Third Wave

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Third Wave

Postby Richard Hartnell on Fri Dec 07, 2007 12:40 pm

Alistair, I apologize beforehand for starting this thread, but I have to stick my neck out and ask:

When did 3W become a kind of swear word? When did the attempt to help people move from "commodity coffee drinkers" to "quality coffee drinkers" become a sign of hubris rather than a hope for progress (and a cup of coffee we *actually* smile upon drinking)?

I always remembered - and described - the Third Wave as "what happens when quality coffee stands alone as an artisan vice." It's just a name for what some people are doing right now - it's not "commodity coffee" or "specialty coffee," those being (accurately, IMO) described as First or Second Wave.

We all know that coffee is as complex, if not more complex, than wine - only without thousands of years of craft to afford the clout it deserves. Instead, Third Wave just looks like another "step out of the crib" for coffee; and we have to expect that it will sound just as crazy as Starbucks did, when it was still ridiculous to spend more than $1 for a cup of coffee.

But I seem to notice an assumption that "Third Wave" is now about a "cool kids' club," rather than about people who hate the idea of people drinking really rank coffee - or even 'pretty OK' coffee, considering that most people on this forum have seen the light.

When I use the term "Third Wave," I think about a pack of passionate baristas who are constantly repping quality, ethical coffees as a way of making everyone happier - coffee drinkers who no longer have to frown and reach for the sugar on their first taste, and coffee farmers who no longer have to frown and wonder when the Americans will pay them more than $2/lb. green.

If it seems that I'm coming across as a little obtuse, it's that this hubris and pretense - the stereotype of the snobby barista - is something that I think that any professional member of the service industry can take into account and work to get beyond. I like that much more than the option of just throwing up our hands, saying, "Meh, that Third Wave stuff is a bunch of pretentious crap," and going back to safe, reliable, decent coffee.

I just haven't gathered a clear understanding of how the image of "Third Wave" turned from a passionate movement of quality-obsessed professionals into a brainwashed pack of wannabe scenesters. I know it's the classic "Emperor's New Clothes" argument all over again, but it's one worth having, IMO, if we're going to continue taking this craft forward.

And if I'm totally behind the times, and there's another term to describe those coffee professionals who are constantly moving forward instead of being satisfied at just being better than Starbucks, feel free to remind me what it is and tell me to shut up. ;)
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Postby Jason Haeger on Fri Dec 07, 2007 1:44 pm

Richard, I find myself in passionate agreeance with what you wrote.

The problem in itself isn't the term, or even the concept.

The problem is when the concept is not thought of as a universal goal. It seems more and more I'm finding people who have "seen the light", and now feel that they are somehow better than other coffee professionals who have not yet been exposed to this new-found focus on quality. At this point, it becomes an identity more than a movement.

It's been perverted, in some circles by identifying with the term "Third Wave" in an "us and them" scenario. Seeing situations like that hurts, and frustrates the hell out of me more than anything else... even more than hearing, "We do care about quality, but we are already happy with what we're doing".

The counter-productivity that this breeds is just flat-out unnecessary. I prefer the "all-inclusive" approach in trying to raise the proverbial bar on an average, rather than in one solitary inner sanctum.

Just as you mentioned.. I just want everyone to be able to have access to better coffee. It doesn't have to be cutting edge to be better, and isn't that the goal? Isn't the bleeding edge of the industry believed to help raise the bar on a more universal level due to the mere exposure effect?

Well, I once thought so, but I see more and more people excluding people who "don't get it".. or as I like to say, just haven't been exposed to it yet.

This is why, personally, I seem to have rejected the term, but not the initial concept. Most of the time, when I hear someone say, "Third Wave" I find myself rolling my eyes. It's not a clique. It's a way of life.

On the other hand, I don't like putting labels on much as it is, so maybe I'm just biased in that regard.
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Re: Third Wave

Postby nick on Fri Dec 07, 2007 3:14 pm

Richard Hartnell wrote:When did 3W become a kind of swear word?

Seems like it's mostly Caragay.

Jason Haeger wrote:This is why, personally, I seem to have rejected the term, but not the initial concept. Most of the time, when I hear someone say, "Third Wave" I find myself rolling my eyes. It's not a clique. It's a way of life.

On the other hand, I don't like putting labels on much as it is, so maybe I'm just biased in that regard.

Well, it's a cultural thing: in many ways, those who are clearly working within a 3W context tend to be people who are, for whatever reason, anti-establishment types. You know, the types who will never confess to being "joiners" of anything. Eff the establishment. Eff the rules.

