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Explainer: What is the 5th Wave of coffee?

The 5th Wave™ reflects a powerful new era of scaled boutique hospitality and is the current ideology shaping business trends across the global coffee industry. Put simply, 5th Wave implies scaling up consistent high quality to achieve a highly successful, customer-centric and sustained business outcome
 


The 5th Wave represents a quantum leap in the calibre of vision and execution required to meet the desires, needs and aspirations of today’s highly savvy and technically engaged millennial audience and tomorrow’s Gen Z



The concept of 5th Wave was developed by Allegra Strategies consultancy and refined within Allegra World Coffee Portal following two decades of coffee industry research and analysis. 5th Wave is the culmination of all four previous ‘waves’ of industry development as laid out in the World Coffee Portal Stages of Coffee Industry Development Framework (above).

The 1st Wave describes traditional 20th century coffee drinking and reflects differing historical cultures and geographies. The 2nd Wave is typified by the early growth of lifestyle branded chains, such as Starbucks Coffee Company, 3rd Wave by craft or artisan coffee, and the 4th Wave by the ‘science of coffee’.  Each era has its merits and has added significantly to the depth and growth of coffee enjoyment.

A reflection of the era in which we live, the 5th Wave represents a quantum leap in the calibre of vision and execution required to meet the desires, needs and aspirations of today’s highly savvy and technically engaged millennial audience and tomorrow’s Gen Z.

5th Wave hospitality businesses don't necessarily need to be inordinately expensive or even encompass the term 'specialty'



Today’s 5th Wave businesses create and consistently deliver highly engaging and aspirational experiences to clearly defined customer target audiences. These forward-thinking businesses are highly commercial and possess the mindset to constantly strive toward excellence, meticulously engineering and refining every process. They are typically run by ambitious, well-funded entrepreneurial professionals who understand the importance of people culture, of streamlined systems and process, of training and development and investment into seamless, enabling technology – not for ease, but because of their obsession with winning positive customer experience.

Quality and scale can be relative. 5th Wave does not necessarily mean an offering needs to be inordinately expensive, nor does it need to be expanded across hundreds of outlets.

Scaling quality for each and every customer interaction requires unflinching discipline, herculean stamina, authentic flair and relentless innovation. 5th Wave is not just limited to the coffee sector. Numerous other industries deeply identify with today’s need to ‘scale up’ quality and heighten client experience in order to maintain a competitive advantage.

These include sectors from retail to restaurants and hotels to fitness and technology. In the coffee sector, brands such as Blue Bottle, Bluestone Lane, Caravan, and Department of Coffee, and many others, are examples of smart businesses setting new benchmarks for quality and customer engagement. Equally, the Starbucks Reserve concept creates a new dimension of customer experience within the largest coffee operator in the world.

Further detail will follow on the definition and characteristics of 5th Wave companies. No doubt this is only the beginning of the journey. In the meantime, keep your eye on the next big step in global coffee shop evolution – the 5th Wave, a new era for The Business of Coffee.
 

 

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