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Coffee Definition


An image of a whole, roasted coffee bean.

A whole, roasted coffee bean. Coffee beans are typically ground and then infused into a beverage.

Marko Goodwin

Definition: "Coffee" generally refers to a beverage made by the infusion, decoction or percolation of the roasted, ground seeds of the coffee plant* (genus Coffea, and usually C. arabica or C. canephora / C. robusta). Coffee is prized for its aroma and flavor, and is noted for the fact that it naturally contains varying levels of caffeine. In coffee cupping, traits of coffee like acidity and mouthfeel are also noted.

In business or culinary terminology, "coffee" may also refer to coffee seeds (commonly called "coffee beans") in their wet, dry, raw, roasted, whole, ground / crushed, or dehydrated state. (Used or unused ground coffee is typically referred to as "coffee grounds." Dehydrated coffee is used to prepare instant coffee.)

In coffeehouses, cafes and restaurants, the word "coffee" may also refer to a single cup of coffee, as in, "I'd like a coffee with milk, please."

In social situations, "coffee" may refer to a casual gathering or meeting, as in, "Let's grab a coffee [and chat]."

In design and the arts, "coffee" may refer to a dark brown color. Similarly, "espresso" may be used to refer to an even darker brown color.

* The coffee plant is a species of flowering plant in the Rubiaceae family. It is a tropical shrub or tree that originated in Africa and is currently produced in many of the world's hotter climates, including South America, Central America, Mexico, Hawaii and parts of Asia. While the C. arabica species produces better coffee, the C. canephora species (which is frequently referred to as "Robusta coffee") is more common. The coffee seed, or "coffee bean," comes from the coffee berry, or "coffee cherry."

For more information on terms related to "coffee", see the following definitions:

For more information on coffee beans and ground coffee, see the following resources: For more information on coffee roasts and coffee roasting, see the following resources: For more information on coffee drinks, see the following resources: For more information on coffee preparation, see the following resources: For more information on coffee history and coffee culture, see the following resources:


Pronunciation: ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-fē (rhymes with "toffee")

Common Misspellings: coffe, cofee, coffey

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