Coffee Terms – Essential Lingo For Every Barista


Barista lingo can often feel like a foreign language! Whether you’re new to the world of coffee or looking to upgrade your barista skills, learning the terms behind each pour will give you an edge in creating delicious drinks quickly and easily.

With this blog post, we’ll give you all the knowledge necessary to join any coffee circle and hold your own! From “ristretto” to “latte art” – learn what these terms mean and how they can help create legendary lattes, cappuccinos and more!

1. Espresso

Espresso is a concentrated form of coffee that’s made by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee using a high-pressure brewing method. It’s typically served as a shot, in a small cup called a demitasse, and enjoyed as a quick pick-me-up or as the base for other coffee drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.

Espresso originated in Italy in the early 20th century and quickly became a staple of Italian coffee culture. Today, it’s enjoyed all over the world and is a cornerstone of many speciality coffee shops.

2. Latte

A latte is a popular coffee-based drink that has its roots in Italian coffee culture. It’s made by combining espresso shots with steamed milk and a layer of frothed milk on top. The milk used in a latte is usually whole milk, but you can also use almond or soy milk as a substitute.

As for the taste, a latte has a creamy and slightly sweet flavour, thanks to the combination of espresso and steamed milk. It’s a popular drink for those who want a boost of caffeine without the bitterness of black coffee.

3. Cappuccino

A cappuccino is a delicious coffee drink made with espresso, steamed milk, and a layer of frothed milk on top. It’s typically served in a small ceramic cup and is a popular choice at coffee shops all over the world.

Making a cappuccino involves pulling a shot of espresso and steaming milk to create a creamy texture. The milk is then poured over the espresso, followed by the frothed milk on top. The ratio of milk to espresso is key to achieving the perfect cappuccino – too much milk and it becomes a latte, too little and it’s a macchiato.

4. Americano

An Americano is a type of coffee that’s made by diluting espresso with hot water. It’s similar to a drip coffee, but it has a much richer and bolder taste that’s smoother on the palate.

The story behind the Americano is that during World War II, American soldiers stationed in Italy would find the espresso to be too strong for their liking. They would then add hot water to dilute the espresso, and voila! The Americano was born.

Today, the Americano is an extremely popular coffee choice at cafes all over the world. It’s often served black, but you can also add milk or sugar to it if you prefer.

5. Lungo

A Lungo is a type of espresso shot that’s made by running more water through the coffee grounds than a regular shot, resulting in a longer, milder flavour. It’s typically served in a demitasse cup and has a slightly bitter taste with a fruity or nutty finish.

The name “lungo” actually comes from the Italian word for “long,” which makes sense since this coffee has a longer extraction time than a regular shot. Some people even prefer a Lungo over a regular espresso shot because it’s less intense and easier to sip on.

6. Ristretto

Ristretto is an Italian espresso that is known for its intense flavour and short extraction time. Unlike a regular espresso shot that needs a longer extraction, a ristretto shot is pulled with the same amount of coffee but in a shorter amount of water. This results in a concentrated and rich flavour, with less caffeine than a regular espresso.

Ristretto shots are typically considered the “purest” form of espresso, as they extract only the best qualities of the coffee beans and leave behind bitter or unpleasant flavours.

7. Cold Brew

Cold brew is a type of coffee extraction that involves steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold water for a prolonged period. The result is a smoother, less acidic, and more complex cup of coffee.

The process of making a cold brew can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, depending on the desired strength and flavour profile. Because cold water extracts the coffee bean compounds differently than hot water, the resulting brew has a different chemical composition. This means that cold brew coffee is less bitter and less likely to cause acid reflux than its hot counterpart.

8. Drip Coffee

Drip coffee is a classic brewing method that’s been around for decades. It involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds that are held in a paper or metal filter. As the water slowly drips through the grounds and into the pot below, it extracts the flavour and oils from the coffee, resulting in a rich and full-bodied beverage.

One of the best things about drip coffee is how easy it is to make. All you need is a coffee maker, water, and some coffee grounds, and you’re good to go. It’s also highly customizable – you can adjust the grind size, water temperature, and coffee-to-water ratio to get the perfect cup for your taste preferences.

9. French Press

A French Press is a manual coffee brewing method that uses a simple, cylindrical device to brew coffee. It’s also known as a press pot or plunger pot.

So, how does it work? You start by adding coarsely ground coffee into the press, then pour hot water over the grounds and stir. After a few minutes, you use the plunger to push the grounds to the bottom of the pot and separate the brewed coffee from the grounds.

One of the things that makes French Press coffee unique is its immersion brewing method, which allows the coffee to steep for a longer period of time than other methods. This really brings out the flavour of the coffee and produces a strong, full-bodied cup.

10. Aeropress

Aeropress was invented by Alan Adler, the same guy who invented the popular flying disc toy, Frisbee. The Aeropress is made up of two main parts – a chamber and a plunger. It works by combining the principles of a French press and an espresso machine to produce a smooth and delicious cup of coffee.

So, how does it work? First, you add your coffee grounds and hot water to the chamber. Then give it a quick stir and let it steep for a few minutes. After that, you insert the plunger and slowly press down, forcing the coffee through a paper or metal filter and into your cup. And voila, you have yourself a perfectly brewed cup of coffee.

