Whether you’re interested in learning some new coffee trivia or made a vow to study coffee slang and Starbucks lingo to up the game of your morning routine, this guide of coffee terms is for you.
Below are general coffee words, including coffee types, coffee-making accessories and tools, and even some other words for coffee.
Immediately after our glossary of coffee terms and definitions, we have a quick section with over 20 slang terms for coffee, from pet names to barista jargon. Then, after that, we have a brief section with a short lesson on coffee, full of fun coffee facts (you could say we have a latte coffee facts 😉 ) and trivia, so be sure to scroll all the way down!
Okay, let’s get to it—
Coffee Terms Glossary of Definitions
Affogato – An affogato, Italian for “drowned,” is a coffee-based dessert where a scoop of ice cream or gelato, often vanilla in flavor, is “drowned” in a shot of espresso.
Americano – A caffè americano is a coffee beverage where a shot or two of espresso is diluted with hot water. One of the most well-known coffee terms around.
Barista – A barista is the term used for someone who prepares and serves coffee at a café, restaurant, or coffeehouse.
Beaten Coffee – Beaten coffee is a drink popular in India and Pakistan made when instant coffee and sugar are “beaten” into a fluffy, whipped consistency and then served with warm milk. It is said to be the successor of the Dalgona coffee popularized during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. In India, beaten coffee goes by several names, including Indian cappuccino, phenti hui coffee, fitti hui coffee, and phitti hui coffee.
Black Eye Coffee – A black eye is a cup of regular drip coffee with two shots of espresso poured into it; as such, it is stronger than the red eye coffee.
Café – A café is a small restaurant, diner, or coffee shop; it comes from the French word café, which means coffee.
Café au lait – A café au lait is a coffee with hot milk poured into it. It is French for “coffee with milk,” though it differs from a white coffee, which is coffee with cold milk poured into it. A café au lait, like many other warm beverages in France, may be served in a bowl; this gives the drinker a pleasant, cozy experience while allowing them to also dip bread or cakes into it, if they so choose.
Caffè Sospeso – Caffè sospeso, which means suspended coffee in Italian (and also known as a pending coffee), is a Neapolitan tradition where a coffee shop customer would anonymously pay for a cup of coffee of a future customer, as a kindness or charity. In working class coffee shops around Naples, Italy, a generous customer would ask the barista for a caffè sospeso, consuming one coffee for themselves but paying for two; at a later time, a customer without enough money to pay for a coffee may inquire if the shop has a sospeso banked up, and they’d be served that free coffee.
Cappuccino – A cappuccino is a coffee drink which is constructed and served with three layers, first a shot of espresso, followed by a pour of steamed milk, and then a dollop of foamed, frothy milk on the top. As one of the most common words in coffee terminology, it is known the world over, and you can usually find a consistent cappuccino wherever you go as you travel the world.
Cáscara – Cáscara, meaning “husk” in Spanish, is the result of drying coffee cherries, or the dried skins of the coffee fruit. It is then used to make a coffee cherry tea, sometimes called cascara, as well. Because this bean coffee is dried rather than roasted, it provides a completely different flavor profile than regular coffee beverages.
Coffee Percolator – A coffee percolator is a device used for brewing cups of coffee where coffee is brewed right in the water in the device using gravity and the heat itself to cycle the coffee and water around. Once the flavor or strength of the coffee is reached, the coffee can be poured through a strainer and into mugs for serving.
Coffee Roasting – Coffee roasting is the process of roasting green coffee beans into the commonly used coffee bean ready for brewing. Coffee roasters offer different levels of darkness roasting to bring out different coffee flavor profiles and properties.
Crema – Crema is the coffee oil that floats to the top of a coffee beverage. You can often see crema remains on a latte or other milk-based espresso drink remaining on top with the foam.
Dalgona Coffee – Dalgona coffee is a coffee-based beverage where equal parts instant coffee powder, hot water, and sugar are beaten together until it forms a thick, creamy substance, at which point it is added to milk (cold or hot). Dalgona coffee was popularized on social media during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and originates in South Korea. Dalgona comes from the Korean name for honeycomb toffee; Dalgona coffee usually doesn’t incorporate dalgona candy, but the coffee gets its name from having a similar taste and appearance. Dalgona coffee is similar to beaten coffee popular in India and Pakistan.
