Considering the current state of my coffee obsession, you may be surprised to learn that I only started drinking coffee at 21 years old, when I met my husband. It all started with an espresso on our first date, hah. Since then, I have learned so much about the world of coffee, and most recently, about the Third Wave coffee movement. On my recent trip to Berlin, I made a point of visiting two of the best artisanal coffee places in the city. One of these is Bonanza Coffee, a small coffee shop located in Oderbergerstrasse, Berlin Mitte. I fell so deeply in love with this place that I had to dedicate a blog post to it!
But First – A brief introduction to the Third Wave coffee movement
I was intrigued by the term “third wave coffee”, as it meant that there were First and Second waves that came before it! I do love a little bit of a geek-out, so I did some research to sate my appetite for coffee knowledge. 😉
The First Wave of coffee saw the mass production and commodification of coffee in the 1800s, and the rise of coffee brand giants (such as Folger’s and Maxwell House) that quickly became household names. The innovation of vacuum-packed coffee beans and instant coffee made coffee widely available and easily consumed, and the drip brewing process and filter coffee became an everyday part of work and home life.
The timeline of Second Wave coffee differed slightly in Europe and America, as it was lead by American coffee brands such as Starbucks who offered cheap, yet “special” daily coffee to discerning patrons and casual drinkers alike. Espresso eventually became a commonplace beverage in America and Germany, with a demand for “good” coffee and speciality beans driving the coffee market, instead of cheap and easily produced freeze-dried coffee grounds.
Coffee shops started roasting their own beans and serving fresh coffee, as well as sourcing beans from different origins and experimenting with new blends and flavours.
(If you’re interested in more in-depth reading, I have found a fantastic article on the history of coffee in Germany, check out this link!)
Third Wave coffee, which may or may not be giving way to the Fourth Wave, pushes the boundaries of “good coffee” by striving for excellence. Third Wave coffee is all about the micro-economy and personal involvement – where the beans are grown, by whom, the climate, the transportation, ethical farming and labour, sourcing raw beans, roasting them lightly in local micro-roasteries to preserve taste, and brewing them in a very specific way to provide coffee unlike any other. Third wave coffee is concerned with the journey from coffee bean on the tree to the cup of coffee, with the taste expressing that journey.
Bonanza Coffee Heroes
Bonanza Coffee is a small, unpretentious coffee place situated on Oderbergerstrasse in Berlin Mitte. From the outside, it looks like a patio gathering place for friends, with locals sitting on the benches outside smoking and chatting and drinking coffee. Inside, the array of high-tech coffee machines and busy baristas confirms that it is indeed a secret coffee hideout – one that sucks you into a warm, friendly, coffee-scented cocoon of happiness.
I felt a bit like an imposter, being a tourist and utterly new to artisanal coffee, but once I had settled with my husband in a corner, I felt right at home. I ordered a pour-over (Kalita) made with Kenyan beans. Marco (my husband) had some of their regular filter coffee, which was fantastic. My coffee was simply amazing – earthy, fruity, and not even a little bitter. I enjoyed it immensely, and I had to fight my husband for the last sip 😉 I may not know much about each brewing technique, or the different roasting styles, but I now have a serious yearning to learn all I can about third wave coffee and artisanal coffee making.
The staff at Bonanza are friendly and passionate, and were more than happy to chat with us for a bit while we enjoyed our coffee. When we mentioned that we were from South Africa, living in Frankfurt, and hoping to move to Berlin, our barista gave a wry smile and replied – “Yes, that’s an easy trap to fall into!”. Berlin is one of my favourite cities in the world, and Bonanza Coffee makes it just that little bit more amazing.
So, if you find yourself in Berlin Mitte in the near future, “Don’t Die Before Trying” Bonanza Coffee! Believe me, it’s more than worth it.