Saturday, February 16, 2013

Obscure Coffee Terminology

There will be a quiz, so take notes. (And yes, you will be graded on spelling.)

Espresso: Notice, there is no 'x' in espresso. If you're new to coffee this may just blow your mind. Espresso refers to the extraction method, invented in Italy at the turn of the century, which involves forcing highly pressurized very hot water, through much finer grinds that drip coffee, at a very precise rate. This process, if done right, allows the beans to reach full creamy delectable potential.
Espresso Ristretto: Strongest, most concentrated espresso extraction (literally "restricted" in Italian), resulting in 3/4-1 ounce of espresso per (single) shot, which is considerably shorter than the traditional pull/draw
Espresso Crema: If you don't see a thick creamy caramel crema atop your espresso (as seen to the right), you got a shitty shot. Or else, you left it sitting too long, and the crema dissolved/evaporated. If you're on bar, always make sure your bussers run the tiny drinks first, because if you let espresso sit, it will go flat. It's best in the first, like, thirty seconds. Best you wait right next to the barista to retrieve your espresso instantly.
Espresso con Panna: A shot of espresso topped with whipped cream
Espresso Macchiato: A shot of espresso topped with a dollop of foam
Latte Macchiato: As seen to the left, the same as a latte (see below) but with a floated shot--so instead of pouring your milk over the shot, you'd pull your shot into a cup of steamed milk. It looks neat in a lear glass, but doesn't allow for a fancy leaf design.
(Café) Mocha: A double shot of espresso over chocolate, mixed with steamed milk
(Caffè) Latte: A double shot of espresso, plus steamed milk, and topped with a quarter inch or so of foam
Caffè Amaretto: Latte with almond syrup
Café Con Leche: Double shot of espresso, plus about 8 oz. of hot milk
Café au Lait: Half drip coffee, half steamed (foamy) milk
(Caffè) Americano: A double shot of espresso diluted with hot water. About equal in strength to a cup of drip coffee, except better, because of the crema.
Cafe Noir: French for Black Coffee, which is simply drip coffee with no cream or milk.
Cappuccino: Traditionally 1/3 espresso (2 oz.), 1/3 steamed milk (2 oz.), 1/3 foam (2 oz.) This makes for a pretty tiny drink, except in the US they come in 12, 16, even 20 ounces, thanks to Starbucks, who ridiculously calls this size venti, Italian for twenty ounces, as though anyone in Italy would ever order such a colossal cappuccino. By the way, a "large cappuccino" and a "foamy latte" are the same exact thing as far as your barista is concerned. Stop trying to sound like you know what you're taking about. Anyway, drinks like cappuccinos and macchiatos that people order for the sake of their foam, really need to be run to their tables right away, just like espresso. Because foam evaporates into this crazy sponge-like consistency after a minute.
Gibraltar: 5 oz. beverage served in a glass, 2 oz. espresso, 3 oz. foamy milk, typically under 120 degrees. (See image to the right)
Red-Eye/Depth-Charge: Drip coffee with a shot of espresso. Technically, I'm pretty sure a depth-charge refers to a beer with a shot of Jack. A customer told me that once, anyway.
Dirty Chai: Chai latte with a shot of espresso
Coffee Granita: Shaved ice made from frozen milk, sugar and espresso.
Caffè Freddo: Espresso over ice; chilled espresso

Wet: Very little foam, if any at all. Usually people just say no foam if they want no foam whatsoever, but I usually ask just to clarify, whether they want very little or none at all.
Dry: Mostly, or all foam. In the case of a latte, dry just means extra foam, but in the case of a cappuccino, it usually means all foam, no milk at all, in which case the barista scoops the foam instead of free pouring it.
Bone Dry: Super dry. And make sure you get it right, because if your customer's picky enough to order it bone dry, they're likely to complain. Trust me, I know.
Skinny: Skim, nonfat milk
Breve: Half and half, instead of milk... if you dare.
Long or Short Pull: Refers to how long the shot is pulled, and how much water is pulled through it. The standard shot is between 18 and 25 seconds. Some people prefer a stronger short pulled, no longer than ten, twelve or fifteen seconds (which is like, one drop, by the way), and others prefer a shot pulled up to forty-five seconds, or even a minute, but it just tastes watered down to me. Long pulls often occur if you're working a manual machine (your shots aren't automatically times) and you walk away and forget you're pulling a shot, which I've done more than a few times.
Single, Double, Triple, or Quad Shot: Refers, obviously, to how many shots someone wants. Single (solo), and double (doppio) are most common. Don't get a triple or quad unless you're really sleep-deprived or hung over. Over-caffeinating can kill, I'm pretty sure...
Split/Half-Caf: Half decaf, half regular. I've seen a lot of baristas pack one portafilter regular, and another one completely decaf, and then take a single shot from each to make a double-shot half-caf drink. This is ridiculous and insane! It's also a waste of time and beans. Instead, take one portafilter, fill it halfway with decaf grinds, and half with regular. Voila. It's common sense, guys.

