Coffee Shop Glossary

Are you thinking about opening a coffee shop? Then you need to know the terminology from A to Z!  Below are the most common coffee terms and definitions you might come across when researching how to open and run a successful coffee shop. Knowing these terms will help you become a successful coffee shop owner. Why we we know so much coffee shop terminology? We’ve helped entrepreneurs open hundreds of coffee shops across the USA, and we train hundreds of baristas and coffee shop owners each year at our Innovation Lab – the largest SCA-Certified Premier Training Campus in the Midwest.

  • Acidity
    The tartness, brightness or liveliness perceived on the palate when drinking coffee. Acidity, body and aroma are the three essential components by which coffee is evaluated and categorized.
  • Aeropress
    A coffee press for manually brewing coffee. It steeps coffee in hot water and uses a plastic plunger to press it through a filtered tube. Popular for camping.
  • Affogato
    A coffee-based dessert created by dropping a scoop of ice cream or gelato, often vanilla in flavor, into a shot of espresso. Originated in Italy.
  • Americano
    A shot or two of espresso diluted with hot water for body. Known in Italy as a Caffe Lungo.
  • Arabica
    A species of coffee that accounts for 70 percent of the world's coffee bean production. Comes from the Coffea Arabica plant, which originated in Ethiopia.
  • Barista
    Italian term for a skilled professional who makes coffee and espresso-based drinks.
  • Beaten Coffee
    A drink popular in India and Pakistan made when instant coffee and sugar are beaten into a fluffy, whipped consistency and served with warm milk.
  • Blade grinder
    Machine that uses propeller-like blades to grind coffee.
  • Blends
    Coffee made from beans from a mix of geographic areas. Blends typically cost less than single-origin coffees. Most espresso drinks are made with blends.
  • Bloom
    The process of dampening coffee grounds with hot water prior to brewing to maximize the release of C02 gas and flavor.
  • Boba coffee
    A coffee drink that combines coffee with the tapioca pearls used in bubble tea.
  • Body
    The impression of the weight of the coffee in your mouth. Ranges from thin to medium to full.
  • Boiler
    Heating element used to heat water in espresso machines. All water in the boiler is heated to temperature before use. Espresso machines may have a single or double boiler. A double boiler has one boiler to heat steam and another to heat water.
  • Breve
    Espresso with half and half instead of milk. Originated in Italy.
  • Brew method
    General term used to describe all the different ways to make coffee. Popular brew methods include drip, cold brew, French press, espresso and pour over.
  • Bulletproof coffee
    A high calorie coffee drink blended with butter and MCT oil.
  • Burr Grinder
    Machine that uses two adjustable revolving surfaces (burrs) to grind coffee. Considered superior to a blade grinder.
  • Café
    Another name for a coffee shop or coffee house. It comes from the French word café which means coffee.
  • Cafe au lait
    A coffee with hot milk poured into it. Originated in France. The literal translation is coffee with hot milk.
  • Caffeine
    A central nervous system stimulant of the methylxanthine class that occurs naturally in coffee, tea, kola nuts and other plants. The world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug; it has the formula C8H10N4O2.
  • Cappuccino
    Coffee drink made of (in order from bottom to top of cup) 1/3 espresso (2oz), 1/3 steamed milk (2oz), and 1/3 micro foam (2oz). Often topped with chocolate powder and served in a 6 oz coffee cup.
  • Chai
    A tea drink with a mixture of ingredients (including but not limited to ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, etc.) made with tea and water, sometimes milk.
  • Chemex
    A glass coffee brewer used to brew pour-over coffee. Uses paper filters and yields coffee with a clean taste.
  • Coffee pod
    Individual servings of coffee pre-prepared in small capsules for use in single-serve coffee machines.
  • Coffee Roasting
    The process of roasting green coffee beans into coffee beans ready for brewing. Different roast levels bring out different coffee flavor profiles and properties, including darkness.
  • Coffee to water ratio
    The ratio of ground coffee beans to water volume, which varies depending on the coffee brewing method.
