Coffee Terms Glossary

Coffee Terms Glossary

In the coffee world, there is a lot of terminology that may need to be clarified to those interested in coffee but who are only casual drinkers.

We believe the coffee community should be more accessible, so we’ve put together a glossary of coffee terms to help you dive into the world of craft coffee. Whether you’re already a coffee enthusiast or just enjoying one of our delicious coffees, we hope you find our guide helpful.

I. Common Coffee Terms

Someone pouring milk into espresso and making latte are

A. Arabica

Arabica is a coffee made from coffee beans grown on the Coffee arabica plant. With origins in southwestern Ethiopia, numerous countries now grow and cultivate arabica coffee.

Arabica coffee often has sweet and fruity notes but equally grainy or nutty flavors.

B. Aroma

Aroma refers to the smells that fresh coffee, or coffee grinds, give off.

Like wine, coffee aromas can help drinkers connect with a memory or even identify the type of coffee being served.

C. Barista

A Barista is a person who prepares and serves coffee and espresso-based drinks.

Becoming a skilled Barista requires two things: practice and patience. These qualities, and the desire to learn more about the coffee industry, can help you become a great Barista.

D. Body

A coffee’s “body” is one of the handful of characteristics that expert cuppers use to describe and discern a coffee’s quality. Body can also be described as texture. Examples of Body descriptors include: light-bodied, medium-bodied, and full-bodied.

Additionally, how coffee is roasted and brewed can impact its body!

E. Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that interacts with your body’s nervous system and increases alertness.

Coffee, teas, soft drinks, and energy drinks are some beverages containing caffeine. A handful of food items, including chocolate, can also contain caffeine.

F. Crema

In the world of coffee, crema refers to the brown foam that forms at the top of fresh expresso.

G. Cupping

When coffee industry professionals sample and evaluate different coffees. Coffee grinds are put into cups, and hot water is poured over them. Then, the tasters go through a series of tasting processes and often make notes and have discussions.

II. Brewing Methods and Equipment

A. AeroPress

The AeroPress brewing method requires an AeroPress. You will also need:

  • Coffee beans
  • A coffee grinder
  • Something to heat up your water (a kettle or pot)
  • A funnel to put your grounds into the Aeropress
  • A stir stick

What’s great about the AeroPres brewing method?

This brewing method is relatively simple. It is fast, and it gives you the flexibility to create different types of coffee drinks/

B. Chemex

The Chemex was invented in 1941 and has been helping folks brew great-tasting coffee since.

The Chemex brewing method requires a Chemex. You will also need:

  • A Chemex filter
  • Coffee beans
  • A coffee grinder
  • Something to heat up your water (a kettle or pot)
  • A funnel to put your grounds into the Aeropress
  • A stir stick
  • A timer

The Chemex process is simple and allows you to make a more purposeful cup of coffee when you have the time to do so.

C. French Press

The French Press is a simple yet sophisticated way to brew your morning cup.

You only need a French Press, hot water, and ground coffee beans.

Read our guide on how to make French Press Coffee.

D. Pour-over

It is a process where you boil water and pour it over a filter containing coffee grounds.

Learn how to make pour-over coffee in our guide. 

E. Espresso Machine

Espresso machines force hot and pressurized water through coffee grinds and a filter, resulting in what we know as espresso.

Coffee shops have espresso machines because espresso is a critical ingredient in numerous coffee drinks, such as cappuccinos, lattes, and more.

F. Grinder

A coffee grinder allows you to grind whole beans into coarse, standard, or espresso (fine) grinds.

If you use an automatic drip coffee maker, we recommend a coarse or standard grind, depending on how extracted you like your coffee. If you tend to like lighter coffees, go with the coarse grind. If you like more flavorful coffees with more body, we recommend our standard grind.

If you plan to make a shot of espresso, we absolutely recommend the espresso grind.

Explore our coffee grind size guide to learn more about coffee grinds. 

III. Types of Coffee

A. Decaffeinated or Decaf

Decaffeinated, or decaf, coffee is coffee that contains very little caffeine.

While coffee beans naturally contain caffeine, there are a few methods to extract caffeine from coffee, allowing you to enjoy a cup of coffee even if you’re avoiding caffeine.

Coffee is decaffeinated prior to roasting (while the beans are still green!). Due to caffeine’s water-solubility, the process of decaffeination always involves water.

Want to learn more? We recommend exploring the Swiss Water Decaf Process, The Direct-Solvent Method, or the Indirect-Solvent Method.

We offer one decaf coffee option, Peru Decaf Single Origin, and a Half Caff Blend option, containing half caffeinated and decaf beans.

B. Single-Origin

Single-origin coffees come from a specific area or region. This allows drinkers to “taste” the region’s identity due to the unique characteristics of the coffee beans grown there.

We offer five organic single-origin coffees:

Related: What is Single Origin Coffee?

IV. Coffee Drinks

A lineup of coffee drinks, such as an espresso, a latte, a cortado, and more.

A. Americano

An Americano is a shot of espresso diluted with hot water. 

Related: What is an Americano?

B. Cappuccino

A Cappuccino is made using a shot of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. The ratio for these three ingredients should be 1:1:1.

C. Cortado

A Cortado is a drink made using two ingredients: a shot of espresso and steamed milk. The ratio of espresso to milk should be 1:1.

D. Drip Coffee

The term drip coffee is used to describe coffee made in a coffee pot. This is the standard “American” cup of coffee.

E. Flat White

A shot of espresso and microfoam. A flat white is similar to a latte, but has a higher coffee to milk ratio. 

F. Latte

A Latte is made using a shot of espresso and steamed milk. The ratio of espresso to milk is 1:3

G. Macchiato

A Macchiato is an espresso shot topped with steamed (a literal splash) or foamed milk.

H. Red Eye

A Red Eye is a drip coffee with a shot of espresso in it!

I. Shot

A shot is also known as an espresso or a shot of espresso.

V. Additional Coffee Terms

A. Fair Trade

If coffee is designated as “Fair Trade” is it certified as being produced to fair trade standards. These standards include:

  • Fair labor practices
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Transparent supply chains

B. Organic Coffee

Organic coffee is grown without using harmful pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Because of this, organic coffee is less tampered with (from a genetic perspective), ensuring you get the most authentic flavor from coffee that is sustainability made.

D. Tasting Notes

Every person’s palate is different, but coffee lovers have attempted to create tasting notes to help measure a coffee’s consistency (from the roasting perspective).

Tasting notes are made up of three different factors: acidity, bitterness, and sweetness. Explore the coffee color wheel to get a sense of how specific tasting notes can be when you dial in coffee tasting like an expert.

V. Conclusion: Using This Coffee Terms Glossary

We hope that you find our coffee terms glossary helpful. Whether you’re a casual coffee drinker or plan to become a connoisseur, we hope to help you along your journey.

This is a living document that we will be updating every so often with new findings and additional resources.

Ready to get your hands on some Tiny Potato Coffee? Explore our craft coffees now. 


Rachel Noall

Rachel Noall

Rachel Noall is one of the founders of Tiny Potato Coffee Company. She spent much of her 20's exploring Europe, and while in Rome for 6 months lived across the alley from the infamous La Casa del Caffè Tazza d'Oro. This kicked off her true love of coffee, it's history, and the routine surrounding the beverage.

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