10 Key Coffee Terms Explained

Buying coffee beans can be challenging, given the sheer number of key coffee terms that proliferate. Therefore, before buying the best coffee beans online, you need to make sure that you understand some basic coffee terminology to fully understand the product that you’re about to purchase. So, with that in mind, we introduce and explain ten key coffee terms that will help you make better decisions when buying coffee online. 


Acidity refers to the sensation on your tongue when you taste coffee for the first time. Cuppers can determine whether coffee has low, medium, or high acidity. Often, if a coffee has high acidity, it is described as bright, while low acidity coffee is more commonly described as flat. It’s important to regard acidity alongside the body, as we explain below.


Sometimes known as mouthfeel, the body of a coffee refers to how a particular coffee feels in your mouth. Is it heavy? Light? Dense? Understanding the body of a coffee is helpful as you can get a good idea of how it tastes when you make a delicious morning brew!

Direct trade

Direct trade means that the coffee beans in question have been purchased directly from the growers, eliminating middlemen wherever possible. As a result of directly traded coffee, growers typically receive a better price for their crops. Kingha coffee is purchased as a result of direct trade, something that we’re extremely proud of. 


Ethical coffee can mean different things to different people. However, if a coffee is branded and described as ethical, it means that the growers, roasters, and retailers have adhered to strict ethical principles to bring the beans to the market. You can find out more about what ethical coffee means to Kingha in our recent article on the subject.


Fairtrade is a global certification that can be applied to various products from around the world, including coffee. While there are pros and cons to Fairtrade produce, it’s widely regarded as a positive thing, particularly for coffee growers. You can find out more about the Fairtrade certification process here.

Green coffee

Green coffee is that which has not yet been roasted. Some people buy green coffee to roast it themselves at home. However, if you don’t have a roaster, buying green coffee isn’t a good idea! 


Sometimes when you’re buying coffee, you will see beans that have already been ground. Therefore, you could buy an espresso grind, filter grind, or even a French press grind, for instance. This basically refers to how finely the coffee has been ground, and you need to buy the correct grind for the method of brewing that you will employ. This complete coffee grind chart is a helpful point of reference if you’re looking to buy pre-ground coffee, rather than whole beans.


Organic coffee is that which has been produced without the use of chemical herbicides, pesticides, or insecticides. Organic coffee is much better for the environment, the people who grow it and the people who drink it! All of Kingha’s coffee is organic, and you can find out more about the value of organic coffee in our recent article that explains – what are organic coffee beans?


Roast refers to the process of turning green coffee beans into brown coffee beans that are ready for consumption. Roasting is an art form, and there are lots of ways to roast coffee, but there are three main types of roast – light, medium, and dark. The way a coffee bean is roasted directly impacts its taste profile and is a super important part of the coffee journey. Keep up to date with Kingha’s White Rock Roastery for more information about how quality coffee is roasted. 

Single origin

Single-origin (or single estate) coffee is that which has been grown on a specific farm, or on a collection of farms in the same area. This is valuable as different areas produce unique coffees, and it’s a great way to sample different roast profiles. For instance, our Kigezi Mountains Coffee is grown on Vicent Butamanya’s 20-acre farm, 1950 meters up in the southwestern Ugandan highlands! 

Recap: 10 key coffee terms to understand

Understanding the above ten key coffee terms will help you as you look to buy the best and most delicious coffee available online. We are delighted to announce that we have recently launched our online store, bringing the finest African coffee to Canadian drinkers! Be sure to check out each of our coffee descriptions to find the ideal beans for your taste. 

If you have any questions about our coffee or key coffee terms in general, please do get in touch – we’d be delighted to help!