Recently we’ve heard people talk of the fourth wave – something that has stirred up a lot of controversy. Is a fourth wave possible? Are we currently experiencing it, even if we’re not aware of it?
It’s tough to see how. Already, in the third wave, we have high coffee quality, meaningful trade relationships, innovative brewing methods, an understanding of the importance of production and processing, and more.
Yet Dismas Smith tells me he believes it’s possible. “Fourth wave would be the highest end movement on specialty levels. I’ve had this discussion with several people and we don’t discard a fourth wave.”
He expands on the idea to tell me, “Fourth wave could be seen as [an understanding of] coffee’s scientific aspects. We would talk more in depth about precise knowledge of soil, coffee plants, coffee beans…”
Third wave coffee: a movement, an experience, an increased focus on consumer education and service. However you define it, I believe we are lucky to be witnesses of the industry’s evolution. With an increased focus on production and quality, it’s leading to fairer, better coffee that benefits all parts of the coffee supply chain.
So next time you step into a third (or fourth!) wave coffee shop, don’t be afraid to ask your barista more about your drink. This is, after all, the third wave.