Welcome curious traveller, to the lower echelon of elfenix.coffee. Here we've provided a more in depth definition of some of the terms used throughout the site, and some wider terms used across the coffee industry. It's easy to stay down here a while, so if you need to come up for air, it's just a click away.




Capitalised letters are grade indicators that usually describe the size of the bean.

AA (Against Actuals)

A transaction between two parties involving the purchase and sale of a future contract and either the simultaneous price fixing or the hedging of a directly related physical contract for sale or purchase.


An individual organism’s ability to gradually change in its environment, which allows it to maintain performance across a range of environmental conditions. This is typically a short-term and reversible process.


This refers to both the current state of being adapted and to the dynamic evolutionary process that leads to the adaptation. Organisms that possess heritable traits that enable them to better adapt to their environment compared with other members of their species will be more likely to survive, reproduce and pass more of their genes onto the next generation.

Ad Valorem Tariff 

An import tariff, charged at a fixed percentage of the value of the good.

African Drying Beds 

See Drying Tables. 

Aged coffee

Holding green coffee for years in storage reduces acidity and increases body. To be called "aged coffee" it has been held longer than either "old crop" coffee or "mature" coffee. Some coffees are subject to deliberate ageing, by exposure to moist air or other elemental extremes usually associated with the degradation of foods.


One of a number of alternative forms of a gene, usually arising through mutation. Different alleles are responsible for hereditary variation and can result in different observable traits in coffee such as pigmentation. 

Allelic Diversity

A metric to characterise the extent of genetic diversity.


A hybrid organism that has four chromosomes sets. Allotetraploids are created as a result of both chromosome sets of each parents being present. For example, Coffea Arabica is likely an allotetraploid derived from a cross of the two diploid species Coffea Canephora and Coffea eugenioides. 


The elevation of an object or point in relation to sea level or ground level. In the coffee world this will generally refer to the height of a plot of land where coffee is planted, and is usually measured in metres above sea level (M.A.S.L). 

Coffee is generally grown at high altitude in tropical regions because these sites have a lower mean temperature and copious amounts of sunlight. These environmental conditions slow the growing process without killing the coffee plant, allowing the bean to mature over a longer period of time. This drawn-out and slower-paced growing cycle allows more complex flavours to develop in the growing bean, resulting in the rich flavour bouquets desired in superior coffee.  In South and Central America coffees are sometimes graded and separated based on altitude.


Allopolyploids are polyploids with chromosomes derived from different species. Precisely it is the result of multiplying the chromosome number in an F1 hybrid. 


A genus of shield bug, Antestiopsis, also known as the variegated coffee bug. Antestia is also the name of the coffee bean defect that is caused by the bug. 

The result of an Antestia infestation ranges from the coffee bean becoming slightly discolored, to almost entirely black and shriveled up. The beans gain a distinctive 'potato taste', which is thought to be caused indirectly by bacteria entering through wounds created by the insects, leading to an increase in the concentration of isopropyl methoxy pyrazine.

Aquapulp, mechanical demucilaging

A processing method of coffee cherries in which the fruit pulp (mucilage) is removed from freshly picked coffee beans by scrubbing in machines. Mechanical demucilaging is gradually replacing the traditional wet processing procedure of removing mucilage by fermentation and washing.


See Coffea arabica.


See Coffee Berry Borer.


A botanical variety of Coffea Arabica (along with Typica, it is one of the main Coffea Arabica cultivars). Bourbon was developed by the French on the island of Bourbon, now known as Réunion. The seeds were first planted in 1708 and were sold to the French by the British East India Company from Yemen. After several generations it began to express the unique features that characterise it today. Bourbon grows best at altitudes between 1100-2000 MASL, and the best Latin-American coffees are arguably from Bourbon stock.  

Bourbon Pointu/Laurina

A mutation of Bourbon that occurred naturally on Reunion Island. It was first described in 1947 as presenting a dwarf stature and a ‘Christmas tree’ shape, small leaves, internodes and seeds compared to the original Bourbon varieties. Some Laurina mutants were the first varieties that were patented by the roasting industry.  

CAD / Cash against documents

The term used in trade, when the seller retains ownership and control of goods until the buyer pays for them.


A variety of Arabica developed in Colombia by Cenicafe (the Colombian coffee federation’s research arm) through selective breeding.


A group of pure-line cultivars that originate from crosses between a Hibrido de Timor and Caturra. The catimor is well known for its high productivity and it also shows resistance to coffee leaf rust and Coffee Berry Disease (CBD), but it’s not always known for its high cup quality. One of the first widely available Catimor varieties was Costa Rica 95, which was released in 1995.


A pure-line cultivar developed by the Institut Agronomico de Campinas (in Brazil). It is a hybrid between Mundo Novo and yellow Caturra, released in 1968. Its characters are its dwarf stature (from Caturra) and its either yellow or red cherries. It has good productivity and standard quality, but is susceptible to all main pest and diseases.  


