Glossary

Country of Origin Country of Origin is where the coffee is grown in general terms. Region is a more specific area within the country. Arabica coffee grows in only in particular environments with adequate rainfall, temperate climates, good soil (often volcanic), sufficient altitude, and roughly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
Crack An audible popping sound heard during roasting. In coffee, one refers to "first crack" and "second crack," which come from two different classes of chemical reactions.
Creamy A mouthfeel description indicating thickness and soft, rounded texture. See also buttery.
creosol A burnt flavor taste caused by phenolic compounds from dark roast levels.
Crisp Crisp can have several meanings, since it modifies other flavor terms. Crisp acidity might mean bracing, fresh fruit acids. Crisp chocolate notes might refer to tangy bittersweetness. It involves something that occurs briefly, and that provokes reaction, normally positive.
Crop This is the crop year the coffee was harvested and processed in, and provided that the coffee has been properly stored and is the MOST current available crop, shouldn't be a primary consideration in buying a green coffee from us. It is sometimes expressed as a single year or a split year ('01/'02 for example). The industry standard is that the crop year as inked on the burlap bag means the year it was grown-picked-milled-shipped and then arrived at market. But this is a very long process which means that a very fresh green coffee selling in December of 2008 will be '07/'08 since '08/'09 crop would not arrive until March-April '03. So the dates are a bit confusing but Sweet Maria's is really obsessed with green coffee freshness, and I think that many in the trade are not always paying attention to this issue. Crop is marked on all coffee bags, and is Cosecha in Spanish. Now that we use vacuum packing, we have extended the life of coffee and mazimized it's freshness.
Crust In coffee cupping (tasting), you first judge the Dry Fragrance by smelling the ground coffee. Then you add hot water and judge the wet aroma. This is done in 2 steps: first by sniffing the crust of floating grounds that naturally caps the liquid mixture, then by "breaking" the crust with a cupping spoon.
Cultivar The naming of a cultivar should conform to the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (the ICNCP, commonly known as the Cultivated Plant Code). A cultivar is a particular variety of a plant species or hybrid that is being cultivated and/or is recognised as a cultivar under the ICNCP. The concept of cultivar is driven by pragmatism, and serves the practical needs of horticulture, agriculture, forestry, etc. The plant chosen as a cultivar may have been bred deliberately, selected from plants in cultivation. This is the term we prefer to Varietal in terms of coffee, since it implies the intentional cultivation for organoleptic and production results.
Cultivar Flavor In-the-cup coffee flavors (and in extension aromatics) that result from the plant material used to produce the coffee. In general, the Coffea Arabica sub-species does not display strong flavor distinctions between cultivars as one might find with wine or other fruits. Any flavors from the cultivar are highly influenced by the growing environment and processing, but in some cases cultivars have distinct taste recognizable to most coffee drinkers, as with Pacamara or Gesha types. Robusta and Liberica have distinct flavors, but these are different sub-species: Coffea
Cup of Excellence The Cup of Excellence (COE) is a competition held more-or-less yearly in many coffee producing countries. Until 2008, the COE was limited to Central and South America, but with the 2008 Rwanda Cup of Excellence the competition has expanded to Africa, as well. In the COE, coffees are rated by an international jury and then auctioned off. COE coffees regularly fetch many times normal market rates for coffee, with the top coffees ofter selling for more than $20/pound. The Cup of Excellence was founded in 1999 in Brazil and expanded to other countries in the coming years.
Cuppers Correction The cupper's correction is a term we use to measure the "intangible" qualities of a cup: if, for instance, a coffee totals 88 points, but it is high quality enough that we feel it should be a 90, we add in a +2 cupper's correction.
Cupping Spoon A cupping spoon is specifically designed for the tasting procedure of the same name, cupping. It is similar to some bouillon spoons or gumbo spoons, and features (usually) a round deep bowl and arched handle. They are highly fetishized objects by the coffee cupper, and some guard their favorite spoon jealously!
Current Crop Refers to any coffee that has not been replaced by new crop shipments, even if it was shipped from origin many months before. See Past Crop and New Crop as well.
Decaffeinated coffee Coffee from which caffeine has been removed, either chemically or using water filtration. A variety of methods for decaffeination exist, but all operate on the same basic principle: coffee is soaked in a liquid (water or pressurized carbon dioxide) bath and the caffeine is extracted from the liquid. See SWP, CO2 process, Ethyl Acetate. Decaffeinated beans have a much darker appearance and give off little chaff when roasting. Decafs will roast differently than regular coffees because of their altered state; in most roasting methods, they will roast faster than regular beans.
