Monday, 25 July 2011

Third Wave Coffee: The Plan, Cardiff

A late Breakfast this morning – an egg and bacon roll with a coffee at The Plan Café, Cardiff. Incense was wafting from the Fairtrade shops along the Morgan Arcade; I was in the mood for trying out something on the specialist coffee menu.

Trevor, who makes the coffee in The Plan Café, is among a group of professional baristas who have pioneered 'Third Wave Coffee’ in the UK (first wave was freeze-dried coffee and second wave was global gourmet coffee in chains like Starbucks). Coined in 2002, ‘Third Wave Coffee’ refers to the coffee sold in independent coffee shops that consider it a high-quality artisanal drink rather a commodity. Innovation is the key, and improvements at all stages of coffee production - from growing, processing, roasting to brewing - are exploited (e.g., new techniques for fresh roasting or micro-roasting).

Third Wave Coffee houses invite you to appreciate subtleties of flavour, and to be aware of different bean varieties and growing regions (in a similar way to how wines are appreciated). The menu in a Third Wave Coffee shop will therefore list specialty coffees in terms of single-origin (down to the name of an estate in a particular country). Freshly-roasted beans and cutting-edge equipment are the order of the day.

Today at The Plan Café, I ordered Ethiopian: Kelenso Mokanisa from the Seasonal Coffee for Cafeteria menu: “Notes of sweet citrus, apricot, stone fruit, cocoa and florals. A delicious washed coffee from this cooperative in the Sidano region, composed of heirloom varietals. An organic and Fair Trade branded coffee.” It indeed had an attractively deep and subtle fruity flavour, and was refreshingly different from your average coffee. I shall be returning to work my way down the menu. Other coffees are sourced from estates in Indonesia, Tanzania and India (and supplied by James' Gourmet Coffees of Ross-on-Wye).

The Plan Café, 28-29 Morgan Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1AF

Trevor is passionate about coffee, as is evident from his fascinating blog:

Further reading on ‘third wave coffee shops’:

The Independent’s 50 Best Coffee Shops in the UK (No. 47: The Plan Café):

Previous post on The Plan Café

James' Gourmet Coffees:


  1. Sawasdee ka *-*
    I come to visit you blog naka

  2. Hiya,

    Thanks for visiting us again, and for your kind and well researched comments.

    So often the 3rd wave/artisan coffee movement is misinterpreted or poorly researched in articles – so it’s always great when people ‘get’ the basic concepts.

    The coffee you tried is my favourite on my current seasonal menu for cafetieres!

    It’s worth noting that we use exactly the same sort of speciality, traceable, craft-roasted coffees for my ‘espresso of the day’ as well. This forms the base for all our espresso based drinks on that day, and I frequently alter this, depending on what’s fresh, in season, and exciting me at our roaster. It’s with the espresso drinks in particular that the barista skills and techniques really come into play, and this is something I have developed as a specialism for the café. Richer drinks like a flat white or double macchiato will in particular give you a fuller-flavoured impression of each different coffee for espresso. And if I’m in, you’re welcome to request that I make your drink myself.

    The plan has a broad range in what it offers, and so its focus can be a little different as opposed to a small, coffee-focussed, ‘boutique’ 3rd wave coffee bar. Espresso preparation is very barista-dependent (it is as important as the beans and equipment). As we have many younger part time staff who are mostly not professional baristas as such, there will naturally be some variance in skill levels, because it can take many years for baristas to develop their craft. However, I train everyone who works with the coffee at the café to exacting standards, and only when our staff have received extensive training from myself, are they permitted to make coffee for customers. There are always be some more experienced baristas among our team these days too, and I’m there myself fulltime during the week making coffee, monitoring techniques, tuning equipment, and guiding all our baristas.

    Thanks again! Hope to see you next time,


  3. Looks to be a good post. Thanks for sharing some useful information on great coffees and delicious food that makes up your day.
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