Robusta Beans: More common, highly caffeinated family of coffee bean. Flavor is harsher than the Arabica bean, not nearly as sought-after.
Arabica Beans: Less caffeinated, less acidic strand of coffee, generally considered to produce a superior bean
Espresso Beans: Again, espresso refers to the extraction process, not the bean. However, many roasters classify certain beans as espresso because they are roasted specifically to be used for espresso.
Decaf Beans: Decaf beans do not come from a decaf coffee plant, there is no such thing. All coffee beans come caffeinated, and the caffeine may later be extracted, using the Swiss Water Process, and the caffeine removed is then used to make things such as aspirin. Weird right?
Hard Bean: Grown at relatively high altitude (4000-4500 ft above sea level). Beans at this altitude mature more slowly, making for denser, more desirable beans.
Soft Bean: Coffee grown at low altitudes (under 4,000 ft); generally result in lighter flavor
Peaberry Beans: A typical coffee cherry contains two beans, however, some only contain one, and these beans are often separated, and sold for a higher price.
Green Coffee Beans: Raw, unprocessed coffee beans, believed to possess the power of weight-loss. See my earlier post (Magic Beans) for more details.

Light Roast: No oil on surface of beans which are light cinnamon in color, also lighter in flavor, and allow flavor of origin to come through. Like popcorn, one knows a light roast is ready shortly after the "first crack" as they call it, or when the beans begin to pop open and expand (obviously not to the same extent as corn does).
Medium Roast: Very little oil, if any. Chocolatey color bean. Fuller body at expense of some acidity.
Dark Roast: Almost black, very oily beans. Low acidity, more of a smokey, charcoal kind of flavor. Once fully roasted, the beans lose all their inherent flavors.
French Roast: Essentially, double roasted, or roasted until the beans begin to smoke, well after the "second crack." Makes for a sweeter, smokier flavor.

Pour-Over/Drip: One can either drip coffee in a machine, or else you can do it by hand using for example a Chemex, Melitta or V60 pour over, or one of those Costa Rican coffee drippers that come with a sac and a wooden stand, as seen to the right.
Percolator: Those cute little two-chamber stovetop espresso makers, those are percolators. They function not unlike the siphon [below], by placing the percolator on the heat source, forcing the water vapor to pass through a valve into the upper chamber. The water saturates the coffee grounds and passes back through a metal filter into the lower half.
Siphon: Anti-gravity double-chamber brewer that is heated over a burner, allowing hot water to pass through a filter into the upper chamber, which contains fresh coffee grounds, of course. After meticulous stirring and steeping, the heat source is removed, and the coffee in the upper chamber drains downward, back through the filter into the bottom. Popular amongst coffee nerds the world over.
French Press: Ironically, there is some controversy as to whether the press pot is indeed French in origin, or if the cafetiere was in fact first conceived in Italy. Either way, it's a simple idea, you just steep your coffee grinds in hot water for some time, then plunge the screen downward. Plus, if you can't afford an espresso machine, the press pot can secretly also be used to make pretty decent mock-steamed milk. All you need to do is remove the glass from the metal exterior and heat the milk up in the microwave. Once it's hot you can reassemble your press pot, and plunge it up and down a good twenty-five times, causing it to froth up and expand. (Make sure you leave yourself enough room to actually stretch your milk. Never fill it initially.)


Portafilter: As you can see to the right, the portafilter is the part of the machine used to actually pull the shot. It is removed by the handle, twisted to the left to release from its socket.
     When not in use, the portafilter must remain in the machine to retain its heat. The slightest temperature change affects how the shot pulls, which subsequently effects the taste, so every little thing matters.
     To put the portafilter back, the barista lines up the little ears with the slots in the machine, and twists to the right to lock it. If the shot pulls and only one ear went in its slot, and the portafilter is tilted, the highly pressurized, piping hot water will erupt all over the barista, so beware. Make sure it's in nice and snug, except don't slam it in too tight or you'll wear those parts out faster, and they'll need to be replaced.
     The picture to the right is a portafilter from a La Marzocco, my first machine. Notice the little lion detail where the metal and rubber meet. So cute...
Basket: The basket that sits in the portafilter is the part that you fill with coffee, as you can see to the left. Must be popped out and cleaned, routinely throughout the day!

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