Coffee glossary

Extending your coffee knowledge...

A

Arabica
Botanics: Coffea Arabica Linne. this is the most frequently grown coffee tree in the world. This species includes two hundred different varieties. The most well known are Bourbon, Moka, Typica, Bourbon pointu and Maragogype.

Aromas
Aromas are only released under the effect of heat. Roasting triggers this complex phenomenon, with mutations between proteins, acids and carbohydrates. It reveals more than one thousand different aromatic ingredients.

These aromatic undertones are part of separate families: empyreumatic, floral, earthy, spicy, fruity, balsamic, etc. Aromas are volatile and fragile. Coffee must be packaged rapidly after roasting to preserve these aromas.

C

Coffee plantation
This term refers to a set of coffee trees. Plantations are known as Fazendas in Brazil.

Caffeine
A chemical which is, to varying degrees, naturally present in coffee.. Mean caffeine content varies between 0.5 and 1.5% for an Arabica, and between 1.5 and 4% for a Robusta.

Caffeine stimulates and is a natural excitant, and may be prescribed in certain therapeutic treatments. It is also effective against migraines. Caffeine is used as an ingredient in many slimming creams.

Cherry
The fruit of coffee trees; also known as drupe. Each cherry houses two coffee beans.  Cherries with only one bean are known as caracoli. Three beans are occasionally found in one individual cherry.

G

Green coffee
Coffee beans, extracted from the cherry, the fruit of coffee trees. Odourless, flavourless, and the size varies depending on the species and varieties.

Grinding
Reduction of the roasted coffee into particles. The particles will be coarse, medium or fine depending on the type of coffee preparation .

B

Body
The strength of a coffee. Body also refers to the thickness and consistency of the drink.

D

Decoction
Probably the oldest means of preparing coffee. Reduced into extremely fine powder, the coffee boils in water. This is known as Turkish coffee. Piston coffee makers such as Bodum machines are one variant.

E

Espresso
This method, developed by the English, was perfected by the Italians in the first half of the 20th century. 7 grams of coffee are brewed with water subjected to a pressure of 9 bars for one cup. Extraction time must be about 20 - 25 seconds and the final coffee temperature is equal to 82°C.

F

Freeze-dried coffee
Drying technique used to obtain soluble coffee. The coffee is frozen at – 40°C and evaporated. Created in 1965, this process creates better quality coffee than atomization.

M

Maillard reaction
Chemical and molecular reactions during the baking of green coffee. During roasting, the carbohydrates in coffee beans are combined with their residual humidity (approx. 12%): causing caramelisation. These caramels combine with the acids and proteins at the 10th minute. This leads to aromas.

Moka
This port in Yemen supplied Europe with coffee in the 17th and 18th centuries. The name was attributed to a prestigious variety of Arabica from Ethiopia. The term also refers to an Italian-style  coffee maker with a pressure-filter  system.

Monsooned
This is frequent practice in India. The green coffee is directly and intentionally exposed to saturated humid air, e.g. during the monsoon period. The coffee develops a mellow and smooth aroma.

V

Variety
Just like wine, varieties refer to the soil used for the coffee. More than 400 varieties are officially known. The most prestigious include: the mythical Jamaica Blue Mountain, Farfell Estate from Zimbabwe, Moka Sidamo from Ethiopia and Kona Leï from Hawaii.

R

Robusta
One of the 50 varieties of the Coffea Canephora Pierre species. This variety is mainly grown in Africa and Brazil – under the name Conilon- and in south east Asia. Robusta plants resist disease better than Arabica plants, and create stronger, more bitter, coffees with higher caffeine content, but with less variety in flavour and lower quality aromas.

S

Stripping
The quickest and most generally used harvesting method. Results are poor in terms of quality: all of the cherries, ripe and unripe, are collected in one go, by hand or with a machine.

Stücker reaction
The coffee beans change colour during this chemical reaction. They switch from green to golden, before becoming brown or sometimes black.