Coffee 101: Comprehend Your Cup

A guide to trendy terms.

A New Leaf: Inscribed in a cappuccino's crema at Turnstile Coffee in Belmar.
A New Leaf: Inscribed in a cappuccino's crema at Turnstile Coffee in Belmar.

Cold Brew: Steeping grounds in cold water for periods up to 18 hours. The resulting beverage is unusually mellow and free of bitterness. Often sold in bottles, it is served chilled or over ice.

Fair-Trade Certified: An international standard that guarantees farmers a minimum price per pound. “It’s a laudable idea,” says Oren Bloostein of Oren’s Daily Roast, “but it incentivizes farmers to sell the least best part of their crop as Fair Trade because they can get more on the open market for their very best.” Most coffee is not FT certified. Farmers have to pay to be certified, and consumers pay more for it. A batch of beans, Bloostein says, does not have to be 100 percent Fair Trade to earn the certification. Fair-trade proceeds sometimes benefit the farming community (by building schools or hospitals) rather than individual farmers.

French Press: A glass or carafe with a plunger is filled with hot water and grounds. After letting the coffee steep for a couple of minutes, the plunger is pushed down and grit-free coffee is poured. By letting the water and grounds stay in contact with each other longer than other methods, French press produces a distinctively full-bodied beverage.

Organic: Produced with no fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.

Pour-Over: A process as slow as a rush-hour crawl on the Parkway, but one that maximizes flavor and body. Pour-overs are made, one cup at a time, by pouring small amounts of water over the grounds and waiting until the water is absorbed before adding more water. Not to be ordered if you’re in a hurry.

Shade-Grown: Beans grown under a forest canopy, where coffee plants naturally spring up. Much of today’s coffee is grown in vineyard-like fields, with the plant’s own leaves providing sufficient shade for the beans to develop. Shade-grown beans are often certified organic, but not all organic beans are shade-grown.

Single-Origin: Coffee made from beans grown in one location, ranging from farm-size to a whole region.
Sustainably Harvested: A way of utilizing resources efficiently. Examples include collecting and reusing fresh water, rotating the coffee crop, and using less fertilizer. The Rainforest Alliance is one of several organizations that certify sustainable practices by their members (who pay for the certification).

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