The ritual of coffee drinking has been witnessing a rebirth across the globe in the past few years. Coffee drinkers are becoming increasingly educated and are expecting much more than simply a sugar-filled cup of caffeine to be served to them at coffee shops.
The phenomenon is so profound it is now considered a Third Wave of Coffee, referring to coffee of superior quality that unites highly qualified farmers, pickers, processors, roasters and baristas in perfect synergy. Working in harmony across the supply and processing chain is the only way to ensure a truly remarkable cup of coffee that is usually not a product of large corporations and industrial processing units with profit being the only driving force behind their operations. A good cup of coffee embodies the stories and passion of devoted individuals, their labour, hand work, artisanal skills and genuine love for coffee.
The Third Wave of Coffee focuses on single origin coffees, where the origin of the coffee beans is usually known down to an exact farm or at least cooperative where they were grown. Micro roasters, where they carefully pick their coffee beans and strive to cut out the middlemen in the supply chain, are flourishing, roasting fresh in smaller batches. They breathe in unique personalities into their beans by creating their own roasting profiles that bring out specific characteristics and aromas of coffee.
The movement gave coffee a similar gourmet status as wine with a growing number of people appreciating its diversity and exploring the different aromas, resulting from a variety of roasting profiles and origins. What’s changing as well, are brewing methods, with the world’s top baristas leading a trend of pour-over, drip, Aeropress and cold brew coffees. While such brewing methods have the potential to bring the best out of the coffee beans, they require skilful hands and plenty of knowledge to ensure the perfect water to bean ratio, water temperature, infusion time and handling of tools.
Why Third Wave Of Coffee?
The expression was coined by Trish Rothgeb from the Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters back in 2002. She defined the era of mindless everyday coffee drinking for a caffeine kick, rather than a gourmet experience as the First Wave of Coffee. This is when coffee became widely available and a consumer item.
When the Second Wave of Coffee came along, people finally realized coffee isn’t necessarily a tasteless bitter drink and, as a response to all of the ‘bad’ coffee of the previous generation, chains such as Starbucks started popping up, not necessarily improving the quality of coffee but simply preparing it in more enjoyable ways, topping it up with extra goodies and adding a social note to drinking it.
Finally, a few years ago, with the emergence of the Third Wave of Coffee, people started demanding pure coffee of high quality. The trend of educated coffee drinking first blossomed in Australia, but coffee shops around the world are starting to pick up on the new guidelines as well.
How To Catch The Wave
Buy From Small Roasters
Step away from industrial-quality coffee, large corporations and questionable coffee blends with no origin data. Look for small roasters who produce freshly roasted coffee in small batches, roast seasonal coffee variants and single origin coffees of high quality.
Some of my favorite roasters include:
Invest In Tools
Invest into baristas’ favourite brewing equipment, such as Aeropress, Hario V60 or Chemex. These tools are designed to bring the maximum amount of flavour out of the coffee beans, making it easier for us to explore the world of coffee and the incredible flavour notes of different beans without excess bitterness.