I guess one could say that my relationship with coffee has changed dramatically over the years. As a kid, I would always drink malt coffee – even though I hated the taste of it – just to feel like one of the adults during breakfast time (apparently, already back then, I felt older than I really was). Once I went back to my daily cup of good ol’ hot chocolate (oh how great it felt to be a kid again!), I swore off coffee for many years to come, profoundly loathing its taste and even its smell. Only when I realized as a 13 -year-old that coffee didn’t taste as much as…well, coffee when you mix it with lots of milk and/or cream, I started drinking it more regularly, at one point even craving my daily “coffee” fix.
Back then, whenever someone offered me an apparently new and “super good” coffee blend, I couldn’t really tell the difference in taste – as long as there was milk, I was fine. Back then, whenever someone tried to flog me black coffee, I would run. Back then, I would consider the exorbitant price of my cup of coffee an indicator for its quality. The more Starbucks, the better. The more milk and sugar, the tastier. And don’t even get me started on the occasional scoop of ice cream. Nom.
“Third-wave” coffee? Ftw.
Of course today I know it was probably the milk, which didn’t allow me to taste anything, but…yeah, milk. Only when I started to work in a so-called “third-wave” speciality coffee shop in September 2015, I realised how much variety there actually was not only regarding coffee beans, but also when it comes to roasting as well as brewing methods. All of a sudden, I started drinking, no: enjoying (!) espresso shots and longing for my daily Americano – but only if it was made from the latest Kenya roast. Yes, I got particular. One could even say I turned into a proper coffee snob. Well, sometimes I do so myself.
During my five months working at the aforementioned coffee shop, I learnt a lot about coffee, was able to watch the owners roast their own beans, asked all the questions I had (which were many!) and sometimes even prepared my own cup of coffee (in the end, I was just a temporary help, doing everything but making coffee). Within the course of months, I did my research online, tried out all the different speciality coffee shops in Vienna and even got myself my very own coffee grinder.
Let’s talk coffee waves for a minute
Since I oh so casually dropped the term “third wave coffee” above, cheekily assuming todo el mundo would know what I’m talking about, which – I’m aware – might not be the case, I’ll quickly give you a basic introduction to the concept of the three waves of coffee in my own words.
The first wave of coffee could be generally described as the era of coffee mass consumption: within the course of the 19th century, coffee slowly became evermore affordable and was thus no longer a luxury product reserved only for the rich, paving the way for coffee enjoyment even for “the little guy”. Starting in the U.S., coffee quickly became part of everyday life; quality for sure wasn’t playing too big of a role back then. The first wave consequently also marks the birth of the “Old Maid” of coffee culture – instant coffee. Ugh.
Around the 1980s, coffee turned into big business. In this so-called second wave, filter coffee was replaced by coffee capsules or pads and coffeehouse chains with Starbucks leading the way popped out everywhere, defining coffee culture as a more or less “one size fits all” experience – coffee on the go for everyone. #zerowastewhat
Only in the 1990s, there could be observed a slow, but steady shift in focus: people started to care about the origin of the coffee they were drinking; coffee roasters worked together closer with their suppliers; speciality coffee shops sprang up like mushrooms (especially in the cities), offering different brewing methods, sometimes solely depending on the coffee bean and/or its degree of grinding. Yes, we’re talking third wave. We’re talking coffee in its purity. We’re talking latte art, where soy milk is frowned upon. And please don’t make the mistake and ask for sugar in one of these shops, which they almost always consider an insult 😉
So what now?
No, I am no barista and I for sure still know way too little about this whole speciality coffee movement. However, the mere concept of enjoying coffee the same way as we e.g. have long enjoyed wine just appeals to me. It simply aligns perfectly with living a more curated and deliberate life, caring for our environment as well as the origin and quality of the food we’re putting into our bodies, the clothes we’re wearing and so on. This is also why one of the first things I did once I moved to Barcelona was checking out where to find my daily cup of (fairly produced) happiness.
Since Google es mi amigo, I quickly found what I was looking for and, after some time of exploration, I decided to share my favourite coffee shops with you, my fellow travel and coffee lovers out there. I know you – just like me – are always on the lookout for new and chill places, especially when visiting a new city! So make sure to visit my blog regularly in the upcoming weeks to check out not only my personal reviews and some pictures but also some fun stories and anecdotes that revolve around coffee.
I’m so looking forward to sharing my coffee love with you even more! Talk to you soon, beautiful souls! I’m gonna go off now and pour myself a freshly brewed cup of happiness. Cheers!