By: Hans Euler and Alexander Euler
For many years coffee has been viewed as a low-cost fuel, which drives the human engine. It’s therefore only a little ironic that coffee beans are second only to crude oil in the world’s commodities market.
However, over the last decade, coffee has gone from simply being fuel for our bodies to a luxury; a refined indulgence.
The consumption of specialty coffee is on the rise, and we have the younger generation to thank for this growth. According to a recent report, consumption of specialty coffee has tripled among 18–24-year-olds, and more than doubled for those aged 25–39. A distinct shift in coffee drinking has taken place as people begin to appreciate that coffee is a superb beverage to enjoy for all its intricacy; not just a substance to be gulped down to clear brain fog.
Those in the know say that the consumption of coffee-based beverages has tripled in the last decade, with more than half of this rise attributed to younger generations who are savouring high-grade Specialty Coffee. This means that these modern shoppers are initiating an increase in luxurious coffee consumption – and this is the generation that will steer the coffee market in the future.
“Coffee is the common man’s gold, and like gold, it brings to every person the feeling of luxury and nobility.” Sheik-Abd-al-Kadir” – Ancient Poet
The Specialty Coffee Trend
Here we see a trend where a younger generation of customers is inquisitively exploring high-grade coffee establishments, bandying about words such as terroir, Arabica and Robusta. As coffee consumers become more interested in the origins of coffee and begin to educate themselves about the production and logistics processes, suppliers will follow the trend and produce more refined products.
Finecoffee comes at a cost and evidence proves that consumers are prepared to pay for it.
Today’s coffee drinkers are looking for a more superlative experience; this can only be achieved through a longstanding process of hands-on craftsmanship from the plantation to the roaster. Ultimately, an ever-larger number of consumers will take part in this experience, and will recognize when what they taste is “excellent”.
Everyone in the coffee chain – from the estate to the roaster, to the retailer – must be aware that modern consumers care more about the craftsmanship and quality of the coffee they drink. As the number of coffee connoisseurs rises, palates become more refined; they know the flavours they want, and they have educated themselves about how their brand of choice is made. Therefore, customer-driven participants in the coffee business are using nuances, such as “Specialty Coffee”, “Single-Origin” and “Single-Estate” to market their products - giving their customers facts about the coffee they’re drinking.
What is specialty coffee?
Specialty coffee refers to the entire process – from the plantation to your cup – using single-origin coffee. Not to be confused with 'gourmet' coffee (which is merely a marketing term with no defined standards), specialty coffeeencapsulates the masterful approach with which the coffee is grown, roasted and prepared.
Specialty coffee drinkers are beginning to pay attention to the relationship between the coffee in their cup, the coffee estates, and the meticulous craftsmanship that goes into the production of each roasted coffee bean. This means that more people are viewing this type of coffee as an affordable luxury while also paying attention to the finer details of its prestigious origins.
Single-origin coffee is particularly popular because of its traceability. This is one of the reasons why third wave coffee lovers adore single-origins. Consumers love to know where their authentic single-origin coffee comes from, and they relish the fact that it is not a blend. This allows an understanding of a coffee's profile and how it is affected by what happens at its origin. A coffee's flavour paints the picture of its origin, retaining unrepeatable characteristics of the unique area where the coffee was masterfully grown. Most consumers can enjoy these types of coffee at their local artisan roasters.
Single Estate Coffee
At the very top of the quality pyramid, it is the coffee grown exclusively on one plantation and is therefore not mixed with any other types of coffee or even same-quality coffee from different estates in the region. Its creation requires a much higher quality standard in terms of production and manipulation, taking the coffee experience to its most refined level. This type of coffee is much more difficult to find in the market. Outstanding examples of this type of coffee are Farallones Estate “Milagro Honey” and La Esmeralda “Geisha”.
Knowledge: The Progression of the Coffee Experience
Thanks to technological advancements, it is much easier for people to learn about the products they choose to consume. Since the advent of smartphones, people carry a wealth of information and, armed with a penchant for experimentation, the sophisticated connoisseurs are not only inquisitive but are perfectly capable of educating themselves anywhere. While sipping coffee, they may glance at the label on a package of coffee beans, or read the ingredients listed on a café menu. This casual pastime initiates an online search that virtually transports the coffee drinker to the lush estate where their coffee was grown. While savouring their favourite specialty coffee, they can read about the meticulous craftsmanship that turned the handpicked coffee cherries into the masterfully roasted beans, which constitute the aromatic brew that satiates their senses.Suddenly, that cup of coffee has surpassed the ordinary and taken on a hint of adventure.