Micro Trends in a Macro World: How Artisan Crafts are Driving Big Business

22 AUG 2019

While there is no shortage of generic coffee options in the industry, we all know artisan coffee makers have slowly made their way up the ranks, taking market share and encouraging coffee lovers to leave their standard coffee choices behind and maybe try something new.

A Brief History on Coffee Culture

If you subscribe to coffee history, then you might know that coffee culture comes in waves. Famous coffee historian, Timothy Castle best describes each of the three waves. First comes the mass production of coffee. It’s something we often drink at home or in a diner – generic black with sugar and cream.

This no-nonsense coffee culture is followed by a more social approach to consumption. Phrases like “going out to coffee”, which seems commonplace now, first became popular during this wave. Coffee wasn’t just a drink; it became an experience.

Now, we’re in the third wave of coffee – where artisan coffee makers are taking centre stage, introducing and constantly reinventing craft coffee. What separates this wave from the first two is the focus on the process of creating coffee, making sure we’re using the best beans, that they’re ethically produced, that the process of production is the best that it can be – a stark contrast from the mass production that is the first and second wave.

How the Artisan Coffee Revolution is Bringing in Business

The focus of artisan coffee is in the making. It’s about the creator’s unique passion to pursue the process of creating in line with their vision for the brand, company or café. While this varies greatly from one owner to the next, it shares some qualities like improving the way the beans are grown or sourced, forming stronger relationships with coffee growers and traders and consistently improving on the roasting process. And artisan coffee makers are only continuing to refine their skills, constantly innovating the traditional coffee making process, from freezing beans before the roasting process, and even adding yeast during the drying process.

This has fortunately coincided with coffee drinkers who are more informed, have a more discerning palate and are willing to pay on the higher end for their coffee. According to SCA (Specialty Coffee Association), in 2017, 46% of coffee is consumed outside the home. Of that number, 59% drink speciality coffee. This market segment has been steadily taking share for 2 decades.

Lab-made dairy ice cream - Perfect Day - will lab coffee be next?

On top of that, more and more people are thankfully embracing ethically sourced and produced coffee. We, at NOC, believe that the passion for coffee comes with the passion for how it’s made. A café needs to care about the growers, the community making the coffee and even the master coffee roaster. How a company cares for them reflects on the coffee they produce and the coffee you drink. Then there are startups that are trying to tackle environmental issues relating to coffee production, by developing technology that will allow them to grow coffee in a lab. This is part of a larger trend being seen across the food industry, with companies such as Impossible Foods, and Perfect Day already seeing mainstream success.

It’s really this commitment to the fundamentals of the coffee making process that sets artisan crafts apart and generates business, not just for the curious first-time craft coffee drinkers but for the growing market that craves innovation and adventure in their coffee. It’s a sustainable business model.

Eventually, this tide of customers will take over – they will care about the details of coffee bean selection, resting and preparation. They will expect brands to run their companies ethically and be environmentally conscious, and we’re all for it. That is the bedrock of our philosophy and what our customers keep coming back for.