It’s said that we are in the third wave of the coffee movement, so what were the first two waves you ask? Well, the first wave didn’t come until the mid-twentieth century, but let’s not ignore the hundreds of years of coffee that came before.
As far as we know, coffee has been around since the fifteenth century, when someone in the south western highlands of Ethiopia realised that boiling the seeds of the native coffee tree produced a drink that was both flavoursome and gave a pleasant little energy kick to the drinker. The drink spread throughout the Middle East and by the end of the sixteenth century these beans were being traded across Europe, from which they were shipped to growing colonies in America, Asia and eventually, Australia.
The next big shift came in World War II, when someone figured out how to freeze-dry their brew and the world was granted joy in an instant. It became easy and cheap to take coffee across continents and oceans, later to be brought to life with just a splash of boiling water. This is known as the first wave of coffee, which took the stuff into homes and offices across the developed world.
The second wave was the Arabica bean boom – companies started roasting high-quality Arabica to be sold to cafés and supermarkets. This was the era that saw massive coffee chains such as Starbucks taking over entire shopping strips and good coffee became all about the espresso machine.
And finally… the third wave, where we go back to the bean and all it has to offer. It’s all about seeing the production of coffee as an art form. Concerns about exploitation in the coffee industry have led to a new age of transparency, where baristas, roasters, importers and growers are keener than ever to open up. And the best thing about this is that it’s becoming easier for anyone to learn the ropes, without having to spend thousands of dollars on equipment.