While the following terms may vary
slightly from country to country, these are the generally accepted
definitions and will give you an excellent idea of how one sample of
coffee beans is differentiated from another.
Black Bean : Insect-damaged; dead cherry
fallen from tree pre-harvest; decomposed bean; overripe; metal
Bolden Bean : The size falling between
medium and large.
Broken : Over-dried brittle beans, easily
broken into pieces during hulling.
Brown Bean : In arabica, a color denoting
overripeness; over-fermentation; under-fermentation (brownish tinge); or
souled, lack of pre-washing.
Discolored Bean : Any bean outside the
range of normal (green/blue in arabica, khaki/brownish/yellowish in
robusta) color, indicating poor processing, with possible defective
Elephant Ear : Malformed cherry containing
one large bean partly encircling a smaller; the two interlocking parts
can separate in roast, but flavor is not impaired (East Africa).
Elephant Bean : Slang name for Maragogype
variety, world's largest coffee beans; generally prized for appearance,
good roast, smooth flavor; gradually drying out as financially
unprofitable. Not to be confused with the malformed elephant ear bean.
Floater : Under-ripe, or overripe bean, or
brown bean that surfaces in washing - lacks density.
Foxy : Off-flavor from beans either with
red tinge, perhaps overripe; over-fermented (delay in pulping); yellow
Hard Bean : Fairly mediocre arabica beans,
indicates lower altitudes in countries where "strictly hard bean" is the
best quality; not to be confused, however with "hard" flavor.
Hull Coffee : Dry-processed beans before
hulling has removed the surrounding dried cherries.
M'buni : East African word for
dry-processed (sun dried) cherry. Also over-fruity, tart, sour flavor.
Natural Bean : Denotes dry-processed
Pale : Yellow in color, from immature
cherries or drought-affected; will not darken satisfactorily in roast;
unpleasant nutty flavor of several can spoil batch (see Quaker).
Parchment : Protective covering or jacket
(endocarp) enclosing bean within the cherry, which must be intact if
bean is to germinate; also "pergamino".
Parchment Coffee : Wet-processed beans
before hulling has removed their parchment coverings.
Peaberry : Also, perle, perla, caracol;
small rounded bean (malformation) produced singly in a small cherry;
sorted together they command a higher price than normal benas, even ones
from the same trees.
Pod : Beans still encased in the dried
cherry after hulling, constitutes defect in sample.
Pulper-Nipped : Bean damaged during
pulping; subsequent appearance can lower quality assessment.
Quaker : Similar to pale, but not caused
by immaturity, although terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
Ragged : Bean not fully developed die to
Stinker : Overripe cherry; or
over-fermentation; insect or microbe-damaged bean; bean flavor is
powerfully pervasive and rotten, sour odor when crushed; undetectable by
human eye, glows unter ultraviolet light of electric sorting machines;
contaminates entire batch.
Strictly Hard Bean (SHB) : Quality arabicas grown at highest altitudes, where density of bean concentrates
Strictly High Grown (SHG) : Different
grading terminology for basically the same conditions as strictly hard
Triage : Lowest grade of coffee, never
exported; left-overs; figurative factory floor sweepings.
Unwashed : Dry-processed beans.
Washed : Wet processed beans.
Yellow Bean : In arabica, bean color
caused by over-drying.