The Londinium Glossary - Part 1

by Reiss Gunson on Wednesday, 13 May 2009 00:20

Today’s blog is the start of the Londinium glossary of coffee. The idea is to provide you with a point of reference for any terms that you may be unfamiliar with, so here goes:

Acidity: a quality highly prized by connoisseurs, and more commonly found in high altitude varieties of coffee bean. Generally, the more acidity a coffee has, the less suitable it is for a straight espresso and the more suitable it is for a filter cup coffee.

Arabica: the fruit of the Coffea arabica bush, being one of two major species of coffee (the other being Coffea canephora, or Robusta as it is more commonly known), both believed to have originated in Ethiopia. Arabica coffee accounts for approximately three quarters of global coffee consumption. It is usually superior in quality, and lower in caffeine than Robusta.

Aroma: the fragrance given off by coffee as it is prepared, and in the mouth as it is being consumed. As we are only able to detect four tastes with our tongue, the aroma of coffee is vitally important to being able to detect the subtle nuances of a fine coffee’s taste signature.

Barista: the person who has been trained in the correct preparation of espresso, upon which they often develop their own specialities, such as ‘latte art’.

Bean (coffee): the seed of the coffee bush, found inside the fruit (the coffee cherry). It is typically referred to as the seed when cultivated, and the bean when subsequently marketed.

Blue Mountain: possibly the most famous coffee bean of all, and one of the most expensive. It is produced in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. The taste is subtle, with underlying chocolate notes. Should always be sold as a single origin coffee (i.e. unblended).

Body: the term used to describe the texture of the brew, the impression the texture leaves in the mouth, and the length of time that impression lingers. A full bodied coffee is thick textured and has a lingering taste in the mouth. The espresso process generally produces a coffee that is full bodied, although in my view this more a reflection of the process than the coffee beans used.

Cafe Allonge: A French term to describe diluted espresso. The Italians use ‘Americano’. i.e. a full size coffee cup to which a shot/double shot of espresso is added, then topped up with hot water.

Cafe Liegeois: A French term referring to cold coffee poured over vanilla ice cream & topped with whipped cream.

Caffeine: an alkaloid stimulant contained in coffee beans. The caffeine content can vary by as much as fifty percent between arabicas and robustas. Generally speaking, caffeine is not harmful to your health unless consumed in irresponsible quantities (say 30 cups per day), you are pregnant, you have a heart condition, or you are sensitive to caffeine.

Caracoli: usually a coffee cherry will contain a seed comprising two beans. On occasions only a single bean develops, effectively a mutation. As the flavour is more concentrated in a single bean, caracoli beans are highly prized, especially those of the arabica variety.

Coffee cherry: the fruit of the coffee bush, which is round in shape and bright red in colour. The coffee beans are the seeds of the cherry, usually two, but occasionally a single bean (caracoli).

Chocolatey: the term used to describe the highly prized aroma found in the great arabicas, such as Jamaican Blue Mountain, New Guinea Sigri, and Australian Skybury.

Decaffeinated coffee: coffee from which the caffeine has been chemically removed. Approximately 78% of decaffeinated coffee utilises fairly unpleasant chemicals to do so. The only exception is the ‘Swiss Water Process’, which is different to the ‘Water Process’ which uses chemicals. The taste and aroma of coffees that have been decaffeinated is diminished, but espresso suffers the least.

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