11. Filter Coffee

Filter coffee is a popular way of making coffee that involves passing hot water through ground coffee beans that are held in a filter. The resulting liquid is then collected in a carafe or jug.

This method of making coffee is often called drip coffee because the hot water drips through the filter and into the carafe. It is a simple and effective way of making coffee, and it’s what you’ll often find in cafes and coffee shops.

12. Roasting

Coffee roasting is the process of transforming green coffee beans into aromatic, flavorful and delicious beans that we all love to brew. During the roasting process, the beans are heated at a temperature ranging from 200 to 250 degrees Celsius, causing them to undergo a series of chemical reactions. These reactions cause the green coffee beans to lose weight, change colour, and develop aroma and taste.

The duration and intensity of the roasting process determine the roast profile of the coffee beans. A lighter roast results in a brighter, more acidic and fruity coffee with a lower intensity, while a darker roast creates a full-bodied, richer and less acidic coffee that has a more pronounced bitterness.

13. Single Origin

Single Origin refers to a type of coffee that comes from one geographical location, rather than being a blend of beans from different regions.

The term “Single Origin” indicates that the coffee is traceable to a specific farm, estate, or cooperative, which means that you can taste the unique flavours and aromas that are particular to that location. Single Origin coffee is usually more expensive than blended coffee, but it’s worth it for the quality and purity of the product.

14. Blend

A coffee blend is simply a mixture of two or more coffee beans of different origins blended together. Blends are carefully crafted to bring out the best qualities of each bean, resulting in a rich, smooth and well-balanced taste. The process involves selecting beans with specific characteristics that complement each other, such as flavour, aroma, acidity, and body. This creates a unique flavour profile that can’t be found in single-origin coffees.

Blends are popular because they offer a consistent taste from batch to batch, making it easy to replicate your favourite coffee experience. However, the level of complexity can vary greatly depending on the skill of the roaster and the beans used. Some blends are designed to be enjoyed in black, while others are optimized to work best with milk.

15. Barista

A barista is a skilled and knowledgeable coffee professional who specializes in making and serving a wide variety of coffee drinks. They can be found in coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants all over the world. Baristas are responsible for extracting espresso shots, steaming milk, and crafting latte art, among other things.

They are also knowledgeable about the different types of coffee beans and roasting methods and can recommend roasts and brewing methods to customers based on their preferences. Baristas are also responsible for maintaining and cleaning the coffee equipment and ensuring that the coffee shop is running smoothly.

16. Grinding

Simply put, coffee grinding is the process of breaking coffee beans down into smaller, more manageable pieces that can then be used to brew coffee. It may seem like a simple task, but there’s actually quite a bit of science and artistry involved in getting the perfect grind.

There are different methods of grinding coffee, which vary based on the type of grinder used. Blade grinders are the most common and affordable type of grinder, but they tend to be less precise and can result in uneven grinds. Burr grinders, on the other hand, are more expensive but offer greater control over the grind size and consistency.

17. Grind Size

Coffee grind size refers to the degree of fineness or coarseness of coffee particles after the beans have been ground. This factor plays a crucial role in determining the flavour, texture, and aroma of the coffee, as well as the brewing method that can be used.

For instance, a fine grind size, such as that used for espresso, produces a concentrated coffee flavour with a smooth and creamy texture. On the other hand, a coarse grind size, like that needed for French press, results in a stronger and more robust flavour, with earthy notes and grainy texture.

18. Brew Time

brew time refers to the length of time that water is in contact with ground coffee beans during the brewing process. This time can vary depending on the brewing method and personal preference.

For example, if you’re using a French press, the recommended brew time is four minutes. This allows for the coffee to be fully steep and for the flavours to develop. However, if you’re using an automatic drip coffee maker, the brew time is typically quicker, averaging around two to three minutes.

But why does brew time matter? Well, the longer the brew time, the stronger and more bitter the resulting coffee will be. On the other hand, if the brew time is too short, the coffee may be weak and lack flavour.

19. Crema

Crema is the golden-brown layer that forms on the top of an espresso shot as the coffee is being brewed. It is created when pressurized water is forced through finely-ground coffee beans, causing the oils to be emulsified and the crema to be formed.

Not only does crema give espresso shots a beautiful appearance, but it also adds a delicate texture and sweet flavour to the coffee. The thickness and colour of the crema can vary depending on factors such as the freshness of the coffee beans, the level of roasting, and the temperature and pressure of the water used for brewing.

20. Tamping

Tamping is the process of compacting the ground coffee in the filter basket of an espresso machine. The aim is to create a level and uniform coffee puck, which is vital for achieving a smooth and consistent espresso shot. Tamping is a crucial step in pulling the perfect espresso shot. If the coffee is not tamped correctly, the water won’t flow evenly through the puck, resulting in a weak or unevenly extracted shot.

The process of tamping involves placing the coffee grounds into a portafilter and then using barista tools such as a tamper to apply pressure and compact the grounds. When done correctly, the tampered puck should be level and evenly distributed in the filter basket.

