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Thread: Why Third Wave Coffee Bars Fail.

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Why Third Wave Coffee Bars Fail.

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Here's an interesting read, written by Mark Overly (The Coffee Heretic) in May 2012.

    I particularly like this,

    "At first I mistook the Third Wave Movement with its penchant for trade roasts and manual brewing techniques as a response to the like of Starbucks and the wannabe chains. Now I understand that it is an attempt to recreate the experience of the Barista Championships that take place at various convention centers around the world. A fabricated event designed to impress judges and their peers, that manufactures in-the-know celebrities of coffee culture. Customers were never the consideration."

    The inference of course being that, as a customer, unless you embraced their insipid lightly roasted citrus offerings wholeheartedly you were obviously a person of little or no taste, move along please and make way for someone who does appreciate what we are offering


    Why Third Wave (Pour-over) Coffee Bars Fail.

    Portland was a perfect venue for the 25th Annual Conference and Exhibition of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. Perhaps, more than anywhere else in America, third wave coffee bars have stormed into existence. Third Wave Coffee Bars are notable by how they look and what they do. They are a direct facsimile of current fashion of SCAA Championships. It’s as if the participants are trying to reproduce in the real world the artificial world that exists during these championships. As a result, these new bars imitate one another in the type of equipment used and more importantly, what and how coffee is offered to customers.

    Now, I have been a big fan of the Barista Guild and their efforts to raise the perception of Baristas as a viable professional skill. This is long overdue and has helped our industry staunch the move to automated equipment and look-alike chain operators. But what I have noticed is a disturbing trend in these coffee bars that has more to do with being a part of a club rather than actually serving truly good coffee. These bars can be identified often by what they don't have: they don't have skim milk, or soy; they don't do flavors or 16 oz to go cups. And as far as I could tell, most don't have much in the way of customers, either. What they do have is seasonal single origin espressos from a number of the latest names in roasters, they have pour-over bars featuring Chemex's with metal filters, Hario V60 cones, or Siphon brewers; and they have an educated superiority that leave you degraded, dismissed, and otherwise not a member of the club.

    I really would like to admire these coffee bars for their commitment to a vision, a vision predicated on coffee quality. But the concept of quality now seems to be more a sense of style rather than a discerning sense of taste. Coffees, and Roasters for that matter, are chosen based on their merits of who's hot right now. Brewing techniques are chosen in a similar fashion, pour over bars provide more theater and the illusion of choice. Never mind that the metal filter is an inappropriate application for the Chemex brewer and one has to adjust their brewing style to compensate resulting in an over-extracted brew. At least the coffee siphon provides excellent cup quality but it is a ten minute exercise and costs, in some cases, $9.00.

    I had debated whether to do a post about pour-over bars before going to Portland and decided to focus my attention on the pour-over experience. We had abandoned pour-over many years ago but I wondered if there had been significant improvements that warranted another look. What I found, aside from the one aforementioned coffee siphon episode, was brewed coffee that almost always was near undrinkable. The problem lies in the substitution of the metal cone for the Chemex or the use of the Hario v60 cones. In either case the issue centers on dwell time of the brew. Great coffee is a function of dwell time and brew rate. Both the metal filter and the V60 cone allow the water to pass too quickly through the coffee grounds requiring the barista to slow the rate of pour in the center of the grounds. Never do all the grounds dwell in a solution, rather, the water passes through the middle over extracting the same grounds. It is a similar phenomena as cheap electric coffee brewers with inadequate heaters that heat a little water and send it through, heat a little water and send it through, and so on.

    The secret behind the Chemex isn't the carafe so much as the interaction of the carafe and the paper filter that allows the user to fill the funnel with hot water and have a full dwelling of water and coffee with the filter and grind dictating the rate of flow for the brew. The Hario V60 also has too large of an exit hole and the striated fins on the inside of the funnel allow water to channel through the filter requiring the user to adopt a similar pour technique as the metal filtered Chemex. Combine this slow pour with the fact that water temperature stability is thrown out the window. One operator was using the Marco Uberboiler for hot water, a precise controlled water boiler that can deliver accurate temperature, set at 210 degrees to allow for the rapid cooling while pouring. Most places make no effort at all water temperature stability.

    This was one of the major reasons we abandoned pour-over years ago. But what really made us abandon it were the incredible improvements in programmable commercial brewers. If pour-over produced better results than what we could get out of our Fetco Extractor then I would be on board, but the fact is it isn't remotely close to the same quality and moreover, I can make better coffee in my home using a paper filter Chemex or Aeropress without the condescending attitude as an added bonus.

    At first I mistook the Third Wave Movement with its penchant for trade roasts and manual brewing techniques as a response to the like of Starbucks and the wannabe chains. Now I understand that it is an attempt to recreate the experience of the Barista Championships that take place at various convention centers around the world. A fabricated event designed to impress judges and their peers, that manufactures in-the-know celebrities of coffee culture. Customers were never the consideration.

    I was asked the other day whether I thought Third Wave Coffee Bars are here to stay. If this is what this movement continues to serve, they won't be around for very long.

