The history of coffee is broken down into 4 waves.
The four waves of coffee refer to the significant stages in the evolution of coffee culture and consumption. Each wave has its own distinct characteristics and has contributed to the development of the global coffee industry. Here is a brief description of each wave:
First Wave: Mass Consumption (late 1800s to mid-1900s) The first wave of coffee can be traced back to the late 1800s when coffee became widely available and affordable due to advancements in production and distribution. Large companies like Folgers, Maxwell House, and Hills Bros started selling pre-ground coffee, making it convenient for home use. This wave was characterized by mass production, mass consumption, and a focus on quantity over quality. Coffee was often seen as a mere commodity and not something to be savored or enjoyed for its distinct flavors.
Second Wave: Coffeehouse Culture (1960s to late 1990s) The second wave of coffee began in the 1960s and marked the rise of specialty coffee and coffeehouse culture. Companies like Peet’s Coffee and Starbucks introduced consumers to a variety of coffee beans from different regions and focused on providing a unique experience. This wave saw a shift towards better-quality coffee, emphasizing the origin of beans, roasting techniques, and brewing methods. Espresso-based beverages, like lattes and cappuccinos, gained popularity during this period. Coffeehouses became social hubs, where people gathered to work, socialize, and enjoy their favorite coffee drinks.
Third Wave: Artisan Coffee (late 1990s to present) The third wave of coffee emerged in the late 1990s, driven by a focus on the art and craft of coffee making. Coffee enthusiasts began to view coffee as a culinary art form, highlighting the unique flavor profiles and complexities of each coffee bean. Third wave coffee places great importance on the entire coffee production chain, from the farmers who grow the beans to the roasting and brewing processes. Companies like Stumptown, Blue Bottle, and Intelligentsia are often associated with this movement. Coffee shops in this wave often feature manual brewing methods, like pour-overs, siphons, and AeroPress, to extract the best flavors from the beans.
Fourth Wave: Sustainability and Innovation (2010s to present) The fourth wave of coffee builds upon the artisanal focus of the third wave and places an emphasis on sustainability, ethical sourcing, and technological innovation. This wave seeks to address the social and environmental challenges facing the coffee industry by promoting fair trade, direct trade, and organic farming practices. It also explores new approaches to coffee production, such as precision agriculture and innovative processing methods. The fourth wave is characterized by a commitment to improving the overall quality of life for coffee farmers, protecting the environment, and pushing the boundaries of coffee science and technology.
Each of these waves has contributed to shaping the coffee industry and culture we know today. As the world continues to evolve, so too will the coffee landscape, with new trends and innovations likely to emerge in the future.
Tasty coffee is the 5th wave.
We believe that taste is the key and coffee companies need to step up to the plate.