Our A-Zs of Coffee Terminology


If you love ice cream and strong coffee, then the affogato with vanilla ice cream, a shot of espresso and a liberal dose of hazelnut liquor is the dessert for you.


The most widely grown commercial species of the Coffee genus, lower in caffeine than its parent Coffee Canephora aka robusta, with more fruit-forward and diverse flavours.


From the inventor of the Aerobie flying ring, a cult brewing device for making stronger filter coffee - see the world coffee competitions.


A verb to describe the act of making a coffee, It elevates the status to a craft though, because it sounds fancier than 'make a coffee’ 😎


A term coined by Mussolini's fascists to Italianise foreign words. In this case, the American term 'barman'. It has now been coopted by foreigners to mean a coffee professional who brews coffee.

Batch Brew

A filter coffee (see F for Filter) brew that is made in volumes, or batches, with filter brewing equipment. Baristas enjoy it because it is high quality and repeatable, though it is best when fresh (see F for Freshness) which means a max of 1 to 1.5 hours after brewing.


A blend of coffees can be used to create a desired flavour profile and for consistency throughout the year. Often coffees from different origins are blended where one brings body and chocolate notes and another brings a little fruit and sweetness. Or the blend is designed so that over the course of a year the coffees available from different origins will still offer a similar flavour profile. Illy is an example of the latter. It tastes the same in December as it does in June, even with slightly different coffees.


A fruit that grows on trees (see C for Cherry), that is picked, processed (see P for Processed), milled and shipped to roasters who roast it before it is ground and brewed for your drinking pleasure.


The coffee fruit is referred to as a cherry, because it is often red, small and round like a cherry, though it does tend to contain 2 seeds, which once processed we call coffee beans.


An astonishing array of vessels of many sizes, shapes and materials are designed to enhance your coffee-drinking experience. ☕️


It is said that the name is derived from a monk’s habit, since they share the same colour. It also comes from Austria, not Italy - there is no internationally agreed standard for a cappuccino, but even across Italy you will find variation. However, it is now generally espresso layered with more foamy milk than a latte or flat white and is larger in volume than a piccolo or macchiato.


The golden brown foam that is created by forcing hot water through a shallow bed of coffee at high pressure, we're talking 130 pounds per square inch or around 60kg - that's a lot of pressure. It's no surprise that a thick foam composed of trapped carbon dioxide and ultra-fine coffee particles is formed. Aside from its pleasing appearance, it also does a good job of enhancing the aromatics of the coffee.


The most popular traditional brew method in the UK. Take some medium coarse grinds (see G for Grind Size) and dose (see D for Dose) the ratio of 15g coffee (about 2.5 dessert spoons) for every 250g 'just off the boil' water - 4 minutes later plunge and you have delicious coffee - assuming you used Tambia coffee, like this 😉


The naturally occurring stimulant in coffee that keeps you coming back. Turns out caffeine and coffee generally are also healthy (see H for Health) consumed in moderation which is up to 400mg or 4ish cups a day.


Different countries that drink espresso-based drinks have created their own nomenclature for the drinks - the Cortado is similar to the piccolo, Essentially equal parts foamed milk to espresso. Short and strong with more milk than a Macchiato.


A standardised process conducted across the value chain to methodically understand the sensory attributes of a coffee. The process allows hundreds of coffees to be assessed in a single day. It is used for selling, buying, roast profiling, quality control, and quality assurance purposes. Also for competitions (see W for World Coffee Competitions).

Diner Mug

Cultural icon from US cinema and TV - the quintessential cheap, bottomless cup of joe or java.


Coffee that has had the caffeine removed, all the flavour and you can drink it anytime, what's not to like?

Drip coffee

A brew method commonly referring to an automatic electric filter coffee brewer, very good for making quantities over 500ml (see F for Filter).


A brew method that allows the preparation of a coffee to be expressly for the person who ordered it and relative to other methods, is fast. Generally, a coffee of 30-50g by weight is concentrated. It forms the basis of many other drinks like Cappuccino (see C for Cappuccino). It tastes strong, but a single espresso has less caffeine than a filter coffee.


In relation to milk that is steamed, foam is created when air is introduced and trapped by the proteins in the milk. The more air that is added the higher the volume of foam. Thus you can have a flat white, with less foam, a latte, slightly more foam and a cappuccino, with even more foam, all made on one machine.


