The term “Third Wave” as it relates to coffee was first put to print in an article that ran in 2002, in a specialty publication written for and by coffee roasters. Its definition is now known universally, even by tea drinkers, as a passion for coffee that borders on obscene. The emphasis is on bean sourcing, roasting that enhances subtle nuances of flavor and perfecting brew methods, usually by someone with a tattoo.
Or, to use a simplified explanation: first there was Folgers, second there was Starbucks and third there was/is fill-in-your-Brooklyn-coffee-bar. It’s why time-consuming brewing methods such as siphon brewing suddenly became more popular, ditto pour-over, Aeropress, nel drip and the layman’s ability to distinguish between them.
By 2002, on the other side of the world from the birthplace of Starbucks, Mr. Sousuke Ichikawa of Cafe Morihiko in Sapporo was already six years into Third Wave coffee, and, as is often the case when looking back on those simple decisions that made a widespread impact on culture, he didn’t even know it. A few months ago, in his original location (he now has three, in addition to his own roaster and a cake shop), surrounded by dark wood, white paint, workers wearing denim tops and white cloth aprons, old-fashioned irons, books crammed between antique bird statues and an old sewing machine, Ichikawa explained his love affair with coffee.
As a teen, while on holidays, he would frequently hop from coffee shop to coffee shop, drinking as much as he could and passively absorbing the idea, simple as it was, of drinking coffee for the love of the taste, rather than the utility of the caffeine. A few years later, while working as a designer and living in a house full of other aspiring designers, he found himself making coffee for his roommates, rather than designing.
“I began serving them from the basement of the house, and I realized my inner self,” said Ichikawa, who wears the air of someone who is continually surprised by how much he’s taken to a single cup of coffee, despite having drunk thousands.