Back in the day, "alternative music" was cool for 10 seconds. What replaced it was bemoaning the fact that "alternative music" had become popular, and therefore it sucked.
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Re: Third Wave

Postby Marshall on Fri Dec 07, 2007 4:24 pm

Richard Hartnell wrote:Alistair, I apologize beforehand for starting this thread, but I have to stick my neck out and ask:

When did 3W become a kind of swear word?

I don't think it's a swear word, but it definitely is "contentious." This happened when the zealots got hold of it and started deciding who was orthodox and who was an infidel. Among the sins that can get you banned from the club (depending on who is the inquisitor): offering paper cups, offering flavored lattes, offering 12 oz. lattes, offering any lattes ....

It's also often tossed off with an air of contempt for the "Second Wave," as if Peet's were serving steam-cleaned robusta.

Still, I think the term is useful, and I often find myself using it as a shorthand for stand-alone shops and very small chains with the highest standards.
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Postby andynewbom on Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:24 pm

yeah third wave became a swear word when mr jay got pissed about some aspect of the ideals that someone was using to be holier than thou and cast aspersions. It was probably even me that pissed him off since I usually do. (but Jay and I sure do love going off all psycho and kicking each others text based asses! even though he always seems to win...)

it of course can get missused. I can't think of a time when I have personally used it in any context cause I do not like one label fits all type things. And I do tend to get annoyed when someone calls themselves a third wave shop or something.

I would say that we are only half way towards the ideal dream of the third wave shop. yet I consider the Barefoot cafe to be pretty damn coffee focused. if it wasn't for all those damned customers.......................

:twisted:
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Postby onocoffee on Fri Dec 07, 2007 11:49 pm

barefoot wrote:... to be pretty damn coffee focused. if it wasn't for all those damned customers.......................


I'm sitting at home after a night of partying with several groups of friends all spilt over the course of the evening and taking a few moments to unwind before going to bed. Because of this, I'll give a short comment and then return later today for a more in-depth discussion.

I've highlighted the passage above not to single out Barefoot (the owner or the shop) but rather because I think it's a classic example of what I think is wrong with this "Third Wave." It's being coffee centric to the ignorance of the customer experience. While I realize that the above quote was written in jest there is still a lot of truth to the words. Truth that I've seen throughout my travels visiting the Third Wave shops of North America.

During these visits, I've seen lots of attention towards making great coffee but a poor attention to the details of enhancing the customers' experience and developing the professionalism within our ranks.

That's enough for now. I'll continue later.

BTW, I don't consider "Third Wave" to be a swear word. I liken it to the term "foodie" - something that I don't want to be labelled and find mildly offensive.
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Postby andynewbom on Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:22 am

see. dang it I agree with Jay again on the fact that it is too easy to get focused on great coffee and forget the customer. That is something we are struggling with a lot right now. It is a hard line to balance between focusing on great coffee and STILL focus on the customer. I believe education is the key. educating rather than snobificating.

I also dislike the coffee snob and coffee nazi phrases. there should only be a person who refuses to pay for anything less than excellent and who is willing to pay more for excellent. I try to be that person when i am out consumering it up
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Postby Ryan Willbur on Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:36 am

It's a very difficult balance to find... Even for someone as young and inexperienced from a business standpoint as I am... So many past instances run through my mind of drinks I've had to deny customers, simply because it breaks the rules we've set. On one hand, I cringe at the idea of serving anything larger than 6 oz. and calling it a cappuccino. On the other, how many dejected customers can you send away and still see your business survive... It's the biggest lesson I've learned from Doug Zell, how can you change the world if you're turning all your customers away...

This is where true professionalism shines through... wait, screw that... Not so much professionalism, but hospitality. It's a matter of cordially inviting all into your cafe and handling every person as though they are a guest in your bar...
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Postby SL28ave on Sat Dec 08, 2007 9:55 am

Is it stated in this article that customer service needs to be lessened?
http://www.zokacoffee.com/page.php?xPag ... ye_22.html

Without even suggesting it to them, excited people clap and sometimes line up for George's autograph and always to talk some more after he gives an intensive 3 hr lecture on coffee economics, pruning, harvesting, etc. Is that not satisfaction? Now, would people naturally be satisfied like that if it were a seminar about customer service?

It is not written in Natural Law that customer service and coffee quality be mutually exclusive. Both need to be strived for. Jay, if this discussion makes a single person serve better coffee faster, I wonder if it could be argued that you are an inherent positive force in the "3rd Wave Thing", if not the real 3rd Wave that Trish outlined, regardless of your protest. I think the idea will still be there and not diluted:
where's that Flamekeeper article?
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Postby James Hoffmann on Sat Dec 08, 2007 10:53 am

The thing that I find most alien is the need to define this Third Wave. Once defined in the worst cases it seems to be the motivation for actions, rather than the customer experience. Wanting to be Third Wave is probably a bad idea, though being a place that fits the description is a good place. (That may not make sense)

I see places across Europe embracing and practicing many of the ideologies talked about as Third Wave, with no need to define it. This is probably a good idea because definition around specialty coffee get very fuzzy very fast. As I think echoes statements above - whilst you can define yourself by your equipment, your roaster, your green sourcing I'd rather focus on the complete customer experience.
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Postby SL28ave on Sat Dec 08, 2007 11:06 am

Is coffee quality integral to the customer experience? Yes.