Has 4 meanings in coffee. 1. fresh harvest - coffee in its raw form degrades slowly, anywhere from 3 to 18 months depending on a variety of different factors. 2. Fresh roasted - taste a coffee more than 3 months from roast and you may as well be brewing an instant. After roasting, the coffee is oxidising slowly, losing the aromatics that give it complexity. 3. Freshly ground - while it is ideal to grind and brew within minutes of each other, where not possible, ensure the packaging is good and store the coffee in the freezer to maximise freshness (same applies to whole bean coffee by the way). 4. freshly brewed - only under special conditions should a coffee not be enjoyed as close to brewing as possible. Exceptions include - well-designed heat-trapping insulated dispensers and of course - looking after babies, in which case 3 hours is fine, you need that coffee.


Since coffee grinds are not soluble, unless they are processed (see I for Instant Coffee) metal, paper and cloth are all commonly used to help separate the coffee grounds from the coffee beverage. Drip coffee, V60, Cafetière, and Aeropress, are all different brew methods with different filtering methods.

Flat White

According to coffee historian Jonathan Morris, the Flat White is first documented as coming from Melbourne, Australia. There are seasonal periods when cow’s milk cannot be foamed to create Cappuccinos and the newspaper clipping about this reported that cafe A-boards stated, “no Cappuccinos, only flat whites.” As an espresso-based drink, it tends to be stronger than a Latte or Cappuccino with less foam.

French Press

See Cafetière.


Since coffee is roasted as whole beans, it needs to be ground in a grinder to enjoy as a beverage. Grinders come with 3 types of burrs or blades to cut and crush the roasted bean - flat and conical burrs both do a good job. Blades, common in spice grinders, tend to produce a broad distribution of fine to coarse particles which are problematic for consistent and repeatable brewing. But freshness (see F for Freshness) is arguably more valuable than an even grind setting. Ask 2 baristas for their opinion on this and then stand back and watch the debate.


Or gimmick coffee (see K for Kopi Luwak). Leave the island for the turtles. If you tasted this coffee blind on a table with Kopi Luwak most Jamaica Blue Mountain and a Tambia coffee, you would never pick any coffee other than the Tambia coffee as the best.


When ordering coffee online you will see this option, the alternative is whole bean, in which case, you also need a grinder. Tambia offers ground coffee for Moka Pot, espresso, filter and Cafetière.

Grind Size

Here's where coffee gets fun, when you have a grinder, any brew method is at your disposal. You adjust the grind size for the brew method. The finest to most coarse is Turkish, espresso, Moka, V60, and Cafetiere respectively.


Caffeine (see C for Caffeine) is habit forming, the theory is that caffeine binds with a neurotransmitter that houses adenosine, when this happens you feel perky, or however coffee makes you feel, but after a few days of drinking coffee, your nervous system gets clever and anticipates you will be drinking a coffee, so it intentionally overreacts to your uncaffeinated state, making you feel slow, and kind of like drinking a coffee. Yes, caffeine is a drug. Is this a bad thing, ask yourself tomorrow morning when it is coffee time. Also, see H for Health.


Coffee is good for you. Google this and you will find references to some dodgy websites trying to sell you coffee or coffee derivatives - ignore these - scroll down or better yet use Google Scholar - you will see a large catalogue of peer-reviewed journal articles and meta-analyses with findings from large cohorts and replicable experimental designs - heart health, reduced cancer risks and longevity are among the accolades for coffee and health.

Honey Process

Honey processing (see P for Process) is where the skin fro the cherry (see C for Cherry) is removed and then the remaining fruit is dried on raised beds - a challenging and technical process that can yield very sweet and balanced coffees.


A very high extraction yield is taken from often low-quality coffees using large industrial processes to make a concentrate which is then dehydrated. Aromas lost in the process are collected and pumped into the jars of instant to give the illusion that you are not drinking cardboard, just joking, instant has a time and place, we have all been there. In fact, some start-ups are trying to bring specialty instant to market, but they're finding that willingness to pay £1+ for a single cup of instant coffee you have to make yourself, is low.


A region in Indonesia gained fame for being one of the major coffee-exporting regions of the world back in the 19th century. In the USA, java is a common name, for coffee. Java is also half of the famous duo - Mocha Java - a blend of coffees exported from those two ports. See mocha and Yemen.


Caffeine is performance enhancing for endurance athletes, above 600mg in your blood and you can be disqualified. It is said to improve the metabolism of fat as a fuel source, so go out for a jog, after a cup of coffee and reap the benefits.

Jamaica Blue Mountain

Why is this coffee famous? Supply and demand. There is a low annual production, but it is very popular in Japan - low supply, high demand = high prices. Note that quality does not feature in the equation. However, if you like low-intensity, very balanced coffees, JMB might be for you. But similar cup profiles can be bought elsewhere for less.

