A Barista 101 Glossary

Coffee Glossary 101

Everyone is searching for a heavenly cup of coffee. And if you haven’t found yours then maybe you just don’t know what to ask for. Listed here is the 411 of coffee terms.

Americano – Never mind the drip coffee pot at your favorite coffee shop. If you order an Americano, you’ll get a cup of coffee made by extending a shot of espresso with a shot of hot water. The espresso process extracts flavor differently from the coffee grounds than a drip coffee maker, so the flavor is different and richer, but it’s as close as you’ll get to a cup of joe in a gourmet coffee house.

Barista – That’s what you call the person behind the counter. She also doesn’t pour your coffee. She pulls a shot for you. Anyone who is really passionate about their favorite coffee house will tell you that the barista can make or break the place. Personable baristas who know how to make good espresso develop their own followings. (Obligatory Pop Culture reference: In a recent episode of NCIS, the barista did it. Score one for the butlers.)

Caffe Americano – Just another name for an Americano. You can get a double Americano with two shots of espresso too.

Caffe Mocha – MMmm, mocha. There are many different ways to prepare a caffe mocha, but they all have one thing in common. They combine two of America’s biggest passions, coffee and chocolate. Add a frothy head of cream, and you have a Mochachino.

Cafe Noir – Black coffee. Really. No cream or milk, just the coffee, thanks. It has the same level of pretentiousness as those who prefer film noir.

Cappuccino – Cappuccino is a drink of thirds: one third espresso (regular single or double), one third steamed milk, and one third frothed milk. A traditional cappuccino is a 4.5 ounce beverage, served in a 5 ounce cappuccino cup. A double is 8 or 9 ounces, and everything, the milk, the espresso, the foam is doubled. Can be topped with cinnamon or other spices or powdered chocolate. The drink gets its name from the Capuchin monks, who wear hooded robes that resemble the cap of foam on top of the drink.

Crema – Crema is one of the sure signs of a properly brewed shot of espresso (in non crema-enhancing machines) and is created by the dispersion of gases – air and carbon dioxide – in liquid at a high pressure. The liquid contains emulsified oils, and forms a dark golden brown layer resembling foam on top of an espresso shot.

Cupping – It’s the coffee culture’s version of a wine tasting. Professional coffee tasters cup coffee to choose coffee beans that will be bought and used in their blends and coffee roasts. The basic steps of cupping are: smell the freshly grounds; mix two tablespoons of medium ground coffee with six ounces of hot water and let sit for three minutes; break (agitate) the crust with your nose directly above the glass to sample the aroma; taste while still hot with a heavy slurping action to cover the tongue; Retaste when lukewarm; note the flavors, aroma, body, and aftertastes. Cuppers generally rinse their mouth with water to help clear away tastes previous samples.

Demitasse – The cup that holds a traditional shot of espresso is called a demitasse – the fancy word for the small 3 ounce (or smaller) cup. A demitasse can also refer to the entire service of coffee pot and six or eight demitasse cups. The right demitasse cup can affect the flavor of the coffee by retaining the beverage heat, mostly.

Doppio – A double shot. Of espresso, that is. Hit it with your best shot – twice.

Crema – Crema is what makes espresso espresso. It’s the delicious caramel colored foam at the top of a shot of espresso that is essentially coffee emulsion. If you don’t have crema, you don’t have espresso – or at least you don’t have good espresso.

Espresso – A sublime coffee beverage made by forcing hot water through tightly packed coffee grounds under very high pressure. There are very precise measurements of coffee, water, pressure and temperature which must be observed in order to make excellent espresso. Anything less than excellent espresso is often considered undrinkable by those with a real interest in coffee.

Espresso Breve – Espresso with half and half cream.

Espresso Lungo – A shot of espresso that is pulled a few seconds longer than necessary, supposedly to maximize the extraction process. In most cases, it merely produces bitter, overextracted coffee.

Espresso Macchiato – A shot of espresso topped with a very small amount of steamed milk.

French Press – A coffee maker that consists of a tall glass cylinder, a holder, a cap and a plunger mechanism. Ground coffee is spooned into the cylinder and covered with boiling water. The mixture is allowed to steep, then stirred briefly before the plunger is used to force the coffee ground to the bottom of the cylinder so that the coffee can be poured off. Many coffee conoisseurs swear that this method makes the very best coffee.

Froth or Foam – Milk that has been steamed to create a froth or thick foam

Latte – Espresso (either one or two shots) slowly poured into a glass of steamed milk and topped with a thin layer of froth. It’s often dusted with cinnamon or nutmeg.

Ristretto – An espresso made with about half the water usually used. It is intensely concentrated, smooth and thick on the tongue. It is often the basis for other espresso drinks, or used in recipes that call for concentrated coffee.

Solo – A single shot of espresso.

XPress Lid – A portable, disposable and recyclable French press in a lid that is manufactured by SmartCup, Inc. Many coffee conoisseurs swear that this method makes the very best coffee.

Sources include CoffeeGeek, Daily Demtissa, About’s coffee art,

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