The coffee industry has fundamentally changed over the years as a consequence of social, environmental and economic factors, resulting in an ever evolving coffee culture. This is recognised in coffee circles as the three waves of coffee: a somewhat overlapping shift in coffee culture, appreciation and consumerism brought about by the desire for change.
The first wave began in the 19th century where coffee was treated as a commodity driven for mass consumption - post World War II freeze dried coffee was found everywhere as the instant ‘pick me up’. The second wave was a period of cultural proliferation, beginning in the 1960s and moving through to the Starbucks, regionally labelled coffee and the introduction of the triple-grande-non-fat extra-hot-no-foam-caramel-latte. The global chain formula required the need for consistency, scale and branding, in other words, homogeneity.
Trish Rothgeb of Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters in the US first wrote about the Third Wave of Coffee in the ‘90s. Rothgeb postulated that it was this homogeneity—or, rather, a rebellion against it—that birthed the Third Wave. The third wave is focused on craftsmanship; where beans are sourced from farms instead of countries and roasting is about bringing out unique characteristics of a bean (instead of cremating them!). The third wave coffee industry is in the throes of achieving the same level of detail and understanding from bean to cup that wine connosiuiers have demanded for decades - farm, harvest, processing style, roast date, coffee variety and tasting notes.
>>>which wave are you in?<<<