What are the coffee waves?

In this short article, we will answer the question “What are the coffee waves?” and make a deep analysis of each one of the waves.

In an effort to keep up with and satisfy consumer demands, the coffee market has experienced numerous modifications. Because of this, it is easier to comprehend how the act of drinking coffee has changed over time when it is divided into waves or phases.

What are the coffee waves?

We might argue that the global coffee market and consumption are influenced by three phases or waves of coffee. Each wave has distinct objectives. 

Because of this, they can coexist in some ways and even affect one another; in other words, the appearance of one does not result in the demise of the other.

Trish Rothgeb first mentioned coffee waves in a piece he wrote about “Third Wave Coffee” in the middle of 2002. Since then, the phrase has been used to describe how coffee is drunk all around the world by both experts in the area and coffee enthusiasts.

First wave

The first wave, which began between the end of the 19th and the start of the 20th century, is distinguished by a sharp rise in coffee consumption on a global scale.

Coffee drinking was first designed for home usage and aimed to increase energy, focus, and performance due to caffeine ingestion. The exceptionally dark roast, which resulted in a highly bitter coffee, was one of the hallmarks of the coffee eaten during the period.

Large corporations can be seen as the era’s representatives. Through mass marketing and the use of well-known catchphrases like “the best part of waking up,”.

The American brands Folgers and Maxwell House, as well as the Swiss Nestlé, had the ability to sway consumer choice. Thus, the industrialization of coffee production and roasting characterised the First Wave. 

The rise in coffee consumption has also been facilitated by advancements in processing, packaging, and marketing.

Before the First Wave’s modifications, consumers often bought tiny amounts of coffee from neighbourhood roasters or natural beans that were roasted and ground at home because coffees were seen as luxury goods.

Second wave

It began in the 1960s and persisted until the middle of the 1990s. It is regarded as a response to the mass production and poor quality of its predecessor’s items. 

Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Starbucks, which began as modest coffee shops specialising in gourmet coffee, are its prominent representations. The market saw a major shift as a result of these coffee shops.

We may point to the rise in the utilisation of Coffea arabica and the improvement in the calibre of the coffee that is marketed. Coffee became valued and viewed as a service. 

This was made feasible by the creation of a “coffee culture,” characterised by the development of an experience around consumption, through the use of coffee shops. The quality of this encounter goes beyond the beverage itself. 

Lattes and cappuccinos, among other coffee-based beverages, gained popularity during the Second Wave, making them more accessible to a younger demographic.

The baristas, who are trained professionals who serve customers and brew coffee, were also brought along by the woman.

Because of the attention paid to the customer experience and the quality of the coffee, the price of the beverage was significantly raised, which greatly increased the operations and profitability of coffee shops.

The adoption of a darker roast was the solution discovered to standardise the coffees that were sold with the rapid proliferation of Second Wave coffee shops.

Third wave

We might claim that ideas that started in the Second Wave are continued in the Third Wave. adopting ideas about the origin and purchase of commercially available grains, such as terroir and single origin. 

The procedure of revealing particular information about the origin of the coffees, such as the name of the property, lots, and even who produced it, was made easier thanks to this. 

The concern for the environment and the quest for more ethical consumption is one of the biggest trends at the moment. The crucial phrases here are appreciation and respect for all parties. 

Additionally, collaboration across various coffee business sectors and information access support the producer’s autonomy and respect.

As a result, coffee stopped being a commodity and was instead viewed as a complicated and seasonal product. Thus, in order to diversify the sensory profiles present in coffee, the variances of flavours from the same place are wanted and utilised to the utmost extent.

The consumption of speciality Arabica coffee is more common, and a lighter roast is used to showcase the coffee’s sensory qualities. The whole coffee supply chain—from the producer to the consumer—wins in this surge of consumption. 

On the other hand, customers have access to a variety of coffees with a unique flavour and aroma profiles, expertly roasted beans, and the assurance that the food they eat every day is from a certain region.


In this short article, we answered the question “What are the coffee waves?” and made a deep analysis of each one of the waves.



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