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    TC
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    Interesting read...

    You do have to wonder at some of the decisions. I guess the busy ones have sufficient fans to do as they choose and still make money.

    Must admit that I found this one perplexing: We don't do decaf. We don't do tea. We don't do soy now either. Who knows with low fat? I guess there are no skim cows....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Here's an interesting read, written by Mark Overly (The Coffee Heretic) in May 2012.

    ...

    But what I have noticed is a disturbing trend in these coffee bars that has more to do with being a part of a club rather than actually serving truly good coffee.
    If you don't like or agree with how "third wave" coffee is roasted/prepared/served/tastes, are you not in a similar type of "club", just with a different point of view?

    Who's to say what "truly good" coffee is or isn't?

    As to the customer, professional coffee people are in a service industry. If they are really brave (or perhaps passionate) and have enough funds they can stick to serving what they believe is "truly good coffee" and assume that the customer will learn to appreciate the product, or they will compromise to some extent in order to remain a viable business.

    I guess my point is, why can we not let it be? If people like to produce "third wave" coffee and others like to be part of it by consuming, what's the problem?

    Pete
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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete39 View Post

    I guess my point is, why can we not let it be? If people like to produce "third wave" coffee and others like to be part of it by consuming, what's the problem?

    Pete
    No problem at all Pete, robust discussion/debate on almost any topic is interesting as well as mentally stimulating.

    I posted the article knowing full well it would draw differing opinions.

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    Senior Member insomnispresso's Avatar
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    Meh a lot of third wave bashing happens here.. you get used to it

    What confuses me the most though is that there seems to have two different meanings.

    Wikipedia seems to say that the introduction of single origin/estate to the coffee scene was the third wave

    Here it seems to refer to espresso which is extremely lightly roasted.. and sour ra ra ra...

    According to the wikipedia definition we're all third wavers?! =/

    Third Wave Coffee - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    I'd agree insomnispresso, from my understanding of "third wave coffee", most CS's would fit into that category. Like many things in coffee, the definition is vague and open to interpretation which is nice in a way because it makes things interesting and diverse and keeps people trying new things.

    Pete

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Here's the Wikipedia definition in full Third Wave Coffee - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia I found the history of the term revealing, down to one persons interpretation, he had to be American of course, seriously! what did America have to offer the word of coffee in 1974? I can tell you, I was there in that era, absolutely bugger all, in those days, as in most of the US now, the black liquid they serve in a cup is barely recognizable as coffee.
    I find the claim that The US had anything much to do with the evolution of quality coffee to be a joke.
    I guess their greatest claim to coffee fame is that they consumed more Folgers and similar brands than any other country in the world, and probably still do, high praise indeed.

    "
    In March 2008, Pulitzer Prize winning food critic Jonathan Gold of the LA Weekly defined the third wave of coffee by saying:
    The first wave of American coffee culture was probably the 19th-century surge that put Folgers on every table, and the second was the proliferation, starting in the 1960s at Peet's and moving smartly through the Starbucks grande decaf latte, of espresso drinks and regionally labeled coffee. We are now in the third wave of coffee connoisseurship, where beans are sourced from farms instead of countries, roasting is about bringing out rather than incinerating the unique characteristics of each bean, and the flavor is clean and hard and pure.[7]
    The earlier term "specialty coffee" was coined in 1974, and refers narrowly to high-quality beans scoring 80 points or more on a 100-point scale."
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    Senior Member insomnispresso's Avatar
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    Haha yes good points, though can we really twist the meaning after said american coined the term??

    I would hope every CSer is attempting not to roast the origin components of the beans they buy to oblivion

    So anyway if we are not part of the third wave movement.. we erm.. we go to starbucks.... I had a laugh!! Not much of an alternative is it

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    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I find the claim that The US had anything much to do with the evolution of quality coffee to be a joke.
    Underestimating the impact of a nation with a population of 300,000,000 and a multi-trillion dollar economy on any industry is silly, verging on foolish and possibly even more than a bit xenophobic. The fact is that the coffee industry in the US has always been HUGE and its impact undeniable. Yes... the vast majority of coffee served there would be deemed absolute rubbish by our standards but the quality coffee movement in America pre-dates ours and is still so vast that it far overshadows the scale of anything done over here. A lot can be said for the SCAA and the Pacific North West coffee scene for their pioneering work in making certain that coffee moved from being traded as a mere commodity to a quality product with tracebility, and quality accountability, from tree to cup. If it hadn't been for the Yanks we would probably still be drinking the burnt, oily and robusta intensive coffees imported from European commodity traders.
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    Why Third Wave Coffee Bars Fail.

    I love this discussion, thanks for posting the article Yelta.

    I have just returned to CS after long lay off, actually I have caught a bit of upgradeitus and returned to research the machine I wanted to buy, and have forgot how fascinating CS can be.

    Actually the current discussion provides good background for what I have noticed in and around the cafes of Sydney and the trends in the discourse in trying to identify 'the best cafe' here. A task which I believe is completely fraught as the variables they list important to judgements always exclude the barista's skill. Let alone the confusion they generate in deciding the best cafe by placing a high premium on the degree to which it innovates the serving of coffee.

