Jonathon our founder has made a report that identified 5 major trends for Specialty Coffee in Australia in 2015. Here are the notes from his report:
Introduction: The following trends are not fads and they are interrelated. There is a resurgence of an insatiable hunger for learning and understanding in the Australian Specialty coffee community. This is evident by fragmentation in the roasting space, introduction of new technologies, and cafes leading industry change for the first time.
1. Objectivity is not yet mainstream but reaching tipping point of around 30%.
Since 2003 VST (Voice Systems Technology) refractometry has led to a more objective approach to extraction, roasting and brewing in the Australian Specialty Coffee Industry. While this is not mainstream uptake is estimated to reach 30% of specialty cafes in 2015. This is tipping point. 2016 will really see a renaissance in the industry where not only pioneers but laymen will be involved.
2. Widespread uptake of filter.
Related to the first point, and as a result we will see tastier filter coffees. The last two World Brewers Cup Championships saw contestants sieving their grounds. This was new in 2012, and is standard in 2015. Uptake of filter is broken down into:
a) Solubility matching in roasting - better understanding of solubility is leading to experimentation around solubility matching. What if our blend contained beans of similar solubility, so we can exact the same from each, and in theory never change the grinder?
b) Omni roasting (filter-espresso roasts) - we can now develop the right parts of the bean so that we can extract juicy, sweet, nuanced coffee at varying temperatures. An 88 degree espresso and a 100 degree filter can equally be tasty. Mind blown.
c) Tastier filter coffees - again, these are all interrelated. The result of which is customers realising for the first time (in Australia) that black filter coffees can be tastier than espresso.
3. Roastery fragmentation complete.
The power of the top specialty coffee roasters has been eaten away by hundreds of micro roasters. Cafes are demanding flexibility, wanting to own their equipment, and more educated. The power has moved from the roaster to the barista, and the cafe owner. Larger roasters are having to enter new markets, rebrand themselves and relaunch as new mini-brands of themselves, and move interstate and overseas to make up for 67-70% losses in market share. This is complete, however it will continue until no one roaster has a large share of the market.
4. Explosion of brew techniques.
The espresso-centricity of the nineties and naughties is completely gone. It's nit just aeropress and Siphon either. One of 5 cafes might have a steampunk, a Khalita wave, nitros coffee in a keg, and a plethora of other items. Roasters cannot keep up with emerging technologies and should not. Each roaster should establish him or herself as the authority in a particular niche in the market. The cafes, who also represent their own niche, will find you. Embrace your core. This trend will continue and is in part a result of the aforementioned 3 points.
5. Widening gap in quality.
Finally, and this is only a summary of my "findings", we as the Specialty Coffee Community in Australia will continue to buy better and better coffee. Our objective understanding of extraction is over time retraining a populations of palates to be better at tasting nuanced and tasty coffees. These roasters and importers will be able to buy better coffees, and roast them better. Our Aussie dollar will in no way slow the purchase of extremely tasty coffees. While commodity coffee will get worse and suffer from water shortages and leaf rust and geopolitical failure, those who are cashed up, and wise will buy the best of the best. I predict in 2015-2017 we will be moving higher from the top 4-5% of coffees to the top 1-2% of coffees in the world. Specialty, biodynamic, hand-picked, roaster-picked and cultivated, farm-owned by Aussies and all of the related direct trade purchases will continue to grow and explode in quality and availability.
There are good times ahead.