Glossary of Terms

Americano
A long black coffee made from an espresso machine, basically an espresso topped up with hot water.

 

Auto Frother
A device for frothing milk for cappuccinos and lattès automatically. Can take the form of an automatic steam wand (like the iSteam) or frothing head (see the Egro One series).

 

Automatic
When used in the context "automatic espresso machine" this normally means a traditional espresso machine with controlled, programmable coffee dosing, i.e. a preset volume of coffee is delivered into the cup. Not to be confused with "Fully Automatic" (which normally refers to bean-to-cup machines) or "Semi-Automatic" (a traditional espresso machine with no preset dosing).

 

Backflush
A way of cleaning group heads by using a blanking plate/disc (see below) to force water under pressure back up through the group head filter plate.

 

Barista
An Italian word used to signify a coffee-making professional. A worthy career path.

 

Bean-to-Cup
Used to define a fully-automatic,non-traditional espresso machine. These have built-in grinders and produce espresso or cappuccino at the touch of a button.

 

Blanking Plate/Disc
A blanking plate is a filter basket with no holes used in backflushing (see above). A blanking disc performs the same function, but is usually made of rubber and sits in the normal two- or three-cup filter basket.

 

Blind Filter
Another name for a blanking plate.

 

Boiler
The steam vessel at the heart of an espresso machine. Generally the larger the boiler the more power from the machine and the more hot water available for tea etc., however the element also needs to be of a sufficient size for this.

 

Boiler Element
See above. The electric element that powers most espresso machine boilers (except gas-fired espresso machines).

 

Cappuccino
An Italian espresso based drink, traditionally made with one third coffee, one third steamed milk and one third frothed milk. There are too many guidelines regarding its exact composition and manufacture to go into here.

 

Cup Warmer
The large expanse of metal on top of an espresso machine that keeps crockery cups warm. Can be warmed by the heat of the boiler, although more advanced machines have electric cup warming elements built in.

 

Dose
Used to describe either the volume of liquid coffee poured into a cup or the amount of ground coffee dispensed by a grinder.

 

Drip Tray
The platform below the group heads (see below) that the cups sit on.

 

Espresso
The small Italian black coffee which gives rise to all the other speciality coffee drinks.

 

Filter Basket
The metal filter that sits in the group handle and contains the ground coffee for brewing. Can be one-, two- or three-shot sizes (also defined as single, double or triple).

 

Fully Automatic
Usually describes a bean-to-cup machine (see above).

 

Grind
Used as a verb to describe the process of preparing coffee beans for espresso extraction, or as a noun to describe the particle size, for instance "this grind is off, the pour (see below) is running at 15 seconds".

 

Grinder
The device that grinds coffee beans ready for espresso extraction. Usually consists of a bean hopper, a set of grinding blades and a ground coffee container with some sort of dosing mechanism.

 

Group/Group Head
The part of the espresso machine that brews the coffee, also used to define the size of an espresso machine.

 

Group Handle
The handle that holds the filter basket (see above) that you dose ground coffee into and then fits into the group head. Can be one-, two- or three-shot sizes (also defined as single, double or triple).

 

Heat Exchanger
A device that heats the water used for making coffee without actually drawing water directly from the boiler. These should be independent for each group to ensure constant temperature.

 

Hopper
The part of a grinder that holds the beans.

 

Knock Out Box
A container (usually made from metal) that is used for "knocking-out" the used grinds from a group handle. Can be positioned in the counter/bar or under the grinder.

 

Lattè
A hot drink traditionally made with one quarter coffee and three quarters hot, steamed milk with very little froth.

 

Mocha
Although actually a variety of Ethiopian coffee, this is now usually used to describe a hot drink made using espresso, chocolate (either powder or syrup) and milk in varying proportions.

 

Portafilter
Another word for group handle.

 

Pour/Pour Speed/Pour Time
Describes the time it takes to pour coffee from the group into the cup. A well made espresso should take approximately 25-30 seconds.

 

Pump
The device (in most cases) that moves water around an espresso machine.

 

Semi-Automatic
A traditional espresso machine that has no preset dosing system.

 

Steam Arm/Wand
The metal tube that delivers steam, enabling baristas to froth milk. Often covered in 20 years worth of dried on milk residue in grungy cafés.

 

Tamping
Describes the action of pressing the ground coffee down into the filter basket after dosing from the grinder. May be done with the grinder's tamper or (preferably) with a hand tamper.

 

Traditional
Used to describe an espresso machine that is not bean-to-cup fully-automatic.

 

Water Filter/Softener
Used to prepare the water supply for ingress to your precious espresso machine. Essential in hard water areas to prevent the build up of scale within the machine.

 

Water Font
The nozzle that dispenses hot water from the espresso machine boiler.

 

 

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