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Third Wave Coffee: What Makes Each Wave Different? And What Does It Mean for Today’s Coffee Sippers?

Third Wave Coffee: What Exactly Is It?

third wave coffeee

There’s a new term that’s out there with respect to coffee, and it takes specialty coffee to a totally different level. The term is Third Wave, and if you haven’t heard it before, you may wonder if you missed out on the first two waves. But don’t worry, you probably didn’t – here’s some information to help you catch up on things as they relate to the history of contemporary coffee.

The History of Third Wave Coffee

It all started in the 1960s when the idea of specialty coffee caught on and coffee became more than just the bottomless cup of Joe you got at the local diner, according to PBS. More people began to take real interest in the possibilities of coffee, and consumption grew by leaps and bounds. This was the first wave.

Then along came companies like Starbucks who made specialty coffees readily available to the public, which in turn flocked to these coffee shops in leaps and bounds. This was the second wave. Which brings us to now, a period of time known as the Third Wave.

Coffee Lovers Want to Know: What Is the Third Wave?

Third Wave coffee is about specialty coffee, to be sure, but it’s about much more than that. It’s about being aware of every stage of the coffee process, from the growing and harvesting of the beans, to the way it gets to the consumer, to the way those beans are brewed. Third Wave coffee is green-friendly coffee, with an emphasis on direct trade, sustainability and fair practices for all involved – just consider The Exotic Bean’s coffee, which hails from Thailand and is known as The World’s Most Sustainable Coffee around.

Of course, it’s also about the quality and taste of the coffee, too. Fans of the Third Wave are constantly seeking out unique brews and ways of brewing, with a bias towards sweeter blends, lighter roasts, and more complex flavors.

So, is Third Wave Coffee just a fancy way of saying specialty coffee?

This may be the wrong question to ask. Third Wave isn’t a type of coffee, it’s a state of mind. It’s a way of talking about the coffee experience that shows a respect for the entire process, from farm to cup. If you’re discriminating about your specialty coffees, and the things you look for in specialty coffees are some of the qualities described above, then you are probably part of the Third Wave.

Third Wave is also an experience that your coffee professional provides. It’s about every cup of coffee having a story behind it, and the ability of your coffee preparer to tell that story. It’s about a higher level of luxury and customer service when it comes to presenting specialty coffee.

third wave coffee

What Is the Future of Coffee Drinking? Is There a 4th Wave Coming?

When it comes to coffee, there’s no fourth wave yet, but of course, that doesn’t mean people aren’t talking already about it. Specialty coffee fans are a creative bunch, and always looking to the future delights that coffee can bring.

So what exactly would the fourth wave be? Would it become about some kind of super specialty coffee, high-end coffee with flavor profiles and notes that we’ve never tasted before? Would it be a better understanding of the chemical processes behind the making of coffee?

No one really knows. But you can be sure that once those in the know in the coffee world find out, we’ll bring that information to you, perhaps over a nice cup of your favorite Third (or 4th) Wave brew.