Coffee Terms

Learn about our coffees from around the world and some of the terminology used to describe coffee.


  • Cupping is a systematic, somewhat standardized, method of evaluating coffee.
  • Cupping notes are a set of standardized descriptors used to create a sensory-rich picture of the coffee during a formal cupping process.


How a coffee is processed after harvest can have a dramatic effect on the resulting cup, so it has become an increasingly important part of how it is described and sold. Natural. Cherries are left to dry on the tree, then harvested and left to finish drying off on the concrete patios. The process will often add fruit flavours to the coffee. These are usually described as hints of blueberry, strawberry or tropical fruit.

The Natural Process

Also known as the dry process, this is the oldest method of processing coffee. After harvest, the coffee cherries are spread out in a thin layer to dry in the sun. Once the coffee is properly dry, the outer husk of skin and dried fruit are removed mechanically, and the raw coffee is then stored before export. 

The Washed Process

The goal of the washed process is to remove all of the sticky flesh from the coffee seed before it is dried. This greatly reduces the chance of something going wrong during drying, so the coffee is likely to be worth more.
Wet processed coffees tend to present a higher level of acidity, increased complexity and what is described as a cleaner cup." Cleanliness "is an important term used in coffee to indicate the absence of any negative flavour, such as off tastes or unusual harshness and astringency . 

The Grade 2 signifies that the coffee is washed. Also, the difference between Grades 1 and 2 is defined by the number of visible defects in the prep. If a coffee receives a Grade 1 classification, it has 0–3 defects; this is rare! Grade 2 coffees allow 4–12 defects. Typically, the quality of washed coffees is more consistent than that of unwashed coffees.

 Brazilian Coffee

Cerrado means tropical savannah but, although one could use this name to refer to the entire savannah that stretches through many states in Brazil, when it comes to coffee the name usually refers to the Cerrado region in the west of Minas Gerais. This area is relatively new to coffee production and perhaps this explains why it is dominated by large, mechanized farms. In fact, over ninety percent of the farms in the region are larger than 10 hectares.

Brazil occupies almost half the landmass of South America and is the only Portuguese- speaking country in the region. The sheer size of the country and the mix of ethnic origins – mainly Indigenous, African and European – has given Brazil a diverse cultural identity. Brazil is the 10th largest economy in the world and in recent years there has been a strong expansion into agro-industry with a whole range of agricultural products being added to traditional exports such as coffee.
Today, Brazil is famously the world’s largest coffee producer, supplying nearly 60% of the total production. About two-thirds of domestic production is arabica with one-third robusta (conillon as it is known locally). Traditionally, most arabica coffee produced has been natural dried coffee, but more recently quality improvements have seen a growth of pulped naturals and washed. Brazilian coffee is preferred by many as a base for espresso blends as it offers low acidity and a smooth sweetness.

History of Brazilian Coffee

The first coffee bush in Brazil was planted by Francisco de Melo Palheta in the state of Pará in 1727. By 1770, coffee had spread from Pará and reached Rio de Janeiro. Coffee was initially planted only for domestic consumption. In the 19th century, the demand for coffee started to increase in America and Europe, and by 1820, coffee plantations began to expand in Rio de Janerio, São Paulo, and Minas Gerais, representing 20% of world production. By 1830, coffee became Brazil’s largest export, accounting for 30% of world production.

From 1880 to 1930, Brazil increased their production of coffee, creating a greater need for labor than what could be found in Brazil. During this period, millions of immigrants moved to São Paulo, transforming it from a small town to the largest industrial center in the developing world. In 1850 the population was 30,000 people, and by 1900 it increased to 240,000. By 1920, Brazil was supplying 80% of the world’s coffee.


Ethiopia, as Yirgacheffe or Yergascheffe, the town Yirgacheffe is located in the Sidamo Area of Ethiopia. The town is considered to be the administrative center of this huge coffee farming district with a population of 21,000.

History of Ethiopian Coffee

Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. In the tenth century, Ethiopian nomadic mountain people may have been the first to recognize coffee’s stimulating effect, although they ate the red cherries directly and did not drink it as a beverage. The mystic Sufi pilgrims of Islam spread coffee throughout the Middle East. From the Middle East these beans spread to Europe and then throughout their colonial empire including Indonesia and the Americas.

Ethiopian coffee is one of the most popular coffee origins in the world. In 1952, the government developed a coffee classification and grading system and then modified it in 1955. Ethiopian coffee certification began after the establishment of the National Coffee Board of Ethiopia (NCBE) in 1957. The NCBE’s aims were to control and coordinate producers, traders, and exporters interests and to improve the quality of Ethiopian coffee.

Growing, processing, and drinking coffee is part of the everyday way of life, and has been for centuries, since the trees were discovered growing wild in forests and eventually cultivated for household use and commercial sale. Domestic consumption is very high, once of the highest of all coffee producing countries, due to the significant role coffee plays in the daily lives of Ethiopians.

Coffee is still commonly enjoyed as part of a ceremonial preparation, a way of gathering family, friends, and associates around a table for conversation and community. The senior-most woman of the household will roast the coffee in a pan and grind it fresh, before mixing it with hot water in a pot called a jebena. She serves the strong liquid in small cups, then adds fresh boiling water to brew the coffee two more times. The process takes about an hour from start to finish, and is considered a regular show of hospitality and society.

 The majority of Ethiopia’s farmers are smallholders and sustenance farmers, with less than 1 hectare of land apiece; in many cases it is almost more accurate to describe the harvests as “garden coffee,” as the trees do sometimes grow in more of a garden or forest environment than what we imagine fields of farmland to look like. There are some large privately owned estates, as well as co-operative society comprising a mix of small and more mid-size farms, but the average producer here grows relatively very little for commercial sale.

South American Coffee

Gutemala. The Huehuetenango region, which takes its name after the city Huehuetenango, is considered one of the best regions for coffee production in Guatemala and it is also a non – volcanic region. Huehuetenango is situated in the Cuchumatanes mountain range in the north west of Guatemala bordering Mexico.

Huehuetenango is one of Guatemala’s three non-volcanic regions, as well as its highest and driest under cultivation, making it one of the best for coffee production.

Currents of hot air sweep up from the Plains of Tehuantepec, in Oaxaca, Mexico, and mix here with the cool air descending from the Cuchumatanes Mountains, creating a microclimate that’s protected from frost and allowing coffee to be cultivated at up to 2,000 meters.

Huehuetenango’s extreme remoteness requires that nearly all producers process their own coffee. Fortunately, the region has abundant rivers and streams, making it relatively easy for producers to set up mills. Still more fortunately, Huehue’s geographic conditions help to create exceptional coffees with a distinct acidity and fruity flavors.

Colombia. Colombia's coffee region is a massive agricultural zone that expands through five departments: Quindio, Risaralda, Caldas, and small parts of Valle del Cauca and El Tolima. Medellín is located in the department of Antioquia, north of the coffee region. Medellín, the "City of Eternal Spring," is the second-largest city in Colombia and the capital of the department of Antioquia—the birthplace of coffee in Colombia and still its largest growing region. Coffees from Antioquia are known for their medium body and cup profiles that are typically not as fruity or winey as those from other regions. Rather, it produces a smooth, well-balanced cup that can be enjoyed any time of day. The specification EP (European Preparation) denotes that the beans were hand sorted to remove any defects or foreign materials.