Just as those who are curious to learn about their family tree sign up with genealogy websites, we coffee-obsessed types love a good dive into the evolution of our beloved beverage. Even though coffee has been around for centuries, it's the last few decades that has seen the greatest explosion of growth, change and awareness.
Coffee has evolved in basically three stages or movements that we now call waves of coffee, divided into first, second and third waves. European immigrants brought their love of coffee to North America in the 1800s. Still, the first wave of coffee didn't really take hold until the late 1800s, that's when commercial brands such as Folgers and Maxwell House began selling ground coffee.
The first wave's focus was on convenience. At this stage, the quality was an afterthought – coffee was just another commodity to pick up at the grocery store and brew in a stove-top percolator. The electric percolator became the dominant brewing method right through the 50s and 60s, until the introduction of the automatic drip coffee maker – Mr. Coffee, in the early 70s.
The second wave of coffee begins with Starbucks' launch in Seattle in the 70s. Once here, we were introduced to a world of fancy coffee drinks served in a welcoming environment. Starbucks provided a great customer experience and pioneered the growth of café culture that soon led to more and more independent neighbourhood coffee shops and roasters opening up.
We started to pay attention to the higher quality of roasts, countries of origin and support for fair trade sourced coffee. All of which led to the current third wave – it's all about the coffee! From the nuanced flavours of different regions, different processing methods, and single-origin coffees, we are now in the era of specialty coffee.
Third-wave has, for the most part, evolved into being referred to as specialty coffee. Roasters and baristas can tell us the story of a particular place where the coffee is grown, how it's hand-picked and point out the nuances of various tasting notes.
At Roaster Central we have evolved a curated selection of specialty coffee from roasters here in Canada. We invite you to discover the stories behind the coffees and taste the quality that only a specialty coffee can offer.