Decaf Coffee – Decaf coffee, short for decaffeinated coffee, is coffee where most or all of the caffeine has been removed.
Related Read: The ULTIMATE Travel Glossary w/ 300+ Tourism Terms
Direct Trade Coffee – Direct trade coffee is coffee purchased by coffee roasters straight from the coffee farms, rather than through intermediaries or brokers.
Drip Coffee – Drip coffee is any coffee made where the coffee’s flavor is extracted through contact with the water without pressure. This differs from espresso machines, where pressure is used to draw out the flavor. Drip coffee is most often created in a countertop drip coffee machine, where water is heated and then strained through paper filters with grounded coffee and into a waiting coffee carafe or pitcher.
Espresso – Espresso is coffee made by forcing boiling water through grounded coffee beans, using pressure to extract the flavor from the coffee and into the water. The resulting coffee is rich and flavorful, and it is used as the base for many drinks, such as lattes, cappuccinos, and more.
Espresso con panna – Espresso con panna is espresso, either single shot or double shot, topped with whipped cream rather than regular milk. Espresso con panna in Italian literally means “espresso with cream,” and it can be known as a café Vienne or a Vienna coffee in some places, as it is associated closely with the capital of Austria.
Fair Trade Coffee – Fair trade coffee is coffee certified by fair trade organizations to have been produced at or above fair trade standards. Consumers of fair trade coffees can rest assured that their coffee purchase doesn’t support child labor or forced labor, promotes sustainable farming, and provides a better cut to the coffee farmers themselves.
Flat White – A flat white is an espresso beverage where “flat” steamed milk (without frothy foam) gets a shot of espresso. It should be a free-pour of the steamed milk, which gives it some microfoam as well as flat milk. (See below where we give the difference between a flat white vs a latte.
French Press – A French press is a tool used for brewing coffee. To make a cup of coffee, ground coffee is first place into the French press carafe along with boiling water. A lid with a straining plunger goes on top, and, after several minutes, when the coffee has steeped, the strainer gets pressed down. This strains the coffee into the top half of the carafe, and holds the used coffee grounds at the bottom, secured by the strainer, to be discarded later. A French press is also known as other coffee terms, such as a cafetière, press pot, coffee press, coffee plunger, cafetière à piston (French), stempelkanne (German), or caffettiera a stantuffo (Italian).
French Roast – French roast is a type of coffee roasting method where the resulting coffee is super dark or black in color. Though it is a dark roasted coffee, not all dark-roasted coffee is French roast, as there is a spectrum of colors and naming assignments, officially. French roast coffees normally have a richer flavor, but less caffeine, as the more of the caffeine gets cooked away.
Green Beans – Green beans, or green coffee, are coffee beans that have not been roasted yet.
Green Eye Coffee – A green eye is a regular cup of drip coffee into which has been poured three additional shots of espresso. Perfect for when you’re Jason Statham in the movie Crank.
Latte – A café latte is an espresso beverage where a shot or two of espresso gets added to steamed milk. A dollop of foam is added on top. A latte is one of the most common coffee terms around the world, but it is still often confused with flat whites and cappuccinos.
Long Black – A long black is a coffee term popular in New Zealand and Australia for a shot or two of espresso poured into a mug of hot water. It varies from an americano in that the espresso is not usually diluted by as much water as the americano, making it similar in coffee intensity and flavor to a lungo.
Lungo – A lungo (Italian for “long”) is a regular espresso shot made with extra water streaming through the grounds as it’s being brewed, often up to twice as much water.
Macchiato – A caffè macchiato is a drink made with a shot of espresso and just a small amount of foamed milk. For espresso beverages with milk, a macchiato has the least amount of milk compared to other drinks.
Mocha – A caffè mocha, also known as a mocaccino (and sometimes as a chocolatte), is a chocolate-flavored variation of a standard latte eponymous for the city of Mocha, Yemen, a major coffee trade center in ancient times. The chocolate flavor usually comes from cocoa powder mixed into the latte, with sugar sometimes added as a sweetener. Not to be confused with a moka pot.
Moka – A moka pot is a type of hourglass-shaped stovetop coffee machine where the heat of the steadily increasing water temperatures causes pressure to build and the hot water to filter through the section of the pot where the coffee grounds are.