Is the customer experience integral to coffee quality? Not so much, because coffee quality comes first chronologically.

I fail to see why the customer experience is invoked as a weak spot of the 3rd Wave.
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Postby nick on Sat Dec 08, 2007 1:06 pm

SL28ave wrote:I fail to see why the customer experience is invoked as a weak spot of the 3rd Wave.

Cuz Caragay says it is... and refuses to say any different.
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Postby Sandy on Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:11 pm

The Original Article:


Norway and Coffee
By: Trish R Skeie

November, 2002: The final night of Oslo's preliminary rounds for the Norwegian Barista Championships. The last competitor steps up to the bar to begin his 10 minutes of prep time. He looks nothing like the others. No trendy hairdo, no expensive jeans or silver-studded eyebrow. As a matter of fact, he is not a working barista at all. Looking more like a shorter, jollier Pappa Hemingway, he is Alf Kramer (among other things: the former chairman and founder of The SCAEurope, past director of The Norwegian Coffee Association, a champion of coffee causes worldwide, and Norway's father of coffee's Second Wave). He is competing tonight against kids 30 years his junior. Some weren't even born when he began working in Specialty Coffee, and many don't even really know who he is. So why is he here? Could be he knows the Third Wave of coffee is swelling in Norway and he's here to surf some crema.

First Wave, Second Wave, Third Wave: this is how I think of contemporary coffee. There seem to be three movements influencing what Erna Knutsen, a Norwegian immigrant to America, termed Specialty Coffee. Each approach has its own set of priorities and philosophies; each has contributed to the consumer's experience ?and our livelihoods. Occasionally, the waves overlap; and one inevitably spills over to influence the next. What have we chosen to accept as conventional coffee wisdom? What have we rejected? What does the next wave have to offer?

At first glance, it looks like there is plenty to reject from the First Wave of coffee. We like to point at them and say: look who made bad coffee commonplace, look who created low quality instant solubles, look who blended away all the nuance, look who forced prices to an all time low! They were and are the mass-marketers. While coffee has steadily grown in popularity since it's discovery, the First Wavers made it their mission to increase consumption exponentially.

There is a First Waver who occasionally visits my micro-roastery/espresso bar. It is always educational and entertaining for the staff when he comes. He tells me to quench my roasts with 15% water, and pantomimes cash going into pockets. He tells us to count the paper bag as the weight of product at the bean counter. He even tells us we can use half the ingredients and charge more for our sandwiches. Two or three times a visit he tells us how long he was in the business before he retired (35 years), and then proceeds to shake his head and chuckle at our featured 'single origin' of the day.

The First Wave has its pros and cons. On the plus side, they revolutionized the packaging and marketing of coffee. Air-tight cans, pre-ground portion packs, and Juan Valdez were their ideas. We borrow a lot from the First Wave, even if we don't like to acknowledge it.

Like me, you are probably a Second Waver. Whether we began our careers in the late 60's or mid-1990's, we tend to have a common philosophy. Our entrance was artisan driven. Someone turned us on to coffee origins and roasting styles. We looked to the wine industry for inspiration in defining goals and strategies. We started destination shops with small roasting operations and fine tea selections. Pretty soon we were serving espresso and taking trips to Italy and producing countries. There are lots of good things to say about the Second Wave; and, yes, a few bad things too.

Starbucks is an example of a hyper-Second Wave company. They helped introduce the words latte', French Roast', and cappuccino' into consumers' vocabularies ?not to mention their daily lives. They have become so specialized within the world of Specialty Coffee that they have even created their own language, (a tall, grande latte may mean nothing at your shop, yet people always order it). Making no secret of their goal of 2000 outlets by the year 2000', they have exceeded their objective by far and have set the pace for the Second Wave. Every coffee company wonders a little about how they can compete against the Second Wave giants, and as a result we are beginning to shift and rethink. For every outlet that opens with a semi-automatic espresso system, there is a Third Waver, working overtime, staining her hands brown with coffee as she handcrafts the perfect shot. The Third Wave is a reaction to those who want to automate and homogenize Specialty Coffee.

