In recent years, it has become the trend here in the US to roast coffee to a much lighter level. This trend was first established around the 2005 World Barista Championship, when the winner that year moved away from the more traditional espresso roasts provided by companies such as Illy and opted for one of these lighter and more acidic brews. Since then, what has become known as the 3rd Wave of coffee has focused almost exclusively on this innovation. Personally, as a coffee roaster of more than 10 years and an espresso geek over more than 35 years, I welcome the continued experimentation attending the specialist coffee world and have adjusted some of my own roasts for certain origins that emphasize the fruit forward acidity inherent in those beans.
Unfortunately, I have rarely tasted what I consider a great espresso made with such bright acidic flavors, preferring the French Press for tasting these newer roasts. As far as our own espresso is concerned, I am always tweaking the blend I created 8 years ago, but it continues to aim at the Italian style espresso I fell for nearly 40 years ago. What concerns me most about the 3rd Wave is the attitude that this new lighter roasting technique is the only way to make coffee, and I have encountered varying measures of arrogance and rudeness attending those who are most vehement about its merits. Sometimes, I think it is a case of the Emperor's New Clothes, as 'afficionados' ooh and aah over a particularly foul tasting sour brew. On 2 occasions recently in San Francisco I experienced cases of acid reflux directly after drinking such espresso and as a lifelong coffee drinker, this is not something I believe is a positive aspect.
In the end, it is predominantly those who have only experienced coffee in the last 10 years and have not really explored what went before over the last 200 plus years and have been taught that anything else is sub par that seem to think there is only one wave. At Buon Giorno, we look to adopt anything that will enhance what we already do, but we don't just follow trends because they are 'cool' or 'trendy'. Call me old fashioned, but coffee has been around for a very long time, and we don't necessarily need to throw out the baby with the bath water every 5 minutes. I feel similarly about the 'new trend' of pour over coffee. This method of brewing is clearly superior to the lower temperature machine brewers on the market, but I can't get away from the fact that the trendsetters of 20 years ago were advocating that any use of paper in the brewing of coffee was detrimental to the outcome through the leeching of coffee 'oils' into the paper on brewing. It seems we always need something new to avoid boredom, but I am still as excited about tasting my morning French Press as I was 35 years ago. By the way, back then I was making pour overs on a daily basis, as that was then an every day coffee brewing method!