    I think the so called third wave of coffee is a good thing, generally, - if it one day brings me the same standard of coffee at Ayres Rock as I can get in inner Sydney, then bring it on.

    But as with any 'movement' or social trend the real battle ground is about ideas - some will push the bounds of the material at the centre of consideration - use light roasted beans for manually produced coffee and then also use them for espressos. You can expect a reaction against this from we traditionalists who maintain standards are vital to define what is of value and what is not.

    But i would venture to suggest 'the third coffee wave' is a post modern artefact where we always question the given, break everything down for analysis, explore new boundaries and in doing so bring new excitement to the enjoyment and appreciation of not only coffee the drink, but every facet of its production and enjoyment, from tree to brew in the cafe where we work and live.

    I say expect prickly discussion as we jockey to define this new field.

    So my 3c worth - forget 'bright' espressos guys. One man's 'fruity' is this man's acidic.
    Ciao for now.
    Last edited by Franco; 27th January 2013 at 11:51 PM.

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    Senior Member mwcalder05's Avatar
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    Hi All

    Very interesting read for someone who works behind the brew bar with a V60, Siphon, Cold Brew and lastly a Clover. Now being in the Sunshine Coast, there isn't much of a coffee 'wave' up here like in Melbourne; however, as there are a number of roasters up here, I could be wrong but the place that I work at is the only place up here that really offers 3rd Wave, brew bar or filter or whatever we want to call it. It is really interesting and quite enjoyable to actually take the customer through the different brewing methods but the truth is, it isn't really the busiest of corners in the place. Yes it is sad but every morning, I insist on making a different brew method just to keep my skills up just to make sure that the customer who does order one, gets a fantastic brew. But do you have to be in a certain club to order one of these methods? of course not! It is sad that others have had this experience of 'Baristatude' and may be turned off ordering these fantastic brewing methods.

    Now onto the V60. Ever since the Clover broke down a couple of months ago, *tear* we all brushed up of our pour-over skills as that is how we like to cup some of the roasts we do. I have found that the V60 is one of the nicest, cleanest cup I have had. I use a 2 cup ceramic with the paper filter and pre heat/wet both the cone and filter and server. This means that the brewer is up to temp and maintains a stable temperature and there isn't any papery taste in the cup. I think the writer is quite a bit biased against the V60 and has a very skewed view of it and also lighter roasts. I use lighter roasts in all the filter coffee's ordered just as it produces a cleaner cup that brings out the lighter, sweeter flavours and I leave the darker roasts to the espresso side of things.

    All in all, I think the brew bar has not failed. I think the brew bar has been a success as more people are learning more about the totally different side of coffee. I have also noticed that we are making more Siphons other brewed methods as we let people know about this other side of coffee. Our brew bar will certainly be staying and, i hope, thriving.

    Mike
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    I enjoy the coffee from these style cafe's very much. Why would you be a member on a site called coffee snobs if you didn't appreciate your cafe pushing the artisanal side of coffee? I do actually believe though that the removal of soy from the menu is more about "out snobbing" your competitors than anything else.

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    Senior Member sidewayss's Avatar
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    The key to success, whether you are an establishment serving coffee, food, wine or any product for that matter, is the technical skills, product knowledge, product quality and the ability to communicate and relate to customers, without the "baristatude".

    Third wave coffee can and is a refreshing change from espresso that can invigorate and expand anyone's experience in their coffee journey.

    You will never convert everyone, it may not be for everyone, but it will be an eye opening experience for those who do try it and enjoy it.

    Done right, it can bring a wow factor for many who only drink espresso based drinks, or, those who don't want a imposing espresso machine at home ( for various reasons) and don't want a plethora of equipment but still want a quality cuppa that stimulates and invigorates.
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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwcalder05 View Post
    Hi All

    Very interesting read for someone who works behind the brew bar with a V60, Siphon, Cold Brew and lastly a Clover. Now being in the Sunshine Coast, there isn't much of a coffee 'wave' up here like in Melbourne; however, as there are a number of roasters up here, I could be wrong but the place that I work at is the only place up here that really offers 3rd Wave, brew bar or filter or whatever we want to call it. It is really interesting and quite enjoyable to actually take the customer through the different brewing methods but the truth is, it isn't really the busiest of corners in the place. Yes it is sad but every morning, I insist on making a different brew method just to keep my skills up just to make sure that the customer who does order one, gets a fantastic brew. But do you have to be in a certain club to order one of these methods? of course not! It is sad that others have had this experience of 'Baristatude' and may be turned off ordering these fantastic brewing methods.

    Now onto the V60. Ever since the Clover broke down a couple of months ago, *tear* we all brushed up of our pour-over skills as that is how we like to cup some of the roasts we do. I have found that the V60 is one of the nicest, cleanest cup I have had. I use a 2 cup ceramic with the paper filter and pre heat/wet both the cone and filter and server. This means that the brewer is up to temp and maintains a stable temperature and there isn't any papery taste in the cup. I think the writer is quite a bit biased against the V60 and has a very skewed view of it and also lighter roasts. I use lighter roasts in all the filter coffee's ordered just as it produces a cleaner cup that brings out the lighter, sweeter flavours and I leave the darker roasts to the espresso side of things.