AWAKENING CURIOSITY

"We wouldn't be what we are if it weren't for the automatics," says Tim Wendelboe, Norway's reigning Barista Champion for two years running. "We know what that (automatic) coffee tastes like, and we want to get away from it." I know he is talking about more than just espresso machines. And when he says we, he is referring to dozens of Oslo baristas that work every year to better each other and themselves in the regional barista competition.


Robert Thoresen, winner of the first World Barista Championship (Monte Carlo 2000) and Wendelboe's former competition rival, takes it one step further. He wonders, as the three of us sit down to chat, why we are even talking about automatic machines. I call their attention to the "Year-End Pontifications" December 2002, by Tea and Coffee Trade Journal's editor Jane McCabe. One of the four topics she chooses to highlight is barista training; saying it is a good thing, but that, "...all baristas should be aware of the advantages superautomatic espresso machines offer a coffee bar owner." Be aware or beware?

Thoresen owns two coffee bars in Oslo and Wendelboe manages two others. Considering automatic espresso did not get them where they are today. All of Thoresen's baristi are required to complete six weeks' intensive training before they can work the bar. Wendelboe's regimen is similar. Their goal is to pull the best espresso possible, not necessarily the most. They take their time, they do it right, and it has paid off. Their shops' shelves are lined with barista trophies, gourmet magazines feature their articles, and award winning restaurants ask their advice. Regular customers have no problem standing in line because they know it's worth the wait. They have no desire to automate, despite reports of other European cities falling prey to large American chains.

It is ironic that Norway, a country that feels little pressure from Second Wave giants, would be experiencing such a strong Third Wave in coffee ?or maybe this is precisely why. The entire population of Norway is somewhere around 4.5 million, and they love to travel. It is one of those countries where, at any given moment, more of its citizens are out traveling than living within its borders. Because of this world view ?and the strong coffee traditions in Scandinavia ?jet-set urbanites developed a love for espresso bars. The Second Wave made its mark in the 90's with small coffee bar chains in Norway's capital city. Competition for those few customers fueled the desire to be true to the craft of the barista. Specialty Coffee in Norway is now heavily influenced by the barista.

"The barista stands between the roaster and the consumer", says Thoresen. "In that role, I can express my own preferences." He sees the coffee experience like a pyramid with history at the base, then tradition, trends, and preferences built on top. The idea of expressing personal preferences may be seen by some as overly ambitious for a barista. The Third Wave challenges this and other commonly held notions of coffee's hierarchy. For example, it's no problem for us to recognize the roast master as an artisan, and we know the affect a good barista can have on the product, but how often do these disciplines converge?

In 2001, Thoresen opened the first in-shop roastery of its kind in Oslo. Doing this, he insists, was just a way to better control the product at the bar and showcase a point of view. He claims that putting forth his ideas about coffee is another means to educate the public.
"In Norwegian we say, folke opplysning, educating the people; we have a duty to do that in this business. We also have a responsibility to make it clear that this is our opinion. Our opinion is not the standard, and there is no standard. We never want to be seen as arrogant."

The word arrogant comes up many times throughout our conversation. I get the feeling this is their opinion of some of the Second Wavers they have encountered. It seems like everything they have been taught is up for inspection. Despite being new in the business (barely a decade of experience combined), they no longer take their predecessors' words as gospel. "I am convinced some of these people are the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time. They will peel and eat an orange and then walk right into the cupping room," says Wendelboe.

Still, both of these master baristi believe in having a good understanding of history and tradition before claiming preferences. I have personally witnessed just the opposite with a lot of Second Wavers. Opinions are being bandied about as fact. One roaster told me that he would never consider using Ethiopian in an espresso blend despite the wide array available to him. I asked why. He answered that his mentor had told him so. Another well respected source claims a good espresso's crema should last 40 minutes and the aftertaste for two hours. Where those numbers came from, I can't say. Some of us create new rules from observing our own coffee: crema shall be an even shade of red-brown and hold sugar for so many seconds; if you're roasting to that Agtron number, then it's an Italian Roast; it's not espresso unless it features a Brazil; selling whole beans from a bin means quality. That brought me to my next question. Which rules about coffee do these guys accept, and which do they reject? The response became an exercise in avoiding absolutes ?another characteristic of the Third Wave.

Wendelboe, taking an entire month off from his regular duties to blend and roast samples for a new espresso, jumps right in: "Arabica is always going to be better!"
Thoresen: "Wait, that discussion is not over. We shouldn't rule out the new Robustas. I mean, I don't choose them right now, but let's not throw them out."
Wendelboe: " I agree. Some of them are actually really good."
Me: "As good as Arabica?"
Wendelboe: "Oh sure."

