From its rich history to its iconic taste and versatility, there’s no shortage of things to love about your favorite coffee blend. However, there’s always more to learn. While many of us think we know all there is about the coffee world, there are still tidbits of information that could serve you well as you craft these drinks. Baristas and home brewers alike can benefit from knowing a few specialized terms—there’s more of them than you might think. This brief guide to specialty coffee terminology will set you up for success.

Arabica vs. Robusta

Arabica and Robusta are the two primary species of coffee—Arabica being more delicate and Robusta the heartier one. Many enjoy Arabica beans for their nuanced flavors and smoothness, while Robusta has a higher caffeine content and stronger taste. When selecting beans, you should understand this distinction since it often dictates the flavor profile you can expect.

Single Origin

When you hear "single origin," you know you're getting a taste from a specific geographic location. Packaged coffee claims that’s single origin consists of beans that come from a single location, often a farm or region within a country. The advantage is that you get a more nuanced, characteristic flavor from that particular area's soil, climate, and altitude.


Coffee body refers to the perceived heaviness or richness of the drink on your tongue. People often describe it as being similar to milk: does it feel like skim milk (light), whole milk (full), or cream (heavy)? The grind size and brew method also influence the body. Understanding the concept of body helps when choosing the right coffee for your preferred drinking experience.


Cupping is to coffee what wine tasting is to wine. It's a method of evaluating the flavor, aroma, and overall profile of coffee. Professionals and enthusiasts alike use this ritual, which involves steeping coffee grounds in hot water, to compare different beans and roasts. As you become more familiar with cupping, you'll notice the subtleties and intricacies that distinguish various coffees.


Another word to understand from this guide to specialty coffee terminology is extraction. Extraction is the process of pulling flavor from ground coffee with water during brewing. Too little extraction leaves you with a weak cup, and too much can lead to bitterness. The ideal extraction gives you a well-balanced, flavorful cup. Factors like water temperature, brewing time, and grind size all affect the extraction. It’s a crucial term to know for anyone aiming to brew the perfect cup.


If you’re looking to brew a perfect espresso, you also need to know about crema. Crema, present in a freshly made espresso shot, is the layer of creamy, tan-colored foam that sits atop the coffee. It’s not just a visual treat; crema also holds a lot of the coffee's aromatic compounds, contributing to the overall experience. Crema is a mark of a well-prepared espresso and is a trademark of a high-quality brew.

In exploring these terms, you're not only enhancing your coffee vocabulary but also gaining a deeper appreciation for the craft that goes into every cup of specialty coffee. When you brew one of our premium single cup coffee pods and take that first sip, you’re truly getting a sense for what makes it great.

February 29, 2024 — DigitlHaus Agency