Third What? part one

What is the "Third Wave" of Coffee?

You may be asking yourself, "there is a third wave of coffee? I wasn't aware there was a first, let alone, a second wave?"

If someone asked you what specialty coffee was, how would you respond? Did you know that there is such a thing as 'Specialty Coffee'?

BRIDGE COFFEE CO. is a craft, micro-roaster, of high-grade, Specialty Coffee that is sourced as close to the farm as possible. This is done with respect to the entire supply chain of coffee, from farm-to-cup. In some respects, this is my definition (or example) of the Third Wave of coffee. At least, BRIDGE is my contribution to the culture and community of coffee and the third wave.

To acknowledge that we each play a part in the livelihoods of all those involved in enjoying the products we use, is shaping our understanding of where pitfalls are and how we can make a product better. The whole goal; improve upon the product, and provide for those that make the product available.

So, a little history:

The "First Wave" of Coffee-

Folgers, Hills Bros., Maxwell House. These classic, iconic brands of coffee added to, and shaped American History. Prior to the late 19th century, you had to carry around your green coffee beans, roast them yourself, and then take the time to grind it, the original home-roaster. ALL BY HAND! Whew, I am exhausted. Suddenly, with these coffee suppliers, you're now able to have coffee pre-roasted, pre-ground, and conveniently packaged. Coffee sales exploded!

  • An early fact of coffee houses-Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse opens in 1688. It evolves to be the Lloyd's of London, the world's best known insurance company.

First wave coffees relied heavily on the cherry of the coffee varietal Robusta. Much like the namesake, it is easy to care for. Additionally, there is a higher yield per plant, it grows in lower, more accessible climates and altitudes. It is cheap and easy to grow. Thus, it is a very profitable product. Robusta has a strong earthy flavor but also bitterness. Additionally, It also contains high amounts of caffeine. 

In the latter part of the 20th Century, a new, "Second Wave" of coffee began-

Peet's Coffee, and later Starbucks, ought to be credited with bringing the "Second Wave" of coffee to America. They brought espresso into mainstream America along with the latte and cappuccino. 

Peet's and Starbucks have almost exclusively used Arabica coffee beans. Heirloom Arabica coffee cherries were first discovered in Ethiopia and constitute 70% of the world coffee production.

Arabica coffee plants are more finicky, grow in narrower climate regions, and require more attention from the farmers. 

The "Second Wave" of coffee brought whole bean coffee back to the consumer. Education about grinding your coffee per use, would now help ensure your coffee freshness and enjoyment.

We also saw the 'French Revolution of Coffee'. With the French press and French-roasted coffee, consumers got the chance to brew up 'bold', 'rich', 'stout' coffee with the shining & glistening surfaces of oils exposed on the coffee beans and smoky flavors. The "espresso-roast" & "French-roast" became popular terms for this new, second wave of coffee. Light roast=weak and dark roast=strong!

    • The world coffee economics now trade 8-10 times more than the actual amount of coffee that is grown. There are approximately 25 million coffee producers with a world-wide consumption rate of 2.5 billion cups of coffee consumed each day. 

 In 2008, Jonathan Gold wrote:

  • "The first wave of American coffee culture was probably the 19th-century surge that put Folgers on every table, and the second was the proliferation, starting in the 1960s at Peet's and moving smartly through the Starbucks grande decaf latte, of espresso drinks and regionally labeled coffee. We are now in the third wave of coffee connoisseurship, where beans are sourced from farms instead of countries, roasting is about bringing out rather than incinerating the unique characteristics of each bean, and the flavor is clean and hard and pure."

In part-2, I will dive deeper into the present "Third Wave" of coffee.


In the meantime, spend sometime around the BRIDGE COFFEE CO. store. Please order a bag or two of some "Third Wave" coffee and enjoy.

Third What?

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