Waves of coffee?

Credit: featured picture from @onevibe through Pinterest

Wave (n): a long body of water curling into an arched form and breaking on the shore.

Come on, we all know what wave is! But a wave of coffee does not curl, neither happen in an arched form. It just breaks the way people drink it, talk about it and enjoy it. It lasts longer than a trend and basically moves the whole industry to a different path. Why do I come up with this topic?

It’s my first concern when trying to explain the term “third-wave” or “specialty coffee” to my beloved customers. To make them curious and satisfy their curiosity with a proper answer, there must be some technical terms defined in the most common way.

  1. So, how many waves of coffee? ==> 3 until now.
  2. What are they?

First wave was the time for home brewed coffee and mass consumption. People drank it for caffeine mostly. It’s also when vacuum package was invented and instant coffee exploded. Nestle, Maxwell house or Folgers were big names in this golden era. To meet those significant needs of caffeine, Robusta was a king.

* Vacuum package: The process of removing air from the tin to keep it tight and fresh has been utilized and restless improved until now. It was invented by Austin and R.W. Hills, founders of the Hills Bros.

In second wave, in contrast, people started to look at Arabica, which was guaranteed to bring more flavors in a cup. Inspired by the craftsmanship concept of Peet’s coffee, Starbucks made its very first step in bringing espresso-based drinks from Italy to US and to an empire of coffee chain. Opening its first store, Starbucks attracts more customers by displaying higher quality and freshly roasted beans and by its wonderful aroma. An artisan look of coffee was strongly spread out through stores and inspired other coffee entrepreneurs to follow the wave. It was also the time for Frappuccino!

Third wave, it’s now.

More technology. More studies and findings. More communication.

Speaking of “third-wave”, the most common phrases in any conversation include “Specialty coffee”, “single-origin”, “Light roast”. From a big community of consumer, we now have small groups of coffee lovers, coffee enthusiasts and coffee connoisseurs. Baristi (plural noun of Barista in Italian) play a bigger role in cafes as a gate leading customers to a new world of coffee. They are expected to be fully acknowledged of the coffee they are making: where is it from? How does it taste? How were the beans processed? When was it roasted? Is it good for espresso or hand-drip? And for the first time, drinkers hear the “fruity” taste and “floral” aroma from their cups!

If you find the above questions familiar, or even have your own answers for those, welcome, you’re a part of it already. I’ve seen many baristi trying to fantasize or exaggerate their attitude (to be prestigious) to specialty coffee and I personally don’t agree with that. Third-wave is the right time for us to learn how to appreciate coffee and work together to excel the best of it. The more you share, the more you gain. I believe this is also a characteristic of third-wave, along with Direct Trade and Sensory Experience.

Below is very cute and useful infographics from Essence Coffee Blog about Waves of Coffee. You can have a look at their original post here : https://essense.coffee/blog_post/third-wave/


Coffee infograph.