    All in all, I think the brew bar has not failed. I think the brew bar has been a success as more people are learning more about the totally different side of coffee. I have also noticed that we are making more Siphons other brewed methods as we let people know about this other side of coffee. Our brew bar will certainly be staying and, i hope, thriving.

    Mike
    Morning Mike, reopening an old thread.

    Thirteen months on, I'm wondering how the (Brew Bar) has progressed? and what, if any, changes to customer preferences you have noticed during the year.

    I would also be interested in observations from others in the industry who are offering/serving third wave brews.

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    I mentioned a coffee bar in Sydney's CBD a few months ago called Gumption (opened by the same crew who run Coffee Alchemy in Marrickville, which almost always rates a mention whenever a list of the best coffee places in Sydney is assembled). I love that they have a range of coffee available. Every day I'm challenged by a different single origin with the roast level changing according to the characteristics of the bean. I've tasted all sorts of interesting things, Costa Ricans ranging from salted caramel to plum sake, Bolivians with nuts and molasses, Ethiopians with the purest berry flavours, and bergamot in their Perci Geisha. I've also loved their Geisha pourovers... flavours that I just don't get out of espresso. It's really refreshing and eye opening and I love it. I also hate citrus overtones in my coffee and the baristas there know this.

    The above is my long form version of that good old cliche which, I think, underlies the original posting... which is if you're not customer focused in a consumer industry then your business will, most assuredly, suffer a quick and merciless death.

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    [QUOTE=kwantfm;523993]. I also hate citrus overtones in my coffee and the baristas there know this.

    QUOTE]

    I'm beginning to think there are actually very few people who like citrus in their (milk) coffee? I personally prefer a cocoa or nutty flavour, and there's no end of people who like the traditional Italian style, but how many people actually like lemon or lime in their coffee?

    I should say that for my espresso I do like trying stuff on the fruity side at time, but I'd guess that over 90% of coffees sold in Australia are milk-based?

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    TOK
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    Yesterday I spent some time with a business owner that has two cafes, one at between 30 - 40 kg a week and the other @ 60+

    He owns his own equipment.

    His take on all this (and we did discuss "all this") is that whenever someone opens up in the vicinity and does the new age thaing, many of his regulars will disappear for a short while to go see what the other side are doing.

    And over a period of time they all end up back again.

    What his clients want is a good consistent milk coffee that tastes of coffee not lemons, and they like the fact that his modus operandi is to acknowledge them, treat them well, and know what they like and want. That's the service aspect of his business.

    And dare I say it but he follows the KISS principle.

    What people don't like is to go into cafes and wait 10 to 15 minutes before being served, while the staff seem to be joking around and entertaining themselves instead of looking after their bread and butter (the clients)....

    That's just plan and simple good old fashioned business savvy and attitude.

    There is nothing wrong with there being different style coffee bars / cafes and the clients will go wherever they wish to go. But unlike what seems to be endlessly discussed in these forums, its not always just about "the coffee" or at least whatever anyone perceives to be "specialty coffee" or "good coffee" whatever that is.

    As a lover of "good coffee", an experienced coffee roaster, and a judge at high level coffee comps in Australia (and even low level barista comps around the place) , when I anonymously do the rounds of exhibitions or even visit other roasters, I have been "poisoned" by enough people wanting to show how avante garde they are in coffee, by brewing up ridiculously light roasts in expensive coffee machines and grinders and delivering 10 mm "espressos" to me for me to choke on and to not be able to discern any character at all through the absolute muddy mess on my palate. And of course its followed up with a really enthusiastic "wasnt that fantastic" look and comment.

    Each to their own but if that's avante garde who needs it?

    And yes Jonathon the greatest majority of punters here drink milk coffee, and most just want to sit there quietly reading their newspaper or writing up an email on the ipad or just eating their lunch, without having their palate ripped out by someone's interpretation of "good coffee".
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    TC
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    Agreed TOK- though for me, it's a matter of what type of citrus....

    Sour citrus- Lemons or Grapefruit? I'll keep them for tequila, desserts and such. In coffee- gross
    Sweet citrus- Orange spectrum? I like Jaffas and I don't mind it in coffee either if it comes with some chocolate. Some of the Hondys I have had come to mind. They work well as all rounders- for me and my palate at least!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TOK View Post
    ... most just want to sit there quietly reading their newspaper or writing up an email on the ipad or just eating their lunch...
    I think this is a very important sentence. I'm guessing that 99% of the population doesn't care if their coffee is Geisha or Vietnamese robusta as long as it "tastes good". The market that third wave potentially caters to is tiny...
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    Life-long Learner DesigningByCoffee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    Agreed TOK- though for me, it's a matter of what type of citrus....

