‘The 5th Wave, The Business of Coffee’, represents an exciting and enduring new era for the global coffee industry. This new wave is born from a compelling combination of all four previous waves in the evolution of the coffee shop market over the last two decades. Exactly what is ‘The 5th Wave’?

The 5th Wave reflects a powerful new era of scaled boutique hospitality and is the current ideology shaping business trends across the global coffee industry. Put simply 5th Wave implies scaling up consistently high quality to achieve a highly successful, customer-centric and sustained business outcome.

The concept of 5th Wave was developed by Allegra Strategies consultancy and refined within Allegra Wold Coffee Portal following two decades of coffee industry research and analysis. 5th Wave is the culmination of all four previous ‘waves’ of industry development as laid out I the World Coffee Portal Stages of Coffee Industry Development Frameworks (Below).

The 1st Wave describes traditional 20th century coffee drinking and reflects differing historical cultures and geographies. The 2nd Wave is typified by the early grown of lifestyle branded chains, such as Starbucks, 3rd Wave by craft or artisan coffee, and the 4th Wave by the ‘science of coffee’. Each era has is merits and has added significantly to the depth and growth of coffee enjoyment.

A reflection of the era in which we live, the 5th Wave represents a quantum leap in the calibre of vision and execution required to meet the desires, needs and aspirations of today’s highly savvy and technically engaged millennials audiences and tomorrow’s generation Z.

Today’s 5th Wave businesses create and consistently deliver highly-engaging and aspirational experiences to clearly defined customer target audiences. These forward-thinking businesses are highly commercial and possess the mindset to constantly strive toward excellence, meticulously engineering and refining every process. They are typically run by ambitious, well-funded entrepreneurial professionals who understand the importance of people culture, of streamlined systems and process, of training and development and investment into seamless, enabling technology – not for ease, but because of their obsession with winning positive customer experience.

Quality and scale can be relative. 5th Wave does not necessarily mean an offering needs to be inordinately expensive, nor does it need to be expanded across hundreds of outlets.

Scaling quality for each and every customer interaction requires unflinching discipline, herculean stamina, authentic flair and relentless innovation.

From now on, the global coffee industry will see a greater influence from high quality boutique chains adopting a more advanced set of business practices, and delivering well-crafted artisan concepts at scale.

The 5th Wave is characterised by hyper-professionalism, operational excellence, investment in technology, and training and people development programmes – ultimately supporting valuable career paths for a new breed of hospitality professionals.

Successful 5th Wave brands will be unashamedly business-focused, and driven by genuinely passionate leaders, to deliver authentic and principled concepts that deeply connect with savvy millennial audiences.

No doubt this is only the beginning of the journey. In the meantime, it is time for Irish businesses to keep your eye on the next big step in global coffee shop evolution – the 5th Wave, a new ear for THE BUSINESS OF COFFEE.

Credits: Allegra Strategies & www.worldcoffeeportal.com

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