Glossary beginning with B

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Backflushing is a process done to espresso machines to clean them: a filter basket with no holes (a "blank" basket) is inserted into the portafilter so that when the machine is activated, pressurized water cannot escape and is instead forced back into the machine to "flush" it. Often, backflushing is done with some type of coffee cleaning detergent in the basket.A typical backflushing protocol is to put coffee cleaner in the blank basket and backflush 5 times, then rinse the cleaner out and backflush 5 times without no cleaner.Note that not all machines can be backflushed.


Coffees that are held for too long run the risk of this taint. Essentially the coffee comes to absorb the flavors of whatever it is stored in - usually the burlap or jute bag. Many times a darker roast on these coffees will conceal this taint. Baggy flavors are the result of several factors: the fats in the coffee absorbing the smell of burlap, the loss in moisture content as the coffee ages, and other chemical changes. For some origins theses changes in flavor can emerge in 1 year, 9 months, even 6 months for some decafs


Baked flavor happens in under-roasted coffees haven't developed their character, or coffees that simply sat in the roaster too long without enough heat. It can also happen to scorched coffees where the outside of the bean is browned and the inside is under-roasted. Flavors are typically astringent, grain-like, sour, and body is thin and possibly gritty.


Balance is both an obvious and slippery taste term. It implies a harmony and proportion of qualities, and perhaps a mild character since no one quality dominates. Balance can exist between aromatics, flavors, textural sensations, and aftertaste, or between competing flavors. Bittersweet is a term that implies a balance of 2 basic sapid flavors.

Basic Flavors

"In the mouth" sensations derived from the basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, savory (umami). These are the core sensations that can be experienced without the input of the olfactory, through the papilla located in taste buds on the tongue.

Behmor Coffee Roaster

A drum roaster designed for home roasters, with variable batch sizes (from 1/4 pound to 1 pound) and a smoke-reduction system.


In Latin American countries, a wet mill is called a Beneficio, where fresh coffee cherries are brought for pulping, fermentation, and drying. In Rwanda and some other African countries it is a "washing station". In Kenya it is a "coffee factory".


Bergamot orange is used to scent Earl Grey tea, in perfumery and confection baking. It is the size of an orange, with a yellow color similar to a lemon, and has a pleasant fragrance. The juice tastes less sour than lemon, but more bitter than grapefruit. It is only grown commercially in Calabria Italy


Bergendal is found less and less frequently in Aceh, Sumatra. It is a low-producing plant of Typica origins. Much of the Typica was lost in the late 1880s, when Coffee Leaf Rust swept through Indonesia. However, both the Bergendal and Sidikalang varieties of Typica can still be found in More remote areas. It is possible the name derives from Berg und Tal, " hill and valley."


Bittersweet is from the language of chocolate, and describes the co-presence of positive bittering compounds balanced by sweetness. It is directly related to caramelization, but has inputs from other roast reactions, as well as bittering flavors such as trigonelline. Bittersweet is usually a roast flavor term, but is always specific to the green coffee too (good bittersweetness would not develop at any roast level in a coffee without the native compounds to engender it). Usually, bittersweetness of a coffee develops as the roast gets darker and eventually overpowers other flavors. It dark roasts, acidity is reduced, while the caramely taste of sugars form the stimulating bittersweetness.

Black Bean

A coffee bean whose interior is totally back (endosperm), due to fungi, mold, yeast, pest. This happens with over-mature coffee cherry where the bean falls to the ground and is attacked by the Colletotrichum coffeeeanum fungus, or other aforementioned problem. Overfermentation of mature cherries can also result in back beans due to mold and yeast attack. Full black beans score 1 full defect point in coffee grading (the worst type of defect). Black beans will resist roasting and have a very harsh, acrid flavor


Blackberry is found as a fragrance, aroma or flavor in some coffees. I find that it is less obvious at very light roast levels, such as City roast, and is more pronounced at City+ to Full City. It might be found in a wide range of origins, from Rwanda and Kenya, to Guatemala and Colombia. Mora is the blackberry found in Latin America, and is a slightly different plant than what we call blackberry in North America.

