The three waves of coffee, know the history of this drink that connects continents


Coffee has a very interesting history that goes back hundreds of years. This story is divided into stages or as it is now called  “waves”

These so-called waves are based mainly on the historical context, the treatment of the product, and the behavior of those who consume it, marking key moments in the history of the grain.  

Being Colombia one of the largest coffee producers in the world, our consumption is very low compared to Nordic countries such as Finland where they consume between 13 and 14 kilos per inhabitant. The waves help us better understand the history and future of this famous grain.

The first wave of coffee

It takes place when coffee arrives from the Middle East in Europe in the 17th century. Before this, there were no great ways to prepare coffee, it was simply drunk alone and in very few cases the famous Turkish coffee was prepared (finely ground and highly concentrated). Upon arrival in Europe and at the initiative of the Italians, it began to be served with some species and also with milk, giving rise to the “cappuccino”.

This wave was strengthened with its arrival in the United States. There, large companies innovated in packaging and distribution trying to position coffee in the greatest number of homes.

The second wave of coffee

Once coffee reaches industrial production levels, it is known as the second wave and is generally attributed to the multinational Starbucks. During the 80s and 90’s the company had an important expansion offering a pleasant environment, original coffee, and the ability to sell it individually and personalized. This moment was key, since coffee was generally taken in homes or offices and not in social settings.

The third wave of coffee

For many, Starbucks is one of the main ones responsible for the 3rd wave of coffee through the personalization and consumption of the drink in places other than home and office.

Today the focus is on the grain itself.  Origin, flavor, and preparation methods are characteristics of the third wave. The diversity of styles to prepare it has had a very positive effect on coffee growers around the world since the more the methods are specialized, the beans and the process become relevant. The planting, cultivation, and distribution of coffee are no longer only in the hands of large companies, now entrepreneurs and amateurs are able to get the beans that best suit their style,  which has resulted in an explosion of specialized coffee shops.

There is already talk of a fourth wave of coffee, which puts its eyes on the coffee beans beyond their preparation. However, these aspects are already being contemplated in the third wave. Others, on the contrary, affirm that what comes from coffee will be related to communication about the benefits that it has in terms of well-being and treatment of diseases. Finally, there are those who consider that what is coming is to offer alcoholic coffee drinks and cold cocktails.

Only time will tell how this delicious drink will evolve and perhaps in the not-too-distant future, we will be talking about a fifth or sixth wave of coffee.