He is not contradicting himself, just working on his opinion. A Third Waver's opinion is a constant work in progress. He goes on to say that the Barista Championships were designed to educate baristas on proper craftsmanship and awaken curiosity, but the craft is continually evolving.

"We have always known about correct technique," he says, "but now we are more correct than before." Now they know enough to disregard such rules as a standard extraction time. There are as many extraction truths as there are espressos. The variables are endless with coffee, and this is what they are teaching their staff and customers.

"I have made three big changes in the espresso since I opened my first shop five years ago ?major things, that change the drinks," says Thoresen. "First we asked the customer to drink ristretto; that's how we make the shot because that's how we like it. Then we changed to triple filters, because the espresso we were using had a dark profile. Then we switched to our own coffee from the new roastery and had to go back to the double filters. Big changes, but the customers just had to trust me."

WAVE OR NO WAVE

Norwegians are trusted with new ideas all the time. Apparently targeting Oslo as the perfect guinea pig, Nestle has popped up a few blocks away with their European pilot coffee shop. The concept is based entirely on drinks made from automatic machines and instant soluble espresso. Maybe this Third Wave is not a wave at all. Time will tell if it can survive the push from the bigger, faster, super companies with their formula drinks and, we will have to wait and see if this wave will take hold like the previous two have.

Wendelboe believes it can only go forward ?at least in Norway. Again, he makes the case for a "no rules" approach to coffee, and maintains it is the only way to learn and present anything new. Thoresen thinks the Third Wave could be showing itself in Italy. He saw a shop in Trieste that was pulling shots of single origins as well a myriad of espresso blends. The roast profiles ran the gamut. It was an experience, he says, which helped him see unlimited avenues - and that was Northern Italy, a place many Second Wavers would like to believe plays by the espresso rules. In typical Italian fashion, they hold the traditions close as they use their taste buds to shift the paradigm.

There is no denying, however, that Norway and the Third Wave have set a new standard for baristi worldwide. As of this writing, a 2003 Norwegian champion has not been chosen, (despite all his knowledge and prowess, Alf Kramer did not advance to the quarter-finals). The word on the street predicts it will be a barista from Thoresen's shop and one from Wendelboe's going head to head in the final. They have spent the past few months perfecting and downsizing their signature drinks into exquisite, jewel-like espresso concoctions. In both cases, the coffee will make the moment, not the whipped cream or flavored syrup. These baristi will be able to tell you exactly when their coffee was roasted, how the beans were processed, the idea behind the blend, and offer cupping notes. And beware; their technique will be more flawless than the year before.
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Postby trish on Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:38 pm

thanks so much for posting this, Sandy.

...apologies for using "baristi", but a lot has changed, hasn't it?
Worth mentioning (IMO) this was written December 2002 and the actual title is: Norway and Coffee's Third Wave.
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Postby onocoffee on Sat Dec 08, 2007 4:10 pm

Ryan Willbur wrote:Not so much professionalism, but hospitality.


I think this says quite a lot about where our "wave" needs to venture next. Seems to me that we forget about the hospitality in favor of how cool our shops are. How many "in" places have I been to where the baristas dress like shit, look like shit, have poor attitude, horrendous customer skills and merely yell out: "There's a 16z vanilla latte on the bar!"

Where's the service? Where's the hospitality?

I see that and I'm fuckin' embarassed that the general public (or at least CoffeeGeek Public) equates my shop with places like this.

SL28ave wrote:... excited people clap and sometimes line up for George's autograph and always to talk some more after he gives an intensive 3 hr lecture on coffee economics, pruning, harvesting, etc.


I remember the day we flew up to the Boston area to visit Terrior and listen to George speak. It was amazing. I wanted to clap. I wanted to remember half of what that man has forgotten about coffee.

SL28ave wrote: Jay, if this discussion makes a single person serve better coffee faster, I wonder if it could be argued that you are an inherent positive force in the "3rd Wave Thing"...


That's a very kind thing to say. And while I prefer not to be categorically lumped into something called "Third Wave", I cannot disassociate myself from being within the industry as this time in history. By that very fact, I am somehow, inextricably linked to the peers of my generation.

With that in mind, I hope that my thoughts do not necessarily increase the speed of coffee but rather, encourage others to reflect and think a bit more about their approach with coffee. Sure, we may have the mechanics of pulling a beautiful shot down, but do we have the customer service skills? Or is it merely about slinging coffee with an attitude?

James Hoffmann wrote:I see places across Europe embracing and practicing many of the ideologies talked about as Third Wave, with no need to define it. This is probably a good idea because definition around specialty coffee get very fuzzy very fast. As I think echoes statements above - whilst you can define yourself by your equipment, your roaster, your green sourcing I'd rather focus on the complete customer experience.


