The fourth wave is approaching our shores, but is it going to topple over before it gets a chance to rise?
Scroll down to read my thoughts on New Zealand speciality instant coffee, a crazy fact and allow me to introduce you to NewGround.Coffee based in Auckland, New Zealand.
Instant coffee! It is like pineapple lumps, you either love them or you hate them.
Sean, The Drumming Barista.
For those of you who aren’t from New Zealand. Pineapple lumps are pineapple flavoured chewy marshmallows covered in chocolate and they are the most incredible sweets/lollies/candies/chocolates.
Before we jump in did you know that the first commercial instant coffee was created in Invercargill, New Zealand in 1889 by old mate David Strang who owned a coffee and spices factory?
Speciality instant coffee
IS the fourth wave of coffee!
This is a bold statement, one that I am owning so hear me out.
It felt as if the third wave of coffee was finally embraced by the wider coffee community (the everyday consumer) in the latter half of 2020 and for most of 2021. It felt as if more people were investing in new equipment be it a pour-over vessel, new electric grinders and hand grinders, new scales with a built-in timer or spending up large on a fancy new all singing and dancing home espresso machine.
This also meant that people were keen to spend a bit of extra coin on fresh bags of beans and trying out new coffees from their local roasters. For a coffee guy trying to make what I do and love more accessible and approachable to the masses, this was a very exciting time and transition for the worldwide coffee community.
Fast forward to the middle of 2021 and many coffee brands around the world started to tease us with the idea of speciality instant coffee. This happened before this time frame, but I am going off of what was popping up on my social media and what ads were being targeted at me from marketing campaigns at that time of year.
SIDE NOTE: I knew about the Flight Coffee X Savage Coffee X New Ground Coffee collab as during my time at Flight Coffee I would pop over to the roastery often. One day I went over and they happened to be tasting what I believe was the first test run of the instant coffee that is now on sale. This is where the journey of speciality instant coffee began for me.
Let’s get back to it: In the last 3 months of 2021, some cities around New Zealand and the world saw more people returning back to their offices and places of work, which was a welcomed event for hospitality venues and owners but meant a drop in the #HomeBarista movement as people were excited to get back to their local cafes. As humans, we quickly got back into the habit of seeing our morning coffee as a hassle when being made at home as the 10 - 15 minute lockdown morning ritual of boiling the kettle, weighing out our beans, grinding the beans, rinsing our paper filter/pre-heating our espresso machine, dosing our coffee into our dripper/portafilter, distributing, tamping, pre-infusing, extracting, steaming milk, trying our best to pour that perfect heart or tulip once again became an inconvenience that would reveal mixed results depending on what side of the bed we woke up on that morning!
We have quickly resorted back to finding the easiest and most convenient way of enjoying our cup of coffee in the morning at the push of a Nespresso Button or a spoonful of freeze-dried brown stuff that dissolves when it is mixed with water at a certain temperature. Which cue the music:
Leads me perfectly onto what this entry is all about and the movement I am personally calling The Fourth Wave of Coffee - Speciality Instant Coffee.
Let me begin this section by talking about NewGround.Coffee who are based in Auckland, New Zealand. I got a tip-off in the comments of a reel I created over on Instagram that NewGround.Coffee is the next level roastery that is experimenting/roasting and preparing instant coffee for companies across the globe. This is very cool and another win for the New Zealand coffee industry.
‘So who is this NewGround.Coffee company you are speaking of Sean?’
Great question allow me to introduce you to them.
NewGround.Coffee is a boutique contract manufacturing facility in Auckland, New Zealand who combines speciality coffee, unique extraction technology and new-world convenience (instant coffee). NewGround.Coffee came to be after trying to find new ways of extending the shelf life of freshly roasted coffee. They set out to create an end product that resembled what was first cupped. They also wanted the flexibility of being able to come up with new ideas and make changes at the turn of a dial.
‘If what I tasted through the pack of instant coffee I bought was anything to go by. NewGround.Coffee has nailed and fine-tuned the process of creating speciality instant coffee for the masses’.
Do I think that speciality instant coffee will take off in New Zealand? Make sure to read right to the end to find out!
Let me introduce you to the New Zealand speciality coffee market!
In the image above are three of the main players of the New Zealand speciality instant coffee market. There may be more, but these are the three that are making the most noise about it.
So let me begin by talking about Coffee Supreme’s instant.
First and foremost it is more than likely to be out of stock. (This is because in the eye of the everyday consumer the price is a lot more relatable even though you only get 7 x sachets in one box). It is similar to the highly anticipated OREA.UK flat-bottom dripper. Pre-order goes live and it’s sold out instant-ly « See what I did there?
Coffee supreme (correct me someone if I am wrong) was the first company in New Zealand to release speciality instant coffee. It came out of nowhere, like I mean nowhere, not many people saw it coming. In true Coffee Supreme fashion, they kept it under wraps and pushed it out with a well thought out and beautiful online marketing campaign. Sidenote - There is no denying that Coffee Supreme’s marketing team is world-class.
I came across the first release of the Colombian instant coffee back in 2019 and it was interesting, to say the least. I can safely say that I did not like it one bit. I will say that my reaction was just down to the fact that it said ‘Instant Coffee’ on the front of the package - #DontJudgeABookByItsCover.
