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.