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The Three Waves of Coffee

First-Wave, Second-Wave, Third-Wave Coffee. What are the waves of coffee? Can you surf them? Well, no. Not literally, anyway. But, if you’re an avid coffee drinker like us, you’ve certainly encountered them in your everyday life without even knowing it.

Waves of coffee refer to periods in history where the coffee industry has evolved in significant ways. So far, there have been three major movements or “waves” of coffee that represent specific shifts or trends in the industry. These are known as the first, second, and third waves of coffee.

First-Wave Coffee

The first spike in coffee consumption began in the 1800s. Back then, the focus was less on taste, which was mostly dark and bitter, or quality, and more on convenience. This first wave made coffee accessible to the masses and saw the rise of instant coffee and “grandparent” brands like Folgers and Maxwell House. Coffee became a good way to kick-start the day, but people didn’t give much thought to where this supermarket staple originated from.

Second-Wave Coffee

In the late 1960s, some coffee companies like Peet’s Coffee & Tea started highlighting the sourcing, roasting, and blending of beans. Coffee was no longer simply a morning staple; the taste was now prioritized. Coffee culture also began to evolve into a more social experience. Companies like Starbucks gave us a variety of flavors, friendly baristas, and a place to enjoy our cup of joe with fellow coffee lovers while still providing an option for coffee drinkers on the go.

Third-Wave Coffee

Today, if you’re really into coffee, you probably think of it like real estate: location, location, location. Where your coffee comes from and how it’s handled are as important as flavor. This includes preparation as well. A key factor of the third wave of coffee is the brew method–pour over, french press, cold brew. These days, everyone has their preferred style.

In the early 2000s, coffee drinkers also increasingly began purchasing coffee based on the process behind the coffee they drank. This resulted in an emphasis on specialty-grade coffee with more distinct, complex flavors, and started the trend of sourcing directly from farms rather than countries. For Nomi, that means focusing on good coffee, sustainability, and social good. As part of this third wave, our goal is to remain fair to farmers, fair to friends, and fair to the earth as we help pioneer the next wave of coffee.

Where are we headed? The Future and Fourth-Wave Coffee

The fourth wave of coffee will likely continue to focus on the process and how to make the best product. We believe it’s also about the people involved in that process. Nomi is dedicated to highlighting the work of farmers, making the process itself as transparent as possible by maintaining rigorous standards of authenticity and accountability every step of the way. That includes fair wages for farmers in order to provide a more truly sustainable product. Our vision of fourth-wave coffee is a coffee that makes everybody happy.

So if drinking a better coffee all while lending a hand to our planet sounds good to you, then come ride this new wave with us. Surf’s up.

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