Coffee terms

Struggling to keep up with the latest brew methods and coffee terms? Swot up on the lingo with our coffee glossary

Struggling to keep up with speciality coffee terms? Brush up on the lingo with our coffee glossary


A syringe-shaped filter brew method that includes an element of mechanical extraction with the water being forced through the coffee and filter paper.


Stirring the coffee throughout the brew cycle when preparing filter coffee to increase strength or encourage even extraction.

Alto Air

An open-sided conical brewer, adaptable to many filter papers such as V60, Melitta or Kalita.


The multi-skilled pro making your delicious coffee drinks at cafes and coffee shops.

Batch brew

Filter coffee prepared on a large scale using a filter coffee machine.


The action of pouring water on freshly ground coffee to evenly coat each coffee particle. This encourages even extraction.


Also known as french press. A coarse metal filter is plunged through coffee grounds which are immersed in water. High on body with characteristic residue in the bottom of the cup afterwards.


The outer skin of the coffee cherry can be used to make an infusion served hot like a tea or cold, mixed with sparkling water.


When a small hole or crack in the coffee bed of espresso forms, resulting in the water bypassing the majority of the ground coffee.

Clever Dripper

Essentially a Melitta cone with a fancy bottom plate, you can brew with full immersion until you place the brewer on your cup or jug, then lift the bottom plate and allow the brewed coffee to drain out.

Coffee blossom

The flowers collected from the coffee bush are dried and can be used to make a tea-like infusion.

Cold brew

Coffee brewed cold as opposed to brewed hot, either through an immersion method or a tower, where the water drips slowly through the coffee bed. Served cold, this coffee has high sweetness and low acidity.


The international method used to assess coffee. The beans are ground to a coarse consistency and steeped in a bowl of hot water for four minutes before the crust of grounds is scraped away from the surface. The coffee is left to cool and assessed via a big slurp from a cupping spoon.


The action of distributing coffee evenly inside the espresso basket before tamping to encourage even extraction. This can be achieved through tapping, shaking or smoothing the coffee out with your fingers.

Drip/batch brewers

Very similar in principle to pourovers, and more likely found in high-volume cafes. They have a showerhead instead of one stream of water and varying degrees of automation. Some will use paper filters and others fine mesh. The key thing with bulk brewing, though, is to always check the hold time as the coffee can quickly lose its volatile compounds (they give it that wonderful smell) leaving a baked or metallic flavour note.


The amount of ground coffee used when preparing a coffee.


Popular grinder used for both espresso and filter.

EK shots/coffee shots

Originating from a Barista Championships performance, the EK refers to Mahlkonig’s EK43 grinder which has taken the cafe world by storm. Essentially a lungo (long shot of espresso) made on the espresso machine but giving a considerably better cup of coffee than the lungo which was often characterised by over-extracted bitterness.

espresso shot, coffee terms


Given that cappuccinos, lattes, and a whole host of cafe drinks start as an espresso, this is an important brew method. However, espresso is subject to perhaps the widest variation of any style out there. Modern baristas will happily discuss brew ratios: the dry weight of the coffee ‘in’ to the wet weight of the liquid ‘out’ and use this to control quality. Traditionalists may still quote in terms of weight and time and volume of shot, so ask the barista – they should be able to talk about whatever method they choose.


The name given to a shot of espresso when all the variables are in line and the coffee tastes at its optimum.


The term for an espresso machine with the technology to control the yield, based on coffee dose.


A manufacturer of pourover filters which are conical in shape with sinuating sides and flat bottomed filter papers.


Another cone shaped filter method, with the differentiation being a pinched draining point at the bottom of the cone rather than a point.


Tool used for distributing coffee inside the espresso.


Manual brewing characterised by having a flow of fresh water through the bed of coffee, so you get a quicker, more aggressive extraction particularly around the outside of the ground coffee particle. Grind size must be spot on to get the best result.

Pressure profiling

The act of controlling the amount of pressure applied to espresso throughout the extraction time, resulting in different espresso flavours and styles.


The name given to the fern-like latte art pattern served on the top of a flat white or other milk drinks.


A brew method that heats the water in an enclosed chamber using the resulting pressure to force the water into contact with the coffee in an upper chamber. When the heat’s removed, the subsequent cooling then draws the coffee through a cloth filter back into the bottom chamber which is used to serve the coffee.


The action of compacting coffee into the espresso basket with a tamper in order to encourage even extraction.


Manufactured by Hario of Japan, this is the classic conical shaped brewer. It can be plastic, glass or ceramic, and all use the conical filter papers.


The volume of liquid produced when preparing an espresso or brewed coffee. A traditional espresso would yield twice that of the coffee dose. For example if you use 18g of coffee to brew an espresso, then you might yield 36g of liquid.

Thanks to Q Grader Jamie Treby for helping us break down some of the coffee terms.

Now you’re clued up on the coffee terms, time to sharpen your brewing skills. Get our pro guides here.

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