The history of coffee is long and storied. It's said that coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia during the 11th century. Since then, these magical beans have gone through quite the evolution and stands today as not only the world's most popular drink, but a global commodity that has birthed its own evolving culture. As a coffee lover you may have heard of the term “Third Wave Coffee”. If you were me when I first heard the phrase, you might be thinking “I don't even know what first or second wave coffee is.” You'd be surprised by how few of the hundreds of millions of coffee lovers around the world have no idea what this term is. Just the like the industrial revolution described a new chapter in mankind's history, so too does Third Wave coffee articulate a next phase in the life story of coffee.
Third Wave coffee carries a number of definitions each with its own variations and criteria. Some say Third Wave coffee must achieve a minimum rating by the Specialty Coffee Association while others base their criteria on establishing direct relationships with farmers. But regardless of which coffee connoisseur you ask, they can all agree that Third Wave coffee or specialty coffee is best viewed as an approach in which coffee is treated like an artisinal commodity, like wine or craft beer. As cliche' as it may sound, coffee in the context of Third Wave is viewed as an experience. It's heaven on earth for the coffee geek or coffee snob as every single detail of the coffee bean's journey is scrutinized to ensure the perfect cup of coffee.
To learn more of details about it, check out excellent videos that simply explain the spirit behind the Third Wave coffee movement.
I'd recommend starting out with this very brief coffee video that addresses the “1st and 2nd wave coffees”
The coffee video below is an illustration of coffee geekdom and connoisseurship at its best.
While this last video isn't specifically about Third Wave Coffee, it's full of the same spirit that drives the movement.