Coffee beans

No Beans About It

Cup of Joe. Java. Jitter Juice. Coffee.

America’s obsession with coffee dates back to the world’s largest cup of tea, The Boston Tea Party. Soon after the steeping of Boston harbor, Americans began drinking coffee as a sort of patriotic expression and coffee mainstays such as Maxwell House started popping up across the map. Teddy Roosevelt is said to have coined the Maxwell House catchphrase, “Good to the Last Drop” and was rumored to consume a gallon of coffee each day. Amateur.

Coffee exports total $20 billion annually, with the leading consumer of coffee worldwide being the Netherlands. South America produces the largest amount of coffee beans and the United States is responsible for over $5 billion in annual retail coffee sales.

Now that our history and economics lessons are over, let’s take a look at one of the newest craft trends in America, third wave coffee.

Where do you stop for your morning blitz of caffeinated bliss? Some people grind their own beans, much to the chagrin of anyone sleeping within a quarter-mile of their kitchen, some folks are more partial to their local convenience store brew with a hint of day-old staleness that can’t be replicated anywhere else. In total, between 63 and 68 percent of people over the age of 24 start their day with a cup of coffee in the United States. Third wave coffee has taken the age old cup of joe and turned it into something that is to be admired and appreciated for where it comes from and how ethical or green its sourcing is.

I’m going to shock you with this next stat – thanks in no small part to millennials, 59 percent of coffee consumed in the U.S. is considered gourmet. That’s right, my brethren and I have said “Nay!” to your Folger’s, pining instead for something brewed from desiccated, overpriced, unpronounceable South American beans, and we’ll pay extra for it.

The trend of third wave coffee was first seen in 2004, when buyers became unhappy with the way coffee was marketed and how the middlemen in coffee buying treated their beloved bean. Third wave buyers began developing special relationships with growers and shifted the balance of power from the larger chains (though they still hold a huge market share) and gave local roasters and small chains the opportunity to flourish. As with any happening in the Millennial-spere, counter culture soon began contributing to the movement and built a platform for small roasters to begin work in saturated areas. Nothing is cooler than a local roaster who plays grunge music and wears flannel. Nothing.

Whether you’re into that 99-cent cup of motor oil from the gas station or if your preference costs more than an actual oil change, coffee is trending up. If you can find a way to include green sourced beans in your stores, 59 percent of the population is waiting for you on the other end.

After graduating from the University of Missouri – Kansas City with degrees in Sociology and Anthropology, I enlisted in the United States Navy to see the world and gain life experience that a classroom couldn’t offer. Upon completion of my contract as an engineer, I began the pursuit of my scholastic passion for writing by enrolling in a Master of Arts program in Communication and by working in field-related internship programs to reintroduce myself to the industry that I’d been apart from while serving. When I’m not at work, I like to continue my role as a student of life by engaging in philanthropic endeavors with Kansas City area non-profit groups and by serving as the Co-Chairman of the KC IABC Young Professionals Organization.