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Why Coffee Drinkers Are Willing to Spend More on Third Wave Coffee

Consumers are willing to shell out large sums of money for specialty beers, artisanal cheeses and expensive wines, but it seems another specialty food item is also fetching a fair price—third-wave coffee.

The U.S. drinks about 400 million cups of coffee daily, which fuels a $30 billion industry in the states alone. While large chains account for a decent portion of the industry, third-wave coffee is being propelled forwards by coffee lovers and connoisseurs across the country. One of the best known third-wave roasters is Stumptown Coffee, which was first brought to Boston by Thinking Cup.

To those that prefer cheap coffee, third-wave coffee’s price tag may seem a little high, but when you take into consideration the quality of the beans, science behind properly brewing them and training that goes into prepping and pouring a truly wonderful cup of coffee, it really doesn’t seem unreasonable at all. Those that see its worth pay for their third-wave coffee without hesitation.

Stumptown Coffee is one of the best known third-wave coffee roasters that has set out to change the way America drinks and perceives its coffee.

For those unfamiliar with the term third-wave, it refers to the third major stage of coffee in the U.S. The first wave refers to mass consumer brands such as Folgers, which made coffee highly accessible to average households in the U.S. The second wave refers to the period during which specialty chains such as Starbucks began changing the way consumers purchased coffee by offering made-to-order drinks and broader bean choices. The third-wave, which we’re currently experiencing, is based on the increase in popularity of exceptional gourmet coffees such as those produced by roasters like Stumptown Coffee.

Third-wave coffee is approached with the same reverence as fine wine, having been grown by farmers around the world, which are hand-picked and dealt with directly by individuals at companies like Stumptown Coffee. Beans are roasted at roasteries in different locations (Stumptown has 3) and then shipped to wholesalers nearby. Thinking Cup, for example, which is located in Boston receives its Stumptown Coffee from their roaster in Brooklyn, NY.

IBISWorld senior food and beverage analyst, Andy Brennan, stated, “People are prepared to pay up for an experience now. There’s definitely a snob factor at play within third-wave coffee, and they’re quite proud of this… The type of coffee you drink is really becoming a statement about who you are, what you represent, where you come from now. This is been one of the biggest trends within third-wave coffee. People don’t necessarily want to drink at Starbucks anymore, because it’s seen as generic.”

Third-wave coffee is like an awakening for many coffee lovers in the U.S. who realize that there is indeed a difference. If you’ve not yet had the pleasure of drinking Stumptown Coffee, head over to one of three Thinking Cup locations in Boston and experience a perfectly brewed cup of third-wave coffee for yourself.



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