Necessity is the mother of invention, and in the world of coffee, the craving for higher quality, less commercial, and more artisanal products led to what we call globally the “the third wave of coffee.” A movement that started a couple of years ago, it has given birth to countless specialty coffee shops all over the world, including Manila. For sure you’ve tried artisanal coffee at one point or another, and most probably loved it—and you most likely also fell for the one-of-a-kind ambience third wave coffee shops have, right? Or probably oohhed and aahhhed over their cute latte art?
It’s time for some education, ladies and gentlemen. While it’s an amazing thing that you’ve ventured out of your coffee comfort zone and tried out specialty coffee, it’ll serve you well to know that not everything you’ve heard about it or think about it is true—that way you can discern well if you’re really getting the authentic experience. Manila third wave coffee pioneer, Yardstick Coffee’s Andre Chang, debunks some common misconceptions about this thriving movement:
Myth: It’s all about latte art.
Andre says: “You can have a beautiful cup it doesn’t mean it’s a better cup. Always judge a coffee by what you taste. Latte art adds value, but great taste is still what's important.”
Myth: By using homebrew equipment it can already be considered third wave.
Andre says: “I can use all that fancy equipment but if I use bad coffee, that doesn’t make me a specialty coffee shop. It’s about having better raw product—not about having better machines, nor about having a nice space.”
Myth: Acidity isn’t characteristic of good coffee.
Andre says: “Acidity in specialty coffee is prized. People pay a lot for it—it’s what separates specialty coffee from regular coffee. Specialty coffee should have acidity and a bit of sweetness just like a good bottle of wine. It takes time to change the fact that people shy away from this different taste.”
Myth: You can get away with cheap equipment.
Andre says: “No matter how good your product, if you use low end equipment you won’t be able to bring out the best from it. I’m not telling people to buy the most expensive equipment but to buy the right equipment.”
Myth: The third wave of coffee is a trend.
Andre says: “I really think it’s not a trend. Specialty coffee is here to stay, people drink coffee everyday and it’s really important to be bringing in better product.”
Myth: Specialty coffee is hipster.
Andre says: “Coffee is like music, everyone has the same instruments but everyone’s trying to carve their own identity. It’s similar to what’s happening in the music industry—just because you’re indie, doesn’t mean you’re hipster.”
Yardstick Coffee is at Ground Floor, Universal LMS Building, 106 Esteban Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City
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Photograph Vyn Radovan