Fast-forward to 2022 and I have managed to get another package of the Colombian and I can tell you that unfortunately not much has changed. It has all the characteristics of a Colombian coffee that we all know and love, Chocolatey, Citrusy and Nutty = Fantastic! But still has that undeniable artificial acidic and sour coffee taste. From looking at the coffee in the sachets I would say that Coffee Supreme have used a medium roast, which in my opinion is perfect as it allows us as the end consumer to play around with how bold we want the coffee taste to be in the cup.
Do I recommend it? I have two answers for this. Yes, if you enjoy the harsh tasting supermarket instant coffee range. No, if you don’t enjoy those! Flip side - Reasonably priced.
I am going to say that this is the Lamborghini of the New Zealand instant coffee offering. An instant coffee to be savoured not smashed.
Disclaimer before we start - I am going to touch on the price in this section as this is a big topic around this particular coffee. Not so much around the others featured in this post as they are moderately priced.
In true Flight Coffee fashion, they have gone above and beyond everyone else and has done it exceptionally well!
Flight Coffee have come to the table with a geisha from Panama which some coffee people would be mad about. I thought that was a bold move but I’m not mad about it at all! From the get-go, the comments surrounding this offering from Flight Coffee are, it is delicious but man, that’s expensive for instant coffee. I agree!
Take a second and think back to a time that your local cafe or one you visited had a geisha on offer, you most likely would have paid anywhere in the ballpark of $5 - $12 for either a 30-40ml espresso or 200ml filter brew and wouldn’t have thought twice about it. So what is the difference to $5 a serve of Flight Coffee’s instant? Following the instructions will give you a 200ml cup of barista style pour-over coffee - (in my opinion).
Not only that but the cost of a geisha from Panama, wages for farmers, freight, the process of making the instant coffee, the packaging, the marketing, dispatch. It all adds up!
The packet I had from the range was the Parabolic Geisha consisting of an anaerobic natural processed coffee. This blew me away and has really got me into the speciality instant coffee movement. I had a couple of bags of geisha from Panama before this instant came along and they blew me away so my expectations for this were very high. All those expectations were succeeded. It was everything I hoped for and more. In the caption of the reel I created for it I described it as all the body and mouthfeel of an Aeropress brew. Bold, sticky and super smooth.
As you have probably guessed, this is an instant coffee for the Connoisseur amongst us.
Do I recommend it? Of course, I do! Exceptional taste, beautiful packaging, higher price tag but so worth it!
I had the Firsthand instant coffee recommended to me by 3 people that I respect highly so I knew that it had to be good and that I had to get my hands on a jar.
Firsthand coffee is similar to Coffee Supreme’s version as they have opted to go with a Colombian single-origin which I would say is a light-medium roast. I am going to say that Firsthand has nailed their version of Instant Coffee. On the jar, the statement is ‘Drink great coffee anywhere’ and this is exactly what you do. You spoon 3g of the brown powder into your cup add 200ml of water and simply enjoy great coffee wherever you are in that moment.
In my opinion, this is the best and most approachable version of speciality instant coffee within the New Zealand market right now.
If someone handed me a cup of this I would think I have been served a cup of coffee brewed using a french press. It has all the same characteristics that you get from brewing any type of coffee in a french press. Bold, strong, deep depth of flavour, high acidity level that drops off at the end to a delicious and thin citrus sweetness. It is very easy drinking and comforting and I have had to ration it out so that I didn’t just smash the whole jar in the space of a week.
I have really enjoyed this jar and am very happy that those three people recommended it to me. Thank you, Ben Whittaker, my good friend Jaye - @yourlocalbaristanz - make sure you head over and give her a follow and the bro/legend @themagicroast who has created a couple of posts showcasing the Firsthand instant coffee. He also runs a fantastic coffee blog that you have to check out and can be found by clicking here.
I mentioned above that I would write some thoughts around if I think speciality instant coffee will take off in New Zealand? so here we go.
My answer to this is a 70% yes. I say 70% because New Zealanders love good quality coffee. We are very blessed over here to have many roasteries/cafes that are pathing the way in speciality coffee so it is very easy to find a good cup and New Zealander’s do tend to pay more for their coffee (even if we like it or not) we still pay it, otherwise, we have to go with the Moccona classic label that the office buys in bulk from OfficeMax when placing the monthly stationery order.
It is a very niche product and will be speaking to certain coffee consumers, baristas and businesses, but in the right hands of the right people in the right situations I hope to see that number rise from 70% to 100%.
So there we go, guys. We have reached the end and I hope that this entry has been interesting, fun and informative for you around the top three speciality instant coffees in New Zealand right now. I have said it multiple times and will continue to say it: This will be the fourth wave of coffee!
This isn’t just a fad or fashion trend, it is old school coffee in a new world of convenience! Don’t get me wrong as most things nowadays, begins as a fashion trend or social media trend, this is one of those ones that will go viral and become a big part of our lives again and will stay for a long time.
I would love to know your thoughts on speciality instant coffee and to hear if you think that it is going to become the fourth wave of coffee? let me know in the comments or over on Instagram.
The Drumming Barista