SPECIALTY IS BREWING
Around the same time as the Beatniks, a Dutch-born gentleman named Alfred Peet moved to the United States. His family owned a coffee roasting company back in Holland. He moved to San Francisco where he struggled to find a stable career. His coffee background allowed him to see an opportunity to go against the grain and start producing GREAT cups of coffee. In 1966 he founded a company called Peets Coffee and Tea in Berkley, California. Peet then mentored three gentlemen, Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker, who wanted to start their own café chain on his style of roasting. In 1971, these three men moved to Seattle and opened up a shop called Starbucks. A man named Howard Schultz, who had a vision to grow their café, would later purchase Starbucks. He would go on to grow Starbucks into the global powerhouse we know today. This movement of specialty coffee is what’s referred to as the 2nd Wave.
What’s old is new! The more recent specialty coffee movement, dubbed the “3rd Wave” is bringing back coffee’s artisan roots. Years ago, automatic equipment helped to make coffee brewing more efficient and ultimately more profitable. Now, an army of flannel-wearing men and women baristas, with colorful tattoos and full-grown beards (on the men of course), are armed with scales, timers, and precise pouring mechanisms. They are giving a triumphant rebirth to manually brewed coffee.
And let’s not forget espresso. With drip coffee being the dominant style of coffee consumed in the U.S., Americans traditionally have not been well versed at properly preparing espresso-based beverages. Now that espresso based beverages have gone mainstream through our industry’s 2nd and 3rd wave, forward thinking roasters have had to adapt to meet the demand. And with the assistance of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, they have created partner programs to train baristas. This has overlapped to these specialty roasters that have also taken more of an initiative to build training facilities to properly educate their B to B customers in order to prepare their perfectly roasted coffees into a delicious beverage for consumers. We, at Law Coffee, even do courses or cuppings for consumers at our own facilities or on site at a customer’s location for their consumers.
One coffee product that has taken off in popularity is Iced Coffee. And not just Iced Coffee but Cold Brew Iced Coffee, Iced Americanos and even coffee now in kegs dubbed Nitro Brew Iced Coffee. And these variations of iced coffee drinks are becoming a year round product. In these 3rd Wave coffee shops, you may even find a New Orleans Style iced coffee, which is coffee brewed with chicory, as mentioned above. These craft beverages are helping to continue the expansion of coffee throughout our society for all tastes and preferences.
Another part of this third wave is understanding your coffee’s origin. Technology has helped coffee traceability become more transparent. Through a quick click on their smart phones, consumers are able to see where a coffee farm is and what the farm’s conditions look like. Specialty coffee drinkers now want to know the whole “Seed to Cup” process/logistics. It’s not just enough to have a great coffee; consumers want the story behind the cup. This has pushed roasters and coffee shop owners to elevate product knowledge and method of execution to a level not before seen on such a large scale.
The rapid pace of technology has matured our domestic economy into a global one. From our homes to small towns tucked in the middle of nowhere in the Serengetti, we can access information at the click of a button. The supply chain has become totally visible and accessible. These advancements have helped growers and roasters develop relationships so they can communicate their needs and their available coffees. Advancements in logistics have made it relatively easy to travel, which has allowed different cultures to emigrate to our country at rapid pace. And with this, comes different styles and cultures. All of these cultures and coffee styles are blending with ours creating a unique time to be shared by all. The US is a melting pot of all cultures, and our coffee scene is a prime example, so we should all sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee together!