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Common Coffee Terms and What They Mean

Common coffee terms and what they mean

Coffee, for many, is a daily ritual, a comforting routine. Yet, the world of coffee is as deep and rich as its flavor profiles. From the farm to your cup, there’s a whole lexicon waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned coffee lover, understanding coffee jargon can elevate your appreciation for this beloved beverage. Let’s dive into some common coffee terms and decipher their meanings.

Types of Coffee

Americano: A diluted espresso shot, the Americano is made by adding hot water to espresso, giving it a similar strength to regular black coffee but with a different flavor profile.

Cappuccino: One-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, and one-third foam, this Italian classic is creamy and rich, often garnished with cocoa or cinnamon.

Flat White: Originating from Australia/New Zealand, it’s similar to a latte but with a higher ratio of coffee to milk. It has a velvety microfoam texture.

Latte: Espresso with steamed milk, typically with just a touch of foam on top. The name comes from the Italian “caffè latte”, meaning “milk coffee”.

Mocha: A chocolate-flavored variant of a latte, often topped with whipped cream.

Cold Brew: Coffee brewed with cold water over 12-24 hours, resulting in a smoother, less acidic coffee.

Drip Coffee: The most common method in the U.S., where hot water drips through ground coffee beans

Brew Terminologies

Bloom: When hot water first contacts coffee grounds, it releases gas leading to a bloom or expansion of the coffee bed. This ensures even saturation.

Extraction: The process of dissolving the soluble flavors from the coffee grounds into water. Over-extraction can lead to bitterness, while under-extraction may yield a sour taste.

Grind Size: Refers to the size of coffee particles after grinding. Coarse for French press, medium for drip, and fine for espresso are common sizes.

Espresso Terminologies

Shot: A single serving of espresso, typically 1 ounce.

Double Shot (Doppio): Twice the amount of a regular shot, typically what most coffee shops use as a base for their drinks.

Ristretto: A “short” shot, brewed with half the amount of water. This results in a more concentrated espresso flavor.

Lungo: An “elongated” shot with more water, making it less concentrated than a regular shot.

Crema: The golden layer of foam on top of a freshly brewed shot of espresso, indicative of freshness of the coffee bean and skill of the barista.


Light Roast: Beans are roasted to a light brown color. They retain most of their original coffee characteristics and have a higher acidity. They often have toasted grain, fruit, and floral notes.

Medium Roast: Often referred to as the American roast because of its popularity in the U.S., the beans are brown with a non-oily surface. It strikes a balance between acidity and the intrinsic flavor of the beans.

Dark Roast: The beans are shiny and dark due to the oils rising to the surface. They have a pronounced bitterness, with the flavors of the roast being dominant. Think of chocolate, caramel, or smoky notes.

Additional Coffee Terms

Single Origin: Coffee sourced from one location, be it a specific country, region, or even a single farm. It reflects the unique characteristics of its origin.

Blend: Coffee made from beans sourced from multiple locations. Blends aim to combine the best characteristics of each origin for a balanced flavor.

Acidity: Not to be confused with actual pH level, in coffee terms, acidity refers to a bright, sparkling, sparkly, tangy, mouth-cleansing sensation. It’s often found in lighter roasts and is considered a desirable quality.

Body: Refers to the weight or thickness of the coffee on your palate. A coffee with full body may feel creamy, like whole milk, whereas a light-bodied coffee might feel more like skim milk or even water.

Barista: The Italian word for “barkeeper”. In the coffee world, a barista is a person who prepares and serves coffee, and often one who has a deep understanding and passion for coffee making.

Coffee Belt: The region around the globe where coffee plants are grown optimally. This belt encompasses areas between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, including parts of Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

To conclude, the world of coffee is a vast and intricate one. These terms, though just the tip of the iceberg, can serve as a guide to help you navigate menus, understand what goes into your cup, and converse more fluently with fellow coffee enthusiasts. If you would like to know more about coffee, we offer a coffee 101 class where we can go into a deeper dive into the world of coffee.  Cheers to deeper coffee knowledge!

We have two locations, one at 1170 N. Preston Rd Suite 130 Prosper, TX 75078 and the other is at 990 W. Van Alstyne Pkwy Van Alstyne, TX 75495.