Deep Roasted Coffee that turns from green to brown under the watchful, loving supervision of a "roast master" is called "Deep Roasted Coffee". Only a craftsperson with years of experience can truly "deep roast" a coffee.
defect In coffee, a defect refers to specific preparation problems with the green coffee, or a flavor problem found in the cupping process. Bad seeds in the green coffee sample are termed defects, and scored against the coffee to determine it's grade. Also, defect flavors are those found in cupping the coffee, and described by a host of unfavorable terms, such as Skunky, Dirty, Cappy, Soapy, Animal-like, Sour, etc. Roast problems can produce defect flavors, as well as poor sorting or preparation of the coffee, mistakes in transportation and storage, problems at the wet mill, bad picking of the fruit or problems going back to the tree itself.
Degassing Degassing, or resting refers to the step after home roasting a batch; coffee brewed immediately has so much C0-2 coming off it that it prevents good extraction or infusion of water. Time is often needed to allow the coffee to off-gas. Also, certain characteristics are not developed immediately after roasting, such as body. A rest of 12-24 hours is recommended, or up to 3-5 days for some espresso coffees.
Degree of Roast Degree of Roast simply means the roast level of a coffee, how dark it has been roasted. The longer a coffee is exposed to a constant heated environment, the darker it roasts. One part of roasting consistency is to match degree-of-roast from batch to batch, if that is desired. The second is to match the Roast Profile (AKA Roast Curve), the time-temperature relationship that was applied to the roast.
Demucilage Mucilage is the fruity layer of the coffee cherry, between the outer skin and the parchment layer that surrounds the seed. In the traditional wet-process method, the mucilage is broken down by fermentation and then washed off. A forced demucilage machine does this with water and friction, such as a Penagos or Pinhalense Demucilager. The early machines were called "Aqua-pulpers" but they damaged the coffee, resulting in fruity or fermenty flavors.
Density The density of a coffee bean is often taken as a sign of quality, as a more dense bean will roast more evenly. The higher a coffee is grown, the more dense it is likely to be. Coffee is sorted at origin by density, with the most dense beans graded as specialty coffee.
Density Sorting Density sorting is a step at the dry mill where coffee is run across a density table. Tilted at an angle, the table vibrates and dense coffee beans travel to the TOP or the highest side of the table, whereas less dense seeds go to the LOWER angle of the table. Less dense seeds are either outright defects, or tend to have poor cup character because they are damaged, or under-developed. The density table is often called an Oliver table, and there are inferior air-based sorters as well.
Department A Department is the term used in many Latin American countries for a State. For example, Huila Department is the state in the South of the country where much coffee is grown
Descaling The process of removing harmful scale buildup from a boiler. Descaling is usually accomplished by adding a commercial descaling product or citric acid to water and running this solution through a machine. Espresso machines and brewers should be descaled regularly (with the frequency depending on the hardness of water used) to maintain optimal functionality.
Direct Trade A term used by coffee sellers to indicate that the coffee was purchased through a direct relationship with the farmer. Unlike Fair Trade and Organic certifications, Direct Trade is not an official, third-party certification. Our Direct Trade coffees are marked as "Farm Gate."
Dirty Cup Dirty cup is a general term implying some form of taint, usually an earthy defect, but also a mixed defect of ferment, hardness, dirt, moldy flavors etc.
Doser A doser is a mechanism, usually attached to the front of a burr grinder, for putting coffee into an espresso portafilter basket. Ground coffee sits in the doser and is pushed out and into the portafilter by the pull of a lever. Dosers are designed to push out the same amount of coffee (typically 6-7 grams) every time the lever is pulled, but, in practice, this feature only works is the doser if full of grounds, which is unlikely to happen in the case of a home user.
Doserless A grinder that ejects its grounds directly through a chute, rather than into a doser.
Drum Roaster A roaster with a rotating drum that provides agitation to the beans, while a heating element (typically either electric or gas) provides heat. The metal drum conducts heat to the beans, so drum roasters heat beans both by convection and conduction. Drum roasters typically roast more slowly than air roasters, and impart a more rounded, less bright flavor profile.
