11 of the Craziest Coffee Terms You’ve Ever Heard

While giving Roasterie factory tours, we often use “coffee jargon”.  We simply can’t help it–we’re accustomed to the coffee language!  We’re accustomed to coffee terms such as “crema”, “Arabica” and “chaff” and sometimes we get looks that make us realize we truly are just “talking coffee”. We’re not trying to be hoity-toity coffee snobs; we swear! It’s just that we forget that these aren’t every day words. And in actuality, many coffee terms are pretty bizarre…and there are a lot of them!

We thought it would only be fitting to scour the coffee lexicon and pick out 11 of the craziest coffee terms people in the coffee industry use and define them for you.  We hope that you can use these words the next time you order your favorite cup o’ Joe and really impress that barista across the counter.

1.    Doppio

A double shot of espresso extracted with a double portafilter. “Doppio” is also commonly referred to as a standard double (doppio is Italian for double).

2.    Portafilter

Also referred to as the group handle, the portafilter attaches to the group head of an espresso machine. The portafilter contains a compacted or tamped puck of coffee ground as well as the metal filter the espresso is brewed with.

3.    Knock box

A stainless steel, sink-like bucket used to store spent espresso grounds after they have pulled a shot. A knock box is used because placing grounds down a sink will lead to clogging and plumbing damage.  It also lets us collect the grounds for compost.

4.    Crema

A creamy, oil emulsification found at the top of espresso. Often confused with angles spit, we’re 99% sure crema was sent by the heavens as an accident.  Either way, we’re not it sending back.

5.    Ristretto

A short shot of espresso. The term originates back to when espresso was made via hand press machines. A ristretto was first created when the barista would pull the hand press down faster than normal. What resulted was a shot of espresso that is bolder with more body and less bitterness. With today’s modern machines, ristretto generally means a shot brewed with less water.

6.    Arabica

Arabica coffee beans come from the earliest cultivated species of coffee trees and still the most widely grown. Arabica beans produce approximately 70% of the world’s coffee and are dramatically superior in cup quality to the other principal commercial coffee species (see robusta below). All of The Roasterie’s specialty coffees come from Coffea Arabica trees.

7.    Robusta

Currently the only significant competitor among cultivated coffee species to Coffea Arabica are robusta beans.  Robusta produces about 30% of the world’s coffee. It is a lower-growing, higher-bearing tree that produces full-bodied but rough coffee of inferior cup quality and higher caffeine content than Coffea Arabica. Robusta is used as a basis for blends of instant coffee and for less expensive blends of pre-ground commercial coffee. It is not often used in specialty coffee trade except as a body-enhancing component in some Italian-style espresso blends.

8.    Swiss water process

A trademarked decaffeination method that removes caffeine from coffee beans using warm water, steam and activated charcoal rather than chemicals or solvents.

9.    Quakers

Defective coffee beans that fail to roast properly, remaining stubbornly light-colored.

10. Chaff

Flakes of the innermost skin of the coffee fruit (the silverskin) that remain clinging to the green bean after processing and float free during air roasting.

11. Cupping

A cupping is a double blind sensory evaluation of coffee.

Language is a funny thing, and in the coffee industry, it’s even funnier. So the next time you’re around the Roasterie factory and you hear these 11 crazy coffee terms, whip out your Roasterie coffee dictionary and get your coffee jargon on. Now go forth, my coffee wordsmiths, bamboozle the masses with your newfound lingo!

Want to learn more crazy coffee terms? Come take a tour and ask questions!