Helpful terms for the coffee connoisseur:

  • Aroma:   The fragrance inhaled by sniffing coffee can be described as ranging from sweetly floral (jasmine) to sweetly spicy (orange).
  • Acidity:   The pleasantly sharp, snappy and lively quality that is considered a positive attribute.   Sometimes referred to as strong.   Most people describe acidic or smoky flavored coffee this way.
  • Body:   The “mouth-feel” in terms of weight and texture.   Best described as syrupy, harsh, lifeless, thin, heavy, medium, muddy, and full.
  • Blend:   Mixing two or more varieties of roasted coffee or different roasts (light or dark) to produce a balanced, pleasing taste.
  • Café au lait:   French style coffee made by simultaneously pouring coffee and frothed milk into a cup.
  • Cappuccino:   Espresso, steamed milk and frothed milk.   Dry cappuccinos are made with mostly foam and wet cappuccinos are made with more milk than foam.
  • Crema:   The tan foam formed on the surface of the espresso during the brewing process.   The crema makes a “cap” which helps retain the aroma and flavors of the espresso within the cup.   The presence of crema indicates an acceptable brew.
  • Espresso:   (Not expresso).   A method of quickly extracting the heart of coffee flavor, under pressure, from specially roasted, finely ground Arabica beans.   1.5 oz of espresso is known as a “shot” and serves as the basis of most coffee house drinks.
  • Flavor:   The combination of the aroma and the taste that the coffee impresses in the mouth.   Terms relating to flavor are nutty, caramelly, earthy, spicy, fruity, smoky, musty, rich, grassy, chocolaty, neutral, sweet, and winey.
  • French or Italian roast:   A style of r0asting coffee beans that leaves them very dark brown.
  • Froth/foam:   The term given to milk which has been made thick and foamy by aerating it with hot steam.   Creating a “whirlpool” effect in the frothing pitcher actually changes the chemistry of the milk, and enables it to blend with espresso to make a drink called a latte.
  • Latte:   Espresso with steamed milk, topped with foam.   It can contain a flavored syrup and be topped with a layer of froth.
  • Roasts:   Varietals or blends roasted to specific color, such as Full City Roast, or French Roast.
  • Varietals:   A single bean type from a country, region or estate, such as Guatemala Antigua, Costa Rica Tarrazu and Colombian Supremo.   These coffees are also called origin coffees.

Brewing Tips

Brewing coffee involves extracting the flavor compounds from coffee grounds while diluting them with water.   There are many factors that affect brewing the perfect cup of coffee.

Most importantly, your coffee maker pot and filter basket must be thoroughly cleaned with warm soapy water at least once per week.   Bitter oils adhere to the walls of the basket and pot, which deteriorate the quality of your brewed coffee.

Storage Tips

  • Your coffee should be protected from light, moisture, and air to preserve its flavor.   Keep coffee in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Freezing fresh coffee will prolong its life, however, daily removal of the coffee from the freezer can cause moisture to freeze on the coffee affecting the flavor.
  • For the best cup start with good coffee–start with High Point Coffee.   We use only the top grades of Arabica beans selected by our importer from around the world.   We sample it ourselves to make sure it passes the flavor test.
  • Arabica beans are specialty or gourmet coffees.

Water Tips

  • Coffee is made up of 98% water.   Quality water can certainly enhance your high quality coffee.   If you notice any traces of chlorine, iron, or other minerals in your water, use bottled or filtered water.   Softened or distilled water should not be used as they will distort the flavor of coffee.
  • The general rule of thumb for water-to-coffee ratio is 1 tablespoon of ground coffee or 2 tablespoons of whole beans for each 6 oz of water.   There are numerous measurement recommendations for the perfect cup–you’ll need to experiment and find what you like best.
  • Water temperature should range from 195-205 for brewing coffee.   Many coffee makers do not achieve this.   Water can be boiled then let it cool for a few seconds.   Serve it “off the boil”.   Water that doesn’t reach this temperature doesn’t capture all the nuances that coffee offers.
  • Boiling or re-heating coffee literally boils the flavor away.   A thermal carafe can maintain the quality of coffee for 2 hours.

Grind Tips

  • The type of grind depends how you will brew your coffee.   If the water is in contact with coffee for a long time, the grind should be coarse.
  • If water is in contact with coffee for a short duration, the grind should be fine.
  • Blenders work well if you don’t own a grinder.   Really!
  • Manual drip grind fine for 18-23 seconds.   Grind medium fine 13-18 seconds.
  • Auto drip cone filters grind fine 18-23 seconds, and flat bottom filters grind medium for 10-15 seconds in a blade grinder.
  • French Press coffee should be ground coarse for approximately 5-10 seconds in a blade grinder.
  • Wet the filter before brewing