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The Evolution And Trends In Coffee Culture

In my previous blog we discovered that the earliest records of coffee consumption dated back a couple of thousand years where tribesman in Ethiopia used to grind up dried coffee berries to help concentrate during prayers.

We then traced it through the next couple thousand years to where coffee consumption had spread around the entire globe with over 2,5 billion cups being consumed daily.

Nowadays, if I visit my local coffee shop and order my regular cup of Joe, the baristas are not in the back grinding up dried coffee berries and steeping them in some hot water for me to drink, nope, not at all.

In fact, Coffee Baristas open a bag of Single Origin, freshly roasted coffee beans, grind them to precision in a coffee grinder, place them in a portafilter and then attach it to an espresso machine that extracts the coffee from the grinds, with hot water, at a pressure of 9 bars, and there we go.

It has become quite sophisticated compared to where it all started, to say the least.

The defining changes in coffee culture, the development of the coffee industry, transformations and education by experts and its consumers alike, was described and coined in a phrase in 2002, and is known as the Waves In Coffee.

There are 3 distinct Waves In Coffee with the emergence of the 4th Wave happening right now.

The 1st Wave In Coffee:

In the late 1800s, we saw a rise in the demand for coffee when the modern consumer discovered the effects of caffeine.

The first drum roasters were invented and coffee was produced on mass. It was then that Instant Coffee hit the market, the growth in the coffee industry became exponential.

This form of coffee could be found in every supermarket and convenience store, however, contrary to today’s coffee-loving culture, coffee was consumed solely for the benefits of caffeine and the quality of this bitter beverage was not high on the agenda.

The 1st Wave In Coffee, at the time, would ultimately be characterised as ‘Quantity Over Quality in Production’.

The 2nd Wave In Coffee:

By the early 1900s, consumers began to develop a finer taste for coffee and this caused a shift, giving rise to a whole new market and the Cafe’ Culture was born.

There was a new way of enjoying ones coffee, now in a social setting, where the barista took centre stage.

The focus was on drink customization and coffees made-to-order, providing for a whole new, home-away-from-home, coffee experience.

Although, there was the emergence of coffee houses and coffee shops throughout the 20th century, it wasn’t until 1971 when Starbucks opened their first store in Seattle that the 2nd Wave In Coffee really came about.

Their coffee shops were designed to make their customers hang around, meet friends, have a chat or even sit and read a book while enjoying their cup of coffee. It was all about selling an ‘experience’ and it quickly became a trend.

The 2nd Wave In Coffee, without a doubt, can be characterised by better-tasting coffee, with a more informed customer base, but still, many consumers also felt that there was too much focus on creating an experience, as opposed to, truly exploring the coffee itself.

The 2nd Wave In Coffee could be characterised by ‘Experience Over the Coffee Itself’.

The 3rd Wave In Coffee:

With the emergence of the cafe’ culture, most people were satisfied with the quality of the coffee they were served, however, the more serious coffee enthusiasts, found that the 2nd Wave In Coffee did not fully satisfy their passion and wanted to explore deeper into coffee as a whole.

Enthusiasts wanted to follow the process of coffee from 'bean-to-cup'.

Where was coffee grown, how was coffee grown, who grew the coffee beans, how were coffee beans harvested, cleaned, dried, packed and then shipped around the world.

Then how were the raw green coffee beans roasted, packaged and transported to the final point in the supply chain, enjoyed in a delicious cup of Java.

Barista knowledge became vital and the focus now entered into a new era of the ‘Artisanal Process’ of producing ‘Specialty Coffee’.

Coffee nowadays, has become a passion for so many people and this niche group of coffee enthusiasts have grown into a global community, sourcing single origin beans from micro-lot farms, that have been washed and processed in different ways.

They have become aware of fair working practices and fair payments for the coffee growers, making sure that the farms follow sustainable farming methods and coffee farms and farmers now have direct relationships with their customers, where once this commodity was exploited, controlled and sold only through middle men or coffee brokers.

Then there was the emergence of the Artisanal Micro-Roaster, sourcing the best single origin beans from micro-lot estates, roasting them in small batches and supplying them to specialty coffee shops that take pride in the best coffee they can offer, while making huge investments into the best coffee equipment and espresso machines that money can buy.

