A To Z Coffee Dictionary: Guide to Drinks, Equipment & Terms

Coffee Dictionary

Coffee is a staple of society and is widely known as one of the most popular drinks in the world. Because of that, it has become a very complex drink full of history and complicated terms. It is difficult to understand and keep up with all of these different words, so a guide can be helpful. 

Coffee Drinks

There are a large variety of drinks you can create using coffee beans from more basic espresso and brewed coffee to more complicated and rich drinks. 


Affogato is a dessert where you pour espresso over vanilla ice cream. It is typically either sipped or slowly eaten with a spoon. 


An americano is a coffee drink made using espresso and water. The espresso dilutes into the hot water to create a beverage similar to coffee but with a different flavor profile. 

Black Eye

A black eye coffee is a double shot of espresso added to regular coffee. 


A breve is similar to a latte in its distribution of espresso, milk, and froth. However, instead of milk, you use half-and-half. This creates the signature thickness of a breve. 

Cafe au Lait

Cafe au Lait is a coffee with hot milk. The milk and coffee are in equal parts. 

Cafe Crema

A cafe crema is an espresso drink using a coarse grind of espresso beans and a lot of water. The espresso brews using a large amount of water going through the ground beans to make the drink. 

Cafe Cubano

Cafe cubano is a dark-roasted espresso drink that you pour over raw sugar to make a sweet espresso drink.

Caffe Medici

A caffe medici is a combination of espresso, chocolate, and orange peel. Then, chocolate syrup is combined with some sugar and orange peel, then you pour two shots of espresso over top.


Cappuccinos are a coffee drink traditionally made with an even amount of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. 

Cold Brew

Cold brew is coffee that brews using cold water or room-temperature water. The grounds steep in the water for several hours and then kept refrigerated. 


A cortadito is an espresso drink that is half milk and half espresso. The milk, however, is usually presweetened.


Similar to a macchiato, a cortado is a coffee beverage made by combining espresso and steamed milk. The milk tops off the espresso, the difference from the macchiato being that it has more milk. It is typically served in 4 to 5 oz cups with half of the drink being milk. 


Doppio is a type of espresso drink. It is a double shot except it uses double the amount of coffee grounds and water. It brews in a large portafilter as well. It is typically just called a double shot of espresso. 


Espresso is a strong, dark type of coffee brew that uses finely ground coffee beans. It brews at a high pressure by forcing hot water through the coffee grounds, making the coffee stronger. 

Espresso Con Panna

Espresso con panna is espresso topped with whipped cream. It can be a single or double shot of espresso. It is similar to Vienna coffee but it is espresso rather than black coffee. 

Espresso Romano

Espresso Romano is lemon slices or lemon juice combined with a little bit of sugar into an espresso shot. It is hot or cold and then sweetened to taste with or without milk.

Flat White

A flat white is an espresso drink made using espresso and milk. The drink is mostly milk and the key to the drink is how the frothing of the milk. It is micro-frothed, unlike most other drinks of its kind, leading to its distinct texture. 


A frappe includes a variety of different drinks. In general, it is a blended or shaken cold coffee beverage. It is usually foamy and sweet, often served with several toppings. 

Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is coffee served cold with ice. It is typically made by also adding cream or sugar for sweetness but can be drunk as a black coffee. 


A latte is milk foam, steamed milk, and espresso. A latte is more steamed milk than anything else in the drink, with espresso and milk froth being equal parts. 

Long Black

A long black is a shot of espresso poured over a cup of hot water. This is different from an Americano in that you put the espresso into the hot water rather than the water put into the espresso. 


Lungo is an espresso shot. However, it brews with twice as much water to create a drink more similar to coffee. 


A macchiato is a coffee beverage made by combining espresso and steamed milk. You place a very small amount of frothy steamed milk atop the espresso. It is usually served in only 3 oz cups, milk skimming only the top of the cup. 


Mazagran is a cold espresso drink. It is sweet, often sweetened with honey and flavored with lemon then poured over ice. 


Mocha’s come in many different ways and are often interpreted differently around the world. The most common way to make a mocha is equal parts espresso and hot chocolate and then mostly steamed milk. 

Nitro Cold Brew

Nitro cold brew is a type of cold brew. It infuses with nitrogen gas to create a unique flavor and texture. It is often thicker and more bubbly than regular cold brew. 

Red Eye

A red eye coffee is a shot of espresso added to regular coffee. You can then add sweetener and milk as usual to this unique and strong drink. 


Ristretto is a small shot of extremely concentrated espresso. The beans are ground down more finely than normal espresso and then brewed with half the water to create a stronger but smaller brew. 

Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee is finely ground coffee combined with water. The mixture brews in a cezve, or any other small pot, and is brought to almost boiling. It is then served with the grounds included to create a thick and frothy texture. 

Vienna Coffe

Vienna coffee is a black coffee topped with whipped cream. The whipped cream makes up a large portion of the drink and is then drunk by putting a straw through the cream. 

