F

  • Facing – Facing refers to scorch marks found on the flat side or face of the coffee bean. Along with tipping, it is one of the telltale signs of scorching, a roast problem.
  • Factory – In Kenya, a “Factory” is actually a coffee mill, where the fresh cherry is brought for wet-processing. It is called a wet mill usually, and a beneficio in latin america. In Rwanda and some other African countries it is a “washing station”.
  • Faded – A general characterization that cup flavors are diminishing in quality due to age of the green coffee, and loss of organic compounds.
  • Fair Trade – Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach to empowering developing country producers and promoting sustainability. Products are certified as fair trade, under guide lines developed by FLO, and administered in the USA by Transfair. It’s benefit is that it is a global effort, coordinated by third-party certifiers. The problems are that it does not include the quality of the product, i.e. the taste of the coffee, as part of the certification. It applies only to products produced by co-operatives. It also DOES NOT MEAN that the cooperative member, the one who grew and picked your coffee, was paid according to any standard. It means the cooperative was paid a minimum price, and it is up to them to divide that among members fairly. In places I have been I have seen electricity brought in for coop members homes, schools built, clinics, etc. Great stuff! I have also seen extremely shabby conditions at FT coops, worse than private mills in the area. We support FT, while it is imperfect, and institute our own Direct Trade program in places we work with farmers, mills, and coops. In this case, we KNOW what the farm was paid at the gate, and we always pay higher that FT, often by 50%, 100%, or more.
  • Fanega – A fanega is a measure of coffee used in some Latin America countries. It is equal to 250 kilograms of coffee cherry. It is used to measure only whole coffee fruit.
  • Fazenda – Fazenda is the Portuguese word for farm, hence it is the term used in Brazil. Fazenda is not a coffee-specific term.
  • Ferment – Ferment is the sour off flavor, often vinegar-like, that results from several possible problems. It might be the result of seriously over-ripe coffee cherry. It can come from coffee cherry that was not pulped the same day it was picked, and/or was exposed to high heat between picking and processing. Often it comes from poor practices at the wet mill, when coffee is left too long in the fermentation tank, or old coffee that is over-fermented is mixed with new coffee.
  • Fermentation – A key part of the wet process of coffee fruit is overnight fermentation, to break down the fruit (mucilage) layer that tenaciously clings to the coffee seed, so it can be washed off. Fermentation must be done soon after picking the cherry from the tree, and lasts 12 – 24 hours depending on temperatures and other factors. When you feel the slimy coffee and the parchment layer feels rough like sandpaper, the coffee is ready to wash. Good fermentation and subsequent drying can lead to the cleanest coffee flavors in wet-process lots. Note that when I talk about fermentation, I don’t mean to imply that the coffee seed is subject to fermentation. That would create defective coffee. The fruit coating the outer parchment skin is broken down with the action of peptic enzymes in the coffee. Cacao is fermented, coffee is not.
  • Fermented – As a defect flavor, a fruit quality in a coffee that is excessively ripe, toward rotten. Fermented flavor can be the result of poor wet-processing, over-ripe cherry, or some other contamination in the processing. As a processing step, all wet-process coffee is fermented to break down the mucilage. Coffee is fermented for 12-24 hours, sometimes longer, so the mucilage can be washed off the parchment layer.
  • Fermenty – A defect flavor, a fruit quality in a coffee that is excessively ripe, toward rotten. This often takes the form of vinegar-like aroma and flavor. Fermenty or vinegar flavors can result from high levels of acetic acid, whereas moderate levels lead to positive winey flavors.
  • Filtercone – Filtercones, as the name implies, are simply cones that hold a coffee filter. The cone fits on to the top of a coffee cup, grounds and a filter are put in, water drips straight through into the cup. A filtercones must be used with either a paper filter or a permanent filter.
  • Filterscreen – This is the part of the French Press that actually filters the coffee as the plunger is being pushed downward. It is a circular mesh screen either made of nylon or stainless steel and threads onto the plunger shaft. The screen must be cleaned after use and replaced periodically.
  • Finca – Finca is the Spanish word for farm. Sometimes the term Hacienda is used to imply an Estate, which would mean the farm has it’s own wet-mill. A Finca does not necessarily have a mill. Finca is not a coffee-specific term.
