Coffee Terms 101


Tasting notes are descriptions of the flavors, aromas, and characteristics present in a cup of coffee, providing a sensory guide for you! Tasting notes are used to communicate the unique attributes of different coffee varieties, helping consumers make informed choices based on their flavor preferences.  



Altitude plays a crucial role in coffee growing as it affects the beans' development and flavor. Higher altitudes typically have cooler temperatures and lower oxygen levels, which slow down the beans' maturation, resulting in a denser, more complex flavor profile with increased acidity and sweetness. Additionally, the slower growth at higher altitudes allows the beans more time to develop nuanced flavors, leading to higher-quality coffee sought after in specialty coffee. 



Coffee producers are the people responsible for growing coffee -- planting, cultivating, fertilizing soil, and much more. In some cases, our coffees come from a single producer, while other offerings are grown by many different producers or farmers and brought together at a nearby mill for processing. 



A coffee processing mill is responsible for converting freshly harvested coffee cherries into green coffee beans ready for roasting. It removes the outer layers of the cherries, ferments or washes the beans to remove mucilage, and dries them to the appropriate moisture content. 




Processing is simply what happens physically to the coffee once its harvested from a plant. We like to offer a good mix of different processing methods in our coffees! At any time, you'll see at least one or two washed coffees, a natural, and maybe something fermented and fun!

To get started, explore the anatomy of a coffee cherry from 



Washed coffee processing involves removing the outer skin and pulp from the coffee cherries before washing them in water to remove the remaining mucilage layer. This method results in a cleaner, brighter flavor profile, often showcasing the inherent characteristics of the coffee bean itself. Washed coffee is generally dried on large beds or sometimes in mechanical driers. 

video from Cafe Imports YouTube channel


washed processing in Sidama, Ethiopia -- mill workers physically washing coffee in large tanks. 



Natural coffee processing involves drying whole coffee cherries in the sun, allowing them to ferment slightly before removing the dried fruit, resulting in a fruity and often sweeter flavor profile compared to other processing methods like washed or honey. Natural processing is sometimes referred to as "dry process" seeing as it uses no water in the processing. 

coffee being dried on large raised beds. workers tending to the coffee monitor its moisture content and regularly turning the coffee to ensure evenness. 




Honey processed coffee involves removing the skin of the coffee cherry while leaving some or all of the mucilage intact before drying the beans. This method results in a sweet, nuanced flavor profile with varying degrees of acidity and body depending on the amount of mucilage left on the beans during drying.


Anaerobic coffee processing entails fermenting coffee beans in a sealed environment without oxygen, often using water or other controlled conditions to manipulate fermentation. This method leads to unique flavor profiles characterized by intensified fruity, floral, and sometimes fermented notes in the resulting coffee.



Coffee roast level refers to the degree of roasting applied to coffee beans, ranging from light to dark, influencing the flavor, acidity, and body of the brewed coffee. Lighter roasts retain more of the bean's original characteristics and acidity, while darker roasts develop deeper flavors and body through caramelization and the Maillard reaction. A good amount of the coffees we offer at Crescendo tend to fall on the lighter to medium range. We test our roasted coffees using a roast meter -- a a calibrated electronic device that measures the color of the coffee and has a corresponding scale.