This is really closer to what I'm talking about. People like Nick want all of us to maintain the definition that Trish stated three years ago. This kind of thinking begs us to remain static and unchanging. Third Wave may very well have been what Trish described three years ago, but now it's different. It's changed. It's evovled. And to spend time and energy trying to define and conform that definition is just a waste - and probably the reason why shops have their ranks filled with shitty-looking baristas yelling out "20z cappuccino on the bar!" with absolutely no idea who that drink was for.

I'll talk about my own experience. For me, it's about progress and evolution. Development and refinement. The Spro of December 2006 was greatly different than The Spro of today. So much has changed in the past year - and it's not just the faces. We've spent this time continually renewing our knowledge and refining our approach. Exploring coffee. Exploring ingredients. Exploring craft. Exploring professionalism. The cappuccino ordered today is vastly improved from the cappuccino from a year ago because we spend time refining our processes and approach.

This is what I'm talking about - continual progress and evolution, rather than sitting on your laurels thinking you're hip, cool and making the best coffee in town.
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Postby nick on Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:21 am

onocoffee wrote:That's a very kind thing to say. And while I prefer not to be categorically lumped into something called "Third Wave", I cannot disassociate myself from being within the industry as this time in history. By that very fact, I am somehow, inextricably linked to the peers of my generation.

I might prefer not to be called a "Korean-American. To me, "Korean-American" means that you are, or want to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer (or always resentful or shameful that you aren't one), that you drive an Acura or a BMW, and that you live your life as a slave to your parents' hopes and dreams and specific expectations (grandkids, big house, Mercedes as a present to them, etc.).

I might prefer not to be called a "Korean-American." But I am. Because "Korean-American" is a more basic thing, and those additional hangups and such that I might have about that term are things that I've attached to it.

onocoffee wrote:This is really closer to what I'm talking about. People like Nick want all of us to maintain the definition that Trish stated three years ago. This kind of thinking begs us to remain static and unchanging. Third Wave may very well have been what Trish described three years ago, but now it's different. It's changed. It's evovled. And to spend time and energy trying to define and conform that definition is just a waste - and probably the reason why shops have their ranks filled with shitty-looking baristas yelling out "20z cappuccino on the bar!" with absolutely no idea who that drink was for.


One of the major frustrations of my life is the way that the Christian faith is perceived in this country. Christians are Ned Flanders or Jerry Falwell types, who are ultra-conservative, intolerant, and spend all their life's energy being judgmental. For a good portion of this country, they're totally unable to separate the Christian faith from this "Christian Coalition" type.

This, to me, is as offensive as any racial or gender stereotype.

Simply put, Jay, you can, if you want, go on and on about how Christians are white conservative bigots. It doesn't make it so.

To say that Third Wave is about grunge and bad service and yelling out anything... doesn't make it so. As cliche as it has become: it's about the coffee. It's about the way the coffee is approached.

You can serve it out of a coffee cart. You can serve it naked. You can serve it in a tuxedo. You can serve it while standing on your head. You can serve it to the President of the United States. You can serve it to a homeless guy. You can serve it while yelling. You can serve it while whispering. You can serve it with bad body odor. You can serve it while sweating. You can serve it with a British accent. You can serve it while speaking Japanese. You can serve it in Kigali. You can serve it with your eyes closed. You can serve it in a kiosk in the lobby of a library.

There is, indeed, a cultural context that the Third Wave paradigm has thrived in. That context is circumstantial.

Jay, if you wish to champion this strange mission of making bad service an integral part of the Third Wave idea, then I suppose you can try. Where you are correct is that language is a living thing, and words are ultimately defined by what people mean when they say it. That said, if you wish to fight for your definition out in the collective consciousness, go right ahead. Don't, however, claim that your definition is somehow the "real" one, and that Trish's is somehow outdated.
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Postby onocoffee on Sun Dec 09, 2007 12:46 pm

nick wrote: Where you are correct is that language is a living thing, and words are ultimately defined by what people mean when they say it. That said, if you wish to fight for your definition out in the collective consciousness, go right ahead. Don't, however, claim that your definition is somehow the "real" one, and that Trish's is somehow outdated.



Interesting how you can acknowledge that language is a living thing yet refuse to give credence that the original "definition" provided in the three-year old article has morphed.

There's a party line somewhere and you're determined to toe it.

Quite frankly, I have very little interest in offering a customer experience similar to what I see in many of these so-called Third Wave shops. I'm interested in something beyond. This is why my personal approach and my companys' approach to coffee and service has continued to develop over the years. It's a continual process and like language, one that is constantly changing.

