Understanding Coffee Terminology

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Have you ever experienced coffee terminology anxiety? You know, that feeling when you enter a shop and see Americano, macchiato, cappuccino – the words all swarming and blurring together as you stare at the overhead coffee menu, deliberating, trying to order, not sure what’s what.

Coffee culture has taken root in today’s society, and as coffee becomes more prevalent, it also becomes more nuanced. Coffee terms may seem overwhelming, but after consulting our coffee terminology guide, you’ll be confident and assured the next time you place your order at your shop of choice.

Coffee Terms: The Roasts

Dark: Dark coffee roasts are often bitter. Generally, the darker the coffee roast, the less present the origin flavors of the bean. However, dark roasts do absorb flavors from the roasting process, often producing a smoky taste with lower levels of caffeine.

Medium: Medium roast beans are paired for the balanced flavors and aromas. Less acidic that light roasted coffee, medium roasts are brown in color with well-rounded taste notes.

Light: Lighted bodied and light brown in color, light roasts are known for their strong acidity and toasted grain taste. Light roast coffee is also known to retain higher amounts of caffeine as compared to medium and darker roasts.

roasting-coffee

Roasting coffee | Rich Bowen via Flickr

Coffee Terminology: Preparation

French Press: A beloved coffee term, french press coffee is known for being dense and slightly heavy, but well-bodied and elegant. With a mere four-minute brewing process, French press coffee is the fastest route to decadence we’ve seen.

Chemex: Newer to the language of coffee terminology, chemex brewing is designed to extract only the desirable part of ground beans. The coffee analog equivalent, the chemex system is a manual pour-over brew produced in glass containers. If you’re a fan of coffee aesthetics, this is for you.

Pour Over: A great coffee term to know, pour-over coffee is simple and straightforward. The best way to appreciate coffee at its core, pour-over systems are a more delicate version of drip coffee makers. No power cords and no fuss, pour over coffee is pure goodness.

Coffee Guide: The Drinks

Brew: What would a coffee terminology guide be without a few drink tips? Brew is your classic cup of Joe. It could be pour over or simple drip; ask your barista to learn more about the process of bean to cup.

Espresso: Essentially a shot of coffee, espresso is a strong force produced by brewing finely ground coffee beans under nearly boiling water.

Americano: This coffee term is worth knowing; Americanos are essentially watered down shots of espresso. Pour boiling water atop espresso shots, and an Americano is made.

Macchiato

Macchiato by Johnny via Flickr

Macchiato: This coffee term translates to “little marked drink,” a perfect description of the drink itself. A shot of espresso topped with a slight layer of steamed milk, macchiatos are sophisticated and simple.

Latte: A three-part concoction, lattes are comprised of a shot of espresso, steamed milk, and a slight layer of foam. A popularized American drink, lattes are often nuanced by flavors and syrups such as vanilla, caramel, and pumpkin.

Cappuccino: Equal parts coffee and steamed milk, a cappuccino is simple and straightforward. Think latte, but more foam.

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