Coffee Buzzwords: What All Those Labels Actually Mean

Here's your go-to guide for finally understanding what's written on your coffee bag.

These days, every coffee bag reads like a mini résumé for the beans inside. But what do all those little labels actually mean?

Dark Roast

The more time in the roaster, the darker the beans. They're also more bitter, but with a rich, caramel thing going on.

Light Roast

Lighter beans hang on to their original flavor (and caffeine) better. So they often taste fruitier — and may pack a bigger jolt.

Shade Grown

Rather than raze trees, farmers grow beans under or around the natural forest canopy, forgoing excess fertilizer and pesticides and preserving habitats.

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Fair Trade Certified

The mark suggests the growers got a fair price for their beans. Another option: Look for "direct trade" on the label (i.e., no middleman to cut into profits).


Organic standards differ among countries, but the USDA stamp signifies that the beans were grown and roasted with few to zero synthetic pesticides.

This story originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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