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July 2005
Updated June 2008



Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Beverages


Coffee Glossary

Page 4: Coffee Terms & Definitions F To I


Study these terms and you’ll have a much greater appreciation of that next sip of coffee. Practice the language of coffee by using these terms to describe each cup you drink. Soon, they’ll become natural to you—and you’ll be able to educate others. This is Page 4 of a 6-page Coffee Glossary. For terms specific to espresso, see our separate Espresso Glossary. We have more than 50 food glossaries, covering your other favorite foods.

Click on the letter of the alphabet in this bar to get to a term
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This glossary is protected by copyright and cannot be reproduced in whole or part.


Fair TradeFair Trade Certified: This means that growers have received a fair market price for their harvest. The program contributes to a better way of life for farmers and their families, ensuring that farmers earn a profit for their labors, can feed their families and send their children to school. Fair Trade-certified products utilize the logo at the right.

Filtered Method: Coffee brewed with a filter, where the coffee is held separate from the sitting water.

Finish: See Aftertaste.

Flavor: The overall sensation of drinking a particular coffee. Flavor includes both taste and aroma and is influenced by both the roasting process as well as the origins of the bean. Coffee can impart a taste of the soil or even of other plants grown in the region. To fully experience the flavor, smell it first before you taste it.

Flat or Stale: A dull or stale coffee aroma and stale, papery or cardboardy taste.

Floral or Flowery: Similar to the fragrance of flowers, a flavor and aroma characteristic of many coffees. The scent is slight, as opposed to bouquet-like.

Fragrance: The aromatic sensations inhaled by sniffing; can be described as ranging from floral to spicy.

Athena French PressFrench Press: A cylindrical glass coffee pot that steeps ground coffee is hot water and then filters them with a metal filter plunger that presses the grounds to the bottom of the pot, trapping the grounds under the filter so the coffee is served from the top. Also referred to as a plunger pot.
For more information about the Athena French Press pot, click here.

French Roast: A deeper, richer blend of high-grown Central American coffees, traditionally used for espresso, cappuccino and latte. The dark brown, almost black, color is acquired through extended roasting, which brings more of the natural oil to the surface of the beans, producing a strong, full-bodied, smoky-flavored coffee. With this dark a roast, sugars in the beans are carbonizing instead of caramelizing, so there may be some charcoal notes.

Fruity: A flavor and aroma characteristic of many coffees. Either a sweet sensation reminiscent of citrus fruit, a dry sensation reminiscent of berry fruit, or a tropical fruit. Examples include Harrar, Kenya and Sidamo.

Full: A strong indication of characteristics such as acidity, body, or range of flavors.

Full-City Roast: Another term for a Vienna roast, a medium roast considered by many to be the perfect balance of acidity, aroma, body and varietal flavor.

Gamey: An off taste in the bean or brew.

Grassy: A tainted flavor to the coffee, compared to alfalfa sprouts, often resulting from unripe beans, impure water used in the washing of the beans or from faulty drying process.

Green: Processed coffee that is not yet roasted, or coffee that has been under-roasted and smells and tastes vegetal.

Grind: The size of the granules of ground coffee. The grind is particular to the coffee maker being used. A French press or other slow brewing process requires a coarse grind, as the longer-brewing process requires a slower extraction. A typical electric drip machine uses a medium grind, a stovetop machine with a metal filter uses a fine grind; paper cone filters use an extra-fine grind. Espresso machines with pump or piston actions use a special espresso grind. If the coffee is ground incorrectly, the coffee will be either very strong and thick or very weak and thin.

Half-Caf: A blending of 50% caffeinated coffee and 50% decaffeinated coffee to reduce the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee.

Hard: Coffee with a less mild taste—not a good quality. The term is also applied to some high-grown mild coffees which require a relatively long time to mature on the tree.

Hard Bean: Beans grown at high elevations mature more slowly and are harder and denser than other beans. These fine beans produce a more concentrated and intense flavor, e.g. Costa Rican coffees which are grown at altitudes over 3000 feet. Arabica coffees are more suited to high-altitude cultivation.

Harsh: A term to describe a certain coffee flavor—not a good quality.

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

Hidey: Coffee which smells and tastes like hides (or new leather shoes)—not a good quality.

IbriqHigh Grown: See Hard Bean.

Ibriq or Ibrik: A special copper pot used to make Turkish coffee (photo at right).

Iced Coffee: Brewed coffee poured over ice cubes or crushed ice.

Iced Espresso: A double shot of espresso over crushed ice.

Instant Coffee: Brewed coffee that is dehydrolized to make it instantly soluble when mixed with boiled water. After achieving popularity as a 1960s convenience food and disappearing into obscurity when a resurgence of taste appeared in the 1980s, instant coffee is reappearing in individual “coffee bags,” which are tea bags that hold instant coffee and some real coffee grounds in a tea bag.

Italian Roast or Dark Roast: The darkest style of roast that produces a deep, rich, full-bodied cup. It is generally a blend of coffees especially formulated to create the crema that espresso aficionados enjoy. The beans are dark brown with an oily surface. As with French Roast beans, with this dark a roast, sugars in the beans are carbonizing instead of caramelizing, so there may be some charcoal notes.

Irish Coffee: An after-dinner drink made by mixing one to two tablespoons each of Irish Whiskey and brown sugar with strong hot coffee, and topping with whipped cream.

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