Dry Fragrance In the cupping procedure for tasting and scoring coffee, this is the smell of the dry, ground coffee before hot water is added. The term fragrance is used since it is normally applied to things we smell but do not consume (perfume, for example), whereas aroma is usually applied to foods and beverages.
dry mill A facility that accepts dried coffee cherry and mechanically separates the coffee bean from the dried fruit and parchment layer. The facility can be highly mechanized, as in Ethiopia, or very simple, as in Yemen.
dry process Dry process is a method to transform coffee from the fruit of the coffee tree to the green coffee bean, ready for export. Dry processing is the original method, and the wet process was devised later (as well as the very recent pulp natural process). It is a simple method, using less machinery and more hand labor, and has been a tradition in some growing origins for centuries. It risks tainting the coffee with defect flavors due to poor handling, drying, or ineffective hand-sorting. In dry processing the fruit is picked from the tree and dried directly in the sun or on raised screens, without peeling the skin, or any water-based sorting or fermenting. The dried coffee turns to a hard, dark brown pod, and the green seed is torn out from the skin and parchment layers in one step, or pounded out by hand. Because there is no chance to skim off floating defects, or removed under-ripes as with the wet process, most defects must be removed visually, by hand. Dry process coffees generally have more body and lower acidity than their wet process counterparts, with more rustic flavors due to the long contact between the drying fruit and the seed. They also can have more defects, taints, and lack of uniformity both in the roast and in cupping. A dry process coffee is sometimes referred to as natural coffee, full natural, or traditional dry process, or abbreviated DP.
Drying Coffee In both dry-process and wet-process (and the other hybrid processes like pulp natural and forced demucilage) the coffee must always be dried before processing. In dry process you simply pick the coffee cherry fruit from the tree and lay it out in the sun to dry. In wet process you pulp the seed out of the fruit skin, ferment it to break down the fruity mucilage, wash it, and then dry it. Drying on raised beds is usually preferable by buyers like us, rather than on the ground or in a drying machine (a Guardiola).
E61 A classic espresso group-head design, originally invented by Faema and used on a variety of machines. The E61 is easily identified by its pre-infusion chamber located just behind the portafilter and by its small external lever used for activating the brew cycle.
earthy Sumatra coffees can have a positive earthy flavor, sometimes described as "wet earth" or "humus" or "forest" flavors. But Earthy is a flavor term with some ambivalence, used positively in some cases, negatively in others. Usually, if we use the term dirty, groundy or swampy, we are implying a negative earth flavor, but earthy itself in Indonesia coffees is a positive assertion. Earthy in a Central America wet-process coffee is NOT a positive term though, since it is out of character, and does not fit the flavor profile
effervescent While coffee is not a carbonated beverage, at times a combination of factors (brightness/acidity with a light mouthfeel) can make the coffee dance on the palate. I use the term effervescent to describe this light and lively sensation.
Emulsion In coffee, "emulsion" typically refers to the suspension of coffee oils in water. While brewed coffee is primarily an extraction, espresso is both an extraction and an emulsion because it occurs under pressure.
Endothermic A term applied to chemical reactions, referring to a reaction that absorbs heat. Most parts of the coffee roasting process are endothermic.
Environment Temperature The temperature of the roasting environment determines the specific types of chemical reactions that occur. There is a window of temperatures that produce favorable reactions for the ideal cup characteristics. Temperature values outside of this window have a negative effect on quintessential cup quality. Even within the window values, different temperatures will change the character of the cup, giving the roaster the latitude to develop a personality or style desired, or to tame the rough signature of certain coffees while still optimizing relative quality. System Energy: At any given environment temperature, the amount of energy (BTU) and the roasting system's transfer efficiency will determine the rate at which the specific chemistry will occur. Higher levels of both energy and transfer efficiency will cause the reactions to progress more quickly. There is a window of reaction rates that will optimize cup quality. This is called the Best Reaction Ratio
Erna Knutsen Erna is known as the first dedicated "Specialty Coffee" importers/brokers in the US ... in fact she coined the term Specialty Coffee! Here bio reads, "After several years in the bay area Erna took a part time job as an executive secretary at a coffee and spice company. In addition to keeping the extensive "position book", taking dictation, and handling correspondence for the president of the company, she was called upon to deal with odd lots of coffee, and sell to the "small trade"." In other words, there were small Italian roasters still remaining in the Bay Area, and the salespeople did want to deal with them and their demands for better quality coffee from specific origins. She has a coffee importing business at www.knutsencoffees.com
Erpsig Erpsig is German for pea-like; cooked bean, pea, or lentil sensation. It is called Peasy, but related to earthy, mushroom, groundy defect flavors, not to leguminous flavors.
Espresso Standard Blends When we maintain an Espresso Standard blend, like Espresso Monkey Blend, we have to find new lots to maintain the flavors of the blend as the coffee crops change. That can be a tough job, to optimize the blend and, at the same time, to maintain the "spirit of the blend" ... its original intent. There will be shifts in the blend, inevitably.