A relatively recently selected botanical variety of Arabica that generally matures more quickly, produces more coffee, and is more disease resistant than older, traditional Arabica varieties. Many experts contend that the Caturra and modern hybrid varieties of Coffea Arabica produce coffee that is inferior in cup quality and distinction to the coffee produced by the traditional "old Arabica" varieties like Bourbon and Typica.

CBB / Coffee Berry Borer

Otherwise known as the coffee borer beetle (Hypothenemus hampei) the CBB is a small beetle native to Africa that burrows into coffee seeds and is one of the most harmful pests to coffee crops. It is known as Broca in Latin America.  

Common External Tariff

Customs tariff applied in a uniform manner by members of the Community of Andean Nations.

CFC / Common Fund for Commodities

An intergovernmental financial institution established within the framework of the United Nations, which helps finance commodity development projects to enhance the socio-economic development of commodity producers.

CFS / Container freight station

An area at a port for loading and unloading containerized cargo onto and off ships. Also known as a container terminal.


See U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission


The silver skin of the coffee bean that is released during the roasting. As the coffee beans are roasted, they will expand to almost twice their original size. The dried out silver skin then ruptures and is then carried away in the exhaust air. A lot of coffee roasters separate the chaff from the exhaust of the coffee roaster using a cyclone separator that collects the chaff in a bin.  


A thread-like structure of nucleic acids and protein in the nucleus of most living cells which carries the genetic information of an organism. In coffee, this genetic information will shape the characteristics of a coffee. 


An organism produced asexually from one ancestor, to which it is genetically identical. 

COE / Cup of Excellence

An annual competition held in different countries to identify the highest quality coffee. Dubbed the ‘Oscars of the coffee world’ the competition began in 1999 and is organised by the Alliance for Coffee Excellence. Each coffee is tested at least five times in the competition, and the winning coffees are sold in internet auctions. 

Coffea Arabica

Also known as Arabica, this is a species of coffee tree originating from the mountains of southwest Ethiopia, and thought to be the earliest cultivated species of coffee. It is now the most widely grown coffee species and produces approximately 70% of the world's coffee. It is dramatically superior in cup quality to the other principal commercial coffee species, Coffea Canephora or Robusta. All fine, specialty, and fancy coffees come from Coffea Arabica trees.

Coffea Canephora

Also known as Robusta. This is the only significant competitor among cultivated coffee species to Coffea Arabica. Robusta produces about 30% of the world's coffee (the maths matches our glossary entry above). It is a lower-growing, faster maturing, higher-bearing tree that produces full-bodied but bland coffee of inferior cup quality and higher caffeine content than Coffea Arabica. It is mainly used for instant coffee and cheap pre-ground coffee found in supermarkets. It is not really included in the specialty coffee trade except as a body-enhancing component in some espresso blends.

Coffee berry disease

A fungus that lives in the bark of the coffee tree and produces spores which then attack the coffee cherries. It was first discovered in Kenya in 1920 and is caused by the virulent strain of Collectotrichum coffeanum. Spraying is the best way to avoid the coffee berry disease, and the Kenyan coffee hybrid Ruiru 11 is resistant to both coffee berry disease and coffee leaf rust.

Coffee bean germination

There’s two basic methods for the germination of seeds. 1) Coffee seeds are pre-germinated by spreading them out on a sandy bed and covered with moist burlap sacks or straw. The seeds are watched closely and then removed as soon as radicals emerge. 2) Coffee seeds are mixed with moist vermiculite or expanded polystyrene and kept in a polythene bag.  Coffee seedlings are grown in nursery beds or polybags and are then planted in the coffee fields once they have reached a height of between 20-40cm.  

Coffee bean moisture measurement

Before shipment, coffee is dried and a coffee moisture meter is used to measure coffee bean moisture. Coffee must be dried from an approximate 60% moisture content to 11-12% moisture content during the drying phase, and this moisture level should be maintained during storage and shipping.

Coffee cherry

The fruit of the coffee tree, which harbours the seeds that are coffee beans. Cherries generally ripen from green to a red colour, although some ripen to yellow. Each cherry usually contains two regular coffee beans covered in sweet mucilage. If there is only one bean this is known as a peaberry or caracol. 

Coffee drying

There are broadly two methods of drying coffee, depending on the processing method. For washed coffee, after the coffee has been in the fermentation tanks or mechanically scrubbed, the beans are moved to drying patios and dried to 11-12% moisture content. For naturals / unwashed coffee, the whole cherry is placed in the sun to dry, and must be regularly raked or turned to ensure even drying and prevent mildew.  On larger plantations machine-drying may be used.

