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Specialty Coffee vs Third Wave Coffee

What's all this about Third Wave Coffee? How is it different from Specialty Coffee?Since the 1900s we have seen three phases of mass coffee consumption, otherwise called "waves" that have resulted in the current state of coffee culture as we know it today.

The First Wave

The first wave was marked by the widespread consumption of coffee as a mainstream commodity. This was evident in the exponential spike in coffee brands such as Folgers and Maxwell coffee (in the US) that was available throughout large supermarket chains.


The Second Wave

The second wave was marked by a more quality-conscious consumer base. Popularised by brands such as Peet’s Coffee and Starbucks, coffee was commonly marketed as 100% arabica. Artisanal distinction such as different roast types along with drinks like lattes and cappuccinos grew in popularity.

Ethical consumption was also a main concern, with labels such as fair trade and organic certified becoming prevalent and used as a marketing tool for many.


The Third Wave

The third wave of coffee is a movement to consider coffee as an artisanal food, like wine, rather than a commodity. This involves a focus on all stages of production, from agriculture practices at the farm, processing, to relationships between coffee growers, traders, and roasters. This is closely followed by the craft of roasting and skillful coffee brewing by baristas at coffee shops.

Ultimately there is a higher focus on craft, sustainability and most importantly, customer service. Hospitality becomes the key to opening consumers’ minds to the idea of appreciating the subtleties, story and hard work that exists behind every single cup. The customer experience is the most important factor in ensuring a sustainable ecosystem for the coffee industry.

Specialty Coffee

Specialty coffee has a narrow technical definition that refers to Arabica coffee with a cup score of 80 points and above. It can equally be both a part of Second Wave and Third Wave coffee. Specialty coffee grade does not guarantee a great cup of coffee. Just like top grade ingredients won’t churn out a Michelin star dish in the hands of an amateur cook.

As our name suggests, great coffee is a compound effort from the farmers to the roasters, baristas, customers and everybody in between. Compound Coffee Co. believes in researching and identifying the best practices in coffee throughout the entire supply chain. We then take our expertise to work with professionals throughout the supply chain not just to produce extraordinary coffee, but to empower the industry through the third wave and beyond.

 Find out more about the professionals we work with here or check out their amazing coffees available for sale here.


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