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Cup of Heaven Coffee Glossary (P-S)

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Packaging - The process by which roasted coffee is protected from oxidation. The purposes of packaging are to preserve the original flavor characteristics and provide portion control.

Penny Universities - Another name for 17th century London coffeehouses, which charged a 'penny admission fee. Also known as "Seminaries of Sedition" they offered visitors the opportunity to discuss politics and debate current issues.

Perceived value - Restaurant patrons compare "pleasure received" to "amount paid' for a cup of coffee based on fair value of flavor, strength, taste, price, and presentation.

Pergamino (parchment) - A parchment-like covering over the coffee bean. The term "in pergamino" refers to coffee beans that remain in this covering until ready for export.

Positioning - Constructing the image of an operation for a target market through careful planning of all operational aspects (price, quality of roasted coffee, serving quality).

Premium blend - Highest priced, quality coffee blend generally used by fine dining establishments to match their food quality and presentation.

Pricing - Determining coffee menu prices based on quality and cost of blend, brewing formula, portion size of cup, refill policy, style of restaurant, comparable restaurant prices, and retail coffee market prices.

Profit potential - Gross margin dollars available from coffee sales based on cost per cup versus cost per pound.

Pulp - The cherry skin and fruit after they have been removed from the coffee bean during wet processing.

Pulverization - Passing roasted coffee beans between two flat, rotating discs.

Pyrolysis - A series of rapid chemical reactions that occurs during the roasting process, causing changes in green beans because of the application of heat.


Quenching - During the roasting process, adding water to the beans when they have reached their desired color.


Rancid/Rotten - This aroma descriptor includes two terms which are associated with odors reminiscent of deterioration and oxidation of several products. Rancid as the main indicator of fat oxidation mainly refers to rancid nuts and rotten is used as an indicator of deteriorated vegetables or non-oily products. Tasters should be cautioned not to apply these descriptors to coffees that have strong notes but no signs of deterioration.

Refill policy - Positioning decision on whether to offer coffee refills at no additional cost.

Refractometer - A device that determines coffee's soluble solids by measuring the increased light refraction (separation into color bands) caused by adding coffee flavoring material to water.

Roasting - The process of heating green coffee beans to a temperature that eliminates most of their moisture and initiates a series of chemical reactions (pyrolysis). This causes changes in the composition of the coffee and results in the development of compounds associated with the flavor of brewed coffee.

Roasts - There is very little industry standardization. This can cause a great deal of confusion for the buyer. But in general, roasts fall into one of four color categories -- light (light city, half city, cinnamon, New England), medium (city, American, breakfast) , medium-dark (full city) or dark (high, continental, New Orleans, European, Espresso, Viennese, Italian, French).

Robusta - One of two principal botanical varieties of coffee, accounting for approximately 25% of world coffee production.

Rubber-like - This odor descriptor is characteristic of the smell of hot tires, rubber bands and rubber stoppers. It is not considered a negative attribute but has a characteristic strong note highly recognizable in some coffees.


Saltiness - A primary taste characterized by a solution of sodium chloride or other salts.

Selective picking - Harvesting method in which only ripe (red) coffee cherries are carefully handpicked. Used where cherries do not ripen simultaneously, thus requiring selective picking spanning several weeks. Usually used for wet-processed coffees.

Shrinkage - Difference between green an roasted beans because of weight loss during roasting (14% to 18% shrinkage, depending on length of roast).

Silver skin - The membrane immediately surrounding the coffee bean. Milling before export removes most of the -silver skin; the remainder is removed during roasting in the form of chaff.

Slurping - Taking coffee into the mouth so that it spreads evenly over the entire surface of the tongue, releasing any gases suspended in the brew.

Sniffing - Inhaling gases from ground coffee and vapors from brewed coffee through the nose and on to the nasal membrane.

Soluble coffee - Coffee in a powdered or granulated form that can be reconstituted by adding hot water. Commonly referred to as "instant coffee.'

Soluble solids - Dissolved components of the coffee flavoring material extracted from roasted and ground coffee. Soluble solids give the coffee beverage its flavor characteristics.

Sorting - Separating coffee beans, after hulling or husking, according to size, density, color, and imperfections. Sorting can be done by hand or mechanically.

Sourness - This basic taste descriptor refers to an excessively sharp, biting and unpleasant flavor (such as vinegar or acetic acid). It is sometimes associated with the aroma of fermented coffee. Tasters should be cautious not to confuse this term with acidity which is generally considered a pleasant and desirable taste in coffee.

Specific density - In coffee evaluation, the ratio of the coffee brew to the density of pure water.

Specification - Precise written statement describing exact product desired by blend, grind, packaging type, volume, delivery schedules, equipment, equipment service requirements, and payment terms.

Spicy - This aroma descriptor is typical of the odor of sweet spices such as cloves, cinnamon and allspice. Tasters are cautioned not to use this term to describe the aroma of savory spices such as pepper, oregano and Indian spices.

Spray-dried (coffee) - A soluble coffee powder prepared by spraying a coffee concentrate down a heated tower. This causes water molecules to evaporate, leaving the coffee flavoring material as a powder at the bottom of the tower.

Staling - A flavor deterioration caused by oxidation. Its characteristics are a reduction in aromatics and a change in taste.

Steep - To soak in hot water at a temperature just under the boiling point

Strength - A quantitative measure of the amount of soluble solids in a coffee brew, usually expressed as a percentage (by weight) of soluble solids to water (for example, 1% soluble solids and 99% water@.

Strip picking - A harvesting method in which all cherries are removed in a single motion by grabbing the branches of the tree and pulling off the cherries. Used where coffee cherries ripen simultaneously. Usually used for dry processed coffees.

Supercritical carbon dioxide - Carbon dioxide at a high temperature and pressure that can be used as a decaffeination agent.

Sweetness - This is a basic taste descriptor characterized by solutions of sucrose or fructose which are commonly associated with sweet aroma descriptors such as fruity, chocolate and caramel. It is generally used for describing coffees which are free from off-flavors.

References: International Coffee Organization, National Coffee Association, Oregon Daily Emerald, and the Specialty Coffee Association.


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