Coffee Lingo

Coffee Lingo Dictionary: Our Guide To Understanding Coffee Jargon

Coffee has a long history; it’s one of the most popular drinks in the world with many variations in how it’s prepared. Its stimulating effect is a welcome by millions every morning. 

With its growing popularity, the coffee lingo has grown and can be confusing. We created a list of the most common coffee jargon to increase your coffee knowledge.


What is the most common coffee jargon?

History of coffee

Some myths and stories traced the origin of coffee to Yemen/Ethiopia back in the 15th century. Coffee is now grown and cultivated in over 70 countries and is major exported commodity.

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Coffee Bean Jargon

With so many variations on the art of coffee making, the terminology you see in coffee houses can be confusing when ordering. The list of coffee jargon has only grown along side coffee popularity so there may be a few terms that you never heard of before.

We have gathered a list of the most common coffee jargon you might come across. With this cheat sheet, you will be in the know when reading the menu and ordering you next espresso based drink.

Arabica and Robusta: These are only two coffee species that exist on the market, and they both have different requirements as far as growth is concerned. They also produce different flavors and aroma, so if you are buying coffee, knowing the difference between the two is a bonus.

Arabica is the common species that takes almost over 50% of coffee beans used for commercial purposes. Moreover, it has a sweet flavor with high acidity making them the best choice for many coffee drinkers.

Robusta is another species though used by many but not in a higher percentage. It produces a harsh and robust taste with peanut aftertaste. Moreover, they are commonly used in caffeinated drinks because of their high caffeine levels.

Peaberry: a coffee cherry should contain two coffee beans, but sometimes, other cherries contain only one coffee bean. So, Peaberry is such a cherry that has only one coffee bean. Coffee made from Peaberry is quite expensive compared to other berries.

Single-origin: there are different regions from which coffee manufacturers source the coffee. Suppose a manufacturer sources the coffee bean from one place, then its referred to as signal origin.

Blend: this refers to a combination of many( two or more) single origin coffees

Green Beans: a simple definition for coffee beans that haven’t been roasted.


Coffee Roasting Jargon

The flavor and aroma of coffee beans depend on the roasting technique used. So there is some coffee jargon you would expect as far as the roasting of coffee is concerned. Here are the common ones.

Light roast: Under light roast, you will expect cinnamon roast, city roast, and city plus roast, both roasting leaves, not oil on the bean surface.

Cinnamon roast isn’t about cinnamon flavor, for its the lighted roasting method commonly used on Peaberry.

City roast is also light, but it retains the coffee bean flavor.

City plus roast is the last roasting technique under light roasting and stops between first & second coffee bean crack.

Medium Roasts: when roasting using this method, there can be no oil or little oil on the coffee bean surface. The methods retain the original flavor of the coffee while the roast improves the taste and appearance. The two roasting ways under this category includes Full City Roast and full city plus.

Full city roast tops when the second crack begins as the coffee sugar shall have caramelized, thus adding sweating.

Full city plus proceeds slightly even after the second crack. The original coffee flavor diminishes as the roasted coffee becomes sweeter and with improved taste.

Dark roast: French roast and Vienna Roast are the standard dark roast method and ensure the oil produces the oil. There is no coffee original flavor left. All you’ll taste is the roast.

Vienna Roast ensures roasting the coffee beans well while on the second crack.

French roast ensures the coffee beans are dark and with unrecognizable coffee bean original flavor.


Coffee Making Equipment

French Press: a coffee brewing device that includes a beaker in which course ground coffee is added. Hot water is added and allowed to brew for several minutes. A fine mesh plunger is then pressed down the beaker in order to separate the brewed coffee from the loose coffee grounds. 

Moka Pot: a stove top coffee maker that presses boiling water through ground coffee under pressure to produce a strong cup of coffee.

AreoPress: a cylindrical devise that uses a plunger to push brewed coffee through a filter on the end.  Ground coffee and boiling water are added and allowed to brew for a few minutes. A plunger is used to push the mixture through the filter and into the cup.

Brewed or Pour Over Coffee: a brewing process that involves pouring boiling water over coffee grounds held by a filter. The water seeps through the coffee and passes through the filter into a coffee pot of cup on smaller pour over filters holders.