Kona Coffee

Similar story to JMB, but from Hawaii and this time it is popular in the US. Also good trivia note - the USA is a coffee-producing country.

Kopi Luwak

An influential coffee roaster and personality called George Howell is attributed with the quote - “coffee from assholes, for assholes”. But seriously, Kopi Luwak, also known as Civet Coffee, is made from beans which have been eaten and defecated by the Asian Palm Civet. We don’t recommend it.


A slightly less strong espresso (see E for Espresso) and is similar in strength to a capsule (Nespresso for example).


A caffè latte is an espresso with more milk and a small amount of foam on top. Latte is Italian for milk so if you go shopping in Italy, don't buy 1 litre of latte thinking you just got yourself a coffee bargain, your thirst will be quenched but your caffeine headache will need an espresso cure.

Latte Art

Baristas are a creative bunch and aim to create the best tasting and, sometimes, best looking coffee. Latte art is created by pouring microfoam into espresso while designing a gorgeous pattern, one of the most popular being the heart shaped leaf pattern. There’s a bit more to it than this which we’ll get to later.


An espresso strained with milk, or foam, or milk & foam - 90ml cup. A latte macchiato (see latte) is milk, with an espresso layered on top 360ml cup or more.


In pure coffee terms, this is a port made famous as the place that controlled coffee exports for a few centuries, before coffee even came to prominence in London in the 17th century. In adulterated terms, the mocha is a mixture of coffee, chocolate and milk.

Micro Lot

Micro lot refers to a small, traceable lot of coffee beans. The actual lot size is not defined, the beans come from a specific section or even a specific tree or group of trees within a coffee farm. Micro lots are often identified and selected based on unique characteristics such as specific varietals, exceptional quality, or distinct flavour profiles. The benefit to micro lots is that traceability means more care is taken over separating and processing the coffee so it is more consistent and often higher quality. Micro lots are often sought after by specialty coffee buyers, roasters, and enthusiasts who appreciate the diversity and exceptional flavours that can be found in these limited quantities. 

Natural Process

Naturally processed (see P for Process) coffee is coffee processed without water- this is both more environmentally friendly and also imparts a distinctive flavour. The fermentation of sugars in the fruit under the skin imparts a dried fruit or more intense fruit flavour into this coffee. Try Tambia’s natural process coffee (our Pink Bourbon is a natural process) to see what we mean. It is coffee that doesn't taste like traditional coffee. It’s not for everyone, but if you love it you love it.


A place in which coffee is grown is also referred to as a producing country or origin. Knowing the provenance (origin) of your coffee is important for ethics, sustainability, and also just discovering which countries produce coffee you like. You will also find a huge variation in regions with a country, which is why Tambia has farms in multiple regions and also uses multiple processes. You know the origin of all our coffee becuase it’s written on the bag.


Since coffee is naturally a fruit (see C for Cherry) and we are most interested in the seeds (aka coffee beans), the fruit has to be removed to give us the beans - this is called processing. Wet, honey and natural processes are described here.

Pour over

A filter brew method, such as V60 from Hario or Wave from Kalita, where water is poured over the coffee grounds suspended above a vessel in a filter bed. The manual nature of the brew method makes it an accessible and enjoyable experience for lovers of craft coffee.


A controversial concept when mixed up with 'like' - we all have guilty pleasures which are not high quality, but we like them. Same with coffee, objective high-quality coffee has attributes in terms of flavour complexity and intensity which make it quality. The number of different flavours and their clarity, intensity and balance are the measures of quality. If you don't like tobacco flavour though and a high-quality coffee has tobacco notes, then it is still quality, but you shouldn't buy it. In saying this though, we find that when people discover higher-quality coffee, they find it very difficult to go back to their old favourite.

Q Grader

A Q Grader is certified by the coffee quality institute to score coffee using the specialty coffee association cupping score sheet. The concept is that a coffee buyer and seller can use the same scoring methodology to agree on the characteristics of the coffee.

Reusable Cup

Coffee is on track to be the first sustainable commodity, however, it is not as simple as using a reusable cup. While these do reduce packaging waste and using them is valuable, their carbon footprint can mean that you need to use the cup nearly 1000 times, to equal the carbon footprint of 1000 single-use cups. In addition, the highest amount of carbon emitted in coffee preparation is the hot water heating and of course dairy milk. So, to manage your personal coffee carbon footprint - use the reusables a lot, or drink your coffee in porcelain at the cafe. And think about how much water you boil when making a coffee and consider drinking your coffee black every once in a while - this is the way we like it! This last point is easy when the coffee is well roasted and high quality (see Q for Quality).


