top of page

Learn the lingo:

Cleaning: removal of foreign matter, fragments of coffee and defective beans from green coffee.


Coffee bean: commercial term used for the dried seed of the coffee tree.


Coffee cherry: the fresh fruit of the coffee tree.


Defect: any impairment of the coffee bean that could erase a deterioration in quality.


Dry fermenting: after pulping, the coffee is fermented without water.


Dry processing: treatment of coffee cherries whereby they are dried under the sun or mechanically. This process produces husk coffee. Drying is usually followed by the mechanical removal of the husk. The result is “natural” or “unwashed” coffee.


Exocarp: outer covering of the coffee cherry. It can be red or yellow when ripe (skin).


Fermentation: biological treatment which consists of degrading the mucilage which still adheres to pulped coffee.


Geisha: Although many call Panama its home, Geisha coffee originates from Gesha, Ethiopia. It was initially brought over to Costa Rica and then found its way to Panama––where it was first commercially grown. It was in Panama where the Geisha was able to thrive after being planted and grown at a high altitude and in a climate and soil perfectly suited for its needs. It started to call the attention of international coffee connoisseurs and judges after it won the Best of Panama competition in 2004. Since then, the Geisha continues to wow the coffee scene with its extremely aromatic profile with fragrances of sweet floral, citrus blossom, jasmine, and sweet honey. Coffee aficionados praise the Geisha for its bergamot-like finish and distinct yet delicate acidity.


Hulling or dehulling: the mechanical removal of the dried endocarp from parchment coffee to produce green coffee.


Husk: assembled external envelopes of the dried coffee fruit.


Husking or dehusking: the mechanical removal of the husks from dry coffee cherries.


Immature: Unripe.


Pacamara: a coffee varietal created by the Salvadoran Institute for Coffee Research (ISIC), which resulted from the crossing of Pacas and the Maragogipe varietals. The idea behind the creation of the Pacamara hybrid was to get the best of the two varietals. Pacamara usually has a complex and intense aroma; medium to dense body with a creamy texture; and elegant acidity with flavors that swing from sweet notes of chocolate and butterscotch to fruitier undertones.


Processing: processing coffee removes the fruit from the seed. The skin, pulp, parchment, and silverskin shed off, leaving just the bean. There are two ways to process coffee: washed (wet) or natural (dry).


Pruning: cultivation practice which consists of removing wood from a plant in order to increase the fruit-bearing branches or to shape it.


Pulp: part of the coffee cherry which is eliminated during pulping and fermentation. It is composed of the skin and part of the mucilage.


Pulping or depulping: operation which consists of removing the pulp and part of the mucilage by mechanical means. Part of the mucilage generally remains adhering to the parchment.


Roasting: the use of heat to generate fundamental chemical and physical modifications in the structure and composition of green coffee in order to darken the beans and develop its characteristic flavor.


Seeding: plant issued from a seed.


Selection: operation which consists of sorting coffee cherries according to size, density and degree of maturity, and, at the same time, eliminating foreign matter.


Stripping: also known as “milking,” consists of removing all the coffee cherries to present on the branch irrespective of their degree of ripeness.


The drying of cherry coffee: drying coffee cherries to reduce their moisture content in order to remove their husks and to condition them for storage.


Washing: the use of water to remove the degraded mucilage from the parchment.


Wet-processed coffee: green coffee that is wet-processed is known as washed or semi-washed coffee. Washed coffee is green coffee from which the mucilage has been totally removed and semi-washed coffee is green coffee where most of the mucilage still adheres to the parchment.

Wet processing: this method requires a lot of water. Cherries first pass through a pulping machine, sorted by weight, and are deposited in a fermentation tank. In the tank, the pulp dissolves by naturally occurring enzymes until it can be washed from the bean. This could take anywhere between 12 to 72 hours depending on temperature and humidity. After fermenting, the washed coffee is spread out to dry until it reaches approximately 11% moisture content.

Terms related to coffee liquor:


Acidity: smooth, rich with verve, snap life. It does not refer to a great amount of actual acid but to a pleasing taste.


Acidy: nippy, sharp taste. Acidy coffees command a higher price.


Aroma: fragrance of freshly brewed coffee.


Balanced: a good combination of acidity and body with a subtle verve. Occurs in top-grade, well-blended coffees for connoisseurs.


Bitterness: moderate bitterness can give added verve to the flavor. When strong, it gives out an unpleasant sharp taste like quinine. It is a taste associated with darker roasts more frequently found in Robustas.


Body: full and rich flavour with feeling of a certain viscosity. It is usually found in heavy, mature coffee.


Burnt: coffee with a tarry or smoky odor and flavor. Occurs after too much heat for too long when burns the bean fiber during roasting.


Cup testing: judging the merit of a coffee by roasting and brewing it to determine its profile, aspect, odor, and taste.


Earthy: odor and taste of soil dirt like after-taste sensation. Occurs when fats in the coffee bean have absorbed organic material from the earth during the drying process.


Fine: distinguished gourmet quality with excellent body, acidity, and aroma.


Fruity: over-ripe flavor, first stage of sourness. Occurs in coffees left too long in the cherry or fermentation in the presence of too many skins.


Full: full, balanced taste. Occurs when all the natural gases and vapor are present in the fragrance, the aroma, the nose, and the aftertaste.


Herby: distinct aroma and flavor of herbs ranging from onion to cabbage.


Light: a fluid coffee, not too dark in color, with a low level of fine particles, bean fiber, and insoluble proteins.


Smoky: a slightly caustic flavor of smoke caused by defective drying operations.


Smooth: a full-bodied coffee low in acidity.


Soft: well-rounded flavor lacking harshness or acidity.


Sour: unpleasantly acidic, biting flavor.


Strong: unbalanced liquor where body predominates to the point of being tainted. It is said to be peculiar to soil climatic conditions or method of growth.


Sweet: a clean, soft coffee free from harshness that is found in well-conditioned, undamaged coffee.


Wintgens, Jean N. Coffee: Growing, Processing, Sustainable Production: A Guidebook for Growers, Processors, Traders, and Researchers. 2nd ed. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH-Verlag, 2014. Print.

bottom of page