What the heck is Third Wave Coffee?

What the heck is Third Wave Coffee?

What is Third Wave Coffee (“TWC”) – a tsunami of coffee? Of course not – while potentially dangerous (and delicious), I’m not sure how that would even be possible! As relates to the world of coffee, a ‘wave’ refers to a movement or trend. Keep reading this week’s blog post to find out what Third Wave Coffee is and what it says about coffee today.

To understand TWC, we first should go over what First Wave and Second Wave Coffee were. Coffee’s First Wave took place in the early 1960’s and was characterized by coffee becoming ubiquitous and easily accessible at home or at the office for the general consumer. Unsurprisingly, this period witnessed the introduction and mainstream popularity of instant coffees such as Folgers, Maxwell House, and Nestle. As far as flavor goes, First Wave Coffee was often weak with high levels of acidity and, for this reason, coffee was often paired with plenty of cream and sugar to compensate for the acidity and light flavor profile. First Wave Coffee was not about quality coffee, folks, but rather about easy daily access to coffee.

The Second Wave Coffee trend of the late 1960’s started when companies such as Peet’s and Starbucks brought better quality coffee and espresso drinks to the masses. The Second Wave also saw the birth of the coffee shop – not a diner or a restaurant that served coffee, but a place dedicated to the sale of coffee drinks. Running coffee shops became big business and introduced us to coffee-dessert like drinks such as the frappuccino, mocchaccino, and caramel macchiato among others, while dark roast and espresso drinks also started to become everyday coffee drinks. The Second Wave was less about a quick caffeine fix, but instead sought consumers who wanted to enjoy and learn more about coffee beans and different brew methods, such as using a French Press.

Finally, in the 1990’s we entered coffee’s Third Wave. TWC saw the birth of coffee connoisseurs – people who are interested in every aspect of coffee, from the character of the coffee itself, that is to say where and how it is grown, who trades it, who roasts it, and how it is brewed. Hand drip coffees using new tools (such as Chemex and Aeropress) and new brew methods (such as cold brew and pour-over) became increasingly popular. High quality or specialty coffees are the rage and even the often-forgotten light roasts were brought into the spotlight. TWC is for people who truly appreciate coffee and find as much enjoyment in a perfect cup of joe as they do in craft beer or wine – TWC drinkers have learned to pay respect to coffee and its inherit flavor and body characteristics instead of seeing it as an easy caffeine fix.


So that’s First, Second, and Third Wave coffee wave for you. If you’d like to know more about coffee, what the Fourth Wave might possibly be, or Bristol Coffee in general, keep reading our blog, follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+) or, better yet, sign up for our newsletter.  And remember, life only gets better with good coffee. So go buy some Bristol Coffee, why don’t you?

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