noun, often attributive
cof·​fee | \ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-\

Definition of coffee 

1a : a beverage made by percolation, infusion, or decoction from the roasted and ground seeds of a coffee plant

b : any of several Old World tropical plants (genus Coffea and especially C. arabica and C. canephora) of the madder family that are widely cultivated in warm regions for their seeds from which coffee is prepared

c : coffee seeds especially roasted and often ground — compare arabica, robusta

d : a dehydrated product made from brewed coffee instant coffee also : a beverage made from this

2 : a cup of coffee two coffees

Illustration of coffee

Illustration of coffee

coffee 1b

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Did You Know?

Coffee is made from the roasted and ground seeds, or beans, of the coffee plant, a tropical evergreen shrub. Two of the 25 or more species, Arabica and Robusta, supply most of the world's coffee. Arabica is grown in Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Indonesia; Robusta mainly in Africa. The shrub bears small white flowers with a jasmine-like fragrance. The fruit, which is red when mature, is called a cherry. The seed is called a bean. Coffee contains large amounts of caffeine, whose effects have always been an important element in the drink's popularity. Coffee-drinking dates from the 15th century in Arabia. It reached Europe by the 17th century and immediately became popular. Coffee is consumed by about one-third of the world's population.

Examples of coffee in a Sentence

I bought a pound of coffee.

Recent Examples on the Web

In the morning, Liggett would knock on Sherwen’s door for coffee—Paul always had the good stuff, from Kampala. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Cycling’s Phil Says Goodbye to Cycling’s Paul," 3 Dec. 2018 Whether that’s your running group or students in your fitness class, still meet them for coffee after class or stay active in email chains or Facebook groups. SELF, "Why You Should Let Go of the 'All-or-Nothing' Mindset—and How to Do It," 29 Nov. 2018 Even in the winter our quest for bathrooms has uncovered under-the-radar ski town bakeries, delicious coffee, and friendly locals. Megan Barber, Curbed, "RV toilets: Why I’ll never have a bathroom in my camper," 1 Nov. 2018 The two minds met for coffee on Friday, September 14 — and shot the series two days later. Sarah Bahbah, Teen Vogue, "Noah Centineo Stars in New Sarah Bahbah Photo Series," 29 Aug. 2018 Employees are spending more money on food — at Starbucks Starbucks is clearly not just for coffee, according to corporate expense receipts. Rani Molla, Recode, "Here are five hidden trends in corporate America’s travel and expenses as online services take over," 26 July 2018 Short term tactics like drinking coffee, singing, or rolling down the window will not work. NBC News, "How to tell if you're too tired to drive — and what to do if you are," 8 July 2018 Sunday morning would be more leisurely, reading the paper and drinking coffee after a dog walk. Lisa Deaderick,, "'Miracle' baseball league for kids with special needs hits a homerun," 1 July 2018 Wake up, drink some coffee, and read about the latest ethical scandal involving EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. Adam K. Raymond, Daily Intelligencer, "It’s Time for Your Daily Scott Pruitt Scandal Report," 15 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'coffee.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of coffee

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for coffee

Italian & Turkish; Italian caffè, from Turkish kahve, from Arabic qahwa

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More Definitions for coffee



English Language Learners Definition of coffee

: a dark brown drink made from ground coffee beans and boiled water

: coffee beans


cof·​fee | \ˈkȯ-fē \

Kids Definition of coffee

1 : a drink made from the roasted and ground seeds ( coffee beans ) of a tropical plant

2 : the roasted seeds of the coffee plant when whole or ground

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More from Merriam-Webster on coffee

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with coffee

Spanish Central: Translation of coffee

Nglish: Translation of coffee for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of coffee for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about coffee

Comments on coffee

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a nest or breeding place

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