For a bean that is said to have been discovered thanks to goats, and banned for an age owing to its mystical effects, coffee has ‘bean’ through a lot and has only grown in its appeal ever since. The coffee revolution is often classified into waves. Each of the three waves brought with it a significant change in ideas, marketing, events, and societal behaviours. Here’s what you need to know about each:
The First Wave: Coffee for Everyone
This is the phase where, thanks to mass production and innovation in packaging techniques, coffee flooded the market and became integrated into daily life.
The fast-paced life of the 20th Century demanded a change in the way industries produced and marketed products. The goal was time-saving and convenience of use. From frozen dinners to electric razors – everything promoting efficiency gained traction. This was when ‘instant coffee’ was born. In 1901, Japanese-American chemist, Satori Kato was thought to be the inventor of this soluble coffee. Later it was realized that David Strang of Invercargill, New Zealand had invented the product years earlier.
High vacuum, freeze-dried, ‘instant’ coffee required no brewing equipment and was quick and easy. This made it a vital part of the soldier’s rations during WWI in 1917. After the war, it was integrated into the market for peacetime use. By 1938, Nestle created Nescafe, an instant coffee brand, that became an irreplaceable part of daily consumption patterns. They even supplied to the U.S. Military for WWII. Thereafter coffee consumption grew drastically owing to its wide accessibility.
To sum it up, the first wave is all about your regular joe cup of coffee. There was no emphasis on quality or fair trade. It was purely about convenience and reach. However, it made coffee a bonding experience in the home for families and between colleagues at work. One can’t deny that the innovations in processing, packaging, and marketing helped the skyrocketing growth of coffee and are even used today.
The Second Wave: The Cafe Culture
This wave is marked by the birth of Starbucks. While the coffee shop chain has many naysayers, one can’t deny that they’ve stepped into the inviting doors and taken in the sweet aromas that waft about the place. Now imagine the 1970s when Starbucks had newly opened – oh, what a rage it was!
Droves of consumers drove to the coffee shop to enjoy their special coffee, flavoured especially for individual tastes – personalizing the entire experience. After all, the cup has your name on it too! And Starbucks marketed their coffee as specialty roasts with the origin country mentioned. They offered a better quality of coffee, which of course came with a higher price tag. However, the consumer was driven toward the experience rather than the complexities of the roast. In fact, the Starbucks concoctions with their syrups and flavours, targeted the ‘soft-drink generation’ by masking the bitterness of coffee.
If the first wave is defined by the rise of the coffee culture, the second sees the rise of the café culture. We’re talking about cozy seating, mood lighting, personalization, creative concoctions, and friendly baristas. What’s not to love? A famous Starbucks campaign at this time focused on their BOGO campaign by marketing two cups of coffee served together with names beginning from the same letter. The slogan was simple - “Here’s to Friendship.” And, how better to depict the social angle of the coffeehouse that created a third place – outside of the home and work – for consumers to socialize and enjoy their favourite brew?
To sum it up, the second wave is defined by Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, or Caribou Coffee where coffee was still fairly dark and bitter, with a slight recognition of the country of origin. The focus was on the coffee experience with a bent towards creative flavoured drinks. Owing to this, baristas were given importance for their skill. Since most people became aware of coffee as a complex agricultural product, the welfare of farmers was given due thought.
The Third Wave: Artisanal & Sustainable
This wave refers to a developmental and progressive movement. Third-wave coffee evolved from a niche community in the 1980s whose focus was purely the coffee beans. A small group of roasters and cafes experimented with lighter roast profiles and helped bring out new and exotic flavours of well-grown coffee. This culture grew until it became prevalent across continents. In 1999, the term “third wave of coffee” was coined.
This wave of coffee is all about the artisanal aspect. It focuses on coffee quality, fair trade and sustainability, flavour nuances, origin, roast profiles, brewing methods, and manual brewing equipment. Basically, it has made coffee a connoisseur’s drink that is sumptuous and luxurious rather than a quick-fix necessity.
Today, you don’t just serve coffee to your guests. The focus is the story behind the cup. What do the coffee beans bring, where are they from, are they a light roast that allows focusing on the flavour, and what is the optimal grind size? What’s more, guests want to stand at your coffee bar, taking interest in your brew ware. They see the process with piqued interest before a perfect brew is poured into artistic cups and served for drinking pleasure.
Coffee shops are more than just places to meet today, they create communities. And the baristas here are better educated on the bean story allowing meaningful engagement with guests. Consumer education is at an all-time high with careful marketing, social media, and transparency across the supply chain. This makes most ardent coffee drinkers try their hand at manual brewing with quality equipment. And they have an opinion on the process including why use a metal filter versus a paper one, or what the optimal ratio of coffee to water is.
To sum it up, the third wave is all about coffee itself. There’s a focus on flavour nuances of honey sweetness or rose aromatics or orange acidity, roast profiles, latte art, single-origin beans, greater traceability, manual brewing methods, and special brewing tools.
So, when you’re hosting next, be attuned to what’s current and what will make an impression with your hosting flair. Keep your coffee bar freshly stocked with sustainable roasts, perfect your brewing technique and make sure you have Shazé brew-ware to make that mark. After all, the art is in the design, physical ingenuity and the theatrical magic to stage that makes your hosting, the real experience.