Yet while I may not necessarily agree with a particular companys' approach, I'm hardly interested in forcing them to change. Just as in the restaurant business, the difference is approaches between Applebee's and Restaurant Daniel is vast. For myself and my company, I prefer the latter approach over the former.

As Thomas Keller has said: "It's all about finesse." Unlike others, this speaks volumes to me on our approach, our methodologies and our way of thinking. I'm not interested in slinging out one hundred twenty 20z vanilla lattes an hour. I'm interested in delivering something special and delicious to our customers in a thoughtful and considerate manner. This is what I champion and I'm excited to see others within this "wave" share those ideals.

During my visit to Vancouver last month, we ate at Metro - a restaurant where Barrett Jones works as the night manager, as well as preparing espresso drinks. For me, it was grandly exciting seeing Barrett in a sharp suit with a truly world-class demeanor, presenting the restaurant, its' food and its' drinks in an air of respectability and humility. It was the demonstration that, indeed, our own [from this Third Wave] can present themselves in such a thoughful fashion. For me, it was a glimpse of things to come in our business and that was exciting indeed.

Similarly, I also visited Intelligentsia Los Angeles - which is vastly different than the Chicago branches. Thoughtful design, thoughtful approaches and a staff of friendly, enthusiastic and committed baristas who may have been casually dressed but presented themselves with respect and deference to their customers. Again, something to be lauded and something to get excited about.

The "Third Wave" is what it is. I'm interested in going beyond.
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Postby Richard Hartnell on Sun Dec 09, 2007 3:28 pm

onocoffee wrote:The "Third Wave" is what it is. I'm interested in going beyond.


Here, I'd posit that any new "Wave" has to become a widespread standard before it can be followed by whatever's "beyond" - Second Wave came only as an extension of ubiquitous coffee consumption, and Third Wave is both a natural expansion and selective pruning of Second Wave coffee techniques and ideas.

I don't know the last time anyone else walked into a shop that wasn't personally recommended by a pro-barista type... but skilfully prepared coffee is not exactly the norm yet. And I'm speaking from the second most coffee-shop saturated town in the PNW.

I can understand the desire for quality service that you're getting at, Jay, but I also agree with Nick - there are tons of Third Wave baristas who keep their customer-service skillz tip-top because hey, they're *expert memebers of the service industry.*

Your frustration at the antics of a few Third Wavers is completely understandable. It especially sucks that it's hard enough to find a good [potential] barista as is - and the joy of having someone who can bang out 100 amazing shots in a row is only rivaled by the agony of discovering that they just can't be bothered to show up to work on time (heh heh - uh, hi alex! hi teri! :oops:).

I agree that decent customer service is vital, so vital that we shouldn't even need to have a conversation about it... like remembering how often to shower, or knowing how to handle and count money. But the nuances of *good* service consist of a zillion minor acquired skills - from helping customers make informed decisions to just shutting up and serving the goddam 16oz. skim raspberry mocha with two Splendas.

I guess what I'm trying to ask is this: is the "next big thing in coffee" actually a revolution in the appearance, trappings, stylings, and mannerisms of the pro barista? Or is 3W just falling a bit behind because we've spent too much time studying Schomer and not enough time studying, uh, whatever the "killer service" bible might be (case in point right here, lawl) in order to keep people in our shops long enough to wake up and smell the clean, single-origin, relationship coffee?
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Postby Andy Schecter on Sun Dec 09, 2007 4:19 pm

Richard Hartnell wrote: is the "next big thing in coffee" actually a revolution in the appearance, trappings, stylings, and mannerisms of the pro barista? Or is 3W just falling a bit behind because we've spent too much time studying Schomer and not enough time studying, uh, whatever the "killer service" bible might be


Actually, Schomer emphasized excellent customer service long before the "3W" was invented. Click here and here.
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Postby onocoffee on Sun Dec 09, 2007 4:29 pm

Richard Hartnell wrote:Here, I'd posit that any new "Wave" has to become a widespread standard before it can be followed by whatever's "beyond" - Second Wave came only as an extension of ubiquitous coffee consumption, and Third Wave is both a natural expansion and selective pruning of Second Wave coffee techniques and ideas.


Richard, perhaps I was being obtuse. I'm not interested in starting a new "wave." I was there, in the 1980s, and part of the New Wave (yes, with the hair and makeup), so I don't feel a need to part of any other wave.

I understand the lure of being "cool" and "hip" and being a "rock star." However, after having actually worked with real celebrities and rock stars, I'm not very enamored with being one of them.

