The mysteries of “third wave” coffee — so called because the movement considers itself being to Starbucks what Starbucks was to Folger’s — are unavoidable to anyone seeking good coffee.
To me, as to almost everyone else, the endless talk about plantations, elevation, variety, roasting, and importation, along with the priestly reverence for baristas and the solemn piety of outfits like Stumptown and Intelligentsia and Blue Bottle, is baffling to the point of inciting outright hostility.
But, keeping an open mind, I met up with my friend Teresa von Fuchs, the resident coffee ambassador at Irving Farm, one of New York's leading third-wave coffee companies, in an effort to bring a measure of clarity to this situation.
There's always going to be a thing so specialized that only real nerds get into it. It seems elitist, but really it's just nerdiness. Anyone who is genuinely interested in it, we accept as one of our own.
“One of our own.” Exactly. There's the mentality. Here's the thing, von Fuchs: We're at the Irving Farm on 79th Street, surrounded by Upper West Side moms and writer types.
In other words, it’s like any other café. I don't feel third-wave coffee is entitled to specialdom at this point. I mean, there are so many of these places now.
Sometimes that image is true. That's why the coffee costs a lot. Someone like you goes, “Eighteen dollars a pound! WTF?” The price reflects not just the quality, but also how much work is required.
You don't realize, looking at that bag, just how much care has gone into it. The grower has to quadruple-pick his coffee crop — by hand, because the beans don't all ripen at the same time. Then you have to process every defect out, things you can't even see sometimes. There's more to it than just this cup.