21. Extraction

Coffee extraction refers to the process of getting the flavour, aroma, and caffeine out of grounded coffee beans through the use of hot water. It’s like making tea but with the added bonus of a caffeine kick.

During the coffee extraction process, the hot water is poured over the coffee grounds, and the water molecules start to dissolve the soluble compounds in the coffee. These chemicals include caffeine, acids, fats, and oils, and they all contribute to the characteristic taste and aroma of your coffee.

22. Brew Ratio

Coffee Brew Ratio is the proportion of coffee grounds to water used in the brewing process. It’s kind of like a recipe – you need the right amount of each ingredient to make a tasty cup of coffee.

The most common Coffee Brew Ratio is around 1:15 – that is, for every gram of coffee, you use 15 grams of water. But, depending on your personal preference, you can adjust this ratio up or down. Some people like a stronger, more robust cup of coffee, so they might use a higher ratio (like 1:12), while others prefer a lighter, more mellow cup, and might use a lower ratio (like 1:18).

23. Brew Temperature

Coffee brew temperature is the temperature at which water is heated and poured over ground coffee beans to extract the flavour, aroma, and caffeine. The ideal brewing temperature is between 195°F and 205°F (90°C to 96°C), which is hot enough to efficiently extract the coffee’s flavour but not too hot that it’ll scorch it and ruin the taste.

If the water is too cold, it won’t extract all the flavors which can result in a weak and bland coffee. On the other hand, if the water is too hot, the coffee will taste bitter, burnt, and over-extracted.

24. Dose

Coffee dosing refers to the precise measurement of coffee grounds used to brew a perfect cup of coffee. It involves measuring the exact amount of coffee needed for a specific brewing method, ensuring that the coffee-to-water ratio is ideal. Over-dosing can lead to a bitter and overpowering taste, while under-dosing can result in a weak and tasteless brew.

The most common method for dosing coffee is using a coffee scoop or tablespoon, but more advanced coffee enthusiasts use digital scales to measure the weight of the coffee grounds, as it provides a more accurate and consistent measurement.

25. Bloom

Coffee bloom refers to the initial carbon dioxide release that takes place when hot water is poured over fresh coffee grounds. This is what causes the coffee bed to “bloom” or rise as bubbles form. This process is a crucial part of making great coffee, as it enables the coffee grounds to release their full range of flavours and aromas.

In fact, if the coffee doesn’t bloom, it could mean that the beans are old or stale, resulting in a poor coffee experience. Additionally, the bloom time can also indicate the freshness of the beans. The longer the bloom time, the fresher the beans tend to be.

26. Milk Frothing

Milk frothing is the art of creating that beautiful, creamy foam that tops your coffee or latte. It’s the process of adding air to the milk, which causes it to expand and become frothy. There are several methods for milk frothing, including using a steam wand on an espresso machine, a handheld frother, or even shaking the milk vigorously in a jar.

One of the keys to successful milk frothing is using the right type of milk. Whole milk is the best option because of its high-fat content, which creates a rich, creamy froth. Non-fat milk, on the other hand, can be more difficult to froth and may not create as much foam.

27. Latte Art

Latte art is a type of art that is created by pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso and then using the foam to create patterns on the surface of the drink. The patterns can range from simple hearts and swirls to more intricate designs like rosettas and tulips.

Latte art originated in Italy in the 1980s but has since become incredibly popular worldwide, particularly in speciality coffee shops and cafes. The process of creating latte art requires skill and practice, as the barista must have a steady hand and a good understanding of how to control the flow of milk.

28. Cupping

Cupping is the process of evaluating the taste and aroma profile of different coffee beans. It’s basically a fancy way of tasting coffee and analyzing its characteristics. During a cupping session, a group of tasters will sample different types of coffee beans, roast levels, and brewing methods, while discussing the flavours and aromas they detect.

The process involves smelling and slurping the coffee in a very precise manner, in order to detect all the nuances of the brew. Tasters will slurp the coffee loudly in order to aerate it and help release all of its flavours. They’ll also let the coffee cool down a bit so that they can taste it at various temperatures.

29. Demitasse

Demitasse is a small cup that is typically used for serving strong coffee after a meal. The word “demitasse” comes from the French language and literally translates to “half cup.” These cups typically hold around 2 to 3 ounces of liquid and are meant to be sipped slowly.

The coffee served in a demitasse cup is usually espresso or a similarly strong brew. It is typically served black or with a small amount of sugar and is meant to be enjoyed slowly and savoured.

30. Taste Profile

taste profile refers to the unique blend of flavours and aromas that make up a particular cup of coffee. It is the combination of the coffee’s acidity, sweetness, bitterness, aroma, body, and aftertaste that determines its taste profile.

The taste profile of coffee varies depending on several factors such as the origin of the coffee beans, the method of brewing, the roast profile, and the brewing temperature. Each type of coffee bean has its own unique taste profile based on the climate, soil, and altitude in which it was grown.

Author Bio

Ivan is an ex-barista with years of experience and a deep love for espresso. He is also the founder of Espressoverse – an online platform for espresso enthusiasts – where he specialises mostly in reviewing espresso machines.