5 Predictions for Coffee in 2008

Having looked back at 2007 I am going to go out on a limb and have a go at a few predications for coffee in 2008, though try and keep them fairly general.

The spread of the Clover

I am hoping this year sees people less obsessed with it as new technology and start to treat as a standard brewing device moving emphasis away from the machine back to the coffee. I could be really brave and predict that Starbucks will start using them, but I think the guys at Clover would curse me for jinxing them! I also predict I’ll buy a couple this year, but I am fairly sure that will come true…..

Clover puckClover puck

World Barista Championships

I am not going to be as bold/stupid as to try and pick a winner but I think the shift away from a Scandinavian-heavy final will continue. I am not saying that none of the Scandinavian countries will be there, or that a Scandinavian won’t win, just that the rest of the world has caught up (in competition terms) and that it really is incredible open. I can’t wait to see the performances in Copenhagen!

Coffee prices continue to rise

Whilst I am aware that Speciality pricing doesn’t have an absolute relationship to C-market pricing, but I think a lot of factors will help drive up pricing. Those of you who keep an eye on the coffee news feeds will see a lot of stories about reduced production in a lot of countries, plus the increasing demand for high quality coffees is (I’d guess) rising slightly faster than production is which will also push up pricing. I suppose, as someone about to start buying green, I ought to wish prices would stay low but I love the idea of what increasing spends could do for quality of the ripe cherries picked and the greens produced.

Pressure profiling in espresso

I know this isn’t a new idea, but I think 2008 and could be the year people are willing to experiment more with it and equipment mods/hacks get easier to implement. The open source nature of the internet could help contribute to a faster “dialling in” of profiles as people share their experimentation. I think that improvements could well be made outside of a flat line profile and if anyone wants to point me in the direction of how to install some sort of pressure profiling device onto my GS3 I’d be very grateful, or tell me if I should just do it on a one group Cyncra.

The continued rise of the micro-lot

Hopefully the term and the concept will spread further and further. I love the idea of one or two dozen bags of something special, something fleeting and interesting for consumers and another way to inject more money into farm level. Highlighting both seasonality as well as varietal, terroir and processing I think they are a great bridge to customer interaction.

Plus I need something different and tasty to drink from my growing range of mugs (which I hope become as collectible as espresso cups!)

Cup of Tim Wendelboe's Guatemalan microlotA cup of Tim Wendelboe’s Guatemalan microlot

So – what are everyone else’s coffee predictions? Leave a comment, post a reply on your own blog – what do you see changing? What do you want to change? New products? New ideas?

36 Comments 5 Predictions for Coffee in 2008

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  2. Hug

    Interesting thoughts James.

    I’d love a clover but have neither the money or customer interest to justify it. It would be pure indulgence and commercially ridiculous. I’d love to play with someone else’s though!

    I simply predict the rise of latte art. It’s the most obvious point of difference for any coffee shop and is fully customer inclusive (apart from one of my favourite customers who’s blind but can still tell if it’s not me making the coffee).

    As for the WBC, it strikes me that baristas now know more than ever what they have to do to score points, which means performances will simply converge in all but the speciality drink which will become more abstract, absurd, expensive and undrinkable in attempts to be noticed.

  3. James Hoffmann

    I think a rise in latte art would be a signifier of something wider – increased staff retention and a premium placed on staff skills. Something I approve of entirely.

    As for competition – I don’t think sig drinks going more abstract or at least ending up undrinkable is unlikely. It doesn’t work with the scoresheets – the big points are for tasty (which is why I was glad I moved away from experimental into something I thought genuinely delicious)

    That said I do wonder what will be new and exciting and how people will reassemble parts of other performances – Costas’s double fisting for example.

  4. Simon James

    I’d like to see the likes of Clover get some market share in Australia. It will probably take some time given our deeply rooted espresso culture.
    However, cafes like St Ali in Melbourne are taking it to the streets and creating a market through the education of their customers – it’s all about the coffee with them. Another way to look at it is through the old Koan “Build it and they will come”.

    I predict “SO” will be on more Melbourne cafe menus in 2008.

    IMO, more Latte art certainly does indicate an industry filling up with proud, skilled baristas. We just need to ensure that they’re rewarded for their commitment and ensure that their extraction skills are equally developed.

    Not sure how much more complex sig drinks can get (probably very ;-P). Nicely played in Tokyo James.

    I’ll go a little further with James’ WBC prediction and say it will be a Non-European Champion in Copenhagen.

  5. Gary Mc Gann

    Trends/predicitions for 2008!

    Local sourcing – will grow from not just a food perspective but a coffee one – locally roasted etc.

    Growth of Clover – with you on this one!

    Dairy product reduction – consumers are looking to reduce dairy products – will follow on to coffee industry with more brewed coffee and smaller cup sizes on milk drinks.

    Growth of Nespresso – scary one this but with their money and markeing it will happen. So much packaging for so little coffee!

    Inflation – bumpy year predicted with regard to commodity pricing and food cost increases.

    More quality independent coffee bars – I hope!

    It will be interesting to look back on this next year – anyone published anything similar 12 months ago?


  6. Hug

    Sorry…? What’ll ‘double fisting’ be? And what, where, how and with whom was Costas doing it?

    Was he arrested or congratulated?

  7. James Hoffmann

    I can’t find the WBC video but Costas had a neat technique of holding and dosing both pfs with a doserless robur allowing simultaneous insertion and brewing. If that makes sense….

  8. Hug

    Two pfs at the same time? The mind boggles…and finally the mental image I had tormenting me has been displaced…phew.
    I’ll have to have a play tomorrow with the staff morning shots! I expect much cursing, bruised knuckles and toes and some shite shots…..

