Know Your Java Jargon

By: Benedict Neel

We love our coffee. In fact, we love it so much that coffee is the most widely traded commodity next to oil. In fact, the consumption of coffee has reached about 400 billion cups a year, and the number is on the rise. Like every popular commodity, however, our beloved coffee has its share of controversies.

People around the world have both loved and hated coffee for many years. Many expletives have been used to describe coffee over the years, including "the drink of the devil", the drink that caused men's impotence and an evil brew. Still, coffee has always been there, as literary masterpieces were written, national testaments and oratories created, medical advances made and world-changing business deals brought to fruition. While these landmark events were not reached only because of coffee, it surely had something to do with them.

Coffee is surely more than a simple beverage. The world loves it, and for good reason.

Much like wine, coffee takes special preparation. Like wine it takes dedication and specialized processes and cultivation, although it is the antithesis to wine. Wine will relax the body and tends to slow mental processes. This isn't the case with coffee. Coffee calms rather than intoxicates. Coffee stimulates the senses rather than dulling them. As the famous line goes, "It cheers the spirit without making one mad."

Coffee requires blending and brewing, along with various other preparations that go into creating wine and other excellent beverages. There is also an entire vocabulary associated with coffee. If you wish to be truly familiar with your friend "coffee", here are some of the terms that you must know:


Coffee is similar to carrots in its level of pH. The acidity in coffee contributes to its unique liveliness, brightness and color.

Coffee Arabica

There are two main types of coffee: Robusta and Arabica. Coffee Arabica contains less caffeine, but grows at altitudes of 3,500 to 7,000 feet, so it's harder to cultivate. This type of coffee is more expensive but has a superior full bodied taste as compared to Robusta.

Bourbon is a variety of coffees Arabica grown in Africa. Its cultivation was not seriously pursued for some time because, although it has more character and taste, it does not yield as large a crop as the other Arabica varieties. With the current popularity of coffee, however, its cultivation has risen in popularity.

Blends of Coffee

While artists create wonderful things by mixing colors on their palettes, coffee blenders take beans grown in various regions and mix them to create unique taste and aroma. These blends create special flavors that cannot be achieved with coffee of a single origin.


The "body" of the coffee is a term used to describe the way it feels in the mouth. The body may be thin, delicate, light, syrupy or buttery.


This process is used to minimize the caffeine content of the coffee beans. Several processes can be utilized to remove the caffeine content. One is a method using chemicals, another makes use of a variety of water processes, while the third method uses carbon dioxide. In each of these decaffeinating processes, the chief concern is to preserve the natural flavor of the coffee bean.

Grades of Coffee

This is a classification of the beans by their density and size. The highest grade is known as premium and is sold at a higher price.

Processing Methods

The separation of the flesh from the bean. The two types of processing are the dry and washed processes. With dry processing, the cherries are spread across the ground to dry out in the sun. The beans are raked several times each day so that drying is even. After two to three weeks, the dried flesh cracks off of the bean. Dry processing produces an earthy flavor and a syrupy texture in your coffee.

Washed processing is a method of slicing the skin of the coffee beans and letting the beans stand until they begin to ferment, and the skins are easily washed off with water. The beans are then dried. This kind of washed processing retains the natural flavors in the coffee.

So now that you have a grasp of some of coffee's vocabulary, don't neglect to get your daily dose!

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Author Benedict Neel is a columnist for a variety of popular Internet magazines, on ultimate hobby and leisure guide issues.

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