  • Finish – Similar to aftertaste, but it refers to the impression as the coffee leaves the palate. Aftertaste is the sensations gathered after the coffee has left the mouth. We combine these to form the “final flavor impression” of the coffee
  • First Crack – First crack in one of two distinct heat-induced pyrolytic reactions in coffee. It is distinguished by a cracking or popping sound in the coffee, and occurs between 390 and 410 degrees Fahrenheit in most coffee roasters. It has a sound more similar to the popping of popcorn, whereas the Second Crack that occurs around 440 to 450 Fahrenheit has a more shallow, rapid sound, like the snapping of Rice Krispies cereal in milk! First crack involves a rapid expansion of the coffee seed, and marks the point where water and carbon dioxide fracture, leading to the liberation of moisture from the coffee in the form of steam. First crack opens the crease in the bean enough to release remaining silverskin, or chaff. First crack is a clue to the roaster-operator about the roast level, and it’s termination generally marks the first stage (City Roast) where coffee is acceptably dark enough to enjoy.
  • Flat Bean – The normal coffee fruit has 2 seeds inside, facing each other on their flat side. A percentage of each plant has peaberries, which are fruits where one of the ovules aborts and the remaining single seed grows to a rounded form; a “peaberry”. Usually it goes without saying that a coffee is a flat bean, but in some origins like Tanzania with high percentages of peaberry, the term is used.
  • Flat Burr Grinder – A grinder with two flat, parallel disc-shaped burrs. Produces the most even grind at all settings, fine, medium and coarse. Typically more expensive than other mills.
  • Flavor – This is the overall impression in the mouth, including the above ratings as well as tastes that come from the roast. There are 5 “Primary Tastes” groupings (Sour, Sweet ,Salty, Bitter, Savory (Umami) and many “Secondary Tastes,” as you can see on the Tasters Flavor Wheel. As the primary category in taste evaluation (what coffee would you want to drink that smelled good and tasted awful?) it is of great importance. But in a sense the flavor impression is divided between this score AND the Finish/ Aftertaste score.
  • Flavor Profile – Flavor Profile implies a graphical impression of a particular coffee, whether it be an artistic portrait or data graph of the perception of flavor compounds. In the case of our spider graph charts in each of our coffee reviews, this could be considered a flavor profile. It implies the inter-relationship of flavors.
  • Flavor Wheel – A term that probably refers to the SCAA Flavor Wheel, an analysis tool adapted from the wine industry. Half of it is dedicated to chiefly negative, defective flavors, while the other is mainly positive aspects. The hierarchy of flavor and aroma origins it connotes is highly questionable, but it remains a useful (if limited) tool for assigning language to sensory experience.
  • Floater – In the wet process, and sometimes in Pulp Natural or Forced Demucilage process, coffee cherries or parchment are floated in a tank of water. Good cherries or seeds are dense and sink. A coffee bean that did not mature inside the parchment layer will float in wet-processing.
  • Floaters – During the wet-process method, coffee cherry or the de-pulped (without skin) coffee seeds are floated in a water bath and/or transported down a channel in water. At this time, floating fruit can be skimmed off, whereas good fruit/seeds will sink. Coffee will float if the bean is hollow, undeveloped, under-developed, damaged by the coffee berry borer or other pest.
  • Floral – Primarily an aromatic quality, but also a flavor, reminiscent of flowers. If generally perfumey and flower-like, it might be described simply as floral, but usually a specific type is described; jasmine, rose-like, fruit blossoms (cherry, orange, peach, etc)
  • Flores – Flores is small by island standards, just about 360 kilometers end to end. It is in the Indonesian archipelago, between Sumbawa and Timor islands. The name is an abbreviation of Cabo da Flores which was used by Portuguese sailor in the 17th century to identify the cape on the eastern end of the islands because of its underwater gardens. Divided by mountain chains and volcanoes, the island populated by ethnic groups with their own traditions and languages. Predominantly Catholic, the have retained several aspects of the Portuguese culture such as the Easter parade held annually at Larantuka on the eastern part of the island and the Royal Regalia of the former King of Sikka. The coffee areas are higher altitude compared to other Indonesian origins, but the highest peak is just 1736 meters. The milling tradition is wet-process, so this coffee bears resemblance to the coffees of Timor-Leste, New Guinea and Java more than to the semi-washed coffees of Sumatra and Sulawesi. It is sweet, floral (appropriately since Flores means Flowers), with good syrupy body, and a clean cup overall. It has uses in espresso.
  • Fluid Bed Roaster – A fluid-bed roaster works by pushing hot air across coffee beans. The roast chamber is filled with heated air provided by a small fan and heating coil located beneath the chamber.
    In a fluid-bed roaster, the flow of air is both the heat source and the mechanism responsible for agitating the beans. Since air is the heat source, heating happens via convection, rather than via convection and conduction, as in a drum roaster. Fluid-bed roasters are generally less expensive than comparable drum roasters, and they produce a bright flavor profile. This type of roaster works well with small size batches (under half a pound).