Espresso Workshop Blends "Espresso Workshop"? We are going to divide our blend offerings into Standards, blends with the same name we maintain and are consistently offered, and new Espresso Workshop editions. The later are blends that are only offered for as long as we have the specific lots of coffee we used to design the blend, and then it's gone. When we maintain an Espresso Standard blend, like Espresso Monkey Blend, we have to find new lots to maintain the flavors of the blend as the coffee crops change. That can be a tough job, to optimize the blend and, at the same time, to maintain the "spirit of the blend" ... it's original intent. There will be shifts in the blend, inevitably. In a sense, Workshop Espresso editions are pure and uncompromising: specific coffees are found that inspire testing, and a new blend idea is born. Instead of maintaining the blend and making ingredient substitutions down the line, the Workshop editions follow the crop cycle of the coffee; they come and go.
Esters An ester is an often fragrant organic or partially organic compound formed by the reaction between an acid (including amino acids) and an alcohol. They play a smaller role in coffee aromatics than Ketones and Aldehydes, but can be distinct fruit flavor contributors.
Ethyl Acetate A chemical decaffeination process, but one using a mild type with low toxicity. It sometimes imparts fruity flavors to the coffee. This is a "direct contact method" of decaffeination since the solvent chemical that washes out the caffeine comes into contact with the coffee. Since Ethyl Acetate can be naturally derived from fruits and vegetables, it is considered benign.
european preparation European Preparation indicates that additional hand sorting has been performed on the coffee at the mill after optical sorting. The terms is used in central and south America. I suppose it originated because certain European buyers required the extra sorting, and this then became a standard and a selling point. "Hmm, those Europeans know their coffee, I'll get the preparation they like." What is funny is that the absence of the term does not mean that hand sorting is lacking, since many many coffees have high levels of hand sorting but there is no indication of that in the name. European prep does not necessarily mean the cup is better or worse than a coffee without this term applied.
Excelsa Coffea Excelsa is a distinct Species in the Genus Coffea, and has
Excelso A Colombian coffee grade referring to screen size of 15-16. In the traditional bulk Arabica business, Excelso is a step below the large bean Supremo grade, which indicates screen size 17-18.
Exothermic A term applied to chemical reactions, referring to a reaction that releases energy. A classic example is burning. Most parts of the coffee roasting process are endothermic, but first crack is exothermic.
Extraction Refers to the process of infusing coffee with hot water. Hot water releases or "extracts" the flavor from the roasted, ground coffee.
Facing Facing refers to scorch marks found on the flat side or face of the coffee bean. Along with tipping, it is one of the telltale signs of scorching, a roast problem.
Faded A general characterization that cup flavors are diminishing in quality due to age of the green coffee, and loss of organic compounds.
fanega A fanega is a measure of coffee used in some Latin America countries. It is equal to 250 kilograms of coffee cherry. It is used to measure only whole coffee fruit.
Farm Gate Farm Gate Coffee is the name we give to our direct trade coffee buying program. Farm Gate pricing means that we have negotiated a price directly with the farmer "at the farm gate," that is, without any of the confusing export and import fees. The prices we pay for our coffees are above Fair Trade minimums, and with our Farm Gate coffees we can easily verify that the good price we pay makes it to the people who do the work, and are responsible for the great cup quality of our coffee. Farm Gate is a simple principle that allows coffee producers to make premium prices in reward for coffee quality, and to reinvest to improve quality even more in the future. See http://www.sweetmarias.com/farmgatecoffee.html for more information. We guarantee that Farm Gate prices are 50% over Fair Trade (FT) pricing, but often they are 100%+ more that FT minimums. We support FT, and continue to offer FT lots. Fair Trade is a co-op certification - that is, it also does not allow certification for small independent farms - it is for co-ops only. We do support coffee co-ops, they are often not what consumers might think. There are many excellent co-ops, and many that are large, powerful, corrupt, and mired in bureaucracy. We avoid the bureaucracy of coops that sometimes do not share premium prices with their farmer members. Fair Trade certifies that the co-operative received the FT price, but it does not guarantee that the men and women who produce your coffee were paid the FT price. On the flip side, bear in mind that FT is a global standard, is verified by certifiers that make regular (if infrequent) visits to the coops. We don't have a third-party certifier. Instead we substitute our direct involvement at ground level in the buying process with farms, that we know what they received if we are paying them through a middle-person. Exporters and importers have a changing role, offering a service as logisitcs coordinators (and an important one at that) rather than coffee resellers. Any coffee bought off an importer/broker list does not qualify for Farm Gate, and we do still buy some coffees that way. Further, lots from origins where hundreds of tiny farms contribute to even the smallest importable lots, such as Sumatra, or Yemen, can't qualify for Farm Gate in many cases nor can Auction Lot Kenyas, even though we pay extremely high prices for all these coffees, and know from direct observation that a premium reaches the farmer.