Coffee fermentation

For washed coffee, pulped coffee beans are put into large cement tanks with water and are allowed to ferment for 16-36 hours. The highest quality coffees are the densest and are separated and fermented in a different tank. Coffee fermentation times depends on a number of factors including: the amount of coffee fermenting, water temperature and humidity.  Currently, the best way of determining the end of the fermentation process is to feel the coffee beans to determine if they are still encased in mucilage. If the coffee beans ferment for more than 36 hours stinker beans develop and ruin the coffee. 

Coffee harvest

Ripe cherries are usually either harvested by hand or using a harvesting machine.  Hand harvesting is often more time consuming, but can be more accurate and maximises the amount of ripe coffee harvested, leaving unripe coffee to be harvested at a later date. Mechanical harvesting is often faster for large farms, but ‘strips’ all the coffee cherries from the tree whether or not they are ripe and can lead to lower quality coffee overall.

Coffee plant propagation

Ripe red cherries are collected and the mucilage is removed to preserve the seed for future planting.  The coffee seeds (typically referred to as beans) can either be dried for future use or planted immediately. Correctly storing coffee beans is essential for a longer seed life and dried coffee seeds/beans can be used up to a year or more later if stored properly. 

Coffee rust

Otherwise known as roya disease, coffee rust is a disease caused by the hemileia vastatrix fungus and is a serious problem for coffee producers globally. It mainly attacks the leaves of coffee plants and forms yellow-orange powdery blemishes. Its symptoms were first observed in Sri Lanka in the 1860s. Many countries, including Sri Lanka and Ethiopia, replaced much of their Arabica coffee with disease resistant Robusta coffee. It also destroyed Brazil’s crops in 1970, since the occurrence of coffee rust in Brazil; it has spread to every coffee growing country in the world. Spraying with copper-based fungicides at 4-6 week intervals during the rainy season helps prevent the rust disease in coffee.


A country in South America with delicious coffee, or alternatively a variety of coffee (aka Variedad Colombia) which is a hybrid of Robusta and Arabica. The bean was developed for its high yields and to combat disease, and many versions of the Colombia have been developed over the last decade. More recently versions of the results of this experimentation and development have been called ‘Castillo’ rather than Colombia (see Castillo). 

Colour sorting coffee beans

A process frequently used to remove defective coffee beans that haven’t been removed during coffee processing or hulling. In many countries coffee is sorted by hand due to inexpensive labor, but in some countries investment in a color sorting machine or color separator, is necessary.

COT / Commitment of Traders 

A report issued by the commodity futures trading commission, which states the holdings of participants in the various futures markets.

Countervailing duty

Customs duty levied on imports of a certain good in order to counteract the injury caused, or that may be caused, to domestic production by the granting of export subsidies on the part of the exporting country. 


The deliberate breeding of two different individuals which results in offspring that both carry a portion of genetic material of the parent individuals. In coffee, the parent individuals may be from varieties and species that are closely related or from different species.

Cultivar / Cultivated variety

A particular variety of a plant species or hybrid that is being selectively cultivated by humans to retain particular characteristics. When propagated with the appropriate methods, a cultivar will tend to retain these traits. Most varieties are true to type, meaning the seedlings grown from a variety will have the same unique characteristic of the parent plant, whereas cultivars are not necessarily true to type. To propagate true-to-type clones, many cultivars must be propagated vegetatively through cuttings, grafting, and even tissue culture. Propagation by seed can produce something different to the parent plant.


A procedure used by professional tasters to perform sensory evaluation of samples of coffee beans. The beans are ground, water is poured over the grounds, and the liquid is smelt and tasted both hot and as it cools. The key evaluation characteristics of the coffee are Aroma, Acidity, Body, and Flavour.

Current crop

Coffee that’s been harvested during the current crop cycle. For example, if coffee were harvested in September 2013 in an area with one harvest per year, it would be considered current crop until September 2014. Any coffee that is from a previous harvest year is referred to as ‘old crop’ or ‘past crop’.


Container Yard. See CY/CY for its use in context. It is important to know the difference between this and CFS.


Container Freight Station. See CFS/CFS for its use in context. It is important to know the difference between this and CY.

CY/CY (CY to CY) Container Service

This is considered "door to door" service. The container is packed at the shipper's location (factory) and sometimes at the actual freight forwarder's location, depending on your agreement. The shipper in is the consignor and you are the consignee. The same container, not having been unpacked or modified in any way during the voyage, will be delivered to your final destination. Naturally this is the most expensive, but least hassle service.

CY/CFS (CY to CFS) Container Service

This is considered "door to port" service. Just like CY to CY, your container is packed at the shipper's location and sometimes at the actual freight forwarder's location, depending on your agreement. However, at the destination side, your container is emptied at the carrier's container freight station. It is your responsibility as the consignee to take this loose cargo and move it from the destination port to your final location, whether that be a warehouse, distribution center, retail location, etc.

