Since centuries, people drink coffee. Beside of the caffeine factor, coffee inherited during the very last 50 years a social funtion too. To create a plan for your coffee business, it might be helpful to understand the American history of coffee, expressed in "Waves".
Now, what is the upcoming “Fourth Wave” of coffee about?
The “First Wave” can be traced back to the early 1800’s, when entrepreneurs, inspired from the coffee boom in England, saw a market for providing coffee that was both affordable and “ready for the pot”. Furthermore, in the late 19th century, coffee importers from Italy established Italian American espresso bars, primarily serving immigrant communities. The consumption of coffee grew exponentially. This “First Wave” harvested later heavy criticism for sacrificing taste and flavor. Convenience, mass production, combined with innovations in processing, packaging and marketing convinced the consumer at that time more than quality of the beverage coffee.
One of the driving forces for the transition into the “Second Wave” was primarily a reaction to the “bad coffee” being marketed under the “First Wave”. Consumers woke up and wanted to get quality, often inspired by trips overseas. The origin of coffee, sustainability, different roasting styles created the so called “specialty coffee” marekt. This knowledge added to the enjoyment of coffee as an experience, rather than just a caffeine carrying beverage. Words like espresso, latte, and French Press became common among lovers of specialty coffee. Coffee shops became big business, luring consumers to a brick-and-mortar shop to drink their favorite coffee beverage. The coffee business most often associated with illustrating “Second Wave” coffee is Starbucks. Starbucks became the poster child for “Second Wave”, not only giving specialty coffee its own language, but making it social by introducing the masses to the coffee shop experience. “Second Wave” entrepreneurs began to follow the Starbucks model and created havens for enjoying coffee all across the U.S. The social experience of drinking coffee became more important than the artisan process of producing coffee. And exactly here start the critics of the “Second Wave” by saying that it lost it’s way, forsaking the source and quality of the bean and the coffee for the social experience of drinking coffee: The "Coffee House" equipped with WiFi, comfortable sofas and chairs as a meeting and melting point. The boom of the specialty coffee shop of the “Second Wave” has given coffee a new identity. What was once only enjoyed at home became a social experience to be shared with friends and strangers: Consumers drove companies like Starbucks and Caribou to the top of the coffee industry.
The “Third Wave” of coffee is characterized by coffee lovers interested in the character of the coffee itself. Sometimes this movement is more of a reaction against bad coffee flavor and the way bad coffee had penetrated the consumer market. But now mass production, marketing and social aspects take the back seat, and the coffee quality takes the driver seat. But that stops not short at the quality of the used coffee and espresso beans: Further characteristics of the “Third Wave” are the preference of pure drip coffees, for example hand brewed, in the summer some cold brew coffees, and rather no latte beverages, just clear black coffee flavors. A kind of a puristic approach: Preferred are single origins (consumer started to stick to a singel origin, whether the harvest in a specific year was good or bad), no blends of different origins. Coffee needs to be roasted today and brewed tomorrow. Wwe don’t share this understanding since coffee beans - after the roasting process - need first to gas out and then after packed thorougly need to ripe for a couple of weeks to provide a full flavor in the cup..
Retrospectively, the coffee business and the coffee industry have come a long way over the past 200 years. Coffee is not just your morning caffeine shot. Today, coffee is a culinary experience, including a social option, whether enjoyed on the go, or sipped the old fashioned way.
So, what will be future coffee world?
If you ask for our opinion, the very future belongs to the detailed perfectionist. Key indicators are: Brewing coffee and extracting espresso by showing great attention to the details; consistency of quality over years to come; highest quality possible of selected coffees; preferring blends instead of single origins; creating excellent latte beverages, avoiding the social club concept; fast and consistent service, here we see see the “Fourth Wave” coming up. You can say put all the positive elements out of Wave one and two and three together and secure the customer relation ship with 100% quality by analyzing and integarting the life style of the customer into your limited product pallet you offer..
If you want to jump start a new coffee shop or you are about to extend, or remodel, or renovate an existing coffee shop, we are more than happy to assist you to enter the “Fourth Wave” and to be ahead of the market.
Please call us 800 746 6174 to set up a very first phone conference so we can get an understanding of your needs and to provide you with same basics - free of charge.