Coffee Glossary : B

Are you not familiar with a term used in one of our articles or reviews? Our Coffee Glossary defines hundreds of common and not-so-common words in the coffee lexicon. Click any letter below to view a list of coffee terms and definitions beginning with that letter.

Balance.  Tasting term applied to coffees for which no single characteristic overwhelms others, but that display sufficient complexity to be interesting.

Bani.  Market name for a good, low-acid coffee of the Dominican Republic.

Barahona.  Market name for coffee from the southwest of the Dominican Republic. Barahona is considered by many to be the best coffee of the Dominican Republic.

Barista.  Italian term for skillful and experienced espresso bar operator.

Batch Roaster.  Apparatus that roasts a given quantity (a batch) of coffee at a time.

Bird Friendly.  Term associated with Shade-Grown coffee. Describes coffee grown under a shade canopy. Arabica coffee is traditionally grown in shade in many (but not all) parts of Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela, and in some other parts of the world, including India and some regions of Indonesia and Africa. Elsewhere arabica coffee is traditionally grown in full sun, or near full sun. The importance of maintaining shade canopies to supply habitat for migrating song birds in Central America has led to a controversial campaign by researchers at the Smithsonian Institute and their supporters to define “shade grown” in rather narrow terms (shade provided by mixed native trees) and label coffees grown under such a native canopy as “bird friendly.” Farmers who traditionally have not grown coffee in shade but maintain extensive forest reserves on their land understandably object to the concept, as do those who use non-native trees to shade their coffee. On the other hand, shade grown coffees most definitely are much easier on the environment than sun grown coffees, and the better tasting traditional varieties of arabica, bourbon and typica, are, in Central America at least, best grown in shade.

Blade Grinder.  Small coffee grinder using a propeller-like blade to grind coffee.

Blend.  A mixture of two or more single-origin coffees.

Body.  The sensation of heaviness, richness, or thickness and associated texture when one tastes coffee. Body, along with flavor, acidity, and aroma, is one of the principal categories used by professional tasters cupping, or sensory evaluation of coffee.

Bourbon.  A botanical variety of Coffea arabica. Var. Bourbon first appeared on the island of Bourbon, now Réunion. Some of the best Latin-American coffees are from Bourbon stock.

Bourbon Santos.  Also known as Santos. A market name for a category of high-quality coffee from Brazil, usually shipped through the port of Santos, and usually grown in the state of São Paulo or the southern part of Minas Gerais State. The term Bourbon Santos is sometimes used to refer to any high-quality Santos coffee, but it properly describes Santos coffee from the Bourbon variety of arabica, which tends to produce a fruitier, more acidy cup than other varieties grown in Brazil.

Brazil.  One of the world’s most complicated coffee origins. Most Brazil coffee is carelessly picked and primitively processed, and is not a factor in the specialty trade. The best (usually dry-processed Bourbon Santos) can be a wonderfully deep, complex, sweet coffee particularly appropriate for espresso. Almost all Brazil coffee is relatively low-grown, but the variety of processing methods (wet method, dry method, and semi-dry or pulped natural method) makes Brazil a fascinating origin.

Brown Roast.  Also known as American Roast. Coffee roasted to traditional American taste: medium brown.

Bugishu, Bugisu.  Market name for arabica coffee from the slopes of Mt. Elgon in Uganda. Considered the best Uganda coffee.

Burr Grinder, Burr Mill.  Coffee grinder with two shredding discs or burrs that can be adjusted for maximum effectiveness.

Adapted from Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying; Espresso: Ultimate Coffee; and Home Coffee Roasting: Romance & Revival. St. Martin's Press.

Copyright © 1996, 2001 by Kenneth Davids. All Rights Reserved.