  • Cold Brew
    Ground coffee beans steeped in chilled or room temperature water for several hours, usually at least 12 hours, the strained and served cold.
  • Cortado
    Coffee drink made with a single shot of espresso and topped with a small amount of steamed milk. Originated in Italy.
  • Crema
    Coffee oil that floats to the top of a coffee drink. The thick, caramel colored foam that sits on top of a shot of espresso.
  • Cuppers
    Coffee professionals who use standardized techniques to taste and measure the quality of coffee.
  • Cupping
    The standard technique used by coffee professionals to taste and measure the quality of coffee.
  • Dalgona Coffee
    Dalgona coffee is a coffee-based beverage where equal parts instant coffee powder, hot water, and sugar are beaten together until it forms a thick, creamy substance, which is added to milk (cold or hot). It originated in Korea.
  • Dark Roast
    When beans are roasted until they are very dark brown or black and exuding oils. Dark roast beans tend to have a thinner flavor, higher bitterness and lower acidity.
  • Decaffeinated coffee
    Coffee with at least 97% of caffeine removed. Also called decaf coffee. Drip and espresso drinks can be made decaffeinated.
  • Degassing
    The process of coffee beans releasing gases (mostly carbon dioxide) after roasting.
  • Demitasse
    French word meaning a small coffee cup. Commonly used to serve an espresso or macchiato.
  • Direct Trade Coffee
    Direct trade coffee is coffee purchased by coffee roasters straight from the coffee farms, rather than through intermediaries or brokers. Not the same as fair trade.
  • Dirty Chai
    Chai with a shot of espresso added.
  • Doppio
    Double shot of espresso with a small dash of hot water. Originated in Italy.
  • Drip Coffee
    A style of coffee where the flavor comes from the beans coming in contact with water not under pressure. Percolators and countertop coffee makers brew drip coffee.
  • Espresso
    A very concentrated coffee drink made with finely ground coffee and almost boiling water under high pressure
  • Espresso con panna
    Espresso con panna is a single shot or double shot of espresso topped with whipped cream instead of regular milk.
  • Extra Shot
    Refers to an additional shot of espresso in a coffee drink.
  • Extraction
    The brewing process in which flavor is drawn from the coffee grounds.
  • Fair Trade Coffee
    Coffee certified to have been produced at or above Fair Trade standards. Fair Trade coffee production doesn't support child labor or forced labor, promotes sustainable farming, and ensures coffee farmers receive fair compensation for their product.
  • Filter Coffee
    Any style of coffee in which water filters through ground coffee. Drip coffee made with a cone lined with paper is a commonly known type of filter coffee.
  • Flat White
    A coffee drink made with espresso and topped with flat steamed milk to a total size of 5-7oz. It contains less milk than a latte and less foam than a cappuccino.
  • Frappe
    Blended coffee drink usually consisting of coffee, milk (or cream), flavoring, and ice. Often topped with whipped cream.
  • French Press
    Coffee made by steeping ground coffee in near-boiling water in a (usually) glass cylinder. A lid with a straining plunger sits on top. After the coffee has steeped for several minutes
  • French Roast
    A coffee roasting method In which the resulting coffee is super dark or black in color. French roast coffees usually have a richer flavor but less caffeine, as more of the caffeine gets cooked away.
  • Frothing milk
    Term used to describe warming milk with a steam wand to make the milk thicker via introductions of steam and air.
  • Green Coffee Beans
    Unroasted coffee beans.
  • Grind
    The size of ground coffee beans. The ideal grind will vary depending on the brewing method used.
  • Group Head
    The section of an espresso machine that holds the portafilter in place when brewing.
  • Half-Caf
    A coffee drink made with 50% caffeinated coffee and 50% decaffeinated coffee.
  • Hopper
    The container on top of a grinder that stores beans before they are ground.
  • Iced Coffee
    Drip coffee that is brewed hot, then served cold over ice.
  • Iced Espresso Drinks
    Similar to iced coffee, except with espresso instead of drip coffee that is brewed hot. The barista adds ice and cold milk or cream to make an iced latte, iced mocha, etc.
