industry.
121. Green Coffee Buyer
The role of a green coffee buyer is to source and purchase green coffee that meets the specific demands of the company or customers. To do this, they sample and evaluate the coffee through cupping to determine if it fits the criteria. The first step for a green coffee buyer is to understand what type of coffee they need to buy. For a large roastery, this could mean identifying successful flavor profiles from the past, while for an importer, it involves connecting the right producer with the right roaster. Transparency and traceability are becoming increasingly important in the specialty coffee trade, so green coffee buyers also need to provide clear and comprehensive information about the coffee and the producer's situation.
A Q Grader is a professional who has been trained and certified in the sensory evaluation of green coffee. This certification is recognized worldwide in the coffee industry and is highly valued by employers in a variety of roles, including quality control personnel, roasters, green buyers, and exporters. Q Graders have a common understanding of quality coffee and use this shared language to communicate and access markets. With a Q Grader certification, individuals in the coffee industry have expanded opportunities due to the recognition of their skills in product quality evaluation, flavor analysis, and consistency assessment.
123. Barista League
The goal of The Barista League is to provide community-focused, accessible, and sustainable events for baristas across cities in 4 continents. It aims to bring people together and make barista competitions more accessible, without requiring 6 months and $100,000 for participation. The competition has grown from its humble beginnings in Lund, Sweden, to reach thousands of baristas globally.
124. Cup of Excellence
The Cup of Excellence was founded in 1999 as a global project to help producers receive more money and recognition for their high-quality coffees. The Cup of Excellence is a rigorous competition that is region-based and has both National and International juries.
The Cup of Excellence is a multi-faceted organization that holds competitions and auctions worldwide while also providing coffee producers with the tools, training, and education they need to improve their products.
Each country sees hundreds of entries into their Cup of Excellence competition, where the top 30 move on to the final auction. Those that make it to the auction see long-term impacts on their livelihood due to greater profits and exposure to their farm.
The greater profits often garnered from the auction can lead producers toward further investing in their equipment and people. The name recognition sticks, and with the Cup of Excellence farmer directory being public, this generally leads to new business.
The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is a global trade organization that aims to make coffee a sustainable, equitable, and thriving industry for all members of the value chain. From coffee farmers to roasters and baristas, the SCA acts as a unifying force within the specialty coffee industry, raising standards worldwide through a collaborative and progressive approach. The SCA is dedicated to building an industry that is fair, sustainable, and nurturing for all. The organization has six core values including relevant member value, the sustainable coffee industry, a community of communities, best people, ethical operation, and respect for the individual. The SCA's mission is to engage, inspire, and expand the global specialty coffee community through leadership in events, education, and research.
126. World Coffee Research
World Coffee Research is a non-profit organization (501(c)(5)) that collaborates with the global coffee industry to improve the quality of coffee and improve the livelihoods of coffee producers. Its mission is to increase, preserve, and enhance the quality of coffee while improving the livelihood of those who grow it.
The Waves of Coffee
127. First Wave Coffee
The first wave of coffee refers to the period when coffee was treated as a simple beverage to drink with meals, without much focus or care. It was considered a traditional drink with regional styles, but did not receive the same level of attention as it does today. This era of coffee started in the late 1800s to 1920s and was characterized by the rise of mass-produced coffee goods during the industrial revolution. During this time, coffee shifted from a luxury item for the elite to a commodity for the general public. Brands like Folgers and Maxwell House made coffee affordable and accessible to consumers by the mid-1950s, but without any emphasis on tasting notes, country of origin, or the influence of the supply chain on flavor.
128. Second Wave Coffee
The second wave of coffee marked the rise of modern coffee shops, like Starbucks and Peet's. These shops offered a wide range of coffee and tea beverages, including lattes, cappuccinos, and others, and provided a space for lingering, socializing, and escape from the office and home environment. This wave was a response to consumers' demand for higher quality coffee and a shift in expectations. The popularity of these coffee shops coincided with the concept of the "third place" where people could engage in casual socialization. The second wave of coffee also expanded the palate and expectations of consumers by introducing new drinks like cappuccinos, lattes, and café au laits, and making them more widely available. This wave also helped to perfect and refine these drinks by local cafés and baristas.
129. Third Wave Coffee
Third wave coffee is a new way of appreciating coffee as a complex beverage, similar to wine or beer. It focuses on the entire process from farm to cup and highlights the role of the farmers and the importance of proper growing and processing methods. Third wave coffee is concerned with specialty coffee only, and roasters often roast their coffee lightly to bring out the natural flavors and complexity of the coffee. The third wave of coffee started in the early-to-late 2000s and is marked by consumers switching to specialty coffee, as well as the increasing availability of at-home brewing instruments. Consumers also became more concerned with the actual sourcing of green coffee beans and the supply chain, leading to a demand for higher quality, sustainably sourced coffee. Organizations like the Specialty Coffee Association have played a significant role in increasing awareness and demand for specialty coffee, while local coffee shops, baristas, and roasters have been instrumental in bringing direct-trade, sustainably sourced coffee to the forefront of the industry.
130. Fourth Wave Coffee
The US coffee market is moving into its fourth wave, marked by Gen Z's coffee preferences and growth in at-home specialty coffee drinks. This wave will be defined by creative drinks, bottom-up innovation, and a fresh approach to coffee marketing. Home-made premium coffee drinks will be the focus of innovation, as many consumers upgraded their home coffee bars during the pandemic. With the decline in commutes and increase in remote work, there is a rise in ownership of specialty brewing equipment, presenting opportunities for retail coffee brands, coffee additives, and coffee appliances. Home baristas are becoming more skilled and sophisticated with a focus on better grinding, espresso preparation, and high-quality water. The fourth wave is geared towards high-end machinery for home baristas and there is an increased interest in coffee education. While this does not mean the end of the café experience, home consumers are advancing their coffee brewing knowledge and can match their favorite coffee shops.