Hey there! This is TOP episode 115.  COFFEE. Vocabulary Booster

My name’s Ola and I am an English teacher. My goal is to help you start speaking English with confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. I believe it is achievable for you and it’s time you started speaking English fearlessly! Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning! 

Hello, hello! Thank you for clicking or tapping play! Here we are today talking about coffee. I hope you’re doing fine and I hope you’ll have fun listening to today’s episode. 

It’s gonna be packed with vocabulary. You’ll learn about caffeine and about how coffee is made. You’ll find out about different methods of brewing coffee. We’ll talk about the communist regime era in Poland. We’ll look at vanilla latte with soy milk and how to order a coffee in a coffee shop. Is it ok to say ‘Can I get a latte’? Do you consider yourself a coffee curious, a coffee ignorant or maybe a coffee crazy? 

What’s special about fair trade coffee? Finally, we’ll go through some vocabulary connected with coffee aroma and taste. Is this normal that your coffee bag says it’s floral honey raisins deep tangy body and all you taste is just black coffee? Well, all this and more in today’s episode. 

Before we jump in please let me ask you a favour. If you think this episode is valuable and worth sharing, please share. Tell someone, if you know a coffee crazy person, let him or her know about this episode. But only if they need to boost their English vocabulary and improve their English speaking skills. 

Don’t forget to download a worksheet. It’s waiting for you at teacherola.com/115.

Today we’re talking about coffee but first, let’s begin with caffeine. Mind the pronunciation: caffeine. What’s caffeine? It’s a drug found in coffee and tea that makes you feel more active. Yes, tea also contains caffeine. Example sentence: Try to avoid too much caffeine. This stimulant is addictive, if you don’t believe that try quitting it and you’ll see in no time. Probably you’ll get headaches, and who knows what else. Caffeine enhances concentration, increases metabolism, and boosts mood. Whether it comes from coffee, tea, energy drinks, or soda, many people feel like they need caffeine in the morning to increase their motivation to work. 

I really enjoy the taste of coffee but on the other hand, I hate being alert too long, so If you’re anything like me you might try having a decaf. That’s an abbreviation from a decaffeinated coffee. Example sentence: I’ll have a decaf, please. Now, tell me, are you a coffee addict? Are you a coffee person? 

Let’s now have a look at how coffee is made. Let’s start from the very very beginning. First of all, coffee cherries, yes, coffee cherries grow on coffee trees in certain climates. The regions where coffee beans come from are known as the coffee belt. 

There are two main types of coffee, ARABICA, and ROBUSTA. Arabica coffee beans are considered superior, with sweeter and more complex flavours, at the same time more challenging to grow, hence more expensive. Robusta has more caffeine and is a rather harsh taste, still, it thrives in rougher conditions so it is cheaper. Additionally, we also have blends of these two coffees.  

Each coffee cherry has two coffee beans. This is useless knowledge most probably but for no reason, I found it fascinating and decided to share. By the way, talking trivia, coffee beans are the coffee seeds. They aren’t actually beans. Coffee beans have to be removed from the cherry and dried. This is called processing. In the end, we get green coffee beans. There are various methods of processing and if you are not a coffee ignorant you might wanna know them. I’ll just tell you briefly what they are called: natural processing washed processing and honey processing. Natural processed coffees are sweeter, I like them. 

Then, green coffee beans are roasted. Roasting coffee gives it this rich brown colour. Depending on how long and at what temperature the coffee beans are roasted we have light roast coffee, medium roast coffee and dark roast coffee. This is what you purchase, and now you gotta ground those beans. You need a good coffee grinder for that. The finer the ground coffee beans, the faster you can extract them. 

Finally, you can make yourself your coffee. You can brew your coffee.  To brew means to mix with hot water and become ready to drink. You can brew coffee, tea, but also beer. Beer is brewed in a brewery, and in Polish, we have a similar word – ‘browar’. After brewing usually you end up with used coffee beans unless you make instant coffee. Then, there are no coffee beans left afterwards. Used coffee beans can be reused! You can make coffee body scrub or you can use it to fertilize your plants, but I’m not an expert in that field. 

Brewing. There are many methods of brewing coffee. New ones are popping all the time! But they all do the same thing. That’s why you need finely ground coffee to pull a quick shot of espresso. 

As mentioned before, the finer you ground beans, the faster you can extract them. That’s why you need finely ground coffee to get a good shot of espresso. A medium grind is for a pour-over and coarse for a slow method. Cold-brew for instance, or dripper or Chemex. 

