The fashion industry moves way too fast. One day you walk out the door wearing a deep v-neck t-shirt, looking like a total stud, and the next day people are calling you a douchebag. In today’s society it can be quite difficult to keep up with current fashion trends as they are continually evolving. What might have been the coolest thing to wear a few seasons ago can now be totally outdated. This social phenomenon can also be seen in the food industry. “Organic”, “vegan”, “clean eating” and “healthy” are words we commonly see on television and read in social media. Celebrity chefs often remind us that using locally sourced produce not only encourages small businesses, but can also have certain health benefits. One of the most talked about trends at the moment is farm-to-table; a movement which promotes acquiring food directly from the producer. In coffee circles, this movement is often referred to as “third wave coffee”. Last week we paid a visit to Café Névé Laval, one of the top players in Montreal’s third wave coffee scene. Going in skeptical but intrigued, we left with a growing interest in this popular trend.
Truthfully, we both had very little knowledge of what third wave coffee was before writing this article. We grew up old school and we like our espresso short. The term “third wave coffee” actually refers to a production process which simplifies the relationship between coffee farmers and retailers. Simply put, there is no middle-man and the entire process from farming to consumption is much more transparent. Figure if coffee was a narcotic, you’d be getting it straight from the source or, as Tony Montana would say, “First you get the coffee, then you get the money, then you get the power”. Jokes aside, Café Névé was one of the first cafes to bring this concept to Montreal in 2009 when co-founders Luc Spicer and Gabriel Rousseau set up shop in Le Plateau Mont-Royal. Suddenly people began to notice the difference in the taste and quality of their coffee. They also liked knowing that their beans were roasted on a specific date by a specific person.
This new found popularity eventually led Café Névé to open four more locations, including its newest collaboration with Frank & Oak in Carrefour Laval. First established as an online retailer in 2012, Frank & Oak has quickly grown into a well recognized Montreal-based menswear brand that caters to men of all ages. Its Laval flagship store offers a full collection of business casual clothing, a mini barber shop and a Café Névé coffee bar. Frank & Oak has recently announced that they will be extending their clothing line to women as well. They truly have succeeded in creating a one stop shop for their customers who can benefit from a full range of services.
Image aside, third wave has a different taste and texture than the typical coffee served at your average multinational chain. Taste however, is very subjective and it was time for us to put this coffee to the test. In order to stay consistent with our previous reviews, we ordered our usual latte-cappuccino combo. This is when we met Sarah, an ITHQ student, aspiring pastry chef and junior barista. While we casually chatted with Sarah, she proceeded to demonstrate her latte art skills: a method by which she poured steamed milk into a shot of espresso and drew a pattern with it. The end result was a fancy leaf design which we couldn’t wait to post on Instagram (#bromanticleaf). As for taste, the coffee had a lightly roasted flavour and went down very smoothly. According to Sarah, third wave coffee strikes a perfect balance between its distinct flavor and visually appealing coffee art. There has been a strong demand for this type of coffee among millennials, and the opening of multiple cafes is proof that a new generation of clients like what they taste and see. We couldn’t agree more with this assessment as we were quite impressed with the overall quality and aesthetic of the coffee.
The tides are slowly changing and many people are moving away from commercial foods in the search of an authentic culinary experience. Articles, research and other forms of mass communication constantly remind us to encourage local businesses instead of multinational chains. Consumers are becoming socially conscious in their purchasing and some are willing to pay more for products that are ethically and responsibly made. It is often said that quality is more important than quantity. Café Névé has succeeded in reviving this mindset in Montreal’s coffee culture. While we can’t predict the future, we believe that the third wave movement is here to stay. After all, trends may come and go but coffee is forever.
David and Joey