  • Irish Coffee
    Coffee (either drip or espresso) mixed with sugar and Irish whiskey and topped with whipped cream.
  • K-cup
    Name of the coffee pod used in Keurig single cup machines.
  • Kona Coffee
    Coffee cultivated on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island of Hawaii.
  • Latte
    A coffee drink consisting of espresso topped with steamed milk. The standard size is 8-10 ounces.
  • Light Roast
    Coffee beans roasted for a shorter time than other roasts. It has a lighter body, no oil, and is often cinnamon in color. More flavor of origin comes through than other roast styles.
  • Lungo
    A regular espresso shot made with extra water streaming through the grounds as it is being brewed, often up to twice as much water.
  • Macchiato
    A coffee drink made with 50% of one shot of espresso and 50% milk foam. Originated in Italy. Standard size is 2-3 ounces.
  • Medium Roast
    When beans are roasted for more time than a light roast but less time than a dark roast, leaving them a medium brown color with little oil on the surface. 
  • Microfoam
    Milk heated with a steam wand to become velvety smooth and thick before adding to a coffee drink such as a Latte.
  • Mocha
    A Coffee drink made with espresso, steam milk, and chocolate syrup or powder. Sometimes topped with whipped cream.
  • Nitro coffee
    A Coffee drink made with cold brew coffee injected with nitrogen bubbles to produce a velvety, smooth brew similar in texture to a stout beer.
  • Organic Coffee
    Coffee certified to have been grown and processed according to strict supply chain management processes set by the National Organic Program.
  • Piccolo Latte
    A single shot of espresso topped with milk and served in a 3-ounce glass. Sometimes called a baby latte.
  • Pitcher
    Stainless steel vessel used to froth milk on an espresso machine.
  • Plunger Pot
    Another name for a French Press.
  • Pour Over Coffee
    A coffee drink that uses a cone and filter. The water is poured over the coffee in a steady stream for several minutes. Originated in Japan.
  • Pull
    A traditional term from when espresso machines had levers. Espresso shots are pulled.
  • Red Eye
    A cup of coffee with an espresso shot.
  • Red Eye Coffee
    A regular cup of drip coffee into which a single shot of espresso has been poured.
  • Ristretto
    A shot of espresso that uses half the water with the same amount of espresso grinds and brewed for the same length of time to produce a stronger
  • Roast
    The process whereby green coffee beans are heated to roast the beans and create the flavors that are extracted during brewing.
  • Roast Date
    The date the beans were roasted, typically printed on the bag. Most experts recommend brewing the beans within two weeks after roasting takes place.
  • Robusta
    A species of coffee tree that produces coffee considered of inferior quality compared to Arabica. Commonly used in instant coffee and pre-ground coffee.
  • SCA
    The Specialty Coffee Association, a membership organization for everyone involved in the coffee trade, from farmers to baristas.
  • Shot
    A single serving of espresso between 0.85 and 1.2 ounces, according to the SCA.
  • Single cup
    Coffee machines that brew a single cup of coffee at a time. Examples include Nespresso and Keurig machines.
  • Single Origin Coffee
    Single-origin is a term meaning all coffee beans in a batch come from one particular farm or growing region (rather than being sourced from several places).
  • Steam wand
    The arm on an espresso machine used to heat and froth milk. The nozzle releases pressurized steam into the milk, incorporating air into the milk to produce textured micro-foam.
  • Super Automatic Espresso Machine
    A pump-driven espresso machine with integrated grinder, milk frother and automatic extractor.
  • Tamper
    A small cylindrical tool used to pack coffee grounds (ground coffee beans) into the basket or portafilter of an espresso machine.
  • Vietnamese Iced Coffee
    Iced dark roast coffee often mixed with other coffee beans and sweetened condensed milk. Originated in Vietnam.
  • White Coffee
    Made by roasting coffee beans at a low temperature and for half the time as other roasts. Due to the lower roasting temperature and time, it also has about 50% more caffeine than other roasts, and the beans are denser. It has a nutty flavor.