In the #newnormal, the way we have our coffee may have changed!

The Fifth-Wave of Coffee has arrived!

People still drink coffee. Where they drink and how they make it may change forever, thanks to COVID!

The ‘New Normal’ has ushered in a considerable change in how we see and do things, basically every aspect of our life. What has not changed is the way we consume our daily cup of coffee. Get up, brush your teeth, grab your coffee — that’s how most people who need coffee start their day!

In reality, the Coffee Industry affects millions worldwide. According to a Business Insider report, in 2011, 90% of coffee was produced by developing countries, in addition to employing 2.5 million globally!

Today, according to Wikipedia, around 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed daily. In 2018, 53% of India drank coffee at least once a day.

Those numbers for sure have increased over time!

The industry’s outlook may have changed with the pandemic, even, just maybe, ushering in the fifth wave of coffee!

Four waves of coffee

First Wave: Back in the 1800s, coffee was made accessible to the mid-class society.

Second Wave: Dates back to 1974 when the term “Specialty coffee” was first used.

Third Wave: Termed in 2002, it refers to the characters of coffee at your favorite coffee shop: History of the farm, the way coffee beans are ground and roasted, etc. It is about seeing coffee making as an art.

Fourth Wave: Termed in 2014, it bought alternative brewing and tasting methods to preserve and deliver real coffee flavors.

Read more about the four waves here.

Coffee during the pandemic

The pandemic hit, and things changed overnight.

For the industry: Offices and restaurants shut down. Over the months that followed, few downed shutters for good, leading to large scale unemployment. In May, the National Restaurant of India (NRAI) said that over 2 million people could lose their restaurant industry jobs.

For us commoners: Till March, we’d stop by at a local café, Starbucks or Blue Tokai, pick up our regular cuppa and head to work, or even spend hours trying to get some work done!

Overnight, we were in anguish for our favorite cup of coffee! Even if we wanted to order our favorite brew or beans, it wasn’t feasible because eCommerce deliveries were not allowed! In Bangalore, a few shops continued to deliver quality coffee to coffee lovers like me!

People stuck at home had time to experiment and explore more complex brewing techniques like AeroPress and pour-over. Dalgona Coffee went viral as a results of experiments — making it is not that simple!

A few I know managed to get hold of premium coffee machines from local cafes to ensure they get their favorite cup of joe every day!

One person went a step ahead — combining quality coffee like Kopi Luwak with Espresso flavored Vodka to create wine like cocktails! I had one a few years ago, it was excellent!

What does the future hold?

Given economies and a few offices are up and running, people may be hesitant to drop by their favorite café and wait for their coffee over fears of the virus!

It means the way we have coffee may change, for good, maybe! From having time to experiment, trends may shift to people wanting instant and convenient coffee, yet wanting to relish the more delicate nuances on offer!

In Bangalore, coffee chains like Blue Tokai, Starbucks, and Third Wave offer instant coffee packets, containing unique special roasts and flavors. Even artisanal coffee startups like Araku Coffee are joining the fray!

Coca Cola with Coffee, which seems to have been introduced in 2017 in Australia, will be available in the US early next year, hopefully, the globe as well!

Mobile order solutions may also become the go-to solution. Starbucks, in India, introduced ‘Mobile Order and Pay’ a little over a month. It allows Starbucks Rewards members to order and pay for coffee online, from a nearby Starbucks store.

The post-COVID scenario does change the way we look at coffee. It moves from a sit-in experience to pressing a few buttons and having our coffee handed over — basically, minimal time spent at the café.

Could this be the much anticipated fifth wave? Either way, I’m sure if a coffee aficionado wants quality coffee, they will be willing to shell out a premium or wait at the café!

The question is once things get back to normal, would you:

- Go back to the old ways of picking up your coffee or working/chilling in a café, or

- Spend time exploring coffee as you did during COVID, or

- Prefer the more convenient options of mobile pickups and instant mixes.

Comment below!

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