What it Means to Be a Third Wave Coffee Shop

At 7 Corners Coffee, we’re proud to be a third wave coffee shop. But we find that people don’t always know what that means or why it’s important. Isn’t a coffee shop just a coffee shop? The answer is no.  

A third wave coffee shop is an establishment that places a special emphasis on coffee quality, origin, appreciation, and sustainability. They serve highgrade specialty coffee that has been ethically sourced from locations around the world. 

For a third wave coffee shop, coffee isn’t just a commodity or a source of caffeine. It’s an art form. A craft. And the people who grow the resources used to make the coffee are just as important as the people who drink it. 

But to truly understand and appreciate what makes a third wave coffee shop special, we need to look at the history of coffee shops. 

The Path to Third Wave Coffee 

For a long time, particularly in America, people thought coffee was coffee. Whether you scooped it out of a tin can in your home or grabbed a cup at the local gas station, coffee existed to warm you and wake you and that was about it.  

Taste was generally negligible. Sure, people might say a certain restaurant had better coffee or a hotel had worse coffee, but at the end of the day, they drank what was given to them.  

This is considered the first wave of coffee. 

No one really knew where the coffee they drank came from. And there wasn’t much in the way of craft drinks, espresso, etc. Meanwhile, the people who were growing the coffee plants were generally operating in poor working conditions. 

Then, in the 1960s and 70s, dedicated coffee shops started appearing. These places started to say where coffee was from and how it had been prepared. Countries of origin were highlighted and compared. Meanwhile, cappuccinos, lattes, and other coffee beverages started to grow in popularity.  

This was the second wave of coffee where places like Starbucks became household names. 

While second wave coffee was a big step forward in the appreciation and understanding of coffee, there were a few components missing. Quality was good but not always great. The country of origin was often named, but the people responsible for growing and roasting the coffee were obscured. 

The coffee farmers were often still operating in poverty and harsh conditions. Meanwhile, coffee lovers found themselves wanting a better, more unique experience. 

This ultimately led to the emergence of the third wave of coffee. A few years into the new millennium, new coffee shops started appearing that sought to offer the best coffee experience possible. This meant serving the highest grade of coffee that was hand-selected from specific roasters and countries of origins. 

Transparency and relationships became the corner stone of third wave coffee shops. Coffee was traceable back to the farm where it was grown. Coffee shops worked directly with coffee roasters. Coffee roasters worked directly with the farmers who grew the coffee. 

This allowed for an ethical, sustainable coffee economy where everyone was properly taken care of from start to finish. On top of that, it resulted in coffee that was simply better. 

If you want to experience the wonders of a third wave coffee shop in Minneapolis, come stop by 7 Corners Coffee. You’ll be able to learn a bit of the journey coffee undergoes to reach us while enjoying a delicious cup of specialty coffee.  

In addition to our batch brew made from Dogwood Coffee, we feature a regular rotation of coffee from third wave roasters, allowing you to enjoy some of the best coffee the world has to offer. 

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