The term "third wave coffee" was first coined by Trish Rothgeb in November 2002, dating back to the 1970s and 1990s movements in the United States. Along with the United States, changes took the coffee industry to a new level in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Scandinavia. Rothberg lived in Oslo at the time and worked as a barista and coffee roaster in his hometown for nearly 15 years. But when he looked at the Scandinavian coffee houses, he noticed a stark difference between the coffee offered in the two climates. But what is the main difference? In this period, when Rothberg calls it the "third wave of coffee," other people know the difference between good and bad coffee, and everyone has found their taste in coffee consumption. Coffee has played a significant role in the trade game. The main focus is on further understanding the coffee and the quality of its roasting. The origin of coffee beans and their cultivation fields has become essential. Even drinking it has had unique customs. The diversity of farms and their seed types, cultivation methods, and new coffee brewers have made this industry prosperous in recent decades. It is as a result of these developments that baristas in cafes have replaced former coffee makers.
Rothberg, however, was not the only outside observer of this fledgling wave. It was not long before the third wave of coffee landed in Norway, beginning his career as a toaster in a shop run by the first World Barista Champion. By prolonging the roasting time, Rothberg offered a lighter drink while preserving the original taste of the coffee. This new style of roasting fascinated Oslo's coffee-loving community at the time.
The first and second waves of coffee were characterized by home consumption. While the first wave was shaped by metal cans, vacuum packaging, and supermarket brands such as Folgers and Maxwell House, the second wave sought to offer consumers a different experience. Coffee shopping shifted from grocery stores to coffee shops such as Peet’s or Starbucks. The social experience of drinking coffee came to the fore. In the third wave, there is a particular focus on the coffee cup and its contents. The character of coffee currently no longer relies solely on the brand or the cafe that offers it but also on the manufacturer and the roaster. The third wave of coffee is all that Rothberg believes was in the cup of coffee in Oslo. It simply came to our notice then: “When I talked about it, it wasn’t supposed to be shorthand for the industry to engage with itself, but a way to bring consumers into our world and help them engage with us.”
She borrowed the term from feminist writers who used the term wave to distinguish movements in the broader women's rights and empowerment movement. The wine industry strongly influences this new movement. In the winemaking of different vineyards, different grapes and different wine-growing seasons all affect the quality of the final wine. When buying a bottle of wine, even a cheap one, it is expected that all this information was written on the bottle. Because a wine expert knows that countless factors can affect the final product, and even the wine of a vineyard will not taste the same from one year to the next. The buyer of the wine bottle wants to know all the details about the wine to evaluate it. Slowly Third Wave coffee lovers also want the exact information about their coffee consumption. Rothberg believes that the first and second waves of coffee have not provided good quality coffee to its consumers. In this valley, he considers every cafe and roaster that offers quality coffee to coffee lovers in complete honesty and transparency, along with detailed information on the beans, to be in the realm of the third wave.
By emphasizing the principle of transparency in Third Wave coffee, consumers will now be able to follow the path of their favorite coffee, from planting it on the farm to drinking it. That is why in the third wave, a good cup of espresso is not the only result of a barista's skill; Rather, it is the product of the hard work of the producer, importer, roaster, barista, and consumer. As a result, it is thought that factors such as arable soil, planting height, and grain processing method become important for sensitive tastes. Most bakers, coffee shops, and coffee shops affiliated with the Third Wave are small businesses that are independently owned and operated. Companies that roast the seeds and have their customs for offering them.
In addition to increasing the quality of coffee, direct trade, lighter roasting, and innovative brewing methods, customer service is another significant component of the third wave of coffee.
In the third wave, everything is about creating a sense of "specialness" in the consumer. Part of that is customer service, But the other part is sharing the story behind a cup. This story is created by producers, importers, roasters, and baristas. Explains why coffee is different from other coffees, why a consumer tastes specific notes, and why quality coffee requires so much work.
This consumer education is also made possible by more communication channels between production and consumption, including direct business and social media.
In the intervening years, food writers and industry leaders have used the term to describe shops and roasteries of a specific type: the Blue Bottles and Intelligentsias of the world.
But the three leading companies of the third wave in the United States are Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea in Chicago, Counter Culture Coffee in North Carolina, and Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, known as the "Big Three" of the third wave.
These companies are good examples of the objective manifestation of the philosophy and goals of the third wave. Each of them promises quality products, direct trade, and sustainable business in a practical way. Educating and improving the suitable level of consumers is also an essential part of their business model. They believe that trained customers will strengthen and prosper the industry.
The Third Wave differs from the First and Second Waves. The first two were the natural evolution of coffee drinking habits in the United States. In contrast, the Third Wave is a conscious and concerted movement.
With the creation of the Barista Guild of America, there has been a push for the espousal and promotion of Third Wave values. This means the emphasis is on knowing the individual farm where coffee comes from and the growing and processing conditions. This also means ensuring that everyone in the chain is treated fairly and equitably—the third Wave thinking champions Fair-Trade coffee.
Although many believe that the third wave of coffee is known only among coffee lovers, during the changes resulting from this trend, quality coffee is available today more than ever. There are more choices than ever before, and we know more about the coffee we drink and even the health benefits of drinking it. In a word, the third wave seeks to refocus on coffee. The focus is on looking at coffee differently, with a new mindset based on transparency. As a result, the same approach to coffee is no longer just a luxury and unique beverage but a window into how we think about the world around us. A world in which transparency, honesty, and humanism are essential.