Coffee in Three Waves

Who are you? 

The question is quite a troubling one: an increasingly concerning enquiry that is a little too dimensional for mere job descriptors and horoscope types. Why? It may unfurl what we grasp of our personal identities if we are careless. As Nietzsche would say; “To live is to suffer” but perhaps; that is just a  process of finding one’s self.

How could purpose be boiled down to something so unassuming as coffee choices?

Coffee started with humble beginnings as a commodity for everyday. The industrial boom of the early 1900s marks the very First Wave - coffee at that time was simply  produced and prepared for quick consumption in the form of a can or instant packets for working individuals. 

The finer things in coffee like taste were secondary and what mattered was that instead of taking minutes, coffee was able to be consumed fast. Back then, coffee is every working individual’s breakfast before they start their day and with no time to waste. Hence, taste were never part of First Wave coffee drinkers’ concern.  . Countries like The United States and Japan were moving so fast! They could care less about anything secondary. 

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not saying that people were robotic, but coffee, the way we think is affected by time and this extends to the Second Wave: Enter globalisation and some sort of technology advancement, the era where coffee is produced quickly and in large quantities, scalable and yes, efficient.. The 2000s is known for the sprouting of coffee chains like Starbucks and Gloria jeans, where coffee drinkers commune in comfortable spaces and plush atmospheres. Coffee is now a lifestyle, more than just a humble beverage.

Coffee isn’t just guzzled down now, it’s a conduit for bigger things, like studying tolerance or even retaining energy in important business meetings. Coffee drinkers during the Second Wave are becoming enquiries, and are curious about the origin of the coffee sitting in their cups. Where is it farmed or roasted? Perhaps, survival is no longer a main focus and accessibility of things is becoming the norm, the shift allows us to now asking questions . Self identity (and that of coffee) is now something to be aware of, questions ought to be asked!

So what about the Third Wave? 

The newest evolution of coffee as an artisanal food - like wine and cheese Like Nietzsche, we are looking for comfort and affirmation to life, and we find that in coffee; buying a cup of blue bottle or even going to a specialty coffee shop - and  they are no longer labelled as ‘hipster’ anymore.

The quality of coffee in recent years  is much more controlled, alike the information age, roasters are getting more involved than ever with the source of their beans, sharing with us what makes them special and taste good. Coffee roasters are also organising events to teach coffee drinkers about nuances of character in a coffee’s taste. The content is critical; comforting yet overwhelming all at once, just like a feverish excitement of self-enquiry and existence. 

This is just a toe dip analysis into the world of Specialty Coffee. However, a dip in this abysmal pool is the best place to start. Lest the question "Who are you?” troubles us once more. Perhaps the gentler place to focus instead, which ‘wave’ is more aligned with your coffee drinking habits.

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