The other benefits of the 3rd Wave In Coffee would be the World Competitions for the best Baristas or the Coffee Roasters, improving their skills and knowledge and improving coffee to new levels of quality, we experience today.

The 3rd Wave In Coffee could now be characterised by the ‘Quality and Craft’ that goes into producing Specialty Coffee.

With the invention of the first Air Roasters in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s, this brought in a whole new era of coffee production that was moving in the direction of this new trend of ‘Specialty Coffee’.

But it was the creation of the Air-Motion Roaster, in particular, that provided for that true ‘Artisanal Craft Feel’ when roasting ones coffee beans.

The Air-Motion Roaster provides that interaction and control in smaller batch roasting that Specialty Coffee Roasting demands.

Moving into the future and with the whisper of the 4th Wave In Coffee on the horizon, the Air-Motion Roaster will continue to be at the cutting edge of this new trend.

The 4th Wave In Coffee:

Moving into the future where Social Consciousness and the Environment impact are high on the agenda, one of the biggest challenges for the drum roaster will be to move away from burning a fossil fuel for energy.

The Air-Motion Roaster is an all electric roaster and is already one step ahead.

Interestly, in saying this, we have a client that has successfully converted his roaster energy requirements to Solar and we are now exploring this option of an alternate green power source, with keen interest, as we move our roasters forward into the future.

The next part of the 4th Wave In Coffee will be more of a ‘Scientific’ approach, firstly by the inventions of more sophisticated brewing equipment and secondly, where innovations in the chemistry of the coffee will be taken into account.

The invention of ‘Cold Brew’ coffee extraction, for instance, has taken off and is already a Billion Dollar Business today.

Starbucks are recording that 3 out of 5 Gen Z consumers order cold coffee beverages in their stores today.

The Air-Motion Roaster is the perfect vehicle for producing the best quality beans for the Cold Brewing process.

It is the enhanced flavour notes, the clarity, the smoothness and sweetness that are characteristic in air-roasted coffee beans, that will provide the best coffee extractions for Cold Brewed Coffee and will not require the adding of flavourants and sugars, as is done, to disguise bitter coffee extraction from the more traditional methods of roasting coffee beans.

Another influence on the 4th Wave In Coffee is that, during the pandemic many coffee consumers, now urged to work from home, upgraded their home coffee bars with specialty home brewing equipment and started to craft their own specialty drinks.

This has further expanded opportunity for retail coffee beans, to be packaged and sold ,either through retail stores or online.

Now, opposed to drum roasted coffee having to be roasted differently for every application, be it espresso or pour-over for example.

Air-Motion Roasted coffee beans is, a one-size-fits-all application and simplifies the roasting process, eliminating the need to create endless profiles and carrying unnecessary amounts of stock.

The other advantage with this home consumer market and waiting for coffee ordered online, is the longer shelf life one gets from Air-Roasted coffee compared with drum roasted coffee.

An interesting fact as a result from this ‘Home Coffee Shop’ culture, that is evolving, the future of coffee shops leading the coffee trends will become a thing of the past, and once again, it will be the Gen Z era of coffee enthusiats leading future trends by influencers on social media platfroms such as TikTok or Instagram.

It will be these “CoffeeTok” influencers that share their coffee drink recipes, coffee rituals, brewing techniques and display their carefully designed home coffee bars, to their audiences, whom will then attempt to replicate these coffee beverages, they are exposed to.

Interestingly, it is recorded that 49% of Gen Z consumers learn about coffee on TikTok.

So in conclusion, we could agree that without the 1st Wave In Coffee, that started over 100 years ago, we would not be here today experiencing highly-designed coffee houses, serving specialty coffees by well-educated baristas and customers alike and enjoying the subtleties of the different flavour notes presented.

But also, without the latest trends in coffee we would not have invented the Air-Motion Roaster, which is at the cutting edge of roasting technology today while producing the finest Specialty Coffee and definitely has its place in the future trends and Waves In Coffee moving forward.

But then let me ask:

“What CoffeeTok influencer wouldn’t want to stand next the “Hottest” coffee roasting machine out there, while observing the dance of the coffee beans as they roast to perfection, in an open roast chamber (ORC), sipping on a cup of their best coffee beverage, that was produced on the “Sexiest” coffee roaster in the world today, and that would obviously be… on an Air-Motion Coffee Roaster?”

- To the future of Coffee… JP.

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