- Pacamara – As the name implies, Pacamara is a large bean cultivar, a cross between Pacas and Maragogype with unique flavor properties. This variant originated in El Salvador in 1958, and has spread to nearby Central American countries, but is still chiefly grown in El Salvador. It has unique flavors that range from chocolate and fruit, to herbal or, in the worse coffees, vegetal (green onion specifically).
- Pacas – Pacas is a natural mutation of Bourbon cultivar that appeared in El Savador in 1949. It has good cup character, and is an input into Pacamara cultivar as well. Caturra and Villa Sarchi are also natural dwarf Bourbon mutations. In the cup, I find it similar to Bourbon in many ways, and the shrub is more wind-resistant than Bourbon.
- Pache – Pache is a dwarf mutation of Typica coffee first observed at Finca El Brito, Guatemala. It is also called Pache Comun. A varitety called Pache Colis is a cross of Caturra and Pache Comun, and is extremely short in form.
- Panama – Panama coffee was historically under-rated and overlooked. That perception has been corrected in recent years with the outstanding Best of Panama competition held each year, attracting global competition for the best lots, and spectacular prices. The Gesha cultivar produced in some of the small coffee estates has also garnered heaps of attention for it’s unique floral cup character.
Panama coffees are brightly toned with vivid floral aromatics and clean fruited notes. They outcup many higher priced coffees and the cup character is obvious, quality is consistent. Cheaper Panamas sold as BEP are a staple of higher-end commercial roasters and lower-end specialty roasters. There are many lower-grown Panamas that are ubiquitous in the U.S. market and of little interest to us here. It’s just the Boquete coffees from the Chirqui district, ones from small family-owned farms that produce the truly distinct, unique coffees. They employ N’gbe Indians for the picking season, who will come to the coffee farms to work under some of the best wage standards and work laws in Central America.
- Panela – Found in Colombia (and noted to be best in Pitalito and Pedregal), Panela is tan-colored cakes of sugar that are not fully refined. They can range from caramel-vanilla flavors to floral. From Wikipedia: The sugarcane plant is processed in a large press, to obtain the juice, which is cooked at very high temperatures. The panela can be manufactured in disc-shaped pieces or in cubic pieces of cake form and is usually gold or brown in color. Besides sugar, panela also contains large amounts of proteins, calcium, iron and ascorbic acid. In other countries I have heard it called Panocha and Chancaca. It is sometimes called Piloncillo in Mexico.
- Papilla – Papilla (or Papillae in plural) mushroom-like projections on the tongue that contain taste buds. These perceive basic flavors and textures, whereas much of what is sensed as flavor is informed by the aromatics perceived by the olfactory.
There are 4 types of papilla on the palate:
- Circumvallate papillae (contains taste buds)
- Fungiform papilla (contains taste buds)
- Filiform papilla (does not contain taste buds)
- Foliate papillae (contains taste buds)
- Papua New Guinea – Papua New Guinea is a distinct coffee among the Indonesians, even though it doesn’t even have an entire island to call it’s own. Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half of the island it shares with the Indonesian provice of Irian Jaya (no organized coffee production originates from Irian Jaya). The small-farm “Coffee Gardens” have a unique wild note in the cup but are in no way as earthy as other Indonesian coffees such as Sumatra and Sulawesi. These small farms are often organized into coops that share wet-milling facilities and are Organic certified,
The Plantation coffees are the larger farms and have the cleaner, more delicate and sophisticated cup character. While a lighter body than Javas, good PNG has the delicate notes, complexity, and sometimes the acidity or brightness of the best Central Americans.
- Parchment – Green coffee still in it’s outer shell, before dry-milling, is called Parchment coffee (pergamino). In the wet process, coffee is peeled, fermented, washed and then ready for drying on the patio, bed, or a mechanical dryer. It is called parchment coffee because it is protected by an outer shell, which will be removed as the first step of dry milling, when the coffee is ready to export. While in parchment, it is critical that parchment coffee is rested for between 30-60 days. In Spanish, parchment coffee is called pergamino.
