Coffee in New York City is not longer just ‘coffee’ and if it is, then you are way, way outside the fine distinctions of third wave coffee. See the video for an introduction to the preoccupations of third wave coffee makers and drinkers. Now if there’s a third wave there has to have been a first and second wave right? Yup for sure and this is what they were all about. The first wave refers to that crumbly instant coffee your grandparents and parents buy at the supermarket in jars and tins. Or the ready ground coffee they put through some type of ancient dripolator. Second wave refers to the re-introduction of Italian espresso coffee to America, a reintroduction made necessary by the spread of Italian espresso across the world having somehow missed the United States. Indeed it’s reintroduction is still patchy and even cafes in NYC that boast an espresso machines can still have people using it who wouldn’t know what the ‘crema’ is on a good cup of espresso if they were drowning in it.
Then of course there are the third wavers. As soon as third wave coffee is mentioned you are immedaitely into deep, deep New York foodie territory, meaning unless you really know what you are talking about you will instantly come across as naive, pretentious or just plain ignorant. Third wavers make very fine distinctions between the flavors of different coffees in much the same way wine drinkers do. They will refers to a brew’s ‘fine earthy aftertaste’ and to another brew’s ‘citrus like tones’. See, you really need to be able to be able to make those distinctions if you want to sound knowledgeable. And if you really know nothing at all, just say to the thrid wavers, ‘Please teach me, and they will’ because they are seriosuly into coffee at a deep level.
Your third waver will be able to talk at great depth about different varieties of coffee beans. They can discuss the very many Arabica varieties versus your Robusta varieties. And then they can go on to talk about what regions they are grown in, and after that, which side of the mountain the best crops are grown on. See, you need to be able to be very specific and detailed in your knowledge to qualify as a third waver.
The most frequent word used by third wavers in realtion to waht they do is artisanal because it refers to the practices followed in third wave coffee shops. There will be a lot of attention paid to variety of beans and where they are grown. Then there will be the mixing of beans from different locations to get a specific flavor. And there are a specific grinding and roasting regimes per coffee shop. Coffee will only be prepared in small batches to preserve freshness and also it will be brewed in very specific ways to enhance flavor. The very minute attention to detail and the very specific brewing techniques are on view in the video attached to this post. Anyway enjoy your coffee any way you like it but if it is nectar of the gods for you in a deep way then find a good third wave coffee shop and then let the experts induct you into the wonderful world of coffee, coffee, coffee in all it’s many splendored varieties and flavors.