The Coffee Renaissance, known as the Third Wave.

The Coffee Renaissance, known as the Third Wave.

July 12, 2021

Transition to the Third Wave of Coffee

Believe it or not, coffee and wine have some similarities. Good news for those of you that enjoy a cup of coffee in the mornings and a glass of wine at the end of the day (cue up the Luke Combs)!

As coffee consumers of the transition between third and fourth wave coffee (yes, you are transitioning right now!), you are likely starting to realize all the information that comes with a bag of specialty coffee.


Coffee Origins Create The Difference

 You may have heard the word “origin” thrown around by baristas and coffee roasters, or maybe on the side of a coffee bag. Origin is the location in which the coffee was grown and processed! 

The third wave of coffee is characterized in similar ways as wine, specifically in the disclosure of the origins of the drink and specific taste and flavour notes that will be present.

For example, a red wine from Spain could have a rounded taste, with flavour notes of plum and cherry, making it an excellent complement with a pasta dish or steak dinner, while a lighter and fruity red wine from France would be better paired with a dessert.

 Coffee is often enjoyed at any hour and any meal; however, the origins of the coffee and different roasting techniques are what gives each bean it’s distinct flavours.

 Let me give you another example! Let’s take a look at our Costa Rica and Laos roasts.

Both are a medium roast yet have drastically different flavours within them.

Our Costa Rica roast’s signature tastes are swiss chocolate, pineapple and brown sugar. It will make you think about dipped a juicy pineapple into chocolate fondue with its rich and complex flavours, strong floral notes and citrus acidity.

Our smooth Laos roast is just as delicious with its creamy caramel, roasted almond and honey notes! Now, please don’t ask us to choose our favourite out of the two, because we honestly couldn’t! Both are so different even though they are both a medium roast and both underwent a wash process once they were picked. 

The Coffee Renaissance

The third wave of coffee came to prominence in the late 1990s and spread like wildfire. It has been referred to as a coffee renaissance, as more and more consumers realized the delicious flavours and notes available in coffee, rather than the usual bitterness and burnt flavours of the first and second waves of coffee.

 Presently, the term third wave has been more commonly referred to as “specialty coffee” and is a growing coffee industry. Think of it this way: third wave is more of a mindset and experience, with specialty coffee being how that mindset comes to fruition.

 The focus of this era is to enjoy the actual coffee beans themselves, not necessarily for the café experience alone. 

 Everything that goes into the creation of a cup of coffee from the location of where the coffee is from, to the unique flavours and notes that come out of each roast. Understanding that the process the coffee farmers use affect how you roast and bring out different flavours. 

 The quality of the coffee drank during this era had risen significantly as consumers became more aware of where their coffee beans came from.

Professional baristas also became more important as there was an emphasis on developing one’s ability to utilize different brewing methods to craft delicious cups of coffee, one at a time. From a perfectly steamed flat white to a delicious pour over, a trained Barista will make each drink 

Freshness of the coffee beans has also become an important and notable feature of specialty coffee, with many roasters printing the dates that each batch of coffee was roasted to ensure freshness.

Home brewing also rose in popularity throughout this time, as more people are realizing that they can craft the best coffee at home using their preferred brewing method. Whether that is the tried-and-true French Press, the new and innovative Aeropress or the always delicious pour over, home brewing is a growing trend, especially in the last year!


Is Speciality Coffee the same thing as Third Wave Coffee?

Not necessarily, Third Wave coffee is more of a style of higher quality beverages with a focus on intentional barista training, a deeper understanding of what coffee can be and how different roasting styles can completely change the taste and experience of a cup of coffee. 

Speciality Coffee is a grading style created by the Speciality Coffee Association (SCA), a scale to 100. Coffees that score 60-80 points are considered commercial-grade, 80 points or above, they are graded as “specialty coffee”. These exceptional coffees are often the product of specific microclimates and soils, and require higher attention to detail from the coffee farmers. They also have better processing procedures, while removing the cherry flesh off the beans. 


Telling the Story of Coffee

Telling the story behind each cup of coffee is important to us and other coffee roasters alike. It is more than a cup of coffee, from a farmer’s hard-work to harvest high-quality coffee to the roaster’s bringing out the best flavours from each bean, storytelling with each cup is a key highlight of this era of coffee. It’s important to note that during the third wave of coffee is when meaningful trade relationships began. 

Some industry professionals say third wave coffee is a movement, others an experience. We’re not going to split an espresso shot over it, but one thing is certain it’s a focus on consumer education and service. With an increased focus on production and quality, it’s leading to better coffee that benefits many parts of the coffee supply chain.

Though it can be a debated topic around the world, we’re confident that we are now in the 4th wave of coffee.