A Glossary Of Home Coffee Brewing Terms

Written by: Garrett Oden

coffee brewing terms

Not quite sure about something you read here at JavaPresse? Did a certain term or concept leave you scratching your head?

Well, if it had anything to do with the process of home coffee brewing, this glossary will bring some clarity to your confusion.

For this glossary, we’ll cover grinding, brewing, and home coffee equipment.

These brief definitions should give you a good idea at what the item or concept is and how it works, but links to more in-depth articles are available if you’d like to go a bit deeper


Grind Size - Refers to the how finely or coarsely you grind your coffee beans. A very fine grind can be espresso powder, and a coarse grind can be distinct coffee particles like pearl sugar.

Read: How To Pair Your Coffee Brewer With Its Perfect Grind Size

Stepped Adjustment - A grinder that’s designed to have a predetermined, limited number of grind settings. For example, a grinder with 15 distinct settings.

Stepless Adjustment - A grinder that’s designed to have a virtually limitless number of grind settings. Doesn’t feature any distinct settings, but rather a gradient, allowing the user to make adjustments of any size or degree.

Conical Burrs - A burr set style that produces a relatively accurate bimodal grind. The set includes a cone-shaped burr that fits inside a donut-shaped burr.

Flat Burrs - A burr set style that produces a unimodal grind. The set includes two donut-shaped burrs that face each other lying flat and is typically used in espresso grinders.

Blade Grinder - A grinder that spins sharp blades in a circle, chopping up beans without much precision or control.

Read: Blades VS Burrs: What Is the Best Type of Coffee Grinder?

Bimodal Grind - A sample of grounds that, when sorted by size using precise instruments, has two clear groups of particle size ranges: large and small. All burr grinders, even the very precise ones, produce a bimodal grind ( if only slightly).

Unimodal Grind - A sample of grounds that, when sorted by size using precise instruments, has only a single dominant range of particle sizes. Achieved with flat burrs only.

Uniformity - A term used to describe how consistently sized coffee particles are. A uniform grind sample has very few noticeable fines or boulders. An inconsistent grind sample has many noticeable outliers.


Extraction - The process where water removes sugars, acids, oils, and other flavor compounds from the beans, dissolves, and distributes them.

Under Extraction - When extraction has been stopped before the water could pull out enough flavor from the beans. Typically results in a sour, overly acidic flavor since the acids are the first to extract.

Over Extraction - When extraction has been allowed to continue beyond the point of balance where all the flavor elements are harmonious. Typically results in a dull, bitter flavor since the only things being extracted in the end are extra bitter compounds.

Read: How To Taste Coffee Bitterness

Bloom - The stage where a small amount of water is poured on fresh grounds to allow the rapid release of carbon dioxide. This allows the grounds to soak up water, rather than expel gas so fast that the water just drains by.

Brewing Ratio - The ratio of coffee beans to water. The golden ratios result in balanced flavor and strength, but ratios that use too much coffee or water result in under or over extraction.

Slurry - The mid-brew mixture of coffee grounds and water.

coffee brewing terms

Immersion - A brewing style where coffee grounds are immersed in water until an outside force (a french press plunger, for example) separates them.

Pour Over - A brewing style where water is poured over coffee grounds and allowed to drain (via gravity) through the slurry, through a filter, and into a carafe or mug

Cold Brew - A brewing style that uses cold water, rather than hot, to extract flavors from the grounds. Results in a coffee beverage with less acidity and bitterness.

Read: The Budget Conscious Cold Brew Coffee Setup

Espresso - A brewing style that forces hot water through fine coffee grounds at an immense 8-10 bars of pressure. Results in a flavor-concentrated shot of coffee.


Vacuum / Siphon - A brewer that sucks water into an upper chamber, where it extracts flavors from the grounds, and sucks it back down through a filter via a vacuum.

French Press - The quintessential immersion brewer that’s simply a carafe paired with a fine mesh filter.

Pour Over Dripper - A pour over cone that holds the filter, coffee, and slurry. Typically sits on top of a mug, though sometimes is built into a carafe.

Automatic Drip - An electrical pour over brewer that drips water over a bed of coffee grounds and allows the brewed coffee to drain into a carafe.

Read: Why You Should Ditch Your Drip Coffee Pot For A French Press

Turkish Coffee - An immersion brewing style where the grounds and water are brewed in an ibrik and poured into a cup without using a filter. Results in a rich, concentrated form of coffee.

Moka Pot - A stovetop brewer that forces water vapor to rise through fine coffee grounds and up into a chamber, where it becomes rich, concentrated coffee. Not true espresso, despite commonly being referred to as a “stovetop espresso maker”.

Percolator - A brewer that cycles hot water through grounds over and over again, continuously making more and more concentrated (and over extracted) coffee.

Espresso Machine - A mechanical feat that uses a mechanical pump to force water through fine grounds at 8-10 bars of pressure. Produces a flavor-concentrated shot of espresso.

Read: What Is Espresso?

Steam-Powered Espresso Machine - A machine that forces water through fine grounds at 1-2 bars of pressure using steam-pressure. Produces a concentrated form of coffee.


Boom! Your growing coffee vocabulary is a vehicle to better tasting coffee. The more comfortable you are with the terminology of the art of coffee, the easier it is to learn and grow in your craft.

The ultimate key to great, blow-your-mind coffee, however, is stellar beans.

Search for coffee that’s grown with care, processed with precision, and roasted to highlight the best flavors of the bean. This is where the magic comes from.

And we’ve got the magic.

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