From high-quality beans of the finest origins through light roasts practised in micro roasteries to the usage of high-spec espresso machines and alternative brewing methods, the third wave of coffee offers a completely new experience for coffee lovers. What does the modern coffee culture look like today?
Although coffee came to Poland in the 17th century, it began to blossom in the 18th Century and reached it’s peak in the 19th century. At that time European capitals – Paris, Vienna or Warsaw- had been establishing a rather similar coffee drinking culture; only the communist period set Poland apart from the West.
All Waves of Coffee
When the Italian-inspired coffee drinking culture was unfolding in the post-war metropolises in Europe, United States and Australia, and the readily available ground as well as instant coffee became an integral part of one’s everyday life (first wave), the Poles were getting accustomed to bitter flavours of poor quality ground coffee brewed directly in tall glasses.The second wave is marked by the introduction of big coffeeshop chains with Starbucks leading the way since 1971. This coffee giant from Seattle popularised properly brewed coffee and espresso-based beverages, such as cappuccino or latte often served with different add-ons from flavoured syrups to whipped cream. Since the fall of communism,
Poland too has seen the rise of coffeehouse chains, including its very own Coffee Heaven which was founded in the late 90s. After a good few years of introducing the Poles to a variety of espresso based drinks prepared by skilled baristas Coffee Heaven was acquired by a British chain Costa Coffee. Interestingly, it was the popularisation of going out to drink coffee at coffeeshops such as Costa or Starbucks that facilitated the rise of a new approach to coffee where careful attention was paid to every single stage of its sourcing, roasting and preparation processes. This approach is known to us as the third wave of coffee or speciality coffee.
The term specialty coffee was first used in 1974 by Erna Kursten in Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. It refers to coffee that scores 80 or more points on a 100-point scale measuring the complexity of its aroma and the depth of its flavour. The specialty beans typically come from plants that grow at an optimum altitude and on small plantations. Subsequently, they are harvested by hand at the perfect moment of its ripeness and subjected to careful processing the aim of which is to obtain the best green coffee beans that free of any defects.
The perfect bean is only the beginning – the other key players are the roasting companies and, last but not least, specialty coffeeshops. Apart from using the latest specialty espresso machines such as La Marzocco, Sanremo or Slayer, such cafés also use alternative brewing methods. Baristas prepare popular pour-over filter coffees using laboratory-like tools and accessories such as Hario V60, Chemex or Aeropress as well as special scales and measuring devices.
The Third Wave Coffeeshops
Poland is becoming more and more visible on the Specialty Coffee map of Europe while our baristas score highly in local and international Latte Art, Barista, Brewers Cup and AeroPress Championships. In many Polish cities one can enjoy excellent coffee from Berlin’s top roasters such as Bonanza Coffee Heroes, The Barn or Five Elephant Coffee, as well as local micro roasteries such as the famous Coffee Proficiency from Kraków.
Their coffee is best sampled near its source; The Coffee Proficiency roastery & cafe can be found right here in Krakow (Aleja 29 Listopada 155c). Today’s coffee culture is more than just a perfect brew. Specialty coffeeshops often run various events such as music gigs, art exhibitions or coffee cupping sessions.