- Passionfruit – It is native to South America and widely grown in India, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, California, southern Florida, Hawaii, Australia, East Africa, Israel and South Africa. The passion fruit is round to oval, yellow or dark purple at maturity, with a soft to firm, juicy interior filled with numerous seeds. The fruit can be grown to eat or for its juice, which is often added to other fruit juices to enhance aroma. It is known as Maracuya, or Maracuja in Latin America
- Past Crop – Refers to an older coffee not from the “New Crop” or the “Current Crop”. Cuppers will even use it as a general term for baggy, old hay or straw flavors; faded sensations of what it might have been when the green coffee was fresh; Past-Cropish
- Patio-Drying – Patio-drying is a term to indicate that a coffee was dried in the sun after processing, on a paved or brick patio. Drying in the sun is the traditional method and is slower and more gentle than mechanical drying techniques. Coffee is raked on the patio to ensure even drying from top to bottom. Even better is screen-drying on raised “beds” which allows for air movement through the coffee.
- Peaberry Coffee – is the dried seed from the fruit of a flowering tree – each fruit having 2 seeds facing each other (the flat side of the coffee “bean”) or in the case of the peaberry, a single rounded seed. On the coffee tree, there is usually a percentage of fruit that has one seed within, ie a peaberry, and many more that are “flat beans” with the usual 2 seeds per fruit.
- Peak Of Harvest – In some coffee-producing origins, there is a period of time in the middle of the crop where the higher altitudes mature, and where each tree has the highest percentage of mature cherry. Under the best conditions, this is a time when the cup is possibly better, because the pickers bring in fewer under-ripe green cherries, and because the most dense, slow-to-mature cherries are including in their pickings. Of course, other problems can emerge (too much coffee cherry, the mill can’t keep up, ripe cherry sits) that actually work against this heavy load; it would be lazy to say “mid-harvest” coffee is better. But it is rarely true that the very first pickings, nor the last where the trees are being “cleaned” of cherry yield good results.
- Penagos – Peñagos is a Colombian company that produces demucilage coffee processors. This is a forced demucilage machine that uses little water, and removes the coffee fruit layer from the parchment seed using friction and a small amount of water. It is key to the newer Micro-Mill facilities. With this machine, you can adjust the water pressure level, and control exactly how much mucilage to leave on the seed; you can produce a fully-washed style coffee, or a pulp-natural style coffee.
- Percolator – A type of coffee brewer where water is “percolated” through a mass of ground coffee to extract the flavor. Was much in use in mid-19th century US. Often associated with bad coffee, percolators can actually produce a good flavored brew when using good coffee and the equipment is kept clean. Still the best way to produce a large quantity of coffee at once, hence their use (usually as large urns) in hotels and catering.
- Peru – Organic Peru … you can get it anywhere now. It is usually the cheapest certified Organic coffee on the market, it’s the “blender” coffee of Organics. And it is threatening to lower prices for organic coffee farmers globally. The Peruvian coffee industry took note of the premium prices paid for Organic coffee, and realized they could produce Organic for less cost, focusing on quantity, not quality. They wanted to be to Organic coffee what Vietnam is to robusta. There are stories of forest being clear-cut for organic farm (it takes 3 years for an existing farm to become certified organic… not so with a “new” farm. I doubt the image of cutting forest to grow organic product is an image consumers have in mind … then again, it’s Organic and it’s cheapest per lb. roasted. Well, you get what you pay for. The problem is, the Peruvian organic coffee glut forces quality-oriented farmers within Peru and everywhere else too to accept lower prices for their crop in order to compete. And a farm that is trying to produce a truly excellent coffee in a conscientious way cannot compete with a larger quantity-oriented farm, whether its a co-op or not. Cup a cheap organic Peru versus a high quality Organic Peru and the differences are profound: not only do the cheap ones have little to no positive qualities, they also have defective taints in the cup, grassy, fermenty notes in particular.
Okay, I am a little cynical about Peruvian coffee. It’s not because there aren’t good lots though. They do exist and it takes some detective work to find them. After all, Peru is a hugely varied land and they produce a lot of different coffees. It’s the land of the Incas and by most measures a latecomer in the modern world coffee trade. Peruvian offerings are hardly mentioned in William Ukers 1936 edition of All About Coffee and have not been well thought of due to an indelicate, blunted acidity that doesn’t have the refinement of the Centrals. I think a lot of this is historical bias because Peru can produce some very fine coffees. In general, these coffees have Central American brightness but in a South American coffee flavor package overall. The good organic lots do have more of a “rustic” coffee character. As long as it is kept in check and does not dominate the cup, this can add interest to the flavor rather than detract. The cup has it all, body, brightness and good depth in the flavors. While there are still mediocre arrivals, it doesn’t take much cupping to find a really good one. The Chanchamayo is usually (but not necessarily) the top region, but good Norte and Cuzco from the south are out there. Buy the first Peru you are offered and you are bound for cup troubles. Poorly processed coffee, coffee with defects, might fool the cupper at first, but 2 months down the line the coffee fades, the acidity fails, baggy flavors emerge, and you know you made a bad decision. It’s a lot of work to find a good lot among the abundance offered by brokers and other channels, and it takes slogging through a lot of samples to find them though.
- Phenols – Phenols are a set of organic compounds, relatively stable, that contribute to coffee aroma and flavor. They can have negative characteristics: tarry, smokey, medicinal, woody, leathery. But, especially at lower levels, can be spicy, vanilla, clove, anise, even floral in nature. Phenols are mainly derived from Chlorogenic acids.
- Phosphoric Acid – more phosphoric acid might lead to the sense of higher acidity overall.
- Piney – A slightly resinous pine sap flavor, unusual but attractive in some cases.
- Pinhalense – A Brazilian coffee equipment manufacturer, that produces a wide range of equipment for wet-mills and dry-mills, coffee hullers, density sorters, graders, screening machines, roasters, dryers etc. They make a forced demucilage machine to compete with the Penagos from Colombia.
- Pink Bourbon – A rare variation of Bourbon that ripens to a pink color. It is called Bourbon Roseado in some latin countries. The cup is purported to be fantastic, but finding stable plants that will consistently produce the pink fruit is difficult. The added challenge to harvest ripe cherries is daunting. (With red bourbon, determining ripe color is easier for the pickers). See Bourbon for the full definition.
- Piquant – Meaning pleasantly pungent or zesty in taste, spicy, provocative, sapid.
- Pomelo – Ancestral grapefruit from Southeast Asia – it has mild grapefruit flavor but low bitterness. In a coffee description , this mean a mild and not-so-aggressive citrus flavor, or citric acidity.
- Portafilter – The part of an espresso machine which holds the filter basket, into which coffee grounds are placed.
- Potato Defect – Research conducted by CIRAD and OCIBU over a six year period in Burundi has shown this off-flavor to be caused by a yet unidentified bacterial agent that enters the cherry skin and produces a pyrazine chemical toxin that binds to the forming green beans. They first thought it was caused by a bacterial transmission via an insect vector, the Antestia bug that pierces the coffee cherry wall and sucks sugars; but later they concluded that anything that pierces the cherry wall can allow the bacteria to enter and eventually release the the nasty pyrazine-based toxin. Because you can’t detect it until you roast it, this defect is a real bummer for roasting companies and a real challenge for research. – Culled from Tim Schilling’s blog post on the topic, since it is the best description of the defect that is out there…
- Pour-Over Drip – New attention is being given to pour-over drip brewing, but the terminology is definitely not set yet. Pour-over drip brewing is simple and can yield great results based on technique. The older methods are Chemex and Melitta type filter cones. These use paper filters, usually. Newer types are the Hario V60, a modified ceramic come with a large orifice like the Chemex, and the Clever Coffee Dripper.
- Pre-infusion – An espresso machine is said to use pre-infusion if it applies a moderate amount of pressure to the coffee before applying full brew pressure. Pre-infusion is often said to improve extraction by causing the coffee to swell, filling fissures in the puck that might otherwise cause channeling.
- Preparation – Preparation refers to the dry-milling steps of preparing coffee for export: hulling, grading, classifying, sorting. Sorting means using density sorters (like the Oliver table), optical color sorting, and hand sorting. Then the coffee is bagged and ready to load in the shipping container. EP is a standard called Euro Prep