An Italian word for restricted - in this case, it is a strong espresso, where less water is pushed through the bed of coffee. If you like drinking gravy straight from the jug at Sunday lunch, Ristrettos could be for you.

Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance seal means that our beans are certified to the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard and we farm according to its three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental.


Before coffee becomes the brown aromatic bean we know and love, it is a green seed. These seeds have a higher moisture content and the chemical building blocks - carbohydrates, water, lipids, and proteins to create the complex and wonderful flavours of coffee. To achieve this, the coffee is roasted, a process of adding variable levels of heat in a controlled process to develop the desired flavours. As a general rule - light roasts are good for filter coffee and tend to feature the inherent flavours of the coffee. Medium roasts can be for people who like acidic espressos and for filter coffee and tend to have some elements of more caramelised or richer coffee flavours. While a dark roast is less about the inherent flavours of the bean and more about the flavours often associated with coffee - carbonised, bitter, smokey.

Speciality Coffee

Coffee that is rated 80+ on the Specialty Coffee Associations 100 point quality scale is considered speciality coffee. The system measures attributes including body, flavour, balance, aroma, and uniformity. Tambia maintains a focus on our coffee standards and excellenace from seed cup and are proud to offer speciality coffees that are rated 84+ on the SCA Quality Scale (see Q for Q Score). Speciality coffee represents just 3% of global production.

Specialty Coffee Association (SCA)

A trade association that represents the entire coffee value chain from producers to retail. It promotes specialty coffee and sustainability.


Coffee can be very bitter, particularly when roasted dark or of lower quality, so adding sugar or flavoured syrups offsets the bitterness.


Tambia is a third generation family business that plants, farms, harvests and processes our own world-class, single origin Colombian coffee.  The green beans are roasted locally in the UK ensuring that its customers get the freshest coffee, every time. Tambia’s passion for origin, people and process produce coffee who’s quality, customisability and consistency are exceptional.  Tambia is Rainforest Alliance Certified, and farms according to its three pillars of sustainability. Coffee pouches and mailers are carbon neutral, pouches are compostable  and mailers are made from 65% recycled paper. Tambia makes a positive impact on the communities they are part of through their non-profit foundation which offers support, healthcare, education and enrichment programs for young people in our farming community. 

Takeaway Cup

The often maligned takeaway cup is composed of 4-7% plastic lining and virgin paper fibre. This is paper sourced from trees, not recycled paper, due to food hygiene regulations. The plastic lining, which makes it waterproof, also makes it difficult to separate the paper from the plastic and so they are difficult, and therefore rarely, recycled.


That feeling you get when you drink something other than Tambia.


The Hario V60 brewer is a cone-shaped pour-over filter brewer, ribbed for airflow, with a 60-degree angle for precision flow of water through the bed of coffee. They come in 3 sizes for 1, 2, and 3-cup brews. The semiotics of a specialty café often include Hario products on the retail shelf and behind the bar. Hario's coffee division is tiny compared to its automotive parts division, they are most known for producing the glass on headlamps for cars.

Washed or Wet Process

When water is used in the removal of the fruit from the coffee seed during post-harvest processing. The best way to understand coffee processing is to go to some coffee farms where you can see the wet mill, or if that is not possible, watch some YouTube videos. Washed processing is different depending on the practices of the country, access to water, size of the farm or cooperative and equipment. Generally, the skin is removed in a pulper, the fruit is then soaked for 8 to 40 hours until the mucilage is easily removed and then it is washed in channels to separate the ripe seeds from the under-ripes and foreign items before it is dried.

World Coffee Competitions

The pinnacle of coffee brewing can be witnessed at coffee competitions, many of them sanctioned by the Specialty Coffee Association. There are national and then world competitions in barista, brewing, coffee cocktails, roasting, cup tasting, and ibrik by the SCA and there is also an independent world Aeropress championship. Winners of these competitions often gain lucrative endorsements and become influencers, see James Hoffmann, Gwilym Davies, Dale Harris, Diego Campos, Sasa Sestic, Matt Winton, and Aga Rojewska.

Xylitol Sweetener

A non-sugar sweetener derived from sugar alcohols. Honestly, though, we're scraping the bottom of the barrel to find a coffee-related word starting with 'x'. 😁


Yemen is famous in the coffee world for different reasons. Geographically it was central to the coffee trade from the port of Mokha on the Red Sea. It controlled the coffee trade from this port. It is also famous for its naturally processed coffees.

Zzz, not enough coffee…

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