Glossary beginning with A

Click one of the letters above to go to the page of all terms beginning with that letter.



Ethiopia was formerly known as Abyssinia, or this term may refer a coffee cultivar. Abyssinia is also a cultivar brought to Java in 1928 (not the original Typica brought from Yemen to Batavia, Java via India). Since then, they have been brought to Aceh as well. Another group of Ethiopian varieties found in Sumatra are called USDA, after an American project that brought them to Indonesia in the 1950s.


Acaia is planted mainly in Brazil. The Acaia genotype was derived by selection from progenies of the Mundo Novo germplasm, which arose from natural hybridization between Sumatra and Bourbon cultivars. ("Sumatra" is in the former ICO collections, but if it is a older Typica or a hybrid is unknown)


Aceh District is north of North Sumatra and produces some very classic Sumatra coffees. The center of coffee in Aceh is Lake Tawar and Takengon, the city by the lake. It often looks like a mispelling of "Ache" but is pronounced "Ah-Chay". Gayo is a name used in relation of Aceh since it is one of the main ethnic groups of the region.


Acerbic refers to an unpleasant sourness in the coffee. It can refer to problems with fermentation, the presence of defect "sours" in the green coffee. It can also be a brewing problem, or more specifically, the bitter sourness of coffee held too long at temperature.

Acetic Acid

Acetic acid can lead to vinegar-like flavors in over-mature coffees, or bitterness in high quantities. But in moderate amounts it adds a positive winey note to the cup. Acetic acid classifies as an organic acid, and is one that can be detected by smell.


Many acids contribute to coffee flavor; malic, citric, quinic, tartaric, phosphoric, etc. See ACIDITY or specific acids. While acids in coffee sounds like a bad term, and one that leads to stomach discomfort our sourness, this is not usually true. Drinking coffee with no food in the digestive system can lead to discomfort since coffees have enough oils to trigger digestive acids. Eat before or while taking morning coffee.


A general negative flavor term, from defect bean, bad roast, or bad brewing: Unpleasantly sharp, astringent or bitter to the taste or smell.

After-dinner Roast

An after-dinner roast, or after dinner roast, or after dinner blend, is intended to compliment after-dinner desserts. A typical after dinner coffee is dark roasted and has low acidity. Okay, this is a joke entry... but we saw it in a list of coffee flavor terms and had to add it. -Tom


Commonly used in reference to wine, afternose compliments aftertaste, but refers to residual olfactory sensations after the coffee has left the palate.


Agtron spectrophotometers are used in the coffee industry and also in other lab applications for color matching, color analysis, sorting, and other scientific measurements.


Along with Ketones, Aldehydes are an important factor in coffee aromatics, partially formed in roasting by the interaction of fatty acids and oxygen. They are partially formed by the Strecker Degradation of amino acids in the coffee roast environment.

Alfred Peet

The founder of Peet's Coffee in Berkeley California, Alfred was known for reintroducing a dark roast style to the West Coast. For some time, the logic of light roasting had to do with economics: the longer you roast the more weight you lose, hence the less product you have to sell by the Lb. His dark roast style was contrary to this, and Peets was known for buying higher quality coffee. He sold Peets in 1979 but continued to buy green coffee until 1983. He passed away in August 2007.


A taste sensation characterized by a dryness and related bittering flavors, sometimes at the posterior of the tongue, usually sensed in the aftertaste. It is not always a wholly a bad thing, in moderate intensities

Ambient Temperature

This term is used to describe the overall temperature in a given environment. It can potentially affect the way home roasters operate depending on how extreme the temperature is. A very cold ambient temperature will require the roaster to work harder to achieve proper roasting temperatures which may extend the amount of time necessary to reach desired roast levels. In some cases, roasters will not be able to operate in extremely cold environments.


Anise is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and southwest Asia known for its flavor that resembles liquorice, fennel, and tarragon. Anise seed is highly aromatic and has a flavor similar to fennel and licorice, used to flavor various foods and liquors


An interspecific hybrid of coffea arabica and coffea canephora (robusta). This has been used widely in Africa to create coffee plants that do well in lowland areas, especially West Africa. It is not known for cup quality.


The name of a cultivar from Tanzania, as well as a general trade name for Tanzania coffees from Mount Meru area


The term in Bahasa Indonesian for green coffee that is hulled, dried, and ready to sell to an exporter. Used in North Sumatra and the Aceh coffee regions. Easy to misread as Aslan, the friendly lion, just as Aceh is so easy to read as Ache.


A quality in aroma or flavor similar to that of an ashtray, the odor of smokers' fingers or the smell one gets when cleaning out a fireplace. In the most moderate amount, it may not ruin a cup, but is never used by Sweet Maria's as a positive quality. Ashy flavors can hint at roasting defects, anything from smokey unclean air being recycled through a roasting drum (or a roaster that doesn't vent, like a barbeque drum roaster set-up). Softer, lower-grown coffees will show ashy tastes before high-grown, dense coffees, given the same roast treatment


Astringency is a harsh flavor sensation, acrid flavor, that provokes a strong reaction. It can have dryness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness as components. It is certainly the opposite of sweetness and cleanness in coffee, always a defect flavor.


Ateng, with several sub types, is a common name for Catimor coffees widely planted in Sumatra and other Indonesia isles. One will hear of Ateng Jaluk. This cross between Arabica and Robusta has a reputation for poor flavor. However, there are numerous types of Catimor and in some conditions they can do well in the cup. Ateng name derives from the area Aceh Tenggah