Monsooned Malabar – Also known as Monsoon Malabar or just monsooned coffee, Monsooned Malabar is a coffee harvesting process where coffee beans are laid out for a period of several months in open exposure to the elements, namely monsoon rains and winds from the Malabar Coast of southwestern India, where this process originates. The monsooned coffee process removes almost all the natural acidity in the beans, creating a unique coffee taste with an almost-neutral pH balance.
Red Eye Coffee – A red eye is a beverage made from a shot of espresso which has been added to a cup of regular drip coffee. Sometimes spelled as redeye coffee.
Ristretto – A ristretto is a shot of espresso which uses half the amount of water when brewing with the same amount of espresso grinds and taking the same length of time. This makes for a more concentrated flavor (and caffeine!). Ristretto is Italian for “shortened,” and its counterpart is the lungo (meaning “long”).
Short Black – A short black is a term popular in Oceania to refer to an espresso, as opposed to a long black, which has been diluted with more water, similar to a caffè americano.
Single Origin Coffee – Single-origin coffee is when all coffee beans in a batch come from one particular farm or growing region (rather than being sourced from several places).
Suspended Coffee – See “caffè sospeso.”
Did you know? When Procopio Cutò opened Café Procope in Paris, France in 1686 (still open today!), it was a popular meeting place for French Enlightenment figures such as Rousseau, Voltaire, and Diderot, all frequenting it. It is said that is also the birthplace of the Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts), one of the first encyclopedias. For more like this, check out our list of interesting facts about France.
20+ Slang Terms for Coffee
Here are some common slang words used as nicknames for coffee:
- Cup o’ Joe
- Morning Brew
- Brain Juice
- Wake-Up Juice
- Liquid Energy
- Dirt / Mud
- Brain Fuel
- Jitter Juice
- Liquid Lightning
- Kava (from Polish “kawa”)
- High Octane
- Bean Juice
- Battery Acid (for really bitter coffee)
- Go Juice
- Unleaded (from fuel type)
- The Fix
- Rocket Fuel
- C8H10N4O2 (chemical formula for caffeine)
- Heart Starter
- Cuppa (British meaning a cup of tea, but sometimes used for coffee)
Did you know? Though coffee is grown on all of the world’s continents, Brazil leads production currently, as they produce one-third of the entire coffee in the world. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that Brazil is producing 59.30 million 60-kg bags of coffee for the period of July 2019 through June of 2020.
A Quick Lesson on Coffee
Coffee is one of the most important drinks in the world, and I couldn’t have written this article on words associated with coffee without it!
Coffee is a brewed beverage made from roasted coffee beans, and coffee beans are those which come from the plant genus Coffea, native to Africa, particularly Sudan and Ethiopia. The two most common coffee varieties are Coffea arabica (known as Arabian coffee) and robusta coffee, which is actually Coffea canephora, though sometimes called colloquially as Coffea robusta.
Coffee beans used for coffee beverages are actually the seeds of berries of several Coffea species. After drying these coffee seeds, the beans are sent to be roasted to varying degrees. The earliest known usage of coffee as a beverage is from modern-day Yemen in the 15th century.
Coffee Trivia & Frequently Asked Questions (Coffee FAQs)
Here are some frequently asked questions about coffee and different coffee drinks:
No. A ristretto uses less water but the same amount of time and coffee grounds, making it more concentrated. When you pull an espresso before it’s finished, it’s much less concentrated than a ristretto.
Yes. A café au lait is meant to be served in the French way, usually in a white porcelain bowl or cup, and could be made from either espresso or regular coffee grounds, while a caffè latte is indicative of the Italian method, served in glassware and always from an espresso machine.
An americano is where hot water is added to an already-prepared shot of espresso, whereas a lungo is espresso prepared by letting more water stream through the grounds while it’s being made.
A flat white and a latte are very similar, but there is one main difference. When you steam milk, there is “flat” liquid milk at the bottom of the steaming pot, a middle layer of thicker “microfoam,” and a top layer of foam with larger bubbles on top. A flat white uses a free pour of milk, giving it some of the microfoam mixed in with the flat milk. A latte, on the other hand, is meant to be served with just the liquid milk poured into the espresso drink, and then served with a dollop of the stiffer foam on top. So, in essence, a latte is actually “flatter” than a flat white.
Well, that’s all for now! We hope you found this post on words related to coffee to be helpful, and if you have any questions, feedback, or more coffee terms or espresso vocabulary to add, write to us in the comments below. Thanks for reading!