Brewing Methods

With all of the different drinks, there are just as many different ways to brew them that lead to different flavors and intensities in the coffee. 


AeroPress is similar to the French press except it is quicker and easier to use. The quickness of the process leads to a brew with less acidity.


Chemex is a type of pour-over coffee. The main difference is the filter used as the filter in a Chemex is much thicker than a typical pour-over filter.

Clever Dripper

The Clever Dripper is a combination of a pour-over and French press-style brewing method. You pour the water into the filter as it drips into the immersion area. 

Cold Brew

You immerse coarse coffee grounds in cold water and leave them to steep for several hours, usually overnight. The grounds are then filtered from the coffee when ready to drink. 


You place finely ground beans into an espresso machine. A small amount of water is then run through to create a strong espresso. 

French Press (Plunger)

You steep hot water and coffee grounds together in a machine known as a French press.

Pour-over (Drip Coffee)

You pour hot water over coffee grounds in a compact filter and the coffee slowly drips out to create a concentrated coffee. 

Moka Pot (Stovetop Espresso Maker)

A Moka Pot is a stovetop espresso maker. A pot of water sits below the coffee grounds and as the water boils, it brews the coffee in the middle chamber using pressurized steam. 

Nel Drip (Cloth Dripper)

The Nel Drip is a type of pour-over coffee. The thickness of the filter leads to the coffee being sweeter and thicker. 


The percolator is a coffee pot heated on the stove that continually cycles the coffee through the pot until the brew finishes. It pushes the water up through the grounds using steam.

Turkish Coffee

Water, coffee grounds, and sugar and stirred together and then placed into a curve or other small pot. It is then brought to a boil and served with the grounds remaining. 

Vacuum Pot (Siphon Brewing)

The vacuum pot siphons hot water from the bottom chamber of the pot to the top chamber of the pot where the grounds are.

Coffee Equipment

To even create the coffee, you need the proper equipment that is essential to get started and to make the process easier. 

Bean Hopper

A bean hopper is a container on the top of a coffee grinder where whole beans stay until it is time to grind them. 

Blade Grinder 

A coffee grinder that slices the coffee beans into fine pieces, making more of a powdery coffee ground good for espresso brewing. It is also used to mix spices and coffee together while grinding.

Bottomless Portafilter

A bottomless portafilter is a portafilter with no bottom part of the basket so that you can see the brewing process happen. 

Burr Grinder

A coffee grinder that leads to more coarse grounds that are good for most typical brewing processes. 

Coffee Bean Storage Container

A storage container designed to hold coffee beans to keep them fresh and flavorful through its tight seal. 

Coffee Cleaning Brush

You use a coffee cleaning brush on coffee machines to clean out any leftover coffee or grime that can be difficult to reach. 

Coffee Grinder

A coffee grinder chops up coffee beans into fine grounds that can then brew into coffee. 

Coffee Roaster

A coffee roaster roasts fresh, green, coffee beans until they are usable.

Coffee Scale

You use a coffee scale to measure coffee grounds and water to create a balanced brew. 

Coffee Scoop

A coffee scoop helps measure the exact amount of coffee grounds needed for a cup of coffee or for every 6 fluid ounces of water. 

Descaling Solution

A descaling solution is a cleaning solution used to clean any grime or build-up on metal devices, like coffee machines. 

Distribution Tool

You use a distribution tool to level out coffee grounds in a filter to make the brewing process more consistent. 

Drip Tray

A drip tray is a cover you can place at the bottom of your coffee machine to catch any leftover drips after a brew to avoid a mess.

Dosing Funnel

A dosing funnel is an attachment for your espresso machine that stops coffee grounds from overflowing during the brewing process. 

Espresso Group Head Brush

An espresso group head brush is a special brush used to clean the group head of your espresso machine.

Espresso Machine

An espresso machine takes concentrated, finely ground coffee and pressurizes it.

Espresso Shot Glass

An espresso shot glass is a glass meant to hold a single shot of espresso. 

Espresso Timer

You use an espresso timer to time your espresso shots to make sure they are not brewing too quickly or slowly, leading to the perfect brew. 

Filter Holder

A filter holder is a storage device used to keep all your coffee filters together, organized, and out of the way. 

Gooseneck Kettle

A gooseneck kettle is a kettle with a thin neck that allows more control over the speed of a pour and more consistency.

Grinder Cleaning Tablets

You use a grinder cleaning tablet to clean coffee grinders by removing any buildup from coffee on different parts of the grinder. 

Knock Box

A knock box is where you dump your coffee grounds after use. 


You use a leveler in espresso machines to help tamper down the grounds to create an even, level surface before brewing. 

Milk Frother

A milk frother is a whisk-like machine used to stir milk rapidly and create a froth. 

Milk Steaming Pitcher

A milk steaming pitcher is a pitcher that holds a large quantity of milk that is then placed in a steamer and used to help control the steaming process of milk. 

