Coffee 101: Demystifying Coffee Terms

May 20


Niall Kennedy

Niall Kennedy

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Coffee has a language all its own. As a coffee lover, understanding these terms can elevate your appreciation of the humble bean, enhance your experience at the local coffee house, or help you get the most out of your new espresso maker. Here are some frequently used coffee terms explained in detail.


Automatic Coffee Machines

Auto Frother

A device that automatically froths milk for cappuccinos and lattes,Coffee 101: Demystifying Coffee Terms Articles making it easier to create café-quality beverages at home.

Automatic Drip Maker

A machine that heats water and filters it through coffee grounds automatically. This is the most common type of coffee maker in American households.

Automatic Espresso Machine

An espresso machine featuring controllable, programmable dosing, allowing for consistent and precise coffee extraction.

Bean to Cup

A fully automated process where machines grind the beans and brew the coffee, delivering a fresh cup with minimal effort.

Coffee Machine Components


The steam machine inside a coffee maker. Larger boilers are generally more powerful and produce more hot water for beverages.

Boiler Element

An electric element that heats the boiler in electric espresso makers.

Cup Warmer

A metal portion at the top of an espresso maker where cups are placed for warming, ensuring your coffee stays hot longer.

Drip Tray

The part of an espresso maker where the cup sits for filling. It catches any spills or drips during the brewing process.

Filter Basket

A metal filter where coffee grounds are placed for brewing. It ensures that only the brewed coffee passes through, leaving the grounds behind.


The portion of an espresso maker that brews coffee. It includes the group head, where the portafilter attaches.

Group Handle

The part of an espresso maker that holds the filter basket containing the ground coffee.

Heat Exchanger

A component that heats water for coffee without taking water from the boiler, allowing for simultaneous brewing and steaming.


The portion of a grinder that holds coffee beans before they are ground.

Knock-out Box

A container used to knock the used coffee grounds from the group handle, making cleanup easier.


A device that moves water through the coffee maker, essential for creating the pressure needed for espresso.

Steam Arm/Wand

A metal tube that delivers steam to froth milk, crucial for making lattes and cappuccinos.

Water Font

A nozzle used to dispense hot water from the machine boiler, often used for making tea or Americanos.

Water Filter

Filters contaminants from water for better-tasting coffee. This is especially important in areas with hard water.

Water Softener

Filters lime and minerals from water, preventing the buildup of scales in the coffee maker. This is a must-have for anyone using hard water.

Coffee Types and Brewing Methods


An Italian espresso-based beverage made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth.


A rich, black coffee that serves as the base for many specialty coffees. It is made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee under high pressure.

French Press

Also known as a plunger pot, this cylindrical maker steeps ground coffee in hot water before filtering it by pressing the grounds to the bottom with a plunger.


A hot beverage made with one-quarter coffee and three-quarters steamed milk, topped with a small amount of froth.


A hot beverage made from espresso, chocolate, and milk, often topped with whipped cream.

Moka Pot

A classic Italian espresso maker used on the stovetop. It brews coffee by passing boiling water pressurized by steam through ground coffee.


A coffee maker that continuously cycles boiling water through coffee grounds to brew coffee. It was once a popular method but has largely been replaced by drip coffee makers.


A self-contained, single-serving unit of ready-to-use coffee, often used in single-serve coffee makers like Keurig.

Vacuum Coffee Maker

A machine that uses a vacuum process to brew coffee, creating a unique and flavorful cup.

Interesting Coffee Stats

  • Global Coffee Consumption: According to the International Coffee Organization, global coffee consumption reached 167.58 million 60-kg bags in 2020/2021. Source
  • Coffee Production: Brazil is the largest coffee producer, contributing to about 37% of the world's coffee supply. Source
  • Specialty Coffee Market: The specialty coffee market is growing rapidly, with an estimated value of $83 billion by 2025. Source

Understanding these terms can significantly enhance your coffee experience, whether you're a casual drinker or a dedicated aficionado. Enjoy your next cup with newfound knowledge and appreciation!