  • Fly Crop – There are no flies in the “Fly Crop” but the term is intriguing, and it’s origin yet a mystery to me. Fly crop is the smaller harvest that occurs in Kenya, in cyclical opposition to the Main crop harvest of August to October. It yields smaller amounts of coffee, and some say the quality is lower. While I have cupped occasional good fly crop lots, I have to agree; they qualify more as Kenya blenders than the “Grand Cru” powerhouses of the peak Main Crop auctions
  • FNC – The FNC is the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia, the coffee association of Colombia. They fund CENICAFE research institute, which has an extensive cultivar collection.
  • Foresty – A flavor found in rustic Indonesia coffees, wet-hulled types from Sulawesi and Sumatra in particular. It is sometimes called “Forest Floor” flavors and refers to a combined set of sensory experience, like a walk in the forest: earthy, humus, woodsy, mushroomy. reminiscent
  • French Mission Bourbon – French Missionaries brought the original coffee to East Africa, from Reunion island to Tanzania, then Kenya. There are still areas with original Bourbon rather than the SL varieties. This Bourbon appears to have Mokka inputs as well, since coffee was brought directly from Aden, Yemen to northern Tanzania (Tanganyika) by French fathers, and the two naturally mutated into what was called French Mission coffee.
  • French Press – A simple coffee brewer: grounds and hot water are added to a carafe, allowed to sit for several minutes, and then a filter is pushed down to hold the grounds at the bottom of the carafe.
    French presses have the advantage that they are very easy to control: dose/grind, water temperature, and extraction time are all manageable. Presses result in a high-body cup with more residual grounds that most brewing methods.
  • French Roast – Sugars are heavily caramelized (read as burned) and are degraded; the woody bean structure is carbonizing, the seed continues to expand and loose mass, the body of the resulting cup will be thinner/lighter as the aromatic compounds, oils, and soluble solids are being burned out of the coffee and rising up to fill your house with smoke. Second crack is well finished.
  • Fruited – In some coffee taster’s lexicon, “fruity” means the coffee is tainted with fruit, and “fruited” means a coffee is graced by positive fruit notes. We don’t exactly see the difference in terms of these two words, but the question of fruit flavors emerging in a coffee context is critical. Is it a good quality? Is it fresh, aromatic, sweet fruit? Is it ripe, or is it over-ripe, fermenty, vinegary fruit? And there’s a side argument as well: did the fruit flavors come from well-prepared coffee, or did it emerge in a process where the coffee had too much contact with the mucilage of the coffee cherry. (This might happen in over-fermenting, in a hybrid process such as Indonesia wet-hulling, or in poorly executed dry-processing).
  • Fruity – In some coffee taster’s lexicon, “fruity” means the coffee is tainted with fruit, and “fruited” means a coffee is graced by positive fruit notes. We don’t exactly see the difference in terms of these two words, but the question of fruit flavors emerging in a coffee context is critical. Is it a good quality? Is it fresh, aromatic, sweet fruit? Is it ripe, or is it over-ripe, fermenty, vinegary fruit? And there’s a side argument as well: did the fruit flavors come from well-prepared coffee, or did it emerge in a process where the coffee had too much contact with the mucilage of the coffee cherry. (This might happen in over-fermenting, in a hybrid process such as Indonesia wet-hulling, or in poorly executed dry-processing).
  • FTO – FTO is shorthand for a coffee that is certified as both Fair Trade and Organic.
  • Full City Roast – A coffee that has been roasted to the brink of second crack. The internal bean temperature that second crack normally occurs at is 446 degrees F. But in fact second crack is a little less predictable than first crack, in my experience. Why? It could be explained as this: first crack is the physical expansion of the coffee seed as water and carbon dioxide split and CO-2 outgassing occurs. Second Crack is the physical fracturing of the cellular matrix of the coffee. This matrix is wood, also called cellulose, and consists of organized cellulose that reacts readily to heat, and not-so-organized cellulose that does not. Since every coffee is physically different in size and density due to the cultivar, origin, altitude, etc. it might make sense that the particular cell matrix is different too, and not as universally consistent in reactiveness as H-2O and CO-2.
  • Full City+ Roast – A roast slightly darker than Full City. At Full City+, the roast is terminated after the first few snaps of second crack. The main cue that distinguishes the difference between the Full City (or FC) and Full City + is audible, not visual.
  • Furans – Furans are important contributors to coffee aroma, contributing to sweet, nutty, fruity or caramel-like smells. They are derived mainly from sucrose and Polysaccharides during roasting, a product of caramelization. It is estimated there are 126 possible furans found in coffee.