  9. James Hoffmann

    Gary – I couldn’t find any previous predictions so I thought it would be fun to have a go myself. We shall see how I do.

    Local sourcing and dairy reduction would both also be interesting and welcome.

  10. The Onocoffee

    I disagree that signature drinks will move into “undrinkable” territory. I can see them continuing into the realm of “unrealistic” because it seems that NONE of the competitors ever actually use their “signature drink” on their bars.

    I predict that I WILL NOT purchase a Clover at any time in the foreseeable future.

    I predict that the quality of indie bars will increase, albeit at a very slow pace.

    I’m hoping that these same indie shops will take a harder look at their ingredient sourcing, purchase better quality ingredients and price their products accordingly.

    I certainly agree with James that we, as a community, need to move away from this “machine love” and refocus our attention on the coffees. It’s completely unnecessary and ridiculously exorbitant to spend ten thousand dollars just to brew a cup of “drip.”

    And where can I get one of those “color matching guide” coffee cups?

  11. AndyS

    > if anyone wants to point me in the direction of how to
    > install some sort of pressure profiling device onto
    > my GS3 I’d be very grateful, or tell me if I should
    > just do it on a one group Cyncra.

    I’d be happy to build one for you, let’s talk about it.

  12. aaron

    On Clover, I’m excited to think this year perhaps the “Ooh-Aah” factor will have largely worked its way out of the conversations and people will start to put forth a body of work that can be measured, critiqued and refined, similar to technique critique with the espresso machine. Meaning, Clover is a great machine, granted. Now, let’s get serious about what it can and cannot do and why.

    On microlots, I’m surprised to not see you take the microlot prediction into the barista competition realm and predict the growing trend of focusing on microlot/single-origin espresso from competitors. Maybe that was implicit. But I do think the blend has been dealt a serious blow–not a death blow, though–by the rise of the s.o. in such a critical mass way. (A corollary question would be whether this happened in competition as a reflection of the market or vice-versa.) But the microlot trend is only to be celebrated because there is no loser there anywhere on the chain.

    As for the rise of the price of greens, barring the inflation factor, do you think the price rise you predict will be seen most from the top down (i.e., a new staggering high for Esmeralda which may then help set the stage for retailers asking higher prices for other great coffees) or as a general rise in specialty grade as knowledge and solid execution diffuse and grow? And which of those two phenomena is better for the specialty industry in your opinion?

    Nice post of predictions, Jim. Thought provoking.

  13. David Makin

    I have already started to drink a lot more Clover and am really enjoying it at the couple of cafes that have purchased one. Although I agree with Simon that Australia is and will be hung up on espresso for a lot longer to come.

    Micro lots and quality single origins are definitely going to increase in popularity within our cafe market. We are starting to receive a lot more requests for SO and after my recent trip overseas I really came to understand more about how to present and market limited crops within our wholesale market. (Thanks Intell!!)

    As for the World Barista Championships, I think…no hope we see a movement back to a more simplistic approach to the signature drink focusing on flavour not advanced technology. And I predict the winner to be someone no one saw coming!!

    Happy New Year to everyone and good luck for the year ahead..

  14. James Hoffmann

    aaron – pricing wise I think the main rise will actually be right at the bottom with the c-grade stuff, which should hopefully annoy FT. I don’t want to see another auction lot go for such a high price (though I understand clearly that the $130 bought a lot more than a lb of coffee, though I dislike the way geisha has spread through farms in neighbouring origins as if it is some sort of magic solution to getting more money for your coffee.) Hopefully speciality will rise but since the price isn’t as connected to the C-market I don’t know how measurable it is or how predictable it is. After all – we still haven’t been able to decide which coffees actually fall under the banner of Speciality.

    As for microlots – in terms of competition I do wonder what will happen this year. In previous years in competition I had worked with a farm on a microlot that became a base for a blend so I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. I think competitors are wise enough to not just look at my win and immediately assume that SO is a shortcut or necessary path to winning. Yes, my espresso scored well – but then so should any blend of high quality coffees, intelligently roasted and carefully brewed. That said it is much easier to know your coffee if you only have one lot!

    Sig drinks wise – I think this year’s WBC will actually produce a classic drink – a drink worth learning, spreading around and definitely worth serving. I’d like to have my last two sig drinks on offer in our cafe once we get going because they are actually pretty easy to do with a little prep work once or twice a week. Whether they’d sell is another matter….

    AndyS – e-mail on its way!!!

  15. Michael Harvey

    Hi James,

    Just read through all the predictions and Gary’s Nespresso comment reminded me of something I read….McCafe is probably going to be talked about a lot this year (sadly). McDonalds plan to install 14,000 coffee bars in its US restaurants as an attempt to steal share from Starbucks.

    McCafe began back at the start of 2000 but they are now prepared to begin the big roll out. McDonalds made $22bn in 2006.

    Cue cringing.

    PS My first post! The cafe is seven weeks old and our LM G/B5 is doing us proud! My barista skills on the other hand….

  16. Gary Mc Gann

    Hi Michael,

    With you on the McCafe one also. I know the person who used to head up their European development and over recent years she shared their ambition for growth. A barista from their Dublin store qualified for the WBC a couple of years ago (much to the midjudged horror of the Irish coffee community)but I understand she treated the event as a holiday and came close to last.

    Of interest they have just launched a promo in the UK with a free coffee mug with Breakfast – I seen uglier ones in the past.




  17. Thompson Owen

    i have clover conflict, like others. i like the idea a lot. i like how it transforms the coffee shop, elevates infused/brewed coffee, allows for a huge range of choices for the operator, for the customer. but the cup … i just cannot accept the opinion of those who find it