Blade Grinder

The standard home coffee grinder, which works by way of a high-speed rotating blade. Blade grinders are inexpensive, but this comes at the expense of accuracy: grounds from a blade grinder are substantially less even than those from a burr grinder. Still, they are durable and when paired with the right brew method (especially those that use paper filters) they are quite acceptable. Don't knock the blade mill! It keeps people grinding coffee fresh, right before brewing, which makes a huge difference in the coffee aromatics.

Blue Mountain Cultivar

A C. Arabica Var. Typica coffee that shares other features of Typica plants, but also shows some resistance to CBD: Coffee Berry Disease. It is said to be grown in Papua New Guinea but pure lots have not been found, and we buy a small lot of this cultivar from a plot in Kona, Hawaii each year.

Bottomless Portafilter

An espresso portafilter with the bottom machined off so the bottom of the filterbasket is exposed. Bottomless portafilters allow you to view distribution problems and channeling: if the flow is uneven across the bottom of the filterbasket, the distribution of grounds in the basket is uneven.


Bourbon, along with Typica, are main Coffea Arabica cultivars. Bourbon was developed by the French on the island of Bourbon, now Reunion, in the India Ocean near Africa. The seeds were sold to the French by the British East India Company from Aden, Yemen, and were planted in 1708. After generations, it began to express unique characteristics and became more robust. Bourbon has slightly higher yields and is more robust than Typica in general. It has a broader leaf and rounder cherry (and green bean) than Typica, a conical tree form, and erect branches. It has many local variants and sub-types, including Tekisic, Jackson, Arusha, and the Kenya SL types. In general, Bourbon can have excellent cup character. The cherry ripens quickly, but is at risk from wind and hard rain. It is susceptible to major coffee diseases. Bourbon grows best at altitudes between 1100 - 2000 MASL. Bourbon coffees should have green tips (new leaves) whereas Typicas should have bronze-to-copper tips.

Bourbon Mayaguez

A Bourbon cultivar variant from Rwanda and Burundi, from the early part of the 20th century. Bourbon coffees are named for the island in the India Ocean where French colonists grew it.

Brazil Coffee Grades

Brazil has it's own grading system for defects. There is a size and physical defect grade, as well as a flavor defect grade. The Brazil flavor grading rates coffee as Strictly Soft (the best), Soft, 'Soft-ish', Hard (+1, +2), Riado, Rioy, Rio Zona (the worst).


In coffee cupping, the "breaking of the crust" of floating grounds, part of aromatic evaluation. You add water to the coffee grounds, filling the cup, and wait 4 minutes. At this point there is still a crust of floating coffee grinds. You put your nose right above the cup and "break" this crust by stirring it with the spoon. The grinds sink, and the coffee can be tasted anywhere from 5-15 minutes after the break.

Brewed Coffee

Brewed Coffee refers to all coffee preparations produced by adding non-pressurized water to coffee grounds. Contrasted with espresso coffee, which is produced under pressure, brewed coffee is primarily an extraction, and contains a lower amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) and has thinner body.


A euphemistic term to describe acidity in coffee. A bright coffee has more high, acidic notes. Not to be confused with the brighter roast flavors of light roast levels, such as City to City+ roasts. Read more about acidity to understand its use as a flavor term, not in reference to the quantity of acidity in coffee.

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is a type of sweetness found in coffee ...a sweetness characterized by a hint of molasses, yet quite refined as well. Since Brown sugar of the common type is highly refined (made by recombining molasses with refined white sugar) it makes sense that it's qualities are only mildly rustic. One might distinguish between mild light brown sugar and dark brown types.

Burr Grinder

A coffee grinder that grinds by passing a flow of beans between a pair of rotating metal discs. The distance between the discs is adjustable, and this adjustment allows one to accurately set the size of the grind. The larger the diameter of the burrs, the faster the grinder is able to grind. Burr grinders can be either "conical" or "flat" burred, each with their own advantages. Ironically, both the cheapest and the most expensive espresso grinders have conical burrs, while mid-range burr grinders and commercial bulk coffee grinders have flat burrs.Grinders can also be divided into "doser" and "doser-less" models: a doser is a mechanism for dosing ground coffee into a portafilter for espresso. Doser models may be more convenient for espresso, but are more difficult to use when grinding coffee into a container for brewed coffee.