    Sour citrus- Lemons or Grapefruit? I'll keep them for tequila, desserts and such. In coffee- gross
    Sweet citrus- Orange spectrum? I like Jaffas and I don't mind it in coffee either if it comes with some chocolate. Some of the Hondys I have had come to mind. They work well as all rounders- for me and my palate at least!
    I agree Chris
    One of the blends I keep coming back to is 50/50 Central (currently Guat Hue Hue I think) and Yirg. Amazing sweet citrus flavours in espresso, friends love it as plunger, and through soy, gives a lovely subtle, sweet fruity cup. Certainly no chocolate or nuts in sight, but as a summer white coffee - I keep coming back

    It is citrus - not sour. I think that's a pretty substantial distinction to make. No one likes sour… !

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    Quote Originally Posted by DesigningByCoffee View Post
    It is citrus - not sour. I think that's a pretty substantial distinction to make. No one likes sour… !
    Gold... I'm finding this thread very helpful in clarifying how best to describe my preferences.

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    If we could just get some of the Fairfax journalists to stop pumping out articles espousing third wave coffee then I'd be happy.

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TOK View Post
    And yes Jonathon the greatest majority of punters here drink milk coffee, and most just want to sit there quietly reading their newspaper or writing up an email on the ipad or just eating their lunch, without having their palate ripped out by someone's interpretation of "good coffee".
    Wise words TOK, regardless of what our drink of choice is, I doubt there are many of us who analyze every mouth full of every cup, attempting to identify exactly what it is that makes up the overall flavour, for most of us, myself included, its sufficient to to make a quick mental note that the brew is/is not enjoyable, while at the same time continuing on with the task at hand.

    Re the citrus thing, I grew up in an era (post war) when percolator coffee in OZ was avant-garde, people in the know always had a slice of lemon in the cup.

    I'm pleased I reopened this thread, interesting observations have been made.
    Last edited by Yelta; 22nd February 2014 at 07:23 PM.

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    TOK
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    hehehe, I like a slice of lemon in my after dinner black tea and sometimes with a bit of honey....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post

    what I have noticed is a disturbing trend in these coffee bars that has more to do with being a part of a club rather than actually serving truly good coffee. These bars can be identified often by what they don't have: they don't have skim milk, or soy; they don't do flavors or 16 oz to go cups.
    Is the inference here from the writer of the original article that to serve 'truly good coffee' you have to offer it in a takeaway bucket with half a litre of milk flavored with a syrup to hide the god awful taste?

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    Quote Originally Posted by STS View Post
    Is the inference here from the writer of the original article that to serve 'truly good coffee' you have to offer it in a takeaway bucket with half a litre of milk flavored with a syrup to hide the god awful taste?
    More that refusing to offer popular selections out of a sense of pure elitism rather than basing your offerings on what your customers enjoy does not make you a better cafe, it just makes you elitist and alienates a large part of your potential market.

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    Senior Member mwcalder05's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Morning Mike, reopening an old thread.

    Thirteen months on, I'm wondering how the (Brew Bar) has progressed? and what, if any, changes to customer preferences you have noticed during the year.

    I would also be interested in observations from others in the industry who are offering/serving third wave brews.
    The Pandora's box

    Well it has been interesting! These days we are getting probably 2 brew bar orders a day (compared to 2 a month :P) and the people who have been ordering them are ordering them consistently. Every now and then there's a curious customer who likes to try new things (heaven forbid!!!!) and some don't really like it, some do. We have recently changed it around a little bit so the bar is more presented to the customer rather than in a corner. This gets people asking questions and so on.

    I think customers are becoming more open to trying different things. Whenever a person comes back for a second coffee I suggest trying a different bean and more often than not they do!

    Now the beans that we use for the brew bar are filter roasted. Does this mean under roasted and acidic? Not at all! This means roasting to a point where the coffee is sweet and balanced and the sugars are caramelised and not burnt.

    I suspect that many of the posters above who claim that the coffee is sour has just had a bad experience with a badly extracted coffee or badly roasted coffee. Either too course of a grind, the temp wasn't right or an uneven extraction. Or maybe it was just a crap coffee! At my workplace we use refractometers and TDS readings to dial in the grind for each process and, of course, taste buds.

    I can assure you that when a V60, Siphon or Clover or whatever process is roasted well, extracted properly and a good crop there won't be anything biting at your tongue or make you pout!

    Also, this summer all 7 (yes 7) of our cold drip towers where dripping (and being changed over!) everyday because the cold drip was so popular! Served black with no milk or sugar, I consider this to be part of the brewed coffee family

    Hope this helps!
    Michael

  28. #28
    Junior Member barkingburro's Avatar
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    Great post and follow-up(s). I just want to say that this forum presents a very attractive lure for someone like myself, who is hoping to eventually get to know Australia up close and personal. One can dream of becoming an ex-pat, can't one?

    I'm a California native, and very familiar with the Third Wave movement in the U.S. We have a local coffee establishment (Portola Coffee Lab) that is regularly packed with customers and long lines. They represent the best of what the Third Wave offers, and I have often found some of their selected roasts, both SO and blends, to have the kind of richness and complexity to stand beside any of the best rated coffee beans I've tried from other recognized roasters. I've never experienced the bad poster children of the Third Wave movement, but I know they exist because people keep writing about them.