CFS/CY (CFS to CY) Container Service

This is considered "port to door" service. You would use this service if your factory will deliver loose cargo, or cargo in a container that is not the final shipping container to the port. Your freight forwarder will then pack the goods into the shipping container. At the destination side, your cargo will be delivered in that container to your final location.

CFS/CFS (CFS to CFS) Container Service

This is considered "port to port" service. In this case, cargo will be delivered loose to the shipping port, packed into the container by the freight forwarder, and unpacked at the destination port. The consignee (you) are responsible for arranging pickup of the cargo at the destination port and moving it to your final location.


The procedure of removing fruit pulp (mucilage) from freshly picked coffee beans. Mechanical demucilaging is gradually replacing the traditional 'wet processing' procedure of removing mucilage by fermentation and washing.

Density sorting

A process whereby coffee is sorted by density of the coffee bean. A densimetric table can be used, where coffee is passed over a tilted table at an angle and separated into three or more densities. The table vibrates and the dense coffee beans travel to the highest side of the table. The coffee beans that are lower in density go to the lower side of the table.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid)

A biological molecule that carries the genetic material and instructions used in the development and functioning of all living organisms.

Domestic crop purchase requirement

Legal requirement imposed on importers of agricultural products by which a tariff exoneration or preference is determined on the purchase of domestic crops.

DP / Double picked

Coffee that has been handpicked twice to remove imperfect beans, stones, and other foreign matter. 

Drying beds

See Drying tables

Dry processed / Dry method

See Natural Coffee

Drying tables

Raised drying beds that are often made from wood and mesh screens, and used to dry coffee. The coffee is spread thinly and air is allowed to pass on all sides of the coffee. Most coffee from Africa is dried this way(drying tables are also called African drying beds) but the method is gaining popularity globally, particularly with specialty coffee producers. 


A protein that accelerates a specific chemical reaction in a living organism.


Estimated time of arrival.

Ethiopian wild varieties

Arabica genotypes that are not cultivated for commercial purposes but are grown in the wild around regions of Ethiopia. Some have been collected and maintained in official collections in the Jimma, Harrar and Sidama regions. These plants are an important source of genetic diversity for Arabica coffee, and important for future breeding programs.

Ethyl acetate

An organic compound used in the decaffeination process to remove caffeine from coffee beans. It can be used as a solvent in both the direct and indirect methods of decaffeination. 


A grade of Colombian coffee of screen size 15-16. 

Fair trade

In general, this can refer to the organised social movement with a goal of helping producers achieve better trading conditions and promote sustainability. Alternatively, ‘fair trade’ can refer to certified fair trade goods that meet certain criteria under fair trade labeling organisation standards, e.g. minimum prices, labour standards, and environmental sustainability.

FCA / Free carrier

A trade term that requires the seller to deliver goods to a place where the carrier operates. The term ‘free’ means the seller has an obligation to deliver goods to a named place for transfer to a carrier.

FCL / Full container load 

A term used in ocean freight for a full 40-foot container. 


This has two main meanings in coffee. 1) As part of the wet method of coffee processing, fermentation is a stage in which the mucilage is loosened from the coffee beans while the beans rest in tanks. If water is added to the tanks the process is called wet fermentation; if no water is added it is called dry fermentation. 2) In cupping coffee, "fermentation" describes a range of taste defects apparent if the sugars in the coffee fruit begin to ferment during processing. These can range from sweet, rotten-fruit tastes to vinegar-like aroma and flavour.

First Filial (F1) Generation

F1 stands for Filial 1 hybrid. It’s a term used for the first generation of seeds and plants offspring resulted from cross mating of distinctly different parental types. The term is used by many breeders in the coffee industry to refer to crosses between established cultivated varieties and landraces/traditional varieties from Ethiopia.


An impression in the mouth. How something tastes. 

Flavour wheel

A chart built by the SCAA and then revised by World Coffee Research as a tool for coffee tasting. It was adapted from the wine industry and has been useful in building a common lexicon around coffee descriptors.


A coffee bean that has been damaged and floats during wet-processing. The coffee cherries that are damaged float when placed in a large bath of water and/or when transported down a channel in water, whereas the good cherries sink. The damaged cherries float because they could be hollow, undeveloped, under-developed, damaged by the coffee berry borer or other pests. Floaters are also known as quakers.  

Fly crop

A harvest during the production cycle that is not the main harvest.

FOB / Free on Board. A trade term meaning the seller is responsible for getting the goods to the shipping point and the buyer is responsible for freight costs and any shipping liability.

FOT / Free on Truck / Train

A pricing term indicating that the seller will put the goods on a train or truck at a named loading point without any extra charge.


Fair Trade Organisations. This recognises organisations that are fair trade as opposed to individual products.

GAP / Good agricultural practice

Specific methods which when applied to agriculture, create food for consumers or further processing that is safe. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) uses GAP as principles to apply to production and processing in agriculture that take into account economic, social and environmental sustainability.

GCA / Green coffee association

Established in 1923 in the US, this trade association provides resources for individuals and companies dealing with the export, transport, storage, insuring, financing, importing, trading and/or roasting of green coffee.

Genetic diversity

The variety of genes within a species. With genetic diversity, it is likely that some individuals in a population will possess variations of alleles that are better suited for the new environment. Those individuals are more likely to survive to produce offspring bearing that allele.

Genetic drift

A mechanism of evolution referring to the statistical drift over time of gene frequencies in a population due to random fluctuations in the formation of successive generations.  

Genetic markers

A DNA sequence with known location on chromosomes, which can be associated with specific traits and used to identify individuals or species. Scientists measure the amount of diversity between organisms using the placement of and the distance between these markers. 

Genetic selection

When an organism is exposed to an environmental condition in which it can only survive if it carries a specific gene or genetic element. This gives rise to a selection of a population based upon that genetic advantage. 

Genetic variation

The variation in genes between populations, species, or larger units, such as ecosystems and other geographic and political boundaries. 


An organism’s complete set of genes or genetic material. It is the set of chromosomes in a gamete or each cell of a multicellular organism. 

Genotype frequency

The number of a specific genotype in a population. 

Gesha / Geisha

A rare Ethiopian variety of Coffea Arabica named after a town in western Ethiopia, Gesha, where is its thought to have originated.  It is sought after by coffee connoisseurs for its unique cup profile and highly complex and intense flavour profile. Originally brought from Ethiopia to Costa Rica, Gesha then made its way to Panama where it was made famous by the Paterson Family of Hacienda Esmeralda. The trees of the Gesha are tall and have elongated leaves. The cherries and beans are also more elongated than other varieties and top quality Gesha is mainly achieved at high elevations. 

Green coffee

Unroasted coffee.

Growing coffee seeds in nursery beds

Once pre-germinated the coffee seedlings are planted in nursery beds which contain rotted cattle manure and phosphate fertilizer. Nursery beds should be built 1 meter wide and 50cm deep with seedlings spaced between 12-15cm, or 20cm apart for 30-40cm tall plants. The nursery beds are 50% shaded for the first couple of months, then slowly reduced, and completely removed for the last two months just before the seedlings are planted out.

Growing coffee seeds in polybags

Polybags are commonly used for propagation by filling with a mixture of topsoil, rotted cattle manure, course sand, gravel, coffee pulp and coffee husks. Another popular mixture of three parts top soil to one part course sand and one part cattle manure is also often used. 

Hand sorting

Hand sorting is a final process that’s usually done at the mill before the coffee is bagged and labeled for export. Hand sorting removes any defective, small, discolored and/or or broken beans that weren’t caught by the color sorter. Hand sorting the coffee beans is a crucial step for controlling the quality of the final cup.


Arabica coffees grown at altitudes over 3,000 feet and higher. These coffees are generally superior to coffees grown at lower altitudes. 

Homologous chromosomes

A pair of chromosomes that contain both a paternal and maternal copy, one from each parent.  These copies have the same genes in the same loci as one another. This allows the chromosomes to pair correctly before separating during mitosis.


A honey-like sweetness in the final cup is a positive flavour.  Honey can also sometimes refer to a pulp natural coffee, Miel. 


A step at the dry mill when the green bean is removed from its parchment shell.


The process of forming a hybrid is created by cross-pollination of plants of different types. A genetic hybrid carries two different alleles of the same gene. 

ICO / International Coffee Organization

This organisation was initiated in collaboration with the United Nations in 1963. It was designed to enhance the cooperation between the nations that consume, distribute and produce coffee.

Import Licensing

Administrative procedures that require the presentation of an application or other documentation (other than those required for purposes of customs) to the appropriate administrative organ as a prior condition for the import of goods (It refers here to the Colombian Licencias Previas.) 


Repeated cross-pollination, mating or self-fertilisation between closely related organisms. 

ISO / International Organisation for Standardisation. 

This organisation was founded in 1947 to promote worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial standards. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, it is run by an international standard body which is made up of representatives from various national standard organisations.


A local variety of a cultivated plant species which has had the chance to develop largely by natural processes by adapting to the natural environment in which it lives. This results in the species being named from the geographic region they are confined to.

L/C / Letter of credit 

A document issued by a financial institution assuring that a seller will receive payment up to the amount of the letter of credit, as long as certain documentary delivery conditions have been met.  