When I speak of "going beyond," I'm talking about continually exploring and refining what we do. From learning about the coffee, to processing the coffee, to presenting the coffee - I'm talking about a continual refinement. I'm talking about never resting on your laurels. I'm talking about always striving for something better. Perfection perhaps, but at least something better than we're doing now.
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Postby xristrettox on Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:26 am

onocoffee wrote:When I speak of "going beyond," I'm talking about continually exploring and refining what we do. From learning about the coffee, to processing the coffee, to presenting the coffee - I'm talking about a continual refinement. I'm talking about never resting on your laurels. I'm talking about always striving for something better. Perfection perhaps, but at least something better than we're doing now.


Maybe I'm not following Jay, but to me, this is third wave.

Maybe all this is too post-modern, and we are all saying what 3W is to us.

As far as your opinion about the service side of things, I think there is a place for tattoos and punk, and I don't see why those things necessitate bad service. If a shop is supposedly 3W but they're all assholes, let the consumer decide and perhaps that coffee shop will die. For us, we look like the majority of our clientele, and I will not abide by the ideology that we have to put on polos to somehow raise the professionalism of what we are doing. If the majority of our clientele was wearing dress shirts and ties, guaranteed our employees would be as well.

I really can't imagine going into the finest restaurants in Portland and being offended that the head chef was wearing jeans, vans, and that new Van Halen tour t-shirt (very likely scenario btw). These guys/girls raise the bar by what they produce, and their professionalism is more than the way they look.
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Postby Alistair Durie on Mon Dec 10, 2007 2:55 pm

I think its an obvious mistake for the movement to attempt to define itself, its only importance is to understand what it is not. Striving forward, departures, progress...

Its exactly what you're always talking about, Jay. Sometimes you drive me nuts, but you fit in very well, because you don't believe in resting. The community needs and benefits from your critique - but the calls are coming from inside the house.
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Postby Keith on Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:19 pm

so there you have it Jay, you are Third Wave to the core!
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Postby onocoffee on Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:58 am

Keith wrote:so there you have it Jay, you are Third Wave to the core!


Keith, and I thought we were friends...

Like Alistair, I too think an attempt to define this "movement" is problematic (to say the least). We've all seen the ugly side of this 3W Thing and I think most here prefer to distance themselves from that nonsense.

xristrettox wrote:As far as your opinion about the service side of things, I think there is a place for tattoos and punk, and I don't see why those things necessitate bad service. If a shop is supposedly 3W but they're all assholes, let the consumer decide and perhaps that coffee shop will die. For us, we look like the majority of our clientele, and I will not abide by the ideology that we have to put on polos to somehow raise the professionalism of what we are doing. If the majority of our clientele was wearing dress shirts and ties, guaranteed our employees would be as well.


I can't disagree with you, Billy. One must cater to their clientele. Or at least the clientele they strive to serve.

While I may have given the impression that tattoos are the sole indicator of an inattention to detail, I acknowledge that this is not the case. What I'm talking about is that forward-thinking approach, which can be personified in a company regardless of their dress code. While I can see that Albina Press' style is a reflection of its' community, I can also see that the Press is delivering a thoughtful approach to their coffee. Conversely, I can think of a few places that personify the hapless dress code and a stagnation in their approach to the craft and quality.

xristrettox wrote:... in Portland and being offended that the head chef was wearing jeans, vans, and that new Van Halen tour t-shirt (very likely scenario btw). These guys/girls raise the bar by what they produce, and their professionalism is more than the way they look.


Professionalism may be more than looks, however, I think we can find agreement that the look helps define the perception of the professional.

As a corollary, at a recent "secret chefs" dinner here in Baltimore, one of the new and upcoming chefs made a wonderful shrimp course for our group. She's got skills, passion and is about to reopen a restaurant in Baltimores' arts district. She's cool, hip, punk rock and rock n roll. She's excited, into it and curses like a sailor. However, the restaurant is directly across the street from the symphony and her clientele will be decidedly older, white, conservative and moneyed. Somehow I think the spike protruding from under her lip will be a bit off-putting for some of the clientele.

Even though I'm sure the food will be solid, I'm not so sure about the impression...
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Postby Keith on Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:26 am

but nowadays the impression is made with the product or service and I think folks look beyond what the individuals look like. I myself sometimes am shocked at the jobs the super tattooed, pierced and yes sometimes dreaded get. When I was young in my home state of Virginia I couldnt find a low level job unless I cut my hair. But now the cashiers at Target and just about everywhere else are dressed to go to the freak show. Frankly I love it...but I dont expect better or worse service based on the way these folks look. I get miserable service all the time from totally normal looking people...whatever normal is.

Jay--I see attitude and tattoos in lots of coffee shops that are NOT claiming they are 3w...heck they wouldnt even know what the term meant, its as foreign to them as if I had asked them for a ristretto.

Jay, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck then its a duck. Just cause you dont think youre a duck doesnt make it so.
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