Third What? II

Just as there is a whole encyclopedia of information available regarding green coffee production, the same is true for how coffee is brewed. And...the same is true for how coffee is roasted. In the third-wave of coffee, all of the best coffee production practices are being sought to improve the quality of the cup.

I am a coffee roaster. BRIDGE COFFEE CO. provides roasted coffee. If you buy our coffee, you are buying roasted coffee. So you will forgive me if I focus a little more on coffee roasting in my writing. Thank you. wink, wink, happy face, smiley face, wink, wink, wink.

But, I am getting ahead of myself. Prior to Intelligentsia, or Stumptown, or Counter Culture, or other, newer third-wave shakers, there was Espresso Vivace. At the helm of Espresso Vivace is David Schomer. Mr. Schomer has literally wrote the book on espresso. Additionally, he has also provided countless barista around the world with the inspiration of latte art technique.

David Schomer obsesses about espresso extraction in the pull and milk texturing in the stretch. Latte art has become very commonplace around the USA and the world. But that has not been the case for very long. It was not all that long ago the first ever World Barista Championship was held (year 2000).

David was perfecting espresso and latte art back in the '80s! Was he the only one? No, of course not. But, his inspiration bears respecting and he continues to advanced the world knowledge of the 'perfect shot' and latte art.

The truth is, latte art is good quality control. If you own a coffee shop and you are dependent upon your barista staff to deliver the goods to the customer, having them performing latte art is an incredible, immediate visual queue of so many things that have to go right to make that happen. 

  • To have latte art, the barista has to have an amazingly well roasted, quality coffee that is fresh. This coffee must be grinded precisely. The dosing of the coffee into the portafilter has to be exact. The tamping of the coffee has to be with exquisite precision in equipment, technique, and force. The portafilter has to be the right temperature and moisture. The brewing water has to be of the right quality and temperature, and under the right amount of pressure.
  • The milk selected is also scrutinized for defect and quality. It is utilized at precise temperatures in vessels also closely monitored for size and temperature. The steam pressure is precisely regulated. The tip of the steam wand has the correct orifice to inject into the milk. How the milk is stretched with exacting amounts of air introduced to create the most luxurious of silky foam with just enough circulation of the liquid in the vessel.
  • The cup the customer receives their creation in, will have an effect on the barista's ability to pour the art. How the steamed milk is introduced into the espresso, speed, consistency, viscosity, and the technique involved in fanning out the beautiful leaves of patterns in latte art, are the culmination of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of practiced pours ending in failure.

To be sure, the dedicated, committed, barista will tell you they have never, nor will, pull the 'perfect shot'. Nor will they pour the most exquisite latte art creation to their liking. They are always striving to improve.

Latte art is a component of the 'Third-Wave'. Skilled and knowledgeable barista are parts of a larger movement.

I talked about how the "Second-Wave" of coffee is known for very dark roasted coffee. In the "Third-Wave", you will notice most of the coffee is extremely light by recent past roast profile standards. This 'City' roast is meant to allow the coffee to be roasted just enough to be drinkable and yet allow all of the coffee's origin and tasting notes to shine. 

  • That sentence bears repeating. 'This 'City' roast is meant to allow the coffee to be roasted just enough to be drinkable and yet allow all of the coffee's origin and tasting notes to shine.' That sentences holds a lot of information. 

There has been a lot of comparison of the "Third Wave" to wine, particularly when describing 'tasting notes. A coffee that may be fruity, floral, juicy, spicy, etc., all sound like describing the character of wine. More specifically, when describing fine wine, very particular tasting notes may be applied, such as; fig, pear, baker's chocolate, etc.

There are a lot of similarities of the cultivation-to-consumption of coffee to wine. But, there are far more differences. In reality, both products need to stand on their own merits. Fine wine deserves its place of appreciation, whether you are a wine drinker or not.

And coffee is due its time, whether you are a coffee drinker or not. (That's just silly. Why would anyone not be a coffee drinker?)

Although, green coffee can be stored for longer periods of times, it is meant to be used prior to the next harvest season. Once roasted, coffee is best used 24 hours post-roast and within 2 weeks. Coffee cannot be roasted, brewed, and bottle-aged to some sort of expected maturity such as wine. 

  • There have been coffee beans found in tombs dating back two millineum that have been roasted, ground and consumed with surprisingly good results.

Is there really much difference in taste of specialty coffee to a regular cup of coffee? I offer a suggestion to find out. If you find yourself in the Sacramento area in the near future, please visit Temple Coffee Roasters and try their Kenya Kiunyu A.A.. This coffee was rated 95 points by Coffee Review. A very high score indeed!

This coffee has so many special things going on. It is a great demonstration of how unique and different coffee can be. There is nothing added to this coffee. It was just picked, processed, roasted, and brewed. You have only the wonderful natural goodness to enjoy. I would suggest giving it a try just to see how special, and different, coffee can be.

I am remiss to not describe the manner in which the 'third wave' looks at serving up your wonderful cup of coffee. Decades thru centuries-old techniques of brewing coffee, are making a return in search of the perfect extraction of this wonderful elixir. With the go-fast, K-cup, world we live in, the time has come to slow down and brew the coffee with patience and precision. Please take some time to enjoy the cup, reflect on life's intricacies as you sip and savor a cup of excellent coffee.

So, third what? The truth is, most folks that are deep into the 'third wave' of coffee, really don't like to be labeled as such. Most eschew labels of any kind. they are left wanting things to be left on their own merits. Something that deserves praise and accolades gets it because they deserve it and have earned it, not because whatever it is, fits into someone's mold. Once someone is labeled a hipster, they cease to be a hipster. The hipster is the anti-label. The 'third wave' coffee producer is the antithesis of the 'label'.

Respect that the direct-trade, micro-lot, 1750m, volcanic soil, naturally organic grown, semi-washed, grainpro packed, responsibly shipped, 63 agtron roasted, 20 mesh ground, 202f purified mineral-light water, 3:30 minute vacuum siphoned, cup of juicy, meyer lemony fresh, cocoa nib, cup of delicious goodness you have in your hand is still, only a cup of coffee.

We have been granted this wonderful blessing of life. Coffee only adds to the fulfillment of our joy.

Third...who cares? Drink on!

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