Call it joe, mud, wakey juice or cupped lightning, its said that coffee is the most-consumed beverage on the planet, after water (what about beer?). It involves a global industry that, microcosmically speaking, comes down to ordering your favorite brew from a barista (an expert at making coffee drinks).
Coffee terminology is seemingly endless and can be quite insider, but a bit of a working vocabulary is necessary to navigate the world of java with confidence and panache. This mini-glossary can help get you started.
Baltimore: A 50-50 blend of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, also called a half-caf.
Bird-friendly beans: Coffee grown in shaded rainforests amid the flora.
Burr mill: A coffee grinder with shredding discs that can be adjusted for coarse and fine grinds.
Cake in a cup: Coffee with double the sugar and cream.
Cupping: Tasting various coffees for aroma, flavor, mouthfeel and finish for critical evaluation; think wine tasting.
Crema: The brownish-reddish foam that floats atop espresso, an indicator of its quality.
God shot: When all the coffee-making elements are in harmony, sometimes a short shot (ristretto) of espresso can be so heavenly that, somehow, God must have been involved in its making.
Green eye: Coffee with three shots of espresso.
Hard beans/soft beans: Hard beans are grown at higher altitudes than soft beans and are generally considered the superior of the two.
New crop: Pre-roasted coffee warehoused one to four months after harvest, compared to current crop, stored five to 12 months from harvest.
Old crop or past crop: Pre-roasted beans warehoused for more than a year after harvest.
Portafilter: In espresso-making, its the filter basket that holds the metal puck full of ground coffee, and fits into the espresso machine.
Sept. 29: International Coffee Day.
Shot in the dark: Coffee with one shot of espresso.
Silverskin: A membrane-like film that covers dried coffee beans; when removed, its called chaff.
Skinny harmless: A latte made with nonfat milk and decaffeinated coffee, a.k.a. why bother.
Tamper: In espresso-making, its the tool (usually metal) used to tamp down the ground coffee in the puck that goes into the portafilter.
Viennese roast: Coffee beans that are roasted darker than American medium-brown but lighter than Italian or French. Its characteristic is low-acid smoothness.