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From coffee beans to cafetiere: Is your coffee vocabulary up to scratch?

coffee beans terminology

When you first start to take a serious interest in the quality of the coffee you drink it can get a little confusing. Thankfully we’re here to help you navigate the world of coffee. Below we’ve put together a list of some of the basic coffee based terminology you’ll come across, as well as a guide to some of the more common names you’ll come across.


Ways of brewing and serving coffee

Espresso – An espresso is a single shot of approximately one ounce of thick, rich and sweet coffee. It’s used as a base for many other drinks. Invented in Italy at the turn of the century, many people are familiar with the small espresso cups, which are known as demitasse, used to serve a shot. It is sometimes referred to as a solo, because double espressos are also common and referred to as doppio.

Americano – An Americano is a larger cup of hot water that can contain one or two shots of espresso, depending on the drinker’s preference.

Latte – A Café Latte contains a single shot of espresso, steamed milk and micro-foam. The steamed milk gives it a sweeter taste.

Flat White – A flat white is similar to a Latte, in that it’s an espresso based drink with micro-foam added. The flat white isn’t as sweet as a Latte, as the smaller amount of micro foam added lets the flavor of the espresso be the main attraction of the drink.

Cappuccino – A cappuccino is similar to a latte, but with more foam. It starts as a shot of espresso, and then has one-third steamed milk added, then topped off with a third of micro-foam. It’s also common to see a cappuccino sprinkled with a powder, such as chocolate.

Macchiato – A macchiato is the strongest of all the espresso-based drinks containing milk. Unlike a latte, where the volume of milk added fundamentally changes the taste of the drink, the macchiato should essentially remain a shot of espresso with just a small amount of steamed milk to regulate the flavour.

Mocha – For coffee lovers with a sweet tooth. A mocha is essentially a latte with some chocolate powder added to the espresso shot. It’s common to see them served with chocolate powder or whipped cream on top.


Ways of describing coffee

Acidity – While coffees are generally low in acidity, this term is used to describe the sharp taste of high-grown coffee. Some newcomers often mistake it to mean bitter or sour, but it refers more to the lively quality that makes coffee refreshing.

Earthy – This is most commonly used in reference to Indonesian coffees, which can have an earthy and spicy taste.

Exotic – This term is sometimes used to refer to coffees with a more unusual flavour and aroma. It is often used to describe more floral or fruity coffees.

Tone – For most normal coffee drinkers there are three levels of tone (the coffee’s colour or appearance), light, medium and dark.

Varietal – This term usually refers to the region a coffee is grown. An areas soil, climate, altitude and the cultivation method used can all have an impact on the way your coffee tastes.


Tools of the trade

Brewer – A brewer is a machine that brews a pre-determined number of cups of coffee. A good one will control the water temperature, contact time and coffee saturation. Most are very simple to use, like the Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Brewer, which features a one touch brew operation and a pre-infusion cycle that evenly saturates the grind before brewing to extract the finest flavour from the beans. It’s even accredited by the Speciality Coffee Association.

Dripper – A dripper is a simpler way to brew a cup of coffee. Water is gravity fed through the ground coffee, absorbing the flavour as it slowly drips into a collection pot known as a carafe. The water passes through a paper filter before dripping into the carafe, so you’re just left with a smooth cup of coffee. We stock Bonavita and Chemex drippers of varying sizes, as well as the paper filters.

Grinder – Coffee capsules are a great way to make a cup of coffee when one of your priorities is convenience. However, if you have a little more time to spend on producing your perfect cup of coffee, then you can grind your own beans. Grinding your own beans allows you to experiment with different beans and always ensures the freshest coffee with the fullest flavour. View our range of grinders to find your perfect partner for making fresh coffee.

French Press – The French press was actually patented by an Italian in 1929. Most of us are already familiar with the device and its distinctive plunger. A coarse grind and water are usually allowed to brew for around 3 or 4 minutes, then the plunger is pressed to push the grind to the bottom of the press, effectively separating the grind from the coffee. They are also referred to as a cafetiere or plunger pot, depending on where in the world you’re from. We stock two different sizes of the stylish Tiamo French Press.

Moka Pot – The iconic design of the moka pot adds a touch of class to every kitchen. It’s traditionally used on a stove, but some are electric. They brew the coffee by forcing boiling water pressurised by steam through the grind. They are available in a range of sizes and colours depending on your needs.


General terms

Barista – A barista is a professional coffee maker. They are familiar with all the variants and ways to brew coffee, and do so for a living.

Blend – A coffee blend is a mixture of different varietals of coffee. Normally the mix is just between two beans, but it can refer to any amount of varietals mixed together to create the desired taste.

Cupping – Most people are familiar with the term ‘tasting’ for trying out various new wines. Coffee has its own version of a tasting, which is known as cupping.


There’s more…

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the terms you’ll come across on your coffee adventure. If you’re ever unsure of anything then remember at CoffeeClick we are coffee lovers too, and we’re always happy to help. Whether you want to know the meaning of a word, or the best type of grind to buy to suit your chosen brewing method, we’re always happy to hear from you.

For everything you need delivered straight to your door check out our website, fill out the contact form on our site, call us on 01 911 9911, or e-mail us at


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