Through its evolution around the world as the preferred drink for all occasions, coffee has gone through multiple ‘waves’.
The 1st Wave describes traditional 20th century coffee drinking and reflects differing historical cultures and geographies.
The 2nd Wave is typified by the early growth of lifestyle branded chains, such as Starbucks Coffee Company
The 3rd Wave is when ‘Specialty Coffee’ gained prominence through craft or artisan coffee, as well as the humble coffee bean getting scored and assessed for quality
Which brings us to the 4th Wave, which is defined by the ‘science of coffee’.
Let us look at some trends, which will help us understand the importance of this 4th Wave of Coffee:
Globalization of Coffee:
Coffee is no longer a beverage enjoyed in a part of Europe and US. Both the brewing methods as well as the coffee beans themselves are getting ‘globalized’. You can be sitting at a café in India, but want to enjoy a ‘Flat White’ (method popular in Australia) with beans from Honduras or Chikmagalur (Karnataka). This means, for a café, you must be aware of various recipes and offer choices to the well-traveled Indian coffee consumer.
Attrition and Labour Costs:
With a number of new national and international café chains entering and expanding in India, talented baristas are finding a lot of opportunities. Until a few years ago, baristas used to leave India for better opportunities abroad but this trend is reversing. We see many of these baristas returning back to their home towns and running the coffee programs at great cafes and bars.
Coffee Specialization and Quality:
The coffee we consume today is of much higher quality than was available a few years back. This is primarily the impact of the 3rd Wave of Coffee. Increased investments have happened at the plantations as well as processing in order to improve quality. Expensive coffee is not to be wasted, so cafes need to take extra care.
If you look at the trends above, it is clear that cafes are looking at below to solve their challenges:
• Standardization of the recipe while maintaining high quality
• Lower dependence on people/ higher automation
• Better understanding of the chemistry of coffee while brewing
The 4th wave of coffee is all about understanding the chemical reactions around coffee, as well as studying the environment and processes around brewing the beverage.
A lot of innovation has happened as a result including:
• Scientific process named RAIN® for automating Cold Brew extraction
• iOT based devices to standardize everything from Grinding to Brewing
• Roasting software to help create profiles unique to a brand
• Automation in everything from tamping to milk dispensing
This wave is still evolving, with a number of exciting products on the anvil, including a soon to be launched ‘boiler-less coffee machine’ which may be 50 percent of the size of a traditional machine!
In conclusion, we can say that science and technology has truly started making an impact into the world of coffee and is now as important as the craft of brewing and the ‘latte art’ which makes you feel delighted as you sip your cup of coffee.