    If I may categorize the several types of players in the specialty coffee market, we have the following:

    1) The Best and Brightest (actual - subgroup A)

    These are the ones who successfully control or influence the high end coffee industry from farmer to cup, promoting higher standards of practice and sustainability at every level, including farmer education, buying practices, training of baristas, and proper maintenance of equipment. The result is that these players define the leading edge before anyone else. And one more thing: they don't define chocolate as a bad flavor element. They consistently produce better roasts than anyone else.

    2) The Best and Brightest (epic fail - subgroup B)

    Virtually indistinguishable from subgroup A, except they refuse to provide cream or sugar. They also like to avoid lavish textiles in their establishments, such as wood. Accordingly, they also eschew unnecessary decor, such as chairs, tables, and customers. You'll often see a large bottomless pit in the center waiting area. They. Are. Sparta.

    3) The Best and Brightest (epic fail - subgroup C)

    Virtually indistinguishable from subgroup A, except they hate chocolatey flavor. And nuttiness. And richness. These are all flavor profiles from the dark ages, and they want to distance themselves as far from that as possible. They think coffee that tastes like lemons is a good idea. Any grumbling that severe under-roasting is possibly just as bad as over-roasting will get you a free sample of their coffee that tastes like wheatgrass and daffodils, with just a hint of celery root.

    4) The Poseurs

    They think they get it, they go through all the motions, they have no clue. In an earlier age, they would have been a Starbucks.
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  29. #29
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Hi barkingburro,

    I'm doing just the opposite; emigrating to the US, soon. Any chance you can drop a few names when it comes to excellent roasters over there?

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    Junior Member barkingburro's Avatar
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    I'm not the best authority on what's out there, but my recent favorites are Portola's South Central blend, Velton's Bonsai Blend, and Velton's Twilight Blend. I generally like any of the Brazillian SOs (Bourbon varieties) from Portola (when they have it, which they don't currently), Velton, or Verve (in that order). My next purchase will probably be Intelligentsia's darker espresso (Northern Italian style). Also try Klatch.
    Last edited by barkingburro; 23rd February 2014 at 03:18 PM.

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    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Cheers mate, welcom to CS, by the way

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    emigrating to the US, soon. Any chance you can drop a few names when it comes to excellent roasters over there?
    Sure, but where in the US will you be located?

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    barkingburro,

    Welcome and nice first post. Your comment about coffee tasting like wheatgrass made me laugh.

    Terence

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    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Sebring, FL.

    So I'll have to get them posted in, for certain.

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    I don't know much about the Florida scene. Closest roaster I've bought from is Counter Culture; they are excellent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    Sebring, FL.

    So I'll have to get them posted in, for certain.
    Barnies in Winter Park FL is about an hour or so north of you, in inner Northern Orlando. Excellent coffee there and they roast on site. By a loooong way the best coffee I had in the Central Florida area, definitely worth a trip out of your way whenever you're driving up the I4.
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    I woke up early and I was a bit bored. So I googled "Third way coffee in Australia" and this thread came up. It is indeed very interesting for several reasons. To me the most interesting is the misunderstanding between American and Australian posts.

    I agree with Insomnispresso on that the vast majority of cafes in Australia, even the humblest whole-in-the-wall places out in suburban railway stations may qualify as third wave. I also think Vinitasse is right on that without the Americans we would be drinking much worse coffee in Melbourne or Sydney. It may be also true that the best places in America may be as good as the best in Australia (although I was not impressed by Verve in Santa Cruz). The big difference is volume. Is not only that there are a lot of coffee shops doing somehow the right thing here. There is one in every corner, and two or three in between. There are some radical no-soy, no-skim, citrus-flavor-lightly roster places (I think someone in these forums call them "hipster"), but competition is intense and there is a lot of variety. The vast majority of shops do offer take-away, some offer flavours…

    It may be that the market for quality coffee is too thin in America, with the mainstream taste driven by what Starbucks does. I entertain the idea that espresso has political connotations in the US. GOP true bloods don't drink lattes. Third way customers read Derrida and dream about the Revolution (when caffeine lets them).
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  38. #38
    Junior Member barkingburro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tupinamba View Post
    ... the vast majority of cafes in Australia, even the humblest whole-in-the-wall places out in suburban railway stations may qualify as third wave.
    ...
    It may be that the market for quality coffee is too thin in America, with the mainstream taste driven by what Starbucks does. I entertain the idea that espresso has political connotations in the US. GOP true bloods don't drink lattes. ...
    My impression is that we Americans own the term "Third Wave", but there is no slight toward Australia or the rest of the world. It's just that the Third Wave is defined as what came after Starbucks, in terms of quality. Our 2nd wave (Starbucks) was what came after Yuban in percolators. Australia was (and still is) among the best in coffee culture world-wide when America was (and still is) sucking on pricey milk shakes and calling it high-end coffee. Which also provides the context for your last point. Even in jest, it's not a political thing, culture-wise. I guarantee you that grabbing a caffeine milk shake every morning is totally a mainstream hallmark of all the "right" or "left" thinking alpha males and females in this country.

