My youngest son Calel once posted in social media that the impossible just happened – "Guys, we ran out of coffee beans".  People who know us well would laugh and agree at the "emergency tone" of that post, as they know our family's coffee addiction based on what we all post in our social media accounts (FB and IG).  They know how we love spending time with each other, wandering around new places just as we like taking our time to drink good coffee.  As a matter of fact, when we travel, expect the itinerary to always include the most popular third wave coffee shops where we can also buy coffee beans we can make ourselves at home using our own espresso machine.  As I write this (on election day), I am with Calel and Tricia, in a very new third wave coffee shop at BGC, which is just on its soft opening.   (And no, we didn't think of availing the buy-one, take-one coffee offer where the line was longer than in some election precincts.)
 
Second wave coffee shops such as Starbucks, Coffee Bean, and Seattle's Best did much to influence the coffee drinking behavior and palate of Filipinos with their ice-blended coffee drinks and fine brewed coffee choices, previously offered only in fine dining restaurants or experienced only when people traveled abroad.   They also expanded the coffee experience with coffee offerings such as lattes, espressos and frappuccinos, while using specialty beans differentiated by source or origin.
 
It is interesting to note that Starbucks Philippines was the third market outside North America to open in 1997, with Japan and Singapore opening its first Starbucks stores in 1996, perhaps as a recognition of the Filipinos' penchant for coffee.  (Second wave coffee shops offer "large-scale artisan driven beverages" that differentiated them from the first wave coffee types which are mass-produced and profit-driven, and sold in supermarkets and groceries.) 
 
As second wave coffee shops became popular, another movement arose where coffee lovers evolved and were "interested in the character of the coffee itself."  An article in craftbeveragejobs.com noted, "In the first wave, the consumer led the way. It was all about availability to the masses on a national scale. With second wave, the coffee was better, but marketing the experience was the driving force. With third wave, production and marketing take the back seat, and the product takes center stage."
 
In third wave culture, coffee education became important, as the source of the coffee, as well as the way they were cultivated, harvested and roasted, was part of the offering.   This type of coffee also use terms such as "fair trade" or  "direct trade" while looking at sustainability and social responsibility.  Palates became even more discerning as terms like "nutty, floral, citrusy, earthy, chocolatey, fruity" are being used to describe different coffee tastes or flavors. 
 
While our family all agree on good coffee quality offered by both second and third wave coffee shops, we also noted the element of surprise we enjoy when drinking third wave coffee. 
 
The family's resident third wave coffee analyst, Calel, likes quality, variety and novelty in his choices of coffee.  He noted how the human touch in creating third wave coffee drinks is truly felt when experiencing the taste.   
 
He noted, "Second wave coffee shops may have a wider menu or more number of recipes of coffee drinks.  Third wave works more with the variety of beans and the way they are extracted in creating different types of coffee drinks and this makes the coffee taste so different, in an interesting and enjoyable way.  You will notice names like Guatemala Fina El Injerto Bourbon in third wave cafes, instead of 'Brewed Coffee.' The next step is usually choosing an extraction method like Aeropress, Chemex, or Siphon among others, and finally they would also often take notes from the second wave and create recipes like Cold Lemon Mint Coffee or give it a name like Rocket Fuel."
 
Apart from the taste experience, third wave coffee shops also seem to have a hipster-like atmosphere, or an industrial look with browns, blacks and grays, exposed pipes, untiled floors, vintage accessories or sometimes, an environmentally-aware feel with additional organic food items in the menu.
 
All this contribute to a premium space where there seems to be some exclusivity, if not privacy – which differentiates from other second wave coffee shops, the latter of which has a stronger element of convenience as one can order to-go more quickly, and or are more open to people staying the whole day studying or working.  Perhaps third wave coffee drinkers are more experimental or daring even as they may be more discerning or even more nerdy (like us).  
 
It would be interesting to see how consumers who may be more selective with taste and experience expectations will use spaces in third wave coffee shops.  Already there is talk of fourth wave, which may combine the first three, but for now, the allure of third wave coffee shops seem to be in the novelty of its offerings which cater to a target market who find thrill in the actual search for a different kind of coffee drink, a different kind of experience.
 
Chiqui Escareal-Go is the President and Chief Service Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. the only advocacy-based training and consulting firm focused on marketing, sales, strategy and innovation. For details email info@mansmith.netor call (02) 584-5858.