Milk Thermometer

A milk thermometer shows the temperature of the milk as you steam it so you can steam it to the correct temperature and create a perfect foam. 


Portafilters are where coffee grounds sit in an espresso machine that the water then filters through. 

Pressurized Portafilter

A pressurized portafilter has two layers. One is a mesh layer and the next is a layer with a single hole. The water pushes through the hole to create an even pressure for a more consistent brew. 

Refractometer (for measuring coffee strength)

A refractometer measures the caffeine and extraction level of a cup of coffee by measuring how light filters through the coffee.

Regular Portafilter

A regular portafilter has one layer of mesh that the coffee grounds sit in and the water runs right through for the brew. 

Shower Screen

You use a shower screen on espresso machines to level out the flow of water as it hits the coffee grounds to create a more even brew. 


You use a tamper in an espresso machine to pack the coffee grounds more tightly to create a stronger brew. 

Tamping Mat

A tamping mat you place on your counter to keep it free from coffee grounds.

Water Filtration System

A water filtration system filters water to create the perfect water to help extend the life of your machines and create the perfect brews. 

WDT (Weiss Distribution Tool)

A WDT is a needle-like tool you use to stir coffee grounds while brewing coffee or espresso to create a more even brew. 

Coffee Terminology:

All of these different sections of coffee drinks, brewing types, and equipment can be difficult to follow if you don’t understand the proper terminology that goes with it. There are a variety of terms and once you understand, it makes being a coffee lover a little easier. 


Acidity is a factor that affects the flavor of coffee. It is usually described as tart when more acidic and has nothing to do with actual scientific acidity levels. 


Aroma is the smell of coffee.


A barista is a person who brews and prepares different kinds of coffee. 


Beans are the whole form of coffee before they are ground down to go into your machine or coffee-brewing tool.


A bloom is when carbon dioxide in the coffee is released in a quick bubbling. 


The body of a coffee is the texture. This includes the thickness, consistency, and overall mouth feel of the brew. 

Brew Ratio

The brew ratio of coffee is the proper ratio that coffee and water should combine to create the perfect cup of coffee or espresso.


A burr is a type of coffee grinder that splices coffee beans into a coarse textured coffee ground for brewing.  


Caffeine is a natural substance found in coffee known to give someone energy by stimulating the brain and nervous system. 


The cherry of coffee is part of the plant where coffee comes from.


Crema is the froth that sits on top of properly brewed espresso.


Cupping is a coffee taste testing technique used by coffee connoisseurs to check the quality of the coffee through smell and taste over several different cups. 


Decaffeination is the process of removing caffeine from coffee, usually using different chemicals and filtering systems. 


The dose of coffee is the amount of grounds that you should use to brew the proper amount of espresso in a machine. 


Drip is a coffee brewing method that involves pouring water over coffee grounds and then allowing it to drip down into a container as it brews. 


Coffee extraction is the process that occurs when you pour hot water over coffee grounds and the taste begins to emerge.


You use a coffee filter to separate coffee grounds from the brew by filtering the water through to create the coffee while leaving the grounds behind. 


The finish of a coffee is the taste and sensation that lingers after you swallow some of the drink.

Grind/Grind Size

The grind and grind size of coffee describes the texture and size of the coffee grounds used for different brewing techniques.

Group Head

The group head is the part of an espresso machine where the coffee grounds and the water come together to begin the brew. 


Over-extraction is when coffee is over-brewed, removing too much of the materials from the coffee grounds. This leads to a more bitter taste that is often undesirable. 


Under-extraction is when you do not remove enough of the soluble materials from the coffee grounds, leading to a weak brew. 


The origin of coffee is where the coffee beans come from. Single origin is often considered better. 

Pulled shot

A pulled shot is just what you call an espresso shot after it brews.


A Q-Grader is an official coffee taster who grades different coffees, often with an official license for their professional skills to evaluate different coffees. 

Roast Levels (Light, Medium, Dark)

Light roasts are the least roasted of any coffee roast, leading to a lightness in color and flavor.  Dark roasts are the most roasted of any coffee brew, leading to high caffeine content, dark color, and intense flavor. Medium-roasted coffee lies right in between these two, making for a perfect balance of flavor and intensity. 

Single Origin

Single-origin coffee is a type of coffee that is grown in a single location.


Tamping your coffee is the process of leveling and packing the coffee grounds closer together so that even pressure distributes across them all to create an intense but even brew. 

Third Wave Coffee

Starting the 2000s, it is a milestone in the life of coffee as its popularity helped to bring coffee to the next level. It created new flavors and possibilities in the world of coffee. 


Varietals in coffee tell you what kind of coffee cherry those specific coffee beans came from.


The viscosity of coffee is the thickness or richness of the brew.

Water Activity

Water activity is a measurement of the energy status of the water. These numbers can affect the taste and shelf life of coffee, so it is closely monitored. 


The yield of coffee refers to the weight of espresso after it brews.

Christopher Mize

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *