Sweet Maria's Glossary

Sensory Analysis

Sensory Analysis is a broader term for all qualitative evaluation of food and beverage. In coffee, a better term for what we call cupping.

Shade Grown

An ambiguous term used to describe coffee grown under shade.


The name of a town and zone near Lintong and Lake Toba, as well as a Typica cultivar


A mouthfeel description indicating a delicate, light, elegant softness and smoothness.


On dried green bean coffee, the thin inner-parchment layer that clings to the bean and lines the crease on the flat side.

Single Origin

Single Origin refers to coffee from one location, in contrast to blended coffee.


A defect term related to improper roasting; tipping or scorching of coffee.


Scot Labs selection 28 Kenya cultivar, a preferred type with Bourbon and Mokka heritage.


Scott Labs selection 34 Kenya cultivar, a preferred type with French Mission Bourbon heritage.


Our shorthand for Sweet Maria's.


Usually a defect of roasting, or of green coffee processing, smokey notes are sometimes found as a positive flavor in a few exotic coffees.

SO Espresso

Short for Single Origin espresso.


Soft is a postive flavor term, used in particular in the Brazil grading system


Coffee is sorted by size, density, and color in its preparation for export.


Sour is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter.

Sour Bean

A physical coffee bean defect due to excess fermentation where bacteria or mold attack the seed.

South American Coffee

South American coffee varies widely from country to country, from chocolately natural or semi-washed Brazils to wet-processed Colombia, Organic Peru coffees to high grown Bolivia.


Sparkles are often found in bright coffees. Hint: if you look at the cup of coffee and it winks at you, it has sparkles.

Specialty Coffee

A word that implies higher level of green coffee quality than average industrial coffee or commercial coffee


A reference to the mouthfeel of a coffee when it leaves a tactile impression of sponges


Green, unroasted coffee and roasted coffee have very different storage needs and shelf lives. See definitions for Green Coffee Storage and Roasted Coffee Storage.


A dried hay-like character due to age of the green coffee and the corresponding loss of organic material storage.

Strecker Degradation

An important roast reaction related to the Maillard reaction. The Strecker Degradation is an interaction of amino acids with a carbonyl compound in an environment with water, creating CO2 and an Aldehyde or Ketone.

Strictly Hard Bean

a Costa Rican classification indicating the coffee was grown at an altitude above 1200 feet/4000 meters

Strictly High Grown

a classification indicating the coffee was grown at an altitude above 1200 feet/4000 meters

Strictly Soft

The highest rating in the Brazil Grading scale, based on cupping.


Can mean a number of things - it can be an earthy or pungent coffee or a coffee brewed in a more concentrated way.


Structure is an esoteric term, characterizing the relation between flavors, acids, mouthfeel and aftertaste as well-defined and comprehensive.


Sucrose is important to the taste of sweetness in light roast coffees, as it is completely converted or destroyed in darker roasts.


Sulawesi coffees are low-acid with great body and that deep, brooding cup profile akin to Sumatra. The coffee is sometimes known as Celebes, which was the Dutch colonial name for the island.


Indonesians are available as a unique semi-washed process and (rarely) fully-washed coffees. Semi-washed coffees are best described as wet-hulled, localy called Giling Basah, and will have more body and often more of the character that makes Indonesians so appealing and slightly funky.


Usually a taste defect, reminiscent of the smell of flavor of sweat, sometimes considered mildly positive.


Sweetness is an important positive quality in fine coffees, and is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter

SwissGold Filter

A brand of reusable metal filter for drip coffee brewing.


Swiss Water Process; a water filtration decaf method.


A handheld instrument for compacting (tamping) ground coffee for espresso into a portafilter basket.


Compacting coffee grounds for espresso into a portafilter basket.


An adjective modifying a flavor descriptor, decribing a sharp effect; tangy citrus, tangy bittersweet flavor, tangy green apple.


Having the bitterness or astringency of Tannins. Tannins are plant polyphenols found across the flora kingdom.


Tanzania coffee in terms of character belongs to the Central/East African family of washed (wet-processed) coffees, bright (acidy), and mostly aggressively flavorful of which Kenya is certainly the dominant coffee.


A dark roast-related flavor of pungent, intense bittering roast flavor, reminicent of the smell of tar.


The french word for cup.


A term used to describe coffees with light, astringent body and potent aromatics.


An electric drip brewer for the home that is known for it's good design, and good results


A Bourbon-type variant from El Salvador.


The name in Amharic for Rue, used as an herbal additive to coffee.


Timor has 2 major regions producing coffee: Maubesse is higher-altitude terrain than Aifu region.


Tipping refers to a roast error that can be discerned by inspecting the roasted coffee, where the ends of the elongated bean appear burnt. It can easily be tasted in the cup too; burnt or smoke flavors, or a lack of sweetness.


Transparency is a flavor characterization synonymous with clarity, or a business ethics term, implying that as much information as possible about a coffee is made available to the consumer.

Tree-dry Natural

This name designates a particular type of dry process coffee where the fruit dries partially or entirely while still on the tree branch.


Trigonelline is a bittering compound that is reduced as the roast gets progressively darker


Turbinado sugar is a special type of unrefined sugar with a particular flavor, mildly rustic

Turkish Coffee

A strong perparation of coffee, finely ground, and often prepared in an Ibrik


Along with Bourbon, one of the main cultivars of Coffea Arabica, with less production per tree but good cup quality.


While Arabica was introduced at the beginning of the 1900's, Robusta coffee is indigenous to the country, and has been a part of Ugandan life for centuries.


Umami is a Japanese word that has been adopted to indicate savory flavor and scent, and is considered by some as the 5th core flavor along with sour, salty, sweet, and bitter.


A general negative description of dirty or hard flavors in a coffee that should have none.


Under-developed refers to roast problems, usually too-light roasts.


The United States Department of Agriculture, also an Indonesian cultivar

Vacuum Brewer

A vacuum brewer works by heating water, pushing it into a chamber with coffee grounds, and then sucking the water back. Vacuum brewers produce a clean, aromatic cup.

Vacuum Packaging

Sealing coffee in an air-tight container, with the air removed via vacuum. Green coffee and roasted coffee can both be vacuum packed to extend shelf life.


Varietal is a term popular in wine to indicate a particular plant type that results in distinct flavors. We generally use the similar term cultivar when referring to types of coffee.


A mouthfeel description indicating elegant softness, refined smoothness

Vienna Roast

Vienna roast occurs at the beginning of second crack. The Vienna stage is where you begin to find origin character eclipsed by roast character.


A defective flavor taint in coffee, resulting perhaps from poor processing, fermentation, sanitation.

Warming Spice

A term indicating a spice blend with ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, anise.

Washing Station

In Rwanda and some other East African countries, a wet mill is called a Washing Station.

Water Process

A decaffeination method where beans are soaked in hot water, the water is filtered to remove caffeine, and the beans are placed back in the water to absorb their flavor back.


Describing the good inter-relation of sensory characteristics. Also referred to as tightly knit to mean closely-paired flavors.

Wet Aroma

The smell of wet coffee grinds, after hot water is added.

Wet Hulled

Wet-hulled coffee is a hybrid process used in parts of Indonesia, especially Sumatra and much of Sulawesi. In wet hulling the coffee is processed as it is in the wet process used in many parts of the world, but the coffee is not allowed to fully dry. The parchment layer is removed when the coffee has 25-50% moisture content, whereas traditional wet-processing is hulled at 11%. Then the unprotected green bean is laid out to dry on the patio. In Bahasa language it is called Giling Basah. For more information Click here to read our article on wet hulling.

Wet Mill

The wet mill is a processing center where coffee cherry from the tree is brought for initial processing.

Wet Process

Wet-processing transforms the coffee cherry into a green coffee bean for roasting. In wet-processing, the coffee is pulped, floated in water, fermented, washed, and dried.


WIth some overlap for the term rustic, wild notes connote something foreign or exotic in a flavor profile, usually somewhat unclean.

Willem Boot

Willem is a coffee consultant and taster, with a skill for leading panels and writing coffee articles. His company is Boot Coffee.


A taste term to describe a wine-like flavor with a similar perceived acidity and fruit


Generally a taste defect from age; old green coffee, perhaps yellowing in color.


A defect term referring to honey flavor but a bad rustic, yeast-like flavor

Yellow Bourbon

A type of Bourbon coffee that ripens to a yellow color, not red, and named for the island in the India Ocean where French colonists grew it, that ripens to a yellow color.


Yemen has a coffee culture like no other place, and perhaps some of what we enjoy in this cup is due to their old style of trade...


Zacapa is the famous sweet and spicey rum of Guatemala


From the country formerly known as upper Rhodesia, now named for the Zambezi River, Zambian coffees range from Kenya-like brightness to subtle, balanced coffee with complexity, body and nuanced flavors.


A flavor or mouthfeel characteristic, hinting at a tingly, prickly, lively or piquant aspect.


Zimbabwe, formerly known as lower Rhodesia until independence in 1980, has produced great coffee since production was introduced in the 1960s.