Fazenda Fazenda is the Portuguese word for farm, hence it is the term used in Brazil. Fazenda is not a coffee-specific term.
ferment Ferment is the sour off flavor, often vinegar-like, that results from several possible problems. It might be the result of seriously over-ripe coffee cherry. It can come from coffee cherry that was not pulped the same day it was picked, and/or was exposed to high heat between picking and processing. Often it comes from poor practices at the wet mill, when coffee is left too long in the fermentation tank, or old coffee that is over-fermented is mixed with new coffee.
Fermentation A key part of the wet process of coffee fruit is overnight fermentation, to break down the fruit (mucilage) layer that tenaciously clings to the coffee seed, so it can be washed off. Fermentation must be done soon after picking the cherry from the tree, and lasts 12 - 24 hours depending on temperatures and other factors. When you feel the slimy coffee and the parchment layer feels rough like sandpaper, the coffee is ready to wash. Good fermentation and subsequent drying can lead to the cleanest coffee flavors in wet-process lots. Note that when I talk about fermentation, I don't mean to imply that the coffee seed is subject to fermentation. That would create defective coffee. The fruit coating the outer parchment skin is broken down with the action of peptic enzymes in the coffee. Cacao is fermented, coffee is not.
fermented As a defect flavor, a fruit quality in a coffee that is excessively ripe, toward rotten. Fermented flavor can be the result of poor wet-processing, over-ripe cherry, or some other contamination in the processing. As a processing step, all wet-process coffee is fermented to break down the mucilage. Coffee is fermented for 12-24 hours, sometimes longer, so the mucilage can be washed off the parchment layer.
fermenty A defect flavor, a fruit quality in a coffee that is excessively ripe, toward rotten. This often takes the form of vinegar-like aroma and flavor. Fermenty or vinegar flavors can result from high levels of acetic acid, whereas moderate levels lead to positive winey flavors.
filtercone Filtercones, as the name implies, are simply cones that hold a coffee filter. The cone fits on to the top of a coffee cup, grounds and a filter are put in, water drips straight through into the cup. A filtercones must be used with either a paper filter or a permanent filter.
filterscreen This is the part of the French Press that actually filters the coffee as the plunger is being pushed downward. It is a circular mesh screen either made of nylon or stainless steel and threads onto the plunger shaft. The screen must be cleaned after use and replaced periodically.
Finca Finca is the Spanish word for farm. Sometimes the term Hacienda is used to imply an Estate, which would mean the farm has it's own wet-mill. A Finca does not necessarily have a mill. Finca is not a coffee-specific term.
finish Similar to aftertaste, but it refers to the impression as the coffee leaves the palate. Aftertaste is the sensations gathered after the coffee has left the mouth. We combine these to form the "final flavor impression" of the coffee
Flat Bean The normal coffee fruit has 2 seeds inside, facing each other on their flat side. A percentage of each plant has peaberries, which are fruits where one of the ovules aborts and the remaining single seed grows to a rounded form; a "peaberry". Usually it goes without saying that a coffee is a flat bean, but in some origins like Tanzania with high percentages of peaberry, the term is used.
Flat Burr Grinder A grinder with two flat, parallel disc-shaped burrs. Produces the most even grind at all settings, fine, medium and coarse. Typically more expensive than other mills.
Flavor This is the overall impression in the mouth, including the above ratings as well as tastes that come from the roast. There are 5 "Primary Tastes" groupings (Sour, Sweet ,Salty, Bitter, Savory (Umami) and many "Secondary Tastes," as you can see on the Tasters Flavor Wheel. As the primary category in taste evaluation (what coffee would you want to drink that smelled good and tasted awful?) it is of great importance. But in a sense the flavor impression is divided between this score AND the Finish/ Aftertaste score.
Flavor Profile Flavor Profile implies a graphical impression of a particular coffee, whether it be an artistic portrait or data graph of the perception of flavor compounds. In the case of our spider graph charts in each of our coffee reviews, this could be considered a flavor profile. It implies the inter-relationship of flavors.
Flavor Wheel A term that probably refers to the SCAA Flavor Wheel, an analysis tool adapted from the wine industry. Half of it is dedicated to chiefly negative, defective flavors, while the other is mainly positive aspects. The hierarchy of flavor and aroma origins it connotes is highly questionable, but it remains a useful (if limited) tool for assigning language to sensory experience.
Floater In the wet process, and sometimes in Pulp Natural or Forced Demucilage process, coffee cherries or parchment are floated in a tank of water. Good cherries or seeds are dense and sink. A coffee bean that did not mature inside the parchment layer will float in wet-processing.
