Hello, Whole Latte Love Lovers. I was on the phone the other day with some of you and realized that as much as I was going over machines with customers, I was also going over the terms we throw around. The espresso lingo can be confusing and terms can sometimes be counter-intuitive to a layman. So, I’ve decided to put together a glossary of common terms to help you decipher the espresso talk. Here is the first part of the espresso and coffee-related dictionary:
Backflush – The main process of maintenance for a Prosumer-level machine. Using a blind filter basket or backflush disc, the water pressure is pushed back into the machine, agitating any scale, mineral or coffee build up loose, and then kicking it out of the machine via the three way solenoid valve. In a regular household, it should be done weekly, alternating between backflushing with and without a cleaner like Cafiza.
Brush – A cleaning instrument used to clean different parts of an espresso machine.
Base – A stand for the grinder and espresso machine that usually has a storage drawer and/or a built-in knock bar. We have bases for Pasquini, Rancilio and Gaggia machines and grinders.
Blade grinder – A coffee grinder that has two or four blades that spin around chopping the coffee beans to a small size. Blade grinders are ok for drip coffee, but since the process causes a lot of friction, blade grinders can alter the flavor and aroma of coffee and are not recommended for espresso.
Burr grinder – A coffee grinder that uses two notched rotating burrs to grind the coffee into specific sizes. This is the preferred method for coffee and espresso grinding, because it significantly reduces heat transfer and produces better grind uniformity.
Ceramic burrs – Burrs made out of ceramic are relatively new. They can last twice as long as the ones made of steel. Ceramic burrs are usually flat. The advantages are three fold: durability, noise reduction (they are a few decibels quieter than their steel counterparts) and thermal control (they transfer less heat to the beans).
Conical burrs – These burrs are conical in shape; the beans start at the top of the cone area and grind downward—through the burrs and into the narrower section. As the beans progress through the burrs, the grind gets finer and finer. Smaller conical burr grinders for the home, such as the Maestro Plus, are ideal for drip and French press grinding. Larger commercial conical burr grinders, like the Mazzer Kony, provide much more surface area and can create a consistent grind for espresso brewing.
Coarse grind – Larger-sized coffee grounds, used primarily for drip, French press and vacuum brewing.
Bar – Measure of pressure, equal to 100,000 Pa, really close to one atmosphere (101,325 Pa). Espresso is brewed between 8 and 9 bars; you will constantly see pump ratings varying from 15 to 19 bars, depending on the brand.
Blank shot – Sometimes called a blind shot, this term refers to running water through your group head to either warm the entire system or, in some cases, cool the boiler down.
Boiler – The part of an espresso machine that holds the water as it is being heated for brewing or steaming.
Brew group – Where the “magic” happens in a super-automatic machine. Once ground coffee is added, it is then tamped, water goes through the grounds to extract the beverage and the final product is delivered into the cup. Afterwards, the used grounds, or puck, is expelled into a dreg drawer.
Bypass doser – In super-autos, the feature that allows you to use a different pre-ground coffee and bypass the grounds from the beans in the hopper. A bypass doser is the ideal feature for users who brew both regular and decaf.
Commercial portafilter basket – The part of the semi-automatic espresso machine that holds the coffee. The commercial part refers to the fact that it is non-pressurized, and the coffee itself is what the pump pushes against to create the necessary 8-9 bars for espresso brewing.
Bottomless portafilter – A specially augmented portafilter that has the bottom machined off. There is a two-fold reasoning behind the augmentation. First, it can be used as a teaching instrument; if you grind and tamp correctly, the brewed espresso will form into a single stream as it is being extracted. Second, a bottomless portafilter gives you the ability to hold a triple shot (21g).
Brewing – Any process of putting water through coffee grounds to produce a drink.
Cold brew – A different way of brewing your coffee, using cold instead of hot water. It’s usually done in a bowl or large bottle in the fridge and takes between 3 and 12 hours to complete. Cold-brewed beverages are stronger than drinks made using conventional methods. Cold brewing is famous in the Louisiana area and it’s gaining popularity with the new Hourglass brewer.
Carafe – The “pot” the drip coffeemaker brews into. There are two types of carafes. The glass one is usually accompanied by a warming plate and a thermal carafe, which often features double-walled metal. The metal ones do need to be preheated, but they can retain the coffee’s temperature for hours after brewing.
Americano – A drink that mimics a cup of drip coffee, minus the bitter edge. Generally a double shot of espresso (2-2.5 ounces), with 3-4 ounces of hot water added (adjusted to taste, of course).
Cafe con leche – Similar to a latte, this drink uses steamed milk and has a 50/50 ratio between the brewed espresso or coffee and milk.
Café crema – Similar to an Americano, this drink also mimics drip coffee. But, instead of adding hot water to the espresso, you over extract and run 4-6 ounces through a regular amount of grounds.
Cafe lungo – This drink is shorter than a Café Crema, but longer than a shot of espresso. It usually has a volume of 3-4 ounces.
Cappuccino – One of the most classic and loved espresso-based drink. Traditionally it is a double shot of espresso, with 4-6 ounces of frothed milk, adjusted to taste of course.
Coffee – It felt wrong to leave this off the dictionary, but we don’t really have to define this do we? It’s the bean of the coffee cherry that gives us all of these wonderful drinks and concoctions when dried, ground and brewed.