When did coffee become synonymous with the phenomenon we witness at the beach – waves?

When did coffee become synonymous with the phenomenon we witness at the beach – waves?
In 2002, Trish Rothgeb first coined the phrase “third wave coffee” as a way to get consumers to engage more with the coffee industry but the phrase has stuck and the debate rages amongst many today as to whether we have entered into the fourth or even the fifth wave. But what does it actually mean to be in the third wave and what came before and what comes next?

In the world of physics and mathematics a wave is a propagating dynamic disturbance (change from equilibrium) of one or more quantities, and it is this definition that resonates most with me when I think about its applicability to the coffee industry. Essentially, there have been seismic changes over time resulting in the evolution of the coffee industry.

So where have we come from? Commonly, in the first wave we saw tinned, granules of instant coffee being made available to the masses, exponentially increasing the size of the coffee market and the number of coffee consumers worldwide. This was followed by the second wave that saw people seeking out freshly roasted beans and making these purchases from specialty coffee shops. The third wave is all about emphasising the quality and provenance of the beans, allowing “specialty coffee” to take centre stage. These changes in consumer behaviour, knowledge and preferences together with grower education and innovation have all played important roles in each of these waves.

So what comes next? There are many observers claiming that we have already entered wave four with observers attributing this shift to Gen Zs unique coffee preferences and the growth of at home specialty coffee drinks, increased equity among women and people of colour, and changes in power and accessibility and the consolidation of the coffee industry with major players acquiring boutique roasters. Whilst these changes are irrefutable are they significant enough to indicate a transition to wave four? There is no right or wrong answer here given the absence of a formula. What does hold true is that the Acuratore family of roasters are passionate about elevating the profile of the hard-working primary producers to ensure the beans they nurture and grow are of the highest quality and best tasting. They are passionate about ensuring that these producers make a living well above the poverty line and ensuring that the farming practices deployed today protect Mother Earth and this industry well into the next millennium.
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