One of the most irritating things people in the know tend to do is throw terms about and create a mystique surrounding their particular area of interest. Hey if it sounds off beat and mysterious then it must be  special. Coffee is coffee, no matter what way you look at it as long as it gets the job done and tastes good while doing it does it matter if the coffee was a peaberry or wet processed? Here are a couple of terms associated with coffee that I feel may get abused, and I’ll do my best to explain them.

We will cover terms used to describe the beans, where they are grown, how they are processed sold and what they are intended to be used for. Sound confusing? Please read on. It is a lot of ground to cover hopefully this will help.

Coffee Cherry: Believe it or not coffee on the tree actually looks like a cherry. This berry is removed and what you are grinding, roasting and brewing is actually the seed in the center of the fruit.

Parchment: Was coffee  involved  in drafting documents in the 1700’s? well probably not except as a source for inspiration.  Parchment  again refers to a piece of the fruit, specifically the membrane surrounding the seed which  separates  the pulpy fruit from our beloved bean.

Notes: Any of the following certifications is actually paid for by the individual farms, or coffee roasters. For more information on what this means check out Coffee Politics.

Fair Trade: Fair trade coffee is coffee that has been bought from a farm / collective / trade group where the people who grew the beans were paid a fair and equitable salary for doing so. Fair trade certification is a paid for certification the ensures the community who grew the beans you love gets the right amount of money and even moves into helping with public works projects to better the community as a whole. For More information check out the Source

Shade Grown: This term is pretty self  explanatory  but the reason for the certification is not. Coffee that is grown in a shady area produces less  yield  per plant, but disturbs the environment less. In fact coffee grown in full sun tends to be more susceptible to disease because of the added stress on the plants. By buying coffee that is shade grown you are doing a small part to promote a sustainable farming techniques. As with any form of consumer activism you vote with your dollars. This method also known as bird safe does not destroy the natural habitat of many of the animals who live in and  around  the coffee trees.

Certified Organic: Another form of certification which promotes a more sustainable farming technique. This time a certified organic coffee does  not  use any  pesticides, or chemicals in the growing of the coffee. This certification is usually accompanied by the Shade Grown cert.

Roasted: All coffee beans that you grind and brew have been slowly cooked to change the  flavor  profile of the finished product. There are different methods for roasting and each can change the  flavor  of the beans subtly.

Dark , light, medium, city, French, et al. Roast: All of the terms to the left are actually various roast levels. Usually Lighter roasted coffee is more preferable to taste the  origin  of the beans, the darker you roast the beans the more you taste the roast level instead.

Espresso: Espresso is a product of a specific method of extracting coffee. It is NOT a roast level. Espresso is coffee that has been finely ground and the oils and  flavors  have been extracted through pressure driven water. Usually signified by  the presence of crema on the top of the drink. To create espresso people generally use a blend of beans that are darker roasted, which has led to some confusing in marketing circles when people roast coffee to within an inch of its life and  label  it espresso. You can have a blend of beans labeled an espresso blend, because it was intended to be used in that fashion but run for the hills if they  label  it espresso  roast.

Crema: The small layer of foam produced when extracting coffee under pressure, usually lighter brown to medium brown in color. it can give the drink a slight sweet taste. the foam is made up of a small emulsion of oils, water and air.

Latte: A steamed milk beverage, usually two-thirds steamed milk poured over one-third of espresso. Sometimes the milk is foamed to create designs but traditionally it need only be steamed.

Mocha: or by its real name a Cafe Mocha is not originally a chocolate drink. usually a combination of steamed milk and coffee the orignal flavor had a hint of chocolate in it but more often than not if you buy a mocha anywhere you will end up with a chocolate flavored latte. A Mocha is usually two-thirds steamed milk to 1 third espresso.

Cappuccino: A Cappuccino is a specifically  constructed  drink, it is one-third espresso, with one-third steamed milk and one-third foamed milk. The foam should be poured into the center of the crema, creating a brown circle of crema around the outside of the cup. Unless one is creating Latte Art this is a traditional Cappuccino. It is actually almost physically impossible to create a Cappuccino larger than 6  ounces  because any larger volume of foamed milk collapses back onto itself ruining the effect.

Barista: An employee of a coffee house who is specially trained in the art of creating good espresso based, and coffee based drinks.

Pulling a shot: The term used for producing one single serving of espresso. depending on the size of the equipment it is possible to pull single double or triple shots on most systems. There is a  knack  to pulling a shot of espresso correctly. if you push too much water through the system, or do not prepare the coffee correctly the resulting luquid doesn’t taste as good as it could. and if it was done really poorly a badly pulled shot can render even excellent coffee undrinkable in espresso form.

Latte Art:  A truly well trained and skilled barista can, in the process of creating a latte, mocha or Cappuccino, create a design or figure in the foam and cream on the top of the drink. An excellent latte art example can produce incredibly fine details.

Flavor Notes: More often than not reading snooty blogs like this may refer to something called a  flavor  note or a note of an oddball flavor in the coffee. Chocolate, berry, fruits, dates, earthy, all subtle differences in the flavor of the coffee but a coffee won’t  taste  like a fruit  cocktail  if someone says it has berry notes, rather a  subtle  hint of the berry flavor mixed with the coffee taste.  Take these notes with a grain of salt since most people have very different  pallets  it is quite possible for one person’s berry to be another person’s bitter.

So this is all I could think of for right now. Hope that you enjoyed this. Did I miss anything? We will still be coving a great number of topics in the very near future on brewing good coffee, espresso and selecting the right beans for yourself.