Glossary of Coffee Terms

Welcome to the Solai Coffee Glossary , your ultimate guide to the world of coffee. 

Our comprehensive glossary offers concise definitions of key terms, covering everything from processing methods to flavor profiles. Developed by Solai Coffee staff based on various coffee references, the definitions in this glossary represent an everyday or general use of the term. Please note that some words and phrases may be defined differently by other entities or used in a context where the definition shown may not be applicable. 

Whether you're a coffee lover or just curious, our glossary is your go-to resource for unlocking the rich and diverse world of coffee.

A -Z

Term Description
Arabica A species of coffee plant known for its delicate flavor and higher acidity typically grown at higher altitudes, contributing to its desirable taste profile. It is prized for its smooth, nuanced characteristics, making it a favorite for specialty coffee. 


Higher altitudes result in slower cherry ripening, promoting complex flavor development. Altitude impacts the acidity and overall quality of the coffee produced.            

Coffee Cherry
It is the fruit of the coffee plant (botanically known as Coffea that contains two seeds, which are coffee beans. Depending on the coffee variety, ripe coffee cherries are typically red but can also be yellow or purple. The color of the cherry indicates the optimal time for harvesting. Understanding cherry anatomy is crucial for proper processing and quality control.
Coffee Parchment
It consists of the endocarp and mucilage, a paper-like layer surrounding the coffee bean that develops during maturation. Parchment is removed during the processing stage to reveal the green coffee bean, which is then roasted to produce the familiar brown bean used for brewing. Parchment protects beans during drying, preventing external contaminants.   
A standardized tasting method used to evaluate and score different coffee beans. It involves smelling, slurping, and evaluating coffee to identify various flavor attributes. This method is essential for quality control, enabling consistent evaluation of coffee characteristics.  
Espresso  A concentrated coffee beverage brewed by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans under high pressure. Espresso is characterized by its rich flavor, creamy texture, and a layer of golden crema on top, formed during brewing. It is typically served in small quantities, known as shots, and is the base for coffee-based drinks such as cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos.   


This refers to sourcing coffee directly from the farm or producer, bypassing intermediaries such as exporters, importers, or distributors. It allows for closer relationships between coffee buyers and producers, promotes transparency in the supply chain, and often ensures better prices for farmers. The specialty coffee industry values this approach for its emphasis on traceability, quality, and supporting sustainable practices at the farm level.

Fair Trade
A trading approach that champions equity and transparency and supports sustainable practices, community development, and social responsibility. Fairtrade certification ensures fairness in trade relationships, benefiting farmers and consumers by promoting ethical standards.

First Crack

A significant stage in the coffee roasting process characterized by a cracking sound as the coffee beans expand and release moisture. This marks the beginning of the development of roasted flavors, which is crucial for timing the roast. Roasters use the first crack as a reference point to achieve desired flavor profiles.       

 Green Bean 
Coffee beans in their raw, unroasted state (typically green or yellowish) after processing and drying. The beans have their maximum shelf life at this stage, preserving freshness. They are the starting point for coffee roasting, during which they develop the familiar brown color, aroma, and flavor associated with brewed coffee. 
Honey Process
A coffee bean processing method combining elements of both washed and natural processes. Ripe cherries are pulped, leaving some or all of the mucilage intact during drying. The remaining pulp imparts sweetness and complexity to the beans during drying. It comes in various degrees (white, yellow, red), each influencing flavor differently.    
A popular coffee beverage made with espresso and steamed milk and known for its creamy texture and balanced ratio of espresso to milk. For aesthetic appeal, Latte art (flavor syrups or toppings such as whipped cream, cinnamon, or cocoa powder) is often created on the drink's surface.  
Mucilage A sticky, jellied substance that surrounds coffee beans within cherry fruit. It is a protective layer for the coffee seeds and contains sugars and other organic compounds. The presence or removal of mucilage can significantly impact the flavor profile of the resulting coffee beans.
 A small, distinct batch of coffee beans harvested from a specific plot of land within a coffee farm. Micro-lots allow for focused quality control and highlight unique flavor profiles. Specialty coffee enthusiasts highly seek micro-lot coffees, often associated with premium quality and higher prices.
Natural Process
Also known as the dry process, it's a method of coffee bean processing where ripe coffee cherries are dried whole, allowing the bean to absorb flavors from the fruit as it dries. The cherries are spread out in the sun or on raised beds for several weeks, and the outer skin and pulp naturally dry and ferment around the bean. This process produces coffee beans with a fuller body, sweeter taste, and fruitier flavor than other processing methods. Natural coffees often exhibit fruity and wine-like characteristics.

Organic Coffee

Coffee produced without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, following organic farming practices. Organic certification ensures environmentally friendly and sustainable coffee production, appealing to health-conscious and environmentally aware consumers.           


The Initial stage where the pulp machine separates seeds (coffee beans) from the outer skin and surrounding material. Effective pulping is essential for further fermentation and drying stages. It helps to remove excess moisture and unwanted substances from the beans, ultimately influencing the flavor and quality of the final coffee product.


A species of coffee plant known for its strong flavor and higher caffeine content compared to Arabica coffee, it is grown primarily in regions with warmer climates and lower altitudes, such as parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. Frequently used in espresso blends to add body and crema to the final cup.


The process of heating coffee beans to transform them from their raw, green state into the aromatic and flavorful beans used for brewing coffee. During roasting, the beans undergo chemical changes that affect their color, aroma, and taste. This process is crucial in developing the unique flavor profiles of coffee beans (light, medium, dark) and is considered an art form by coffee roasters.  

Single Origin Coffee sourced from a specific geographic location, such as a country, region, or even a single farm. Single-origin coffees highlight the unique characteristics influenced by the specific growing area's local climate, soil, and altitude. This term is commonly used in the specialty coffee industry to emphasize the traceability and distinct flavors associated with a particular origin. Traceability enhances transparency and supports sustainable and ethical practices.    
Shade Grown A method of cultivating coffee plants under the natural canopy of taller trees or artificial shade structures. This method promotes biodiversity, helps conserve soil and water, and reduces the need for chemical inputs. Shade-grown coffee often produces beans with richer flavors and contributes to sustainable farming practices.              
Selective Harvesting 
A method of harvesting coffee in which only ripe cherries are hand-picked while the unripe cherries are left on the tree. This method requires careful inspection, timing, and manual labor, but it produces better-quality crops than other harvesting methods, such as mechanical harvesting. 
 Terroir Refers to the unique combination of environmental factors (soil, climate, and altitude) that affect coffee flavor. Different coffee regions have unique terroirs, leading to distinct taste profiles. Understanding terroir is essential for identifying and appreciating specific coffee characteristics.
Washed Process
A coffee bean processing method involving thorough washing and fermentation to remove mucilage, enhancing cleanliness. This method is known for producing clean, bright, and acidic coffees that highlight the unique characteristics of the coffee's terroir. Washed coffees often exhibit brighter acidity and distinct flavor clarity.

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