The 5 Snobbiest Coffee Terms

The 5 Snobbiest Coffee Terms

Think back to a time, way back, to before you were the intolerable coffee snob you are today.  There was a time when you first heard a coffee-related term or concept that you made you think "Wow - this coffee stuff is getting serious."  We have gone to the trouble of sifting through these terms and concepts and concentrating them for you here:

5.  High Grown:  To even get to high grown, you must first know the term SHG - "Strictly High Grown" which refers to coffee grown at 1200 meters or above of elevation.  The higher elevation results in a longer maturation process that allows the bean to absorb more of fruitiness of the surrounding pulp.  The bean also gets harder and more dense, which allows it to be roasted darker without losing the subtle flavor notes.   "High Grown" is a derivative term meaning coffee grown at an altitude of 900-1200 meters.  It's kind of a chilled out version of the real deal - the coffee equivalent of dreampunk rock. 

4. Monsooned:  Monsooning is a processing method unique to India and most famously associated with the Malabar coast.  The beans are laid out in the open air of a warehouse during Monsoon season (Jun -  Sep).  The characteristics of the beans, especially the amount of moisture absorbed, is transformed by this process. You may hear a true coffee snob remark that they can guess the length of the monsoon season the year before based on the acidity of the coffee.  So next time you get yelled at for leaving a window open, just let 'em know you didn't forget, you're just monsooning the place. 

3. Shade-grown:  Did you know that coffee trees are naturally part of the forest understory?  This means that the forest canopy has historically covered coffee trees up until about the 1970's.  Modern coffee plantations have cultivated sun-tolerant trees that are grown in full sun in order to maximize yield.  It's kind of a bummer cutting down that tree canopy though!  The canopy supports a diverse set of species of migratory and resident birds, insects (including bees), reptiles, bats, and other organisms.  It also supports a diversity of plant species.   The lizards and birds serve as a natural pest control and reduce the number of pesticides a plantation may be use. The canopy trees also serve as a carbon capture mechanism and help enrich the soil with nutrients and protect it from erosion.  Maybe one day it won't be just snobby coffee that comes from shade grown plantations, it'll just be where coffee comes from. 

2. Mycotoxin-Free:  Coming in pretty high on the snooty meter is "mycotoxin-free". Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins produced by certain molds.  They can be found in a range of foods from grains, fruits, coffee, and other sources.  Very low levels of these toxins are consumed by most people on a daily basis, without any trouble or bother.   But it isn't going overboard for a snobby coffee drinker to pay a little extra for testing to ensure the nearly always trace levels of mycotoxins are a trace of a trace. 

1. Terroir:  The snobbiest coffee term of them all. A French term of course.  It encompasses all environmental factors that may affect the taste, characteristics and experience of a coffee.  There are the normal factors like soil composition, rainfall, average temperature, altitude, and amount of sunlight.  But the snobbiest of the snobs know even more about the particular "terroir" of a coffee such as "Oh the western slope of this plantation has rather large bat colony, the guano of which falls upon many of the beans." 

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