A coffee percolator is a type of pot used for the brewing of coffee and I think it’s one of the most popular methods of brewing coffee. French press is another one, but in Poland, especially among older generations, I don’t know, older? I don’t know anyone except for my parents, aunts and uncles who drinks this kind of coffee. Nowadays we have so many better meths of brewing! But! Who am I to judge. It’s subjective, everyone has their own taste. What I’m talking about is grind coffee. During the communist regime era, coffee was a synonym of luxury and difficult to get, hence it was a common idea for a gift. It could work miracles in hospitals or offices. Most people drank grain coffee or poor quality coffee called plujka. My granny still serves it in a glass with a metal handle. Classic. I think Turkish coffee is very similar to polish grind coffee but brewing differs I guess. We just pour hot water over the ground coffee. That’s it. It’s also referred to as a poured over coffee. 

Coffee shops. When you go to a coffee shop you can have for instance: Grande, Iced, Sugar-Free, Vanilla Latte With Soy Milk. Or Decaf, Soy Latte With An Extra Shot And Cream. Or even Tall, Non-Fat Latte With Caramel Drizzle. What does it mean? Tall? Grande? Venti? Well, if you want to make sense out of it, don’t since there’s no sense. Venti is Italian and it means ‘twenty’, grande means big in Spanish and tall is tall… Well, remember this. In different coffee shops, they have different nomenclature. Small, medium and large or tall, grande and venti. The end. Now, how to order coffee? 

Can I get a latte? There’s some discussion and let’s say animosities around this vocabulary element, totally unnecessary. Maybe, well, yes, of course, Can you get me a coffee would be correct but, please! Can I get is widespread now among users of English all over the world, the verb ‘get’ is such a versatile verb you can’t control it. I’m sorry grammar police, you’re powerless. Use, it’s ok. Can I get a latte, please? Language changes over time, but just use common sense. Why would a customer need to add pronouns, when it’s obvious in the contest of a coffee shop that a customer is not the person who prepares a coffee. Remember, that in fact, the first meaning of the word ‘get’ is to obtain, to receive, that fits the question, doesn’t it?

A person who specializes in making all those kinds of coffee is a barista. Now. Let me know what is your favourite kind of coffee is. Is it black coffee? espresso? Cappucino? espresso (not express) espresso? Americano? Latte? I like my coffee black, no sugar. 

Are you a coffee curious person? Or maybe you consider yourself a coffee crazy person? Such a person buys expensive, gourmet coffees, which means sophisticated, good quality coffee. Such coffee is fair trade. Fairtrade coffee is coffee that has a certificate that proves fair trade standards. Such a certificate ensures sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to coffee bean farmers. Fairtrade organizations support producers and sustainable environmental farming. They prohibit child labor or physical forced labour.

Finally, let’s talk about the taste and the aroma. When we talk about coffee we rather avoid the word ‘smell’. Coffee has its aroma. What a beautiful word. There are lots of different coffee aromas. 

They can be described as nutty, fruity, warming, spicy, caramelly, chocolatey and many many more. When it comes to taste, coffee crazy people distinguish sweetness, body and acidity. The body can be described as for example: rich, light, smooth, thick, heavy, drying, delicate and so on. You know, when you have a coffee bag description that tells you that it’s flavours of juicy blackberry and white grapes and those flavours are balanced by subtle notes of raw sugar and floral honey. So these descriptions refer to sweetness body and acidity. Taste is inherently subjective so if you have a coffee and it doesn’t taste like rum or raisins as the bag said it’s because you have your own perspective. Right?

Time to say the sentences out loud. Listen and repeat: 

Try to avoid too much caffeine.

I’ll have a decaf, please.

Arabica coffee beans are considered superior, with sweeter and more complex flavours.

Roasting coffee gives it this rich brown colour. 

The finer the ground coffee beans, the faster you can extract them. 

After brewing usually you end up with used coffee beans unless you make instant coffee.

During the communist regime era, coffee was a synonym of luxury and difficult to get.

Can I get a latte?

Coffee has its aroma.

Taste is inherently subjective.

Well done! Don’t forget to go your inbox and grab the worksheet in order to test yourself. Complete the worksheet with translations.

If you’re not a member of TOPeople download the worksheet at teacherola.com/115 and become one. It’s free. 

If you find this episode useful, tell your friends about my podcast, share it with one person or share it somewhere on your social media. It’ll help me grow and spread the message. 

Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next Wednesday! We’re going to discuss the indefinite article ‘a’’. Till then, take care! Happy learning. Stay fearless and say it out loud! Bye!