Glossary of
Coffee terms

Acidity: The lively, palate-cleansing property characteristic of washed coffees grown at a high altitude.

Aged coffee: Certain coffees from the Asia/Pacific region benefit from prolonged storage prior to roasting. After ageing for three to five years, these coffees develop a unique cedar-spice flavour and are used in select Starbucks blends, including Starbucks® Christmas Blend.

Arabica: One of the two major commercially significant species of coffee. The only one purchased by Starbucks.

Aroma: The term used to describe the scent of the coffee.

Balanced: A coffee that features a pleasant mix of flavour, acidity and body. No single characteristic dominates the cup.

Berry: A flavour and aroma reminiscent of blackberries or blueberries. Some of the best coffees of East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula have these characteristics.

Bitter: The basic taste sensation perceived primarily at the back of the tongue.

Blend: A coffee such as Caffè Verona® that combines coffees from different origin countries to achieve a taste that no single origin coffee can offer.

Body: The feeling of weight or thickness of the coffee on your tongue.

Bright: An assertive flavour with a tangy acidity perceived at the front of the mouth; denotes high quality and a high altitude coffee farm.

Buttery: A smooth, rich flavour and texture found in some Indonesian coffees.

C.A.F.E. Practices: Our ethical coffee-buying guidelines that give purchasing preference to coffee suppliers that grow, process and trade coffee in an environmentally, socially and economically responsible way.

Caramelly: A subtle sweetness, particularly in blends given a deep, dark roast.

Citrus: An unmistakable lemon or grapefruit flavour note.

Clean: Coffees that leave little aftertaste are described as clean.

Cocoa: A texture and flavour reminiscent of unsweetened cocoa powder. It leaves a somewhat dry but very pleasant aftertaste in the mouth.

Complex: A coffee with an array of flavours, rather than one dominant taste.

Conservation International (CI): A non-profit organisation that is working to protect global biodiversity and demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature.

Cooperative: Small-holder farmers come together to achieve economies of scale, obtaining bargaining power, and collaborate on production methods. Cooperatives can also process and export coffee. All Fair Trade Certified™ coffee is produced by cooperatives.

Crisp: A clean coffee with bright acidity can be described as crisp.

Decaffeination: The process by which caffeine is removed from coffee. Starbucks offers coffee decaffeinated by the direct contact and indirect contact methods.

Earthy: Most often used to describe a flavour found in Indonesian coffees. Earthy flavours remind people of fresh mushrooms. Sumatra is one of these coffees and is Starbucks’ most popular single origin offering.

Elegant: Coffees that have a luxurious mouthfeel and intriguing flavours.

Estate: A medium to large-scale farm that usually has its own processing facility.

Exotic: Unusual aromas and flavour notes, such as floral, berry-like or spicy.

Exporter: Receives or buys green coffee beans from mills and cooperatives. They contract and arrange for shipment of green coffee to importers or roasters.

Flavour: How a coffee tastes or the overall impression a coffee leaves in your mouth.

FlavorLock™: The packaging material and one-way valve that lets the gasses out while no air can get into the package, guaranteeing freshness of our coffees.

Floral: A fresh, sweet aroma that is fleeting and delicate, but unmistakable.

Fruity: Coffees that have a berry or tropical fruit-like flavour or aroma are referred to as being fruity. Kenya, Ethiopia Harrar™ and Ethiopia Sidamo™ are a few examples.

Full-bodied: A heavier texture. The weightier the coffee on the tongue, the more body it has.

Herbal: The taste or aroma reminiscent of pungent herbs, like basil, oregano and other fine cooking herbs.

Importer: Receives or buys green coffee beans from mills and cooperatives. They contract and arrange for shipment of green coffee from exporters or producers to roasters.

Intense: A singular, potent attribute, such as the earthiness of Sumatra or the smokiness of French Roast.

Juicy: The mouthfeel or sensation that makes you salivate.

Light-bodied: Less weight on the tongue. A fleeting aftertaste.

Medium-bodied: A smooth, even texture, neither fleeting nor overwhelming.

Mild: A coffee with approachable flavour characteristics.

Mouthfeel: The sensation or weight you feel inside your mouth when tasting coffee.

Nutty: An enjoyable flavour reminiscent of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts or other nuts.

Organic coffees: Coffees grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilisers can be certified organic. They must also be processed in mills and roasting facilities that are certified organic.

Peaberry: A round-shaped bean that forms when one of the two flat-sided beans in the coffee cherry fails to grow. The remaining small bean assumes a rounded pea shape. This occurs in about 5-10 percent of the beans of a typical arabica crop.

Processing: The method in which the fruit of the coffee cherry is separated from the green coffee bean.

Robusta: One of the two major commercially significant species of coffee. Grown at lower altitudes than arabicas, the flavour is less refined and the caffeine content is higher. Starbucks does not purchase robusta coffees.

Shade Grown: Coffees that are grown under a canopy of shade trees.

Single Origin: A coffee such as Kenya that is made up of coffee entirely from one producing country, offered to showcase the distinctive character of that country’s coffee.

Smoky: The darker the roast, the smokier the aroma and flavour.

Smooth: A round, well-balanced coffee that leaves a pleasant mouthfeel.

Soft: Low-acidity, mild-flavoured coffees are referred to as soft.

Spicy: The aroma or flavour of a spice, from sweet to savoury.

Sparkling: This term describes a coffee with a bright acidity that dances on your tongue before it quickly disappears.

Stale coffee: Coffee exposed to oxygen for extended periods of time loses acidity and becomes flat and cardboard tasting. This is the taste of staleness.

Starbucks® Shared Planet™: Our commitment to do things that are good to each other and the planet. From the way we ethically source and purchase coffee, to minimising our environmental footprint, to being involved in local communities.

Sweet: A positive coffee description that is associated with a pleasant flavour and mouthfeel.

Syrupy: A thick coffee with a lot of body that leaves a lingering aftertaste.

Tangy: A lingering acidity is often described as tangy.

Umami (“oo-MA-mee”): Usually defined as a meaty, savoury, satisfying taste. The savoury taste of foods and the full, tongue-coating sensation they provide.

Varietal: A botanical subheading of species. For example, Bourbon is a varietal of the species arabica.

Wild: Exotic flavours with extreme characteristics.

Winey: A taste similar to that of red wine or having a fruity quality.

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