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Coffee — a culture, or just a means to get caffeinated?

by Karlie Lockhart

When you think of coffee, you may think of it being the first step of your morning routine. Others might view it as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. And yet others might even think it’s gross or unhealthy. Do you identify with one of these above views? Well, for me, it’s the secret third option: coffee is my passion. Over the course of almost 4 years, I’ve developed knowledge and love for coffee and the culture it creates.

Cafe Blennerhassett

The main aspects of coffee culture consist of 4 waves:

– The first wave focused on coffee being convenient. This wave began around 1950. During this time popular brands such as Foldgers and Maxwell House hit the shelves, and convenience was placed at higher importance than quality.

– The second wave began around 1990 and focused on variety — placing emphasis on what could be done with coffee, not on how the coffee itself was made. Espresso and sweet speciality drinks became popular at this time, as well as roasting beans at different levels (light, medium, and dark).

– Progressing into the 2000’s, the third wave developed. This wave started to focus on coffee as an art form, placing importance on the coffee bean’s origin, roast, and flavor profile. Creating high quality coffee through hands-on brewing methods like the pour over or French press became increasingly popular.

– The current wave, the fourth wave, places emphasis on coffee being economical. Certain fourth wave enthusiasts will only purchase beans from a roaster that donates to a specific foundation or cause from each sale. Others still only get beans from local roasters, or even roast beans themselves. This wave strives for continual development of a high quality cup through scientific study of the coffee bean.

When you get coffee from a coffee shop, which wave do you observe? Is it the first wave convenience of going through the drive thru? Or is it your specific, 5 step order that emits a second wave quality? Maybe it’s the beautifully poured latte art that makes you appreciate the third wave. Or perhaps are you reminded of the fourth wave when you purchase beans from your favorite roaster, who donates to a good cause with every sale? Whichever wave resonates with you most, each one is connected to the incredible community coffee creates.

(Some portions of this article are credited to Coffee or Die Magazine)

To find the current hours to Café Blennerhassett, visit this link.

Karlie Lockhart is a barista at The Blennerhassett Hotel and Spa


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