Espresso Machine:  a machine that brews a strong, concentrated coffee by forcing water through fine coffee grounds under pressure. Some espresso machines include a spout that uses the pressurized steam to warm milk in order to create espresso based drinks such as a cappuccino or a latte.

Coffee House Jargon

With this coffee jargon, you can order your favorite coffee beverage accurately using the correct coffee lingo.

Cuppa: this refers to a cup of coffee

Decaf: sometimes you need decaffeinated coffee, then this is the right term to use

Black: when you say black, it simply means you need pure coffee without sugar, milk, or cream.

Cold-brew: this is coffee made with ground coffee at room temperature/cold water. Moreover, it steeps for 12-24 hours, thus producing smoother tasting coffee.

Half-caf: when this Coffee Lingo is used, it refers to a combination of half decaffeinated and half regular coffee

Iced Coffee: It doesn’t matter which type of coffee you are offering, but it must be served over ice and often made with double strength to prevent it from being diluted with ice.

Other terms common but important coffee Lingo

Americano: this term is often used to refer to a drink made of espresso shots but diluted to half its original strength using water.

Barista: from the Italian language, the Coffee Lingo barista refers to a bartender. This is contrary to the US definition, which refers to the one operating espresso machines and produces espresso beverages.

Breve: This kind of coffee is made from steamed half-and-half instead of using milk. The coffee is often creamy foam, and a typical example includes brave cappuccino and brave latte.

Caffe au Lait: this refers to a coffee made by mixing half steamed milk and half brewed coffee

Caffe Latte: this can be single or more espresso servings that contain steamed milk on top of the cup and finished with quarter steamed milk foam.

Caffe Mocha: common espresso that includes a given chocolate syrup amount filled using steamed milk while the top has whipped cream.

Caramel Macchiato: this drink is made by mixing espresso with caramel syrup. Then, it’s filled using steam pilled and finished with a whipped cream topping.

Cappuccino: This is an espresso serving presented in a cup, and it’s topped using an equivalent amount of frothed milk and steamed milk. It’s probably the most robust tasty coffee that exceeds coffee latte.

Demitasse: this is a small glass, porcelain, or china cup with approximately 1.5-3oz size traditionally used for serving straight espresso.

Demitasse Spoon: a tiny spoon with a sleek design used to add sweeteners to any coffee serving.

Double: refer to a serving preverbally beverage with two shots of coffee

Dry: uncommon espresso drink prepared using a greater portion of foam. It’s commonly used to refer to cappuccino.

Espresso: This is probably the most robust coffee that is brewed 1ounce at a time, and it is often extracted from ground coffee using high pressure and temperature on an espresso machine. Also, it can refer to coffee specifically made for use on espresso machines.

Flavoring Syrup: this is a sweet syrup added to coffee drinks after it’s been brewed.

Foam or Froth: when milk is steamed and aerated, it forms what’s called Froth or foam

Grande: this is a definition for a 16 ounces coffee drink, the largest size available.

Granita: this is a flavored drink served by baristas and needs special equipment for successful preparation.

Latte: from Italian Dictionary, it refers to milk, and it’s also a slang term used to refer to caffe latte.

Mocha: This is a slang used by many coffee takers to refer Caffe mocha

Single/ single shot: it refers to an espresso beverage containing a shot of espresso.

Shot: this when you are served 1-1.5 ounces brewed espresso.

Skinny: slang that refers to a coffee beverage made out of non-fatty milk or skims

Tall: when you order a 12-ounce coffee beverage, you can use the term tall.

Venti: it refers to a coffee beverage of 20/24 ounce size

Wet: an espresso prepare with less foam proportion, and it often describes customized cappuccino

White mocha: this can be one or more espresso served mixed with white chocolate in appropriate proportion. After that, it’s filled using steamed milk and a flourish of whipped cream topping.


There are so many coffee terminologies out there, what we have highlighted are a few. Still, significant ones, so, if you are equipped with such Coffee Lingo, you’ll find it easy to fit in any coffee shop, and you’ll know exactly whatever you are ordering.