Floaters During the wet-process method, coffee cherry or the de-pulped (without skin) coffee seeds are floated in a water bath and/or transported down a channel in water. At this time, floating fruit can be skimmed off, whereas good fruit/seeds will sink. Coffee will float if the bean is hollow, undeveloped, under-developed, damaged by the coffee berry borer or other pest.
Floral Primarily an aromatic quality, but also a flavor, reminiscent of flowers. If generally perfumey and flower-like, it might be described simply as floral, but usually a specific type is described; jasmine, rose-like, fruit blossoms (cherry, orange, peach, etc)
Flores Flores is small by island standards, just about 360 kilometers end to end. It is in the Indonesian archipelago, between Sumbawa and Timor islands. The name is an abbreviation of Cabo da Flores which was used by Portuguese sailor in the 17th century to identify the cape on the eastern end of the islands because of its underwater gardens. Divided by mountain chains and volcanoes, the island populated by ethnic groups with their own traditions and languages. Predominantly Catholic, the have retained several aspects of the Portuguese culture such as the Easter parade held annually at Larantuka on the eastern part of the island and the Royal Regalia of the former King of Sikka. The coffee areas are higher altitude compared to other Indonesian origins, but the highest peak is just 1736 meters. The milling tradition is wet-process, so this coffee bears resemblance to the coffees of Timor-Leste, New Guinea and Java more than to the semi-washed coffees of Sumatra and Sulawesi. It is sweet, floral (appropriately since Flores means Flowers), with good syrupy body, and a clean cup overall. It has uses in espresso. See our Flores Coffee Offerings for more information.
Fluid Bed Roaster A fluid-bed roaster works by pushing hot air across coffee beans. The roast chamber is filled with heated air provided by a small fan and heating coil located beneath the chamber. In a fluid-bed roaster, the flow of air is both the heat source and the mechanism responsible for agitating the beans. Since air is the heat source, heating happens via convection, rather than via convection and conduction, as in a drum roaster. Fluid-bed roasters are generally less expensive than comparable drum roasters, and they produce a bright flavor profile. This type of roaster works well with small size batches (under half a pound).
Fly Crop There are no flies in the "Fly Crop" but the term is intriguing, and it's origin yet a mystery to me. Fly crop is the smaller harvest that occurs in Kenya, in cyclical opposition to the Main crop harvest of August to October. It yields smaller amounts of coffee, and some say the quality is lower. While I have cupped occasional good fly crop lots, I have to agree; they qualify more as Kenya blenders than the "Grand Cru" powerhouses of the peak Main Crop auctions
FNC The FNC is the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia, the coffee association of Colombia. They fund CENICAFE research institute, which has an extensive cultivar collection.
Foresty A flavor found in rustic Indonesia coffees, wet-hulled types from Sulawesi and Sumatra in particular. It is sometimes called "Forest Floor" flavors and refers to a combined set of sensory experience, like a walk in the forest: earthy, humus, woodsy, mushroomy. reminicient
French Mission Bourbon French Missionaries brought the original coffee to East Africa, from Reunion island to Tanzania, then Kenya. There are still areas with original Bourbon rather than the SL varieties. This Bourbon appears to have Mokka inputs as well, since coffee was brought directly from Aden, Yemen to northern Tanzania (Tanganyika) by French fathers, and the two naturally mutated into what was called French Mission coffee.
french press A simple coffee brewer: grounds and hot water are added to a carafe, allowed to sit for several minutes, and then a filter is pushed down to hold the grounds at the bottom of the carafe. French presses have the advantage that they are very easy to control: dose/grind, water temperature, and extraction time are all manageable. Presses result in a high-body cup with more residual grounds that most brewing methods.
French Roast Sugars are heavily caramelized (read as burned) and are degraded; the woody bean structure is carbonizing, the seed continues to expand and loose mass, the body of the resulting cup will be thinner/lighter as the aromatic compounds, oils, and soluble solids are being burned out of the coffee and rising up to fill your house with smoke. 474 is well beyond any roast I do on the Probat. Second crack is well finished. I will go as high as 465 on a couple blends, and that's my limit. For more information and pictures of the degree of roast, see our Roasted Coffee Pictorial Guide.
Fresh Roast Coffee Roaster A home air roaster with a 2.25oz capacity. For more information, check out our Fresh Roast product page.
Fruited In some coffee taster’s lexicon, “fruity” means the coffee is tainted with fruit, and “fruited” means a coffee is graced by positive fruit notes. We don’t exactly see the difference in terms of these two words, but the question of fruit flavors emerging in a coffee context is critical. Is it a good quality? Is it fresh, aromatic, sweet fruit? Is it ripe, or is it over-ripe, fermenty, vinegary fruit? And there’s a side argument as well: did the fruit flavors come from well-prepared coffee, or did it emerge in a process where the coffee had too much contact with the mucilage of the coffee cherry. (This might happen in over-fermenting, in a hybrid process such as Indonesia wet-hulling, or in poorly executed dry-processing).
