Coffee basics

A glance at some of the most used coffee terms. It will take a lifetime to finish this page.


ACIDITY – One of the coffee’s major characteristics in the tasting.

AEROPRESS – Great invention by Alan Adler. One of the simplest ways to brew a great cup of Joe.

AFFOGATO – Scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with one shot of espresso. Usually served in a tall glass. Traditionally served as a dessert after a meal.

AMERICANO – One shot of espresso topped with hot water. Allegedly an invention of American tourists in Italy whose palates were too sensitive for espresso.

ARABICA – One of two main coffee bean varieties. Arabica is fruity, delicate and has less caffeine. Also more expensive than Robusta.

AROMA – One of coffee’s primary qualities.


BARISTA – Guy that makes your coffee and serves it. Usually tattooed and pierced. Prone to scoffing.

BATCH ROASTER – Roaster that produces a small fixed quantity of beans.

BITTERNESS – Usually a sign of bad beans, or bad brewing.

BLEND – Coffee mixture, from a different variety of beans.

BRAZIL – World’s largest coffee growing and exporting country in the world.

BREVE – The American version of a latte. One shot of espresso is topped with steamed half-and-half and finished with a layer of foam.

BREWING – Extracting flavour from coffee beans, usually using hot water.

BURR GRINDER – Best grinder you can use.


CAPSULES – Plastic containers with already prepared ground coffee.

CAFFEINE – The most used legal drug, one of the reasons people drink coffee.

CAFFE LATTE – One part of espresso, two parts of hot milk, a layer of foamed milk.

CAPPUCCINO – One part of espresso, one part of warm milk, one part of thick milk foam.

CREMA – Foam on the top of a good espresso.

COLD BREW – Coffee brewed using cold (room temperature) water.

COLOMBIA – Southern American country, grows great beans.


DECAFFEINATING PROCESS – Process of removing the caffeine from the coffee. Never 100% successful.

DOPPIO – It means double. Doppio espresso is a double shot of espresso. 


ESPRESSO – My favourite coffee drink. Finely ground coffee is extracted using hot water and high mechanical pressure. 

ESTONIA – Country that lives through a coffee renaissance. I do my part.


FAIRTRADE COFFEE – Coffee that is paid fairly to coffee farmers.

FILTER METHOD – Method of removing coffee grounds from the brew. 

FINLAND – The country that consumes the most coffee per capita. In 2021 it’s 12 kilos per person. Also, they managed to grow coffee in a lab in 2021.

FRENCH PRESS – My favourite coffee-making method. Simple, affordable and makes the most out of your beans.

FOAMED MILK – same as frothed milk. You aerate the milk and the air bubbles create the foam. The result is creamy and rich foam.

FRESH BEANS – Alpha and omega of coffee making. Fresher the beans, the better the coffee.

FROTHED MILK – same as foamed milk. Some baristas beg to differ, but the minor differences (if they exist) are too minor.


GLASS OF WATER – Usually served with coffee in European cafes. In Estonia, I usually have to pour the water myself.

GOLDEN RATIO – According to the Specialty Coffee Association Of America, the perfect coffee-to-water ratio. They claim it’s 1:18.

GRANDE –  In the USA, a name for a large coffee. In Europe, usually part of the name of Italian Circus.

GRINDING – Breaking down the surface of the coffee bean, so it can be extracted by water.


HAWAII – The birthplace of Kona coffee. Only US state that grows coffee commercially.

HOT – The only way to serve and drink espresso.


IBS – Irritable bowel syndrome. The case when coffee makes you poop a lot. Or not at all.

ITALY – The birthplace of the coffee culture, espresso, espresso machine, French press and much more. Italy contributed to the coffee world more than all the other countries together. Yes, I said that. Sue me.



KALDI – A goat herder that discovered the first coffee plant, according to the legends.

KILOGRAM (kg) – The standard coffee package. 

KONA COFFEE – Hawaiian coffee, one of the most expensive ones.


LA MARZOCCO – Perhaps the best espresso coffee machines maker. Also one of the priciest.

LAVAZZA – One of my favourite coffee brands for a good Italian espresso.


MACCHIATO – Shot of espresso, a splash of warm milk.

MOCHA – One shot of espresso, a layer of chocolate, warm milk and foam.

MOKA POT – Standard coffee maker. Mostly used in Europe and Latin America.

MONIN – Probably the most famous coffee syrup maker. In autumn, the Pumpkin Spice Monin is almost impossible to find.


NATURAL PROCESSING – Sun-drying the green coffee beans.


ORGANIC COFFEE – Coffee is produced with (almost) no chemical substances.

OXIDATION – The worst enemy of coffee. Oxidation makes coffee lose its flavour. 


POD – also known as K-cup. A pod is already prepared and packed coffee dose. Used in pod machines.

POUR-OVER METHOD – Pouring hot water through ground coffee. 


QAHVA – One of the first official terms for coffee


ROASTING – Exposing green coffee beans to high temperatures. Roasting gives coffee the most of the taste.

ROBUSTA – One of the two most famous coffee varieties. Robusta has a stronger flavour, more caffeine and a lower price.


SEGAFREDO – Italian coffee brand, one of my favourites


TURKISH COFFEE – One of the oldest methods of preparation. The result is an unfiltered, strong and sometimes bitter drink.

TURKISH DELIGHT or LOKUM – Traditional Oriental sweet that goes great with Turkish coffee



VEGAN COFFEE – One more way to sell everything to vegans.

VIENNA – The start of the coffee house culture in Europe.

VIETNAMESE COFFEE – Coffee and condensed milk.


WATER – A base of good coffee. Bad water equals bad coffee every time.

WASHED – Coffee beans washed using water.


X – You can’t find it in the word “espresso”. Nor you should.


YEMEN – The country where the first coffee bush was found.