Coffee has been consumed for thousands of years. It wasn’t until the last two hundred that the coffee industry has really undergone evolution. There have been a couple of major revolutions throughout this time that experts have identified and termed the “waves of coffee”. These waves represent big changes both in the industry and in culture.
THE FIRST WAVE (1800s)
Coffee initially wasn’t very popular in the US as most Americans chose to drink tea instead. It wasn’t until the Boston Tea Party of 1773 that coffee became the go-to alternative to tea. Drinking coffee became almost a patriotic duty which is why coffee rose in popularity. Later on, during the Civil War, soldiers drank coffee to give them a boost of energy, and coffee consumption became normalized in the 1800s. Entrepreneurs wanted to profit from these trends by innovating and developing coffee products to help bring coffee to the mass market. At the time, people mostly drank coffee for the caffeine kick and its accessibility.
Think: Folger’s Instant Coffee
THE SECOND WAVE (1970s)
The second wave was led primarily by Starbucks and revolutionized the cafe culture of the United States. “Specialty Coffee” drinks were developed, making coffee drinks more accessible and appealing to a wider audience. Coffee shops began to focus on creating a whole coffee experience, transforming cafe’s into places of social encounters. As coffee consumption grew, the second wave also began to place emphasis on the origin of the coffee bean as well as the roast type.
THE THIRD WAVE (2000s)
That brings us to the third wave. In the third wave, coffee has become a premium product with different distinctions and methods of brewing like wine or craft beer. Baristas have become coffee “experts” and pay careful attention to flavor profiles and brewing techniques. Beans are roasted so that the roast highlights the unique flavors of the bean. There is also now more emphasis on coffee bean origins as the soil, altitude, and method of processing become important factors to the discerning palate.
Think: Stumptown Coffee
THE FOURTH WAVE (2020s)
So what will the fourth wave bring? We believe the fourth wave of coffee must combine all the aspects of the first three waves to elevate the coffee experience even further.
The First Wave: Caffeine and accessibility
The Second Wave: Coffee as a new experience
The Third Wave: New coffee processes and technologies
When creating COBA, we took elements from each of the three waves - convenience, function, quality, experience, and technology - and combined them into one coffee bar. We’ve transformed coffee from a liquid to a solid and with 100 mg of caffeine in each bar, you’ll get the energy that you need whenever you need it.