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The evolution of coffee in the market

For most people across the world, a day does not officially start without that beloved cup of coffee. It is not just a ‘wake up’ tradition for many but also a strong ‘meeting’ culture for people to connect and ‘do business’ over their favourite ‘cuppa’. From home visits, chit chats with one’ neighbour to roundtable business meetings, a cup of coffee is usually always a part of the mix.
Today, coffee culture is centred around more than just affordability and convenience: origin, ethics, roasting methods and ultimately the quality of coffee beans have become increasingly important not just to local cafés and coffee shops, but also to the individual consumer. Whilst there is still a strong market for ‘big brand’ supermarket coffees – coffee lovers today are taking their coffee education and methodology more seriously than ever.

The market has radically evolved over the last couple of centuries. This evolution has progressed in what has been termed ‘waves’.

The first wave – dating back to the 1800’s saw a time when coffee producers were focused on introducing affordable, easy to make coffee to mass market. For coffee experts in particular, this ‘mass convenience’ approach evoked a fair amount of criticism towards the quality and taste of coffee being sold in stores. The strategy in making coffee easily available ultimately introduced consumers to a world of ‘packaged’ coffee, instant blends and eventually – the invention of the home ‘drip coffee machine’ aka ‘the percolator’.

As coffee became a normal commodity in households and new brands emerged on the market, a second wave in coffee evolution took place – a period that saw consumers expressing a deeper interest in taste and variety. The consumer’s desire to learn more helped to differentiate between premium and mass-produced coffee brands. This greater interest in coffee led to a whole new language. Words like ‘espresso’ and ‘latte’ became common lingo amongst drinkers and soon coffee shops began exploding all over cities and towns and chain brands emerged.

That brings us to the market today. Described as the “third wave” of coffee, this period can best be described as a time where marketing has taken a back seat and desire and need for quality has taken centre stage. Today coffee drinkers are becoming increasingly educated in understanding the ‘art’ of coffee. With a greater appreciation for the trade and craft, the market is experiencing a greater shift towards supporting local blends and becoming ‘home baristas’. Not only is it now ‘trendy’ to support artisanal and craft brands, the market is more fixated on the ‘bean’ and its journey from farm to cup than ever.

With quality at the fore and a growing market of coffee fundi’s, the South African coffee trade is experiencing greater support from artisanal loyalists who are showing passionate enthusiasm to invest in quality machines and beans.

Media contact: Victoria Knibbs – 083 540 5668 – victoria@innocomm.co.za