    What really establishes the presence of Third Wave leanings is when a coffee establishment has paid specific attention to highlighting the unique characteristics of a SO coffee or blend. But in particular, stopping short of acidity disqualifies you from the club. If at least one of your roasts exhibits some fruitiness, such as cherry, orange, blueberry, etc., and you're not apologetic about it, then count yourself a member. If you regret the final demise of a microlot from Brazil that had such a special flavor profile, and you're scrambling to find something as terrific from some other farmer, count yourself a member.

    Just my opinion, natch.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by barkingburro View Post
    My impression is that we Americans own the term "Third Wave", but there is no slight toward Australia or the rest of the world. It's just that the Third Wave is defined as what came after Starbucks, in terms of quality. Our 2nd wave (Starbucks) was what came after Yuban in percolators. Australia was (and still is) among the best in coffee culture world-wide when America was (and still is) sucking on pricey milk shakes and calling it high-end coffee. Which also provides the context for your last point. Even in jest, it's not a political thing, culture-wise. I guarantee you that grabbing a caffeine milk shake every morning is totally a mainstream hallmark of all the "right" or "left" thinking alpha males and females in this country.

    What really establishes the presence of Third Wave leanings is when a coffee establishment has paid specific attention to highlighting the unique characteristics of a SO coffee or blend. But in particular, stopping short of acidity disqualifies you from the club. If at least one of your roasts exhibits some fruitiness, such as cherry, orange, blueberry, etc., and you're not apologetic about it, then count yourself a member. If you regret the final demise of a microlot from Brazil that had such a special flavor profile, and you're scrambling to find something as terrific from some other farmer, count yourself a member.

    Just my opinion, natch.
    Hmm, that's very interesting. I was playing sociology based on reading things about "the lefty latte drinkers" when I lived in Boston. At the time, almost 10 years ago, people walked (mostly drive) around carrying huge mugs filled with milky coffee. I never got to like Finale or 1369. So I developed a taste for tea.

    The question for a marketing case study is why high quality espresso (being an American invention) took off so spectacularly and became mainstream in Australia and not in the US. I dare say that the concentration of Australian population in relatively big cities has something to do with it.

  40. #40
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tupinamba View Post
    high quality espresso (being an American invention) took off so spectacularly and became mainstream in Australia and not in the US.
    Hm? Not saying that it's incorrect, but I've not heard of the US being the birthplace of high quality espresso (let's just accept for this discussion that italian-style espresso isn't included in this), merely the third-wave paradigm (which is different from the majority of cafes in Australia which I would rate as delivering high quality product).

    I dare say that the concentration of Australian population in relatively big cities has something to do with it.
    I suspect it might have more to do with the vehicular nature of US society. From what I gather, in the US, you wanna go somewhere, you drive. Less walking through business districts/shopping districts besides strip-malls. I imagine it'd make it much harder to build a successful cafe.

    The US certainly isn't lacking when it comes to dense population centres...

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    Hm? Not saying that it's incorrect, but I've not heard of the US being the birthplace of high quality espresso (let's just accept for this discussion that italian-style espresso isn't included in this), merely the third-wave paradigm (which is different from the majority of cafes in Australia which I would rate as delivering high quality product).
    .
    Yes, no doubt good espresso comes originally from Italy!

    My point is that I believe Australian coffee culture originates, mostly, from America. For instance, David Schomer's "Espresso Coffee: Professional Techniques" (the original Third Wave bible?) is a recommended reading for trainees at several Aussie barista schools.

    I used to think the high quality of coffee in Australia is explained by Italian immigrants arriving after WW2. Well, my teacher at Toby's Estate asked me if I am Italian. After telling him I come from Spain he replied "Good, Italians are a pain in the neck to train!" And well, once I learned about grinding, shot times, steaming milk and so on I went to Italy where I saw, at the average shop, ground coffee sitting in a dispenser full to the brim for a long time, overheated milk... so I understood what the Toby's guy meant.

  42. #42
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tupinamba View Post
    Yes, no doubt good espresso comes originally from Italy!

    My point is that I believe Australian coffee culture originates, mostly, from America. For instance, David Schomer's "Espresso Coffee: Professional Techniques" (the original Third Wave bible?) is a recommended reading for trainees at several Aussie barista schools.

    I used to think the high quality of coffee in Australia is explained by Italian immigrants arriving after WW2. Well, my teacher at Toby's Estate asked me if I am Italian. After telling him I come from Spain he replied "Good, Italians are a pain in the neck to train!" And well, once I learned about grinding, shot times, steaming milk and so on I went to Italy where I saw, at the average shop, ground coffee sitting in a dispenser full to the brim for a long time, overheated milk... so I understood what the Toby's guy meant.
    Please, please tell me that the evidence presented in the quote above is not the predominant basis for your theory that the quality of coffee served in Australia arose as a consequence of 'high quality espresso' developing in the US?
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  43. #43
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tupinamba View Post
    Yes, no doubt good espresso comes originally from Italy!

