When we make coffee or tea, there are particles that remain at the bottom of the jar.

Is it right to call them 'rudiments' or is there another term for this?

  • 5
    At the bottom of the jar? Or the bottom of the pot? I think the word you are looking for is dregs, and I think the site you are looking for is English Language Learners.
    – J.R.
    Sep 14, 2013 at 9:24
  • @J.R. Thanks for that input. As a matter of fact, the page your link opens up also uses the word residue and the availability of multiple synonyms makes me think if this is a matter of choice rather than a rule.
    – itsols
    Sep 14, 2013 at 10:34
  • Yes, it's rare in English that there's just one word for something so common.
    – J.R.
    Sep 14, 2013 at 10:40
  • 1
    Re @J.R.'s comment, you take coffee or tea out of a jar (or tin or packet or box or whatever) before making it. So do you want to know what to call the stuff at the bottom of your cup after you make it when it's wet and in your cup or pot? Actually one can say 'tea leaves' or 'coffee grounds' for both before and after, but one usually says 'tea leaves' for afterwards when 'reading' them. I don't know if people say or do 'reading coffee grounds'. You definitely don't say 'reading dregs'. But if you're just referring to the crud at bottom of your cup, then 'dregs' is the word.
    – Mitch
    Sep 14, 2013 at 15:35
  • @Mitch Well said. Yes, I meant the substance that remains after a cup of coffee or tea is made.
    – itsols
    Sep 14, 2013 at 15:50

6 Answers 6



re·sid·u·um [ri-zij-oo-uhm] Show IPA noun, plural re·sid·u·a [-zij-oo-uh] Show IPA .

1. the residue, remainder, or rest of something.

2. Also, residue. Chemistry . a quantity or body of matter remaining after evaporation, combustion, distillation, etc.

3. any residual product.

In Deutsch it is called kaffeesatz as in kaffeesatz lesen or the Turkish tradition of reading tea leaves.

  • kaffeesatz ger. translates to 'coffee grounds' (particles of ground coffee?), not necessarily the 'left overs'. And oh, yes, 'satz' also means 'dregs' as a secondary meaning.
    – Kris
    Sep 14, 2013 at 11:34
  • 4
    No one, not even the most clinical of people, would actually use this word in speech. It sounds like something a really uptight scientist might use in a technical paper.
    – Mitch
    Sep 14, 2013 at 12:04
  • @Mitch not even, us uptight scientist types refer to residue or, at worst, sediment or precipitate. Can't speak for MDs though, they have their own language.
    – terdon
    Sep 14, 2013 at 14:55
  • @Kris: Lots of people who call the leftover stuff coffee grounds would never use that word for ground coffee. So I think that Kaffeesatz is really the word for the leftover stuff. And this is confirmed by deutsches Wiktionary. May 27, 2018 at 0:44

dregs [drɛgz] pl n
1. (Miscellaneous Technologies / Brewing) (Cookery) solid particles that tend to settle at the bottom of some liquids, such as wine or coffee 2. residue or remains

meta: search for the words "coffee OR tea particles remain at the bottom" in Google and you will see the first dictionary result is the TFD entry above! :)


" Sediment " should be the close one ..

  • Welcome to EL&U! I like this answer and I have upvoted it but you should add a dictionary definition showing your answer is right. At the moment it has been flagged as low-quality because it is so short. Answers here require a bit more explanation. May 27, 2018 at 11:16

I'm not sure there's a simple, single answer. Dregs is the best answer but refers also to the liquid residue (in the sense of "last remaining part" (M-W:3), while residuum is a nice word but not appropriate in normal writing (residue would be better but not really specific enough). For coffee there's grounds and for tea there's leaves, but both of these refer to the product before as well as after the water was added (though with context, e.g. "pour gently leaving the grounds behind" would of course make sense). Settlings may be useable for the particles making up the mud at the bottom of coarsely-filtered coffee.

  • I've always interpreted "dregs" to mean a mixture of liquid and solids at the bottom of a pot or cup.
    – Hot Licks
    May 27, 2018 at 0:55
  • @HotLicks yes but in any proportion, so anything from a liquid that suddenly feels grainy as you drink it to wet particles
    – Chris H
    May 29, 2018 at 15:10

For coffee, in my part of the U.S., at least, what is left after brewing is called coffee grounds. I have never heard anybody use coffee grounds for ground coffee, which is what I would call the stuff you start with.

This is confirmed by at least one dictionary, Merriam Webster:

1 b (2): ground coffee beans after brewing.

Googling, however, I see that some people on the West Coast, at least, call unused coffee beans that have been ground coffee grounds. So to disambiguate, you could call them used coffee grounds.


Er… I don’t think anyone has actually answered the question, as such.

A “rudimentary bow” (for example) is something that is not quite a proper bow, but still manages to make arrows fly.   “primitive”.

The rudiments of some area of knowledge or praxis — (e.g.) management, or book-binding — is the foundational knowledge and/or art.   Slang: AREA“101” (from the codes for first-year university subjects).

(I know this already, but I checked in my Apple “Dictionary”, just to make sure.)

  • 1
    And how is this an answer to the question? :) Sep 25, 2013 at 10:54

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