A – Z of coffee

23 January, 2018

A-Z of coffee

If you don’t know your Robusta from your Arabica and think tamping is an Olympic sport then read on. 

Rob Ward and the team at Cimbali’s MUMAC Academy offer the following A – Z guide to some of the everyday and not so everyday espresso terminology:

Arabica – Arabica coffee beans are known for their high quality and represent 59% of the world’s total coffee production.

Burr grinder – A burr grinder, which is recommended for making espresso, has two disks which ‘grind’ the coffee bean to create very fine particles. 

Crema – The crema is the lighter liquid which settles on top of the darker espresso below, that is created during espresso extraction. 

Doser – A doser releases a measure of coffee grounds from the grinder (usually found on a burr grinder). 

Extraction – The forcing of hot water from the boiler through ground coffee. 

Froth – Froth is created when milk is steamed with with an espresso machine’s steaming wand, wrapping the milk protein bonds around the air. 

Group head – A key part of the espresso machine. During extraction, pressurised hot water is forced through the group head and distributes the water evenly over the surface of the grinds which are contained in the portafilter basket. 

Health benefits – According to recent research, coffee contains anti-oxidents and may also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Inconsistency – Lots of things can affect the consistency of the finished drink including the freshness of the beans, the coarseness of the grind, the pressure at which the coffee is brewed, the water temperature, the ability of the barista etc. 

Java – Java coffee beans are produced in the Indonesian island of Java and are known for creating a very strong and robust style of coffee.

Kaldi – Kaldi was an Ethiopian goatherd who is said to have discovered coffee. 

Latte art – it started with a simple heart or leaf on a cappuccino or flat white but  latte art has become so popular that there is even a world championship for our most creative baristas.

Mouth feel – A good syrupy mouthfeel is often a characteristic of great espresso.

Natural Coffee – Unwashed or natural coffee refers to the oldest method of processing coffee in which the entire cherry is placed on tables to dry naturally in the sun. 

Over extracted – Espresso that has been exposed to brew water for too long becomes over extracted creating a bitter or burnt taste. 

Portafilter – The removable portafilter attaches to the group head and holds the finely ground coffee within a basket.

Qesher – Qesher is the dried, but not roasted, husks which are removed from the coffee cherries during production. 

Robusta – One of the two primary coffee beans in the world (the other one being Arabica). Robusta is grown mainly in Africa and Indonesia and has a stronger, more powerful flavour with twice the caffeine content of Arabica. 

Slow roast – Slow roasting coffee beans at a low temperature helps develop sweetness by caramelising the natural sugars and maximises the organic compounds and aromatics held within the coffee oils. 

Tamping – The name given to the job of packing the coffee grinds into the group head to compact it and eliminate any air pockets. 

Under extraction – An under extracted espresso tastes flat and insipid.

Varietal – A coffee plant varietal is a botanical term which describes plant varieties that are derived either through natural selection or through selective breeding (for specific genetic traits). 

Washed coffee – Coffee made using the wet process is called washed coffee. Coffee cherries are put into water to sort out the ripe from the unripe. They are then left in water anywhere between and 8 and 50 hours (depending on the country and temperature) and then dried. 

X-factor – The X factor is what sets you apart from competitors and is the key to running a successful business.

Yield – An extraction yield measured as a percentage can be an indicator of balance between acidity and bitterness in both filter and espresso coffees.

Zambia -The rare, excellent coffees from Zambia are bright and floral, with a clean fruit-like complexity.


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