Level of tariff restitution

Maximum percentage or amount to which a tariff can be increased as a consequence of the imposition of a quantity or price safeguard measure, after having being reduced by virtue of a tariff reduction or elimination program.


Lots can be created to distinguish one area of a farm, hill side, a days’ pickings, or even a processing method. By using lot numbers we can differentiate between coffees so that we can have a greater understanding of a farm and coffees. 

Maragogype / Maragogipe

A mutant of Typica first detected in Brazil in 1870. Its characteristics are large cherries, long slightly twisted seeds, long internodes, large leaves and a relatively lower yield. Also known as the Elephant bean, this variety of Arabica is distinguished by extremely large beans. It first came about in Brazil and has since been planted in Mexico and Central America. 

Machine drying

Coffee must be dried, either directly after picking (in the dry method) or after fruit removal (in the wet method). Sun drying is often replaced or supplemented by drying with machines, either in large rotating drums or in cascading silos. Machine drying can be superior or inferior to sun drying in terms of promoting cup quality, depending on weather conditions, drying temperature, and other factors.

Maillard reaction

This chemical reaction that happens between amino acid and reducing sugars that gives food their brown colouring. A French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard first described it in 1912 while producing a biological protein synthesis. 

Mature coffee

Coffee held in warehouses for two to three years. Mature coffee has been held longer than old crop coffee, but not as long as aged or vintage coffee.

Mechanical de-mucilaging

Also known as aquapulp, this variation of the wet method is a short cut approach which removes the sticky fruit residue from the beans by machine scrubbing rather than by fermenting and washing. This method cuts down on water use and pollution, but by eliminating the fermentation step the taste palate of the coffee is limited. 


This term is used to describe not only a small volume of coffee, but also a lot that has been produced separately, or even processed to have a special character. 


Mechanical removal of the dry parchment skin from wet-processed coffee beans, or the entire dried fruit husk from dry-processed beans.

Model plant

A plant species used as a study example to understand particular biological phenomena, with the understanding that the discoveries made in the plant model will provide insight into the workings of other organisms. 

Mocha / Mokka

It’s thought that this was named after the Port of Mocha in Yemen where it was once grown. Later brought to Reunion Island (Bourbon), with its dwarf stature and similarity to Bourbon, it is thought to be a dwarf mutation of Bourbon.


The structure of an organism or its parts, which includes aspects of the outward appearance such as structure, shape, colour or pattern, also the form and structure of the internal parts like cells. 


Unroasted coffee can develop mould at many stages in its processing.  Dry processed coffees are particularly susceptible.  Mouldy is also a word used when describing the flavour of ‘musty’ coffees during cupping.


The ‘fruity layer’ of the coffee cherry between the outer skin and the parchment layer around the seed.


A change of sequences in one or more nucleotides in DNA at a particular locus in an organism. These changes can alter organisms’ traits to have a better or lesser chance of surviving, as well as reproducing relative to other members of its species. 

Natural process / Dry processed / Dry method

Coffee that’s been processed by removing the fruit after it has been dried (i.e. the cherries are dried intact with the coffee beans inside). The coffee cherry and mucilage impact the flavour profile of the bean through the sugars and alcohols present in the fruit. When drying is complete dry processed coffee can be complex, fruity, and deeply-dimensioned. However, the cup profiles of naturally processed coffees can be inconsistent. This method is the original manner in which coffee was processed, and is in contrast to the wet processed/washed method. The best and most celebrated natural coffees are Yemen coffees, the Harrar coffees of Ethiopia, and the finest traditional Brazil coffees.

Natural selection

Survival and reproduction in nature that favours individuals that are better adapted to their environment. This leads to elimination of the lesser fit organisms. 


All Arabica coffee varietals are susceptible to nematodes, which are among the most harmful coffee diseases and pests. Some of the most common species of the root-known coffee nematodes are: Meloidogyne exigua, M. incognita, M. coffeicola, Pratylenchus brachyurus and P. coffeae.

New crop

Coffee delivered for roasting soon after harvesting and processing. Coffees are at their brightest (or rawest) and most acidy in this state. Also see Old Crop.


Non-governmental organization.

Old arabicas

Botanical varieties or cultivars of the Coffea arabica species that were developed by selection relatively early in the history of coffee, such as var. bourbon and var. typica, as opposed to hybrid varieties that have been developed more recently in deliberate efforts to increase disease resistance and production. Many experts contend that the modern varieties of Coffea arabica produce coffee that is inferior in cup quality and interest to the coffee produced by the more traditional old arabica varieties.

Old crop

Coffee that has been held in warehouses before shipping. Old crop differs from aged or vintage and mature coffees in two ways: First, it has not been held for as long a period, and second, it may not have been handled with as much deliberateness. Depending on the characteristics of the original coffee and the quality of the handling, old crop may or may not be considered superior in cup characteristics to a new crop version of the same coffee. See also New Crop.