    ...

    I went to Italy where I saw, at the average shop, ground coffee sitting in a dispenser full to the brim for a long time, overheated milk...
    Pick one. My point was that Italian-style espresso is (from my basic exposure) very different but not necessarily inferior. A different style (ie if you're pouring shots designed to be drunk black with sugar they're going to be very different to shots designed as the basis of a milk drink that's intended to be drunk without adulteration.

    If I had to describe the (better cafes') Australian approach it would be ... 2.5th wave? Taking into account the "science"/attention to detail of it, but still favouring popular, accessible flavour profiles; the sweet, smooth flavours that seem at odds with the description of third-wave establishments and my experience of light roasts. That isn't something that I wouldn't think is directly derivative of either Italian or US approaches and without any real knowledge of the history of the Australian and US cafe industries I think it's impossible to make that call.

  44. #44
    Junior Member barkingburro's Avatar
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    I don't have a clue as to whether Australian quality coffee shops got their impetus from the U.S. (Seattle and Portland) start of the 2nd wave or not. All I know is that we briefly saw a promising start to quality coffee, then one company successfully marketed it to Americans who really don't like espresso, and we ended up with burnt coffee diluted with cream and sugar to make it palatable and Americans had found a new way to gain weight.

    What some people are dreading is that Starbucks will go forward with their copying of the Third Wave coffee bar (prototype shop in Norway or Denmark, I believe), and millions of Americans will enjoy slow coffee with ridiculous flavorings. But I'm not worried, that does not sound at all different from the current Starbucks concept.

    What separates the Third Wave from Starbucks is the concept that coffee, delivered in its purest form, has desirable and unique flavors that people will want to experience. That is not something Starbucks or poseurs can fake, because the promise is in the tasting, and you're paying more for the privilege while spending more time at the coffee establishment, just like in a fine restaurant where you would avoid ordering take-out. The latter, unfortunately, is why Third Wave will never go mainstream. As to why 2nd Wave done right (that's you, Australia) will not likely go mainstream in the U.S., recall that Americans don't like espresso, have been trained by Starbucks to always sweeten and fatten their drinks, and (as Dragunov mentioned) prefer to spend more time in their cars and at work than relaxing in a coffee house. Unless you can convince them they need a lifestyle change, you won't convert them. They may eventually want to, but only after seeing lots of images of people happier than them spending quality time in places that don't exist in the U.S.

    Did I mention I am thinking of becoming an ex-pat?
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  45. #45
    Junior Member barkingburro's Avatar
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    By the way, just for full disclosure, I always prefer sugar and half and half in my coffee (not espresso). My taste buds and nervous system won't allow me to enjoy coffee any other way. But that is different from Starbucks' sugar crystals, caramel, caffeine and ash in a cup. And yes, if I can't taste complexity in terms of some fruitiness along with chocolate and roasty flavors, I get bored with the cup.

  46. #46
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    You're a gold-mine of information. It's a damn shame though, because I had this great idea of running a cart over there if I could find a suitable location.

    You've pretty much just confirmed all my fears though (insofar as there being no viable market and commercial success relying on a complete paradigm shift that isn't going to happen at a grassroots level).

    Guess I'll stick to my "HG-One and PID'd Classic in my kitchen" plan 3:

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    I understand that the espresso machine technology was developed in Italy. One of the earliest commercial espresso machines in use in Australia was a 1955 - Astoria – Eureka, used in a café in Cooma to supply coffee to the European migrants working on the Snowy Mountain Hydro-Electric Scheme.

    I am not fully aware what influence Americans have had on our coffee drinking. I have only once had coffee from Starbucks at Chatswood and to me that tasted over-extracted when compared to my home brew.

    Barry

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    Pick one. My point was that Italian-style espresso is (from my basic exposure) very different but not necessarily inferior. A different style (ie if you're pouring shots designed to be drunk black with sugar they're going to be very different to shots designed as the basis of a milk drink that's intended to be drunk without adulteration.

    If I had to describe the (better cafes') Australian approach it would be ... 2.5th wave? Taking into account the "science"/attention to detail of it, but still favouring popular, accessible flavour profiles; the sweet, smooth flavours that seem at odds with the description of third-wave establishments and my experience of light roasts. That isn't something that I wouldn't think is directly derivative of either Italian or US approaches and without any real knowledge of the history of the Australian and US cafe industries I think it's impossible to make that call.
    You are right. I learnt to drink straight espresso in Italy and it is indeed quite nice, specially for 1EUR a pop.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry_Duncan View Post
    I understand that the espresso machine technology was developed in Italy. One of the earliest commercial espresso machines in use in Australia was a 1955 - Astoria – Eureka
    I know of about 20 places which claim to have had the first commercial espresso machine in Australia
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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    I know of about 20 places which claim to have had the first commercial espresso machine in Australia
    Not suggesting it was one of the first however the first time I encountered espresso was in an Adelaide cafe named the Festive Bowl, would have been around 1958, a life changing experience.



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