Third Wave Coffee – On The Rise

assorted fruits on person s hand

The lifecycle of coffee is longer than most people realize. It takes between six months to a year before it is ready to be harvested and processed. This time spent is dependent on location, altitude, and the amount of rainfall the plantation absorbs each day as well as the growing experience of the producer. Coffee plants are typically grown under a shade plant, such as a banana plant, for the purpose of holding in such moisture and at maturation, flowers. However, in recent years, many new producers have begun using apple trees and other fruit variety plants to naturally infuse additional flavors into the coffee. Shade plants also preserve biodiversity and provide an appropriate habitat for migratory birds. The fruit that grows from the tree is picked and the seed is processed as coffee. It takes at least two hundred coffee cherries to produce enough coffee to brew a ten-cup pot – a fact that is often overlooked or misunderstood by the typical coffee-drinking consumer. As specialty coffees have skyrocketed in popularity in the past few decades, the concern for sustainability has become a forefront issue. It is no secret that Earth is experiencing global warming and climate changes that are drastically affecting the natural life cycle of our planet. Coffee is no exception. This concern has morphed into different “waves” of the coffee industry. 

First and Second wave coffees refer to commodity coffee like those purchased in your local grocery store and large commercial companies that have turned flavor syrups into a business model. But third-wave coffee is a fairly new means of a coffee experience and is on the rise. Growers, traders, and roasters alike have pinpointed what really makes coffee unique – its natural profile of flavors. Without adding any additional flavors or processes, consumers are able to taste and experience different origins of coffee, as well as uniquely blended cups. This new wave of coffee puts producers at the forefront of the industry and places extensive value on how the product is grown. Roast dates along with the entire roasting process have been brought to the forefront as an artisan craft. This wave has become so popular that it is now referred to as “specialty coffee” and has inspired a movement that focuses on sustainability practices. 

What Is Latte Art?

person performing coffee art

Who doesn’t love a little creativity in their coffee? In an effort to win over customers and celebrate the originality of specialty coffees, baristas have formed a service that we call Latte Art. It is created using the coffee crema (which is an emulsion of coffee oil and brewed coffee) from a fresh espresso pour as a canvas and then pouring freshly steamed milk foam strategically in a specific pattern to create art.

Latte Art has become so popular that there are now competitions to see who can create the most elaborate designs using just coffee and milk. Creating such designs is a learned skill and can vary from cup to cup depending on the drink that is being prepared.

There are two styles of preparing latte art. The most common in the United States is the free pour. The second style is called etching and is performed after the pour of milk using a tool to maneuver the milk into a specific pattern.

How To Make Espresso In 4 Steps

crop barista putting tamper on portafilter

Coffee drinks are enjoyed all over the world and vary in ingredients, taste, and brewing methods. But espresso is generally expressed the same way across the globe. It all starts with quality roasted coffee beans.

Step 1:

Step one begins with the perfect grind. Because the espresso machine uses pressure to infuse water in and then through the coffee, it is imperative that the grind be very fine. However, there is such a thing as too fine for espresso. If the coffee is over ground, the portafilter will fill up with water and no liquid will be expelled through to the cup.

Step 2:

Once ground correctly, the coffee is tamped down into the portafilter, usually with a hand tamping device. This is where the amount of espresso to be used is determined and some highly trained baristas will even weigh the grounds to a precise amount. The purpose of this is to level out the fine coffee grounds and pack them together so that air does not circulate during the pouring process. Using the right-sized tamper to fit perfectly into your portafilter is highly recommended.

Step 3:

After tamping the coffee, the portafilter is attached to the espresso machine. Generally, this will be a left to right motion stopping once the handle is tight to the machine. If this step is not done correctly, there will be a loss of pressure and thus a leak in the pour. Some portafilters dispense the espresso on both sides, requiring the barista to use either a wide-mouthed cup or two shot glasses.

Step 4:

If you are using a manual machine, you will have more flexibility in how you pour shots. Whereas an automatic machine will likely do many of these steps for you. Check the pressure on your machine and press the brew button until the desired shots are completed. There should be a small amount of crema at the top of the shot glasses of espresso. This is the carbon dioxide extruding from the pressed coffee.