Organic coffee / Certified organic coffee

Coffee that has been certified by a third-party agency as having been grown and processed without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or similar chemicals.


This one’s a cross between Maragogype and Pacas which was developed in El Salvador. Released in 1984 but genetically unstable with up to 12% of all plants reverting to Pacas. Known to be susceptible to all main diseases and pests.


Projections that are mushroom-like on the tongue that contain tastebuds. These perceive the basic flavours, salt, sweet, bitter and sour, as well as textures. 

In parchment / En pergamino

Describes wet-processed or washed coffee with the dried parchment skin still adhering to the bean. The parchment is removed prior to shipping and roasting, in a step called milling.

Parchment / Pergamino

A final thin, crumbly skin covering wet-processed coffee beans after the coffee berries have been skinned, the pulp removed, and the beans dried.

Past crop

See old crop.

Patio drying

Drying coffee directly after picking (in the dry-processed method), or after fruit removal (in the wet-processed method), by exposing it to the heat of the sun by spreading and raking in thin layers on open patios. A more traditional alternative to machine drying.

Peaberry / Caracol

A small, round bean formed when only one seed, rather than the usual two, develops at the heart of the coffee fruit. Peaberry beans are often separated from normal beans and sold as a distinct grade of a given coffee. We cannot define with certainty any broad flavour characteristics that are different in all peaberry coffees versus their fully-formed siblings.


A defect in coffee that presents itself as a pungent bitterness, with some similarities in aroma to turpentine. 


An observable trait that manifest from an organism’s genotype. 

Phenotypic plasticity

When a single genotype has the capacity to exhibit variable phenotypes when it’s exposed to many different environments or conditions. 


Organisms that contain more than two haploid sets of chromosomes. Their chromosome number is a multiple greater than the content of diploid cells.  Also known as a heritable condition and quite common among plants. 


An optional procedure at the end of coffee processing and milling in which the dried, shipment-ready beans are subjected to polishing by friction to remove the innermost, or silverskin, to improve their appearance. Polishing does nothing to help flavour and may even hurt it by heating the beans, hence most specialty coffee buyers do not encourage the practice.


A group of organisms that are of the same species living within a restricted geographical area so that any member can potentially mate with any other member.

Potato defect

The name for a cup taint characterised by a very strong smell of raw potato, most clearly detected when assessing the fragrance of dry ground coffee. Most commonly found in Rwanda and Burundi, this taint or defect is caused by bacteria. 

Preferential clause

Regulation in an agreement by which a country or group of countries concede special treatment to another country or group of countries. 

Price or quantity safeguard

A measure that may be imposed to temporarily protect domestic production of a certain good from imports: These measures may be triggered by a change in price or quantity. They may have the nature of a tariff or be of a quantitative type.

Price safeguard trigger level

Price of a good at which any further decrease permits the application of a safeguard measure. 


A broad term capturing the transitional processes that take coffee cherries through to green beans.


Price to be fixed


Process of removing the outermost skin of the coffee cherry or fruit.  See Wet-Processed Coffee.

Pulped natural

This is a processing method that consists of pulping a coffee but emitting the fermentation stage to remove the silverskin. This results in a beverage that is often sweeter than wet-processed coffees, but also has some of the body of a dry-processed coffee. This style of processing can only occur in countries where the humidity is low, so that the coffee covered in the sweet mucilage can be dried rapidly without fermenting. Brazil produces some of the best pulped natural coffees in the world and have made this processing method famous. 

Pure line

A line of plants that have been selected and are bred, then evaluated over time until a uniformed breed is established. The lines are relatively similar genetically and can be planted from seed with the assurance that they will grow to have a specific set of traits. 

Quantity safeguard trigger level

Volume of imports of a good at which any further increase permits the application of a safeguard measure. 


Quota or quantity of imports, in units or in value, that is subject to some kind of special treatment, normally with regard to tariffs. 


This describes the relationship between different variants of a gene. If the alleles are different the dominant allele will be expressed, while the expression of the other recessive allele is masked.


Also known as raisins, these coffee cherries are floaters and are usually discarded with the rest of the floaters.  The cherries float because they have dried for too long on the tree before being collected, allowing the bean to interact with the mucilage for a longer amount of time. They are removed from the rest of the floaters using a barrel system developed by Eduardo Sampio in Brazil, then are re-passed and pulped after which they can either be washed or used as pulped naturals. The availability of re-passed coffees are very limited since it is mainly experimental at this time. 

Rust fungus

This disease kills the fruit production and then the plant. It’s also known as La Roya in South America. 

Self-contained negotiation

Negotiation characterised by an equivalence of concessions. 

Short-cycle crops

Crops with a production cycle of less than a year. 

