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James Hoffmann Wonders if the Term Third Wave Should be Retired

James Hoffman of Square Mile Coffee

James Hoffman

James Hoffmann of London’s Square Mile Coffee Roasters says he sees some value in the term Third Wave, but that he’s never really liked it nonetheless. Hoffman addresses the term, as well as numerous other issues concerning specialty coffee industry semantics, in this interesting new commentary.

Hoffmann writes:

In some ways “Third Wave” seemed like a pinnacle – to me it is about traceability (so making something increasingly traceable didn’t make it 4th wave), it is about the inherent qualities of a lot of coffee, it is about roasting and brewing coffee in a way that makes these qualities available to the consumer. The net result would be something worth more.

I’m not sure that is a stated goal though – it was a description of a change in our culture, rather than an explicit manifesto of “how things should be.”

Naturally, Hoffmann associates the term Third Wave with value, both abstractly and commercially:

I think many of us want to make coffee more valuable. How can we measure this? Is it the average spend on a cup? Is it the average price per pound of retail coffee? Is it the percentage of our customers who own grinders? Is it the number of people who ask for a coffee based on its flavour, or by the name of the farm that grew it rather than the country where it was grown?

Read the full post here.


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