What is the third wave of coffee?
Rather than coffee beans being a commodity like wheat, there’s a fast growing movement aiming to make coffee beans a niche market like chocolate, tea and wine.
Features of the third wave include direct trade, single-origin (as opposed to coffee blends), light roasts, better quality coffee beans and latte art.
But what really distinguishes the third wave of coffee (or the speciality coffee) is that the production process is fair (even more fair than fair-trade). Quality control is exceptional; coffee roasters and coffee growers have good direct relationships; and it means that coffee farmers get to take a cut of the retail profits.
What are the first and second waves of coffee?
Maxwell House has been singled out as the face of the first wave – good quality, consistent and convenient coffee in a can. For the second wave, think Starbucks and the rise of the coffee culture which incorporates the above, plus romance, sophistication and sociability.
It’s not as if the third wave will replace the second – you don’t walk into a bar and demand to taste all the wines. But, similar to wine, there will be more options to taste and you’ll be able to read the stories behind the coffee beans.
With third wave coffee you’ll know, specifically, where your coffee beans came from, who picked the cherries and who roasted them to the delicious golden brown colour associated with third wave brews.
In some respects, the third wave is about bringing coffee back to its roots. Starbucks invented the flat white, skinny, soy latte, Frappuccino… coffees, whereas the third wave/ speciality coffee is all about the unique flavour of different types of coffee beans.
The third wave isn’t a gimmick – it’s about realising that there’s more to your cup of coffee than the coffee machine or the barista that served it to you.
For more information about Third Wave coffee check out Third-wave coffee: Hold the Wi-fi. Extra flavour