Semi-dry processed / Pulped natural / Semi-wet processed

Coffee prepared by removing the outer skin of the coffee fruit (a process called pulping) and drying the skinned coffee with the sticky mucilage and the inner skins (parchment and silverskin) still adhering to the bean. This processing method, situated between the dry method and the wet method, has no consensus name. It is one of three processing methods practiced in Brazil, and is used sporadically on a small scale by farmers in Sumatra and Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Shade grown

Describes coffee grown under a shade canopy.


The thin, innermost skin of the coffee fruit. It clings to the dried coffee beans until it is removed, either by polishing or floats free during roasting and becomes what roasters call chaff.


These are coffees produced by a single farm, single mill, or single group of farms, and marketed without mixture with other coffees. Many specialty coffees are now identified by estate name, rather than the less specific regional or market name.

Single-origin coffee

Unblended coffee from a single country, region, and crop.


This tall variety was selected from Bourbon by Scott Labs in Kenya.  Reported to be an Ethiopian variety that was selected in Tanzania for its relative drought tolerance, its exact parentage isn’t widely known. However, it is considered by many to be a Bourbon-type variety. Producing a moderate yield while being susceptible to most main diseases and pests, it is known for its good cup quality’. It is most widely grown in Zimbabwe.


Another tall variety also selected from Bourbon by Scott Labs in Kenya. It is not widely known what its exact parentage is, but it’s said that it was a simple Ethiopian selection, while others say that it is a mutation of Bourbon. Its known to be heartier and more resistant than SL28, and also shows higher productivity in drought and other extreme climate conditions. Known to have a lower cup quality than SL28 it is also one of the main varieties of Kenya.

Solar coffee dryers

This is a new method of drying coffee. More efficient than the patio drying technique due to their hotter drying temperatures, coffee beans dry at a faster rate. While solar coffee dryers have great potential for saving energy, they are yet to be widely used. 

Sour bean

A physical coffee bean defect due to excess fermentation where bacteria or mould attacked the seed. 


A species that consists of individuals, which have the ability to breed with each other resulting in producing a viable offspring. 

Specific tariff

A fixed charge per unit of product imported. 


The coffee beans are pulled from the tree and fall to the ground where they land on sheets. The beans are separated from the tree debris by tossing everything into the air, allowing the wind to carry away sticks and leaves, leaving only the beans.


An organism of cell that contains four sets of chromosomes.

Traditional / Wild variety / Landrace

A local variety of a cultivated plant species, which has developed by naturally adapting to the environment in which it lives.


A physical or behavioural characteristic of an organism determined by DNA, that is measurable. 


Organisms that have been altered by introducing DNA sequences from another species by artificial means. 

Transition period

Duration of the period of tariff elimination for a product within the framework of a free trade agreement: If the term refers to the FTA as a whole, this will be the duration of the longest tariff elimination period of the Agreement.


This word has two meanings when referring to coffee. Firstly, transparency is a flavour character that’s identified with clarity, while secondly, it is a business ethics term, which implies that as much information as possible about a coffee is made available to the consumer.


This is a general name commonly used for tall varieties. Its predecessors were originally brought to Java from either Yemen or India via Yemen, and the plants most similar to what we today call Java were spread from Java in the early 1700’s. They produce cherries and beans that are large with bronze-tipped young leaves, and are known to have quite low productivity as well as being susceptible to all main pests and diseases. In Latin America typical varieties include Blue Mountain, Guatemala, Sumatra, Pache, Java and Kona Coffee. 


When referring to roasting coffee, this term is associated with a roast that is to light. 


A term used by plant breeders and in legal texts. It’s synonymous with cultivar and can have legal implications. 

Variegated coffee bug

This is a common name that along with Antestia refers to a genus of shield bug, Antestiopsis.  Antestia is also the name of the coffee bean defect that is caused by Antestiopsis. 

The result of an Antestia infestation ranges from the coffee bean becoming slightly discoloured, to almost entirely black and shriveled up, with the beans gaining a distinctive 'potato taste', which is thought to be caused indirectly by bacteria entering through wounds created by the insects, leading to an increase in the concentration of isopropyl methoxy pyrazine.

Washed coffee
A relatively new method of removing the four layers surrounding the coffee bean. The flavours that result from this method are cleaner, brighter and fruitier.  Most countries with coffee valued for its perceived acidity will process their coffee using this process.

Washing station
In some East African countries a wet mill is called a washing station. 

Wet Mill

This is the first stage of the transformation process from coffee cherries to dried green coffee. The wet mill utilises water to process and transport the coffee. Happily, the newer wet mills use a lot less water which is better for the environment.

Back from whence you came.

Wet-Processed Coffee
See Washed Coffee

Yellow Bourbon
This is a sub-type where the fruit ripens to a yellow colour. It’s mainly found in Brazil where it was first grown.