What is Third Wave Coffee?

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

If you recently picked up a coffee magazine or had a somewhat technical conversation with your barista, chances are you might have heard or seen the phrase Third Wave Coffee - or even Specialty Coffee - which does somewhat overlap. Now there are a variety of definitions out there doing a great job at explaining this sophisticated term, so we thought we would add a brief one for good measure!

The recent history of coffee has seen quite a lot of changes. Now imagine identifying a few points on that timeline where significant changes occurred in the industry. For coffee specialists, that timeline can be split into three segments or waves as we like to refer to them. These waves are considered to be more like paradigm shifts, where things like transparency, roasting, innovation, farming, all took on a whole new role in the bean-to-cup chain.

The First Wave

The first wave of coffee originated back in the 1800s when people realized that coffee could become a commodity sold on the market. And it was seen as exactly that - merely a commodity. This wave is known for its lack of quality and taste. Convenience and Mass production was considered to be more of a priority, and for this reason, coffee for the first time became widely accessible to the public.

"The new modern lifestyle of the mid-1900’s would give instant coffee its spotlight. By the 1970’s almost one-third of imported roasted coffee was processed into instant coffee..."

The Second Wave