Your Gear Reveals Where Your Brew Belongs

If, like the marooned hipster of our infographic, you’ve been living on a desert island and haven’t heard the term “third-wave (or first- or second-wave) coffee,” you can still probably figure out which one your convenience store, hotel bar, or lunch spot is serving.

But you can’t judge on venue alone. These days, excellent specialty coffee (second wave) is available at the gas station. In a recent Technomic study of 40 convenience-store chains, more than 82 percent had cappucino on the menu. Just because a shop specializes in coffee does not mean it serves third-wave brew (Peaberry). And just because a coffee shop is synonymous with second-wave coffee does not mean it serves second-wave coffee (Starbuck’s new Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room chain). Plenty of first-wave product, including instant coffee, continues to wash up on shores where coffee is a beverage, not yet a program (much of Europe, Australia, and until last year, Chick Fil-A).

Nor are the three waves of coffee necessarily an ordered sequence in time. Coffee drinking has more in common with fashion than evolution. In other words, it cycles.


Mary Travers of Peter, Paul, and Mary all up in the espresso, 1961 – Library of Congress

That’s why the equipment used to brew third-wave coffee looks more 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea than 2020. Indeed, by coffee-brewing equipment alone shall ye truly know the wave of your brew.

“B-but,” you stammer, “the Museo della macchina per caffè in Milano, she is closed for the day!” And sadly, you are correct. Here, then, is a handy visual from your five-cups-a-day friends in KaTom’s Content group to tide you over.


Whatever the wave, coffee makes doing business a pleasure.

Elaine Evans
Elaine Evans Elaine Evans is thrilled to blog for KaTom, where her work in restaurants, bars, catering, and artisanal food has caught up at last with her career in journalism and public relations writing. Connect with Elaine Evans on Google+
  1. May 19, 2015 at 9:15 pm, Dennis Duffy said:

    Wish I could drink the stuff w/o paying a wretched price! Even the soupcon of coffee in a machine-brewed macciato makes my heart flutter, and not w/romantic yearning.