Fruity In some coffee taster’s lexicon, “fruity” means the coffee is tainted with fruit, and “fruited” means a coffee is graced by positive fruit notes. We don’t exactly see the difference in terms of these two words, but the question of fruit flavors emerging in a coffee context is critical. Is it a good quality? Is it fresh, aromatic, sweet fruit? Is it ripe, or is it over-ripe, fermenty, vinegary fruit? And there’s a side argument as well: did the fruit flavors come from well-prepared coffee, or did it emerge in a process where the coffee had too much contact with the mucilage of the coffee cherry. (This might happen in over-fermenting, in a hybrid process such as Indonesia wet-hulling, or in poorly executed dry-processing).
FTO FTO is shorthand for a coffee that is certified as both Fair Trade and Organic.
Full City Roast A coffee that has been roasted to the brink of second crack. The internal bean temperature that second crack normally occurs at is 446 degrees F. But in fact second crack is a little less predictable than first crack, in my experience. Why? It could be explained as this: first crack is the physical expansion of the coffee seed as water and carbon dioxide split and CO-2 outgassing occurs. Second Crack is the physical fracturing of the cellular matrix of the coffee. This matrix is wood, also called cellulose, and consists of organized cellulose that reacts readily to heat, and not-so-organized cellulose that does not. Since every coffee is physically different in size and density due to the cultivar, origin, altitude, etc. it might make sense that the particular cell matrix is different too, and not as universally consistent in reactiveness as H-2O and CO-2.
Full City+ Roast A roast slightly darker than Full City. At Full City+, the roast is terminated after the first few snaps of second crack. The main cue that distinguishes the difference between the Full City (or FC) and Full City + is audible, not visual. This is a term Sweet Maria's basically invented, and while used in the trade a bit, it has it's context in our communications to home roasters more than anything. For more information and pictures of the degree of roast, see our Roasted Coffee Pictorial Guide.
Furans Furans are important contributors to coffee aroma, contributing to sweet, nutty, fruity or caramel-like smells. They are derived mainly from sucrose and Polysaccharides during roasting, a product of caramelization. It is estimated there are 126 possible furans found in coffee.
gabah In Sumatra, the term in Bahasa Indonesian for coffee that is barely dried after pulping and fermenting (or not), and ready to sell to a collector. This coffee is usually 40-50% moisture content.
Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster A home drum roaster with an 8oz capacity and adjustable temperature.
George Howell George Howell is a founder of the Cup of Excellence, devised the CoE cupping form, and is one who argues passionately for clean cup quality, free of flavors derived from processing. He currently owns Terroir coffee, and founded The Coffee Connection in the Boston area.
Gerstel-Twister The Gerstel-Twister allows analysis of organic compounds from aqueous matrices by Stir Bar Sorptive Extraction (SBSE): Faster than with conventional techniques, omitting time-costly preparation steps and solvents and up to 1000´ more sensitive than SPME. The GERSTEL-Twister looks like a conventional magnetic stirring rod, and works the same - except for one small difference: While it is stirring, it adsorbs and concentrates the organic contents onto its coating of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS).
Gesha Gesha (often wishfully misspelled as Geisha) is a long-bean Ethiopia cultivar selection with unique cup character. It is most famously grown on the Jaramillo plot at Hacienda Esmeralda in Panama by the Peterson family. It has now been broadly planted in other Central America countries and beyond to capitalize on the high price it has fetched. It was distributed from the garden at
Gneiss A banded or foliated metamorphic rock, usually of the same composition as granite.
Golden Beans Golden beans are found in Yemen and Ethiopia dry-process coffees, and sometimes in other origins. They are pale yellow and slightly translucent. While not an outright defect, they are caused by iron deficiency in the plant, and/or high soil PH. They are sometimes separated and sold at a premium, with the false belief that they have better cup quality.
Grade Nearly every county of origin has its own grading scale. It can be incredibly confusing. Sometimes the coffee earns a higher grade than it deserves, sometimes the grade is actually lowered to avoid tariffs! Central and South Americans tend to follow the SHB and SHG model (Strictly Hard Bean and Strictly High Grown indicates altitudes above 1000m). So hard beans grow at higher altitude and that's good, right? Well, in Brazil's grading, Strictly Soft is a top grade. Many countries use a simple numeric scale. But a Grade 4 Ethiopian is the top Dry-Processed grade you'll see (Gr.2 in washed Ethiopians), and a Grade 1 Sumatra DP allows 8% defects (in fact Sumatra Grading is based on cup quality)! In essence, all should conform to the Green Coffee Classification System, but they don't. See the SCAA Green Coffee Classification Poster or the Green Coffee Association charts.
Grady Grady is a rarely-used defect coffee term for muddled, unclean coffee flavor. Also, the affable old neighbor on Sanford & Son.
GrainPro SuperGrain Bag A multi-layer plastic bag with a gas barrier enabling coffee "to build up a modified atmosphere, similar to the principle of the Cocoon" (quoted from the GrainPro literature). The bags can be used with any kind of commodity, and in tests using coffee, the bags have been shown to extend the flavor life of the coffee. We started using them extensively in 2008 to store delicate coffees and have found them to work very well. It means that we can buy more coffee at the peak of the season, when the best coffee is available, and then hold it in GrainPro for a few months with no flavor loss. In our coffee reviews, when we indicate GrainPro arrivals we are saying that, independent of the arrival month, the coffee is being stored to optimize freshness. For example, ordering a Costa Rica in Decemeber that arrived in jute bags in June formerly meant the coffee was on it's last legs, and might be showing some age in the cup flavors. Last year, we tapped into GrainPro shipments that arrived in June the following February and they were spectacular, with no indication of age in the cup flavor! These bags are for resealable safe storage of dry commodities. The bags act as a gas and moisture-proof barrier which guards against the ingress of water vapor, while retaining low Oxygen and Carbon-Dioxide levels created by the respiration of the commodity. They are made of tough, multi-layer plastic with gas barrier between layers of PE 0.078mm thick material. They are sealed using tie-wraps and placed inside the large jute bags of coffee in our warehouse.
Grainy A roast-related flavor, sometimes used negatively, but it can also be a positive flavor attribute. Usually grain flavors indicate a too-light roast, stopped before 1st crack concluded, like under-developed grain flavor. It can also result from baking the coffee, long roasts at low temperatures. Grain sweetness in some coffees is desirable, like malted barley, wheat, toast, brown bread, malt-o-meal, graham cracker, etc.
Grassy Greenish flavor in the cup, usually indicating early crop, unrested coffee. This is a fresh cut grass flavor, chlorophyll-like, not a dried grass or hay flavor that would indicate old, past crop coffee.
Green Coffee Green coffee is a dense, raw green-to-yellow colored seed. In it's essence, coffee is the dried seed from the fruit of a flowering tree - each fruit having 2 seeds facing each other (the flat side of the coffee "bean") or in the case of the peaberry, a single rounded seed. Coffee is imported from coffee-producing origins in this form, then either roasted at home in small machines, on the stove or a host of other methods ... or roasted at a small, local shop in a batch roaster ranging from 5 kilos to 50 kilos ... or roasted at a large commercial roaster, either batch or continuous. Green coffee can be stored for months, up to a year or more in vacuum packs, with little to no flavor loss (whereas roasted coffee starts to stale within 10 days from roasting. Coffee is not really a bean, it is the seed from the fruit of a flowering tropical shrub.
Green Coffee Appearance Appearance: This is an informal scoring of the Number of Defects per 300 gram sample (2d/300g = 2 defects) and is scored by the Specialty Coffee Association of Americas Green Coffee Classification System in most cases. It should communicate the quality of the preparation and sorting of the coffee, but doesn't directly indicate the "cup quality," which is the most important rating of coffee. A zero defect score doesn't mean that your 5 lbs. will have no defective beans either! The second number is Screen Size, expressed as 14/16 scr, or 18 scr. Once again, bigger isn't better, and small beans of varied screen size can make for a great cup too (i.e.: Yemeni coffee).
green coffee storage Green coffee in general can be stored up to one year from the date of processing with no noticeable changes in flavor. Bright, delicate coffees can fade faster; earthy coffees can last a bit longer. Very often the type and quality of the processing methods used on the coffee will determine how long a coffee will hold up. For example, "Miel" or pulped natural processing very often shortens the storage life of a coffee - you will see changes in flavor sooner and in a more pronounced way than with other processing methods. Green, unroasted coffee ought to be stored in a cool dry place, ideally in a breathable container like burlap, or cotton. Coffee that is stored too long can absorb the flavor of whatever it is stored in, and so is called "baggy". This means you have an exceptional coffee ruined by storing it for too long. The refrigerator is too humid, and the freezer too dry for green coffee storage. For a hundred years or more coffee has been transported the same way, in large burlap or jute bags. More recently, producers have experimented with vacuum packaging and storage in special multi-layer poly bags to extend the life of the coffee.