Coffee Glossary


A bright, tangy taste, often sensed on the front and sides of the tongue. Acidity is a key factor in coffee flavor and comes from naturally occurring organic acids within the beans. Because these acids break down during roasting, lighter roast coffees have more acidic flavor than dark roasts. Balanced acidity is pleasant tasting, unlike sourness.


A neurotransmitter that increases our sleep drive, or our need to sleep. Caffeine blocks adenosine, which is why drinking caffeinated coffee leads to a greater sense of being awake, alert, and attentive.


An immersion brewing device used for manual coffee brewing and espressos. The AeroPress uses a plastic chamber, which is filled with ground coffee and hot water, and a manual plunger that forces the brewed coffee through a filter. Popular thanks to its portability and simplicity, reputation for being an eco-friendly way to make coffee, and ability to deliver a clean, smooth finished product.


Coffee drink made by diluting shots of espresso with hot water. While Americanos tend to be lighter and smoother than straight espresso, they typically still have a bold flavor profile.


Natural compounds that help the body decrease inflammation and prevent diseases by providing support in eliminated free radicals. Coffee is a major source of antioxidants, like chlorogenic acids and polyphenols, in many diets and is one of the health benefits of drinking coffee.


Coffee beans derived from the seeds of the Coffea arabica plant. It accounts for about 60% of all coffee produced worldwide. Arabica beans are known for their smooth, sweet fruity flavor. Because Arabica coffee needs more specific conditions to grow, they are often more expensive than Robusta beans.


The smell of coffee. Roasting green coffee trips off chemical reactions within the beans, which produces gases. These gases, which are the product of about 1000 different compounds, are slowly released over time; of those, approximately 50 are responsible for the unique aroma profile of the roast. Aroma is crucial to flavor.

Automatic Drip (Auto Drip)

A popular method for brewing coffee that uses a heating coil to heat water. The brewer then dispenses hot water over coffee grounds, which drips through a filter into a carafe. Auto drip coffeemakers are popular thanks to their ease of use and ability to brew a full pot at once.


A term used to describe coffees that have a nuanced flavor profile in which no single aspect—like acidity, bitterness, or earthiness—overpowers the rest.


A skilled coffee professional with deep knowledge of coffee—from coffee origins and flavor profiles to brewing techniques and latte art. They are responsible for preparing and serving coffee beverages in cafes. The word barista comes from the Italian word for bartender.


The seed of the Coffea plant. Coffee beans are not actually beans; they are the pit of the coffee cherry. These seeds are processed, dried, and roasted to create whole bean coffee.


A varietal of Arabica coffee that is known for its sweet, smooth, complex flavors. Bourbon plants grow best at high altitudes, in nitrogen rich soils and are known for having a relatively small yield.

Blade Grinder

A simple, affordable machine that grinds whole bean coffee using a spinning metal blade. While blade grinders are convenient and budget-friendly, they produce inconsistent grounds, which can lead to uneven extraction during brewing.


Coffee roasts created by combining beans from various regions or countries to create a specific flavor profile.


A phase of the brewing process in which wet coffee grounds are allowed to degas. Wetting coffee grounds with hot water creates a chemical reaction in which CO2 is released, causing the coffee bed to bubble and expand. Because CO2 can leave the finished brew tasting sour and harsh, this is an important step in brewing.


The mouthfeel of coffee with regard to its perceived thickness/weight. “Full-bodied” coffees feel rich or heavy, which “light-bodied” coffees are thinner and more delicate feeling in the mouth. Body plays a key role in how we perceive the coffee’s flavor profile, like its sweetness and acidity.


A beverage made using shots of espresso and half-and-half, which creates a naturally sweet, creamy drink with a rich mouthfeel.


The process of extracting flavor from coffee grounds using water. When water saturates the grounds it dissolves soluble compounds, like oils and acids, which create the taste, smell, and mouthfeel of the coffee. Most brewing methods also include a mechanism for separating the liquid coffee from the grounds.

Brew Ratio (Coffee-to-Water Ratio)

The proportion of coffee grounds to water used in the brewing process. The brew ratio is a key factor in the final cup’s flavor profile, strength, and body and will vary based on factors like brewing method, roast, and grind size. Brew ratios are written as [grams of coffee:grams of water]. A smaller ratio (e.g., 1:13) will typically result in a stronger cup of coffee, while a larger ratio (e.g., 1:17) will typically yield a lighter cup of coffee.

Brew Temperature

The temperature of the water used in brewing. Brew temperature varies based on roast level, brewing method, grind size, flavor preferences, and numerous other variables. Brew temperature is a critical aspect of optimal extraction.

Brew Time

The total amount of time water is in contact with coffee grounds during the brewing process. Brew time plays a crucial role in proper extraction and flavor, ensuring that desirable compounds have been fully extracted while undesirable compounds are not.

Burr Grinder

A machine that grinds whole coffee beans using a grinding wheel and a stationary abrasive surface to crush beans. Burr grinders are prized for offering a large range of grind sizes and producing consistently sized grounds, which results in more even extraction during brewing.


The small fruit produced by Coffea plants. The pit of these fruits is extracted during the processing phase and is what we generally refer to as the coffee “bean” (which aren’t actually beans at all!).


An Arabica varietal known for producing bright, citrusy coffee with hints of sweetness. Caturra is a naturally occurring mutation of the Bourbon varietal.


The process of evaluating and grading coffee on properties like fragrance, flavor, and quality. Because tastes can be so subjective, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) and the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) partnered to develop tasting standards and scoring.


An Arabica varietal known for its delicate floral and citrus notes. Because of its unique growing needs and its low yield, Gesha coffee is relatively rare and commands a high price.

Green Coffee

Raw seeds that have been extracted from the fruit of the Coffea plant but have not yet been roasted.

Honey Processed

A method of processing coffee cherries that walks the line between natural and washed coffee. Honey processing strips the skin and some of the pulp from the cherries but maintains a thin layer of mucilage, which is allowed to dry on the bean. The amber-colored, sticky layer resembles honey, which gives the process its name. Honey-processed coffees tend to be sweeter, fruity, and low in acidity.

Natural Processed

A method of processing coffee in which cherries are laid out to dry on raised beds, allowing the beans to hold on to sugars and flavors concentrated in the coffee. Natural process coffee tends to have a heavier body and intense and distinctive flavors.


A coffee-producing region or country. Roasters and other coffee entrepreneurs often “travel to origin” in order to gain a firsthand understanding of the agricultural and production process of the coffee they sell and to connect with the farmers and processors who bring their coffee to market.


An Arabica hybrid varietal produced by crossing Pacas, a mutation of Bourbon, and Maragogipe, a mutation of Typica. Pacamara is known for its intense aroma, creamy texture, and complex acidity.


A set of design principles and practices that focus on creating and maintaining food systems and human habitats in line with natural ecosystems, which are diverse, resilient, self-sustaining, no-waste systems.

Pulped Natural

See “Honey Processed”

Q Grader

Trained professionals who are trained to evaluate the quality of green coffee based on standards set by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). Q graders undertake a rigorous certification process and exam, which is administered by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI).

Regenerative Agriculture

Land management and agricultural practices that leverage the innate power of crops to create closed-loop systems that can continually improve the land one which they are crown and the environment by improving the soil, increasing biodiversity, and capturing and reducing (rather than contributing to) carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


Coffee derived from the seeds of Coffea canephora plant. Robusta makes up about 40% of global coffee production. Robusta beans have a higher caffeine content than Arabica beans and an earthy flavor. Because Robusta plants are hardier and require less specific growing conditions than Arabica beans, Robusta beans tend to be more affordable to cultivate.


Roasts created from beans that all originate from a single specific source—like a specific farm or a specific region of a coffee-growing country. Single-origin roasts are known for highlighting the specific flavor profile of the source.

Specialty Coffee

Coffee that has received a score of 80 or higher out of 100 based on the standards established by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). Only 10% of the world’s green coffee is rated as “specialty coffee.”

Sugarcane Processed

A method of decaffeinating coffee using a solvent derived from sugarcane. Green coffee is soaked in water, then washed with the solvent, which dissolves and removes the caffeine.

Swiss Water Process

A method of decaffeinating coffee using water, temperature, and time to remove the caffeine. In the Swiss Water Process, green coffee is soaked in hot water, which dissolves its soluble compounds, including caffeine. The caffeine is then filtered from the water using a process that preserves the other compounds, which are then reintroduced to the beans.


An Arabica varietal known for its clean, complex, and often sweet flavors. Typica is one of the foundational Arabica varietals because it is the parent variety to numerous other varietals.


Distinct variations of the Arabica and Robusta coffee plant species. There are about 120 coffee plant varietals, and each is known for its specific flavor profiles and unique growing conditions.

Washed Coffee

A method of processing green coffee in which the beans are de-pulped the same day they’re picked, fermented for 18–36 hours, then washed and dried. Washed coffee creates consistent cup with a clear acidity while enhancing the beans’ floral aromatics.

Cheers to you for diving deep into the world of coffee with us! U3 Coffee exists to create the most meaningful coffee experience for millions of mindful, motivated humans like you. Let’s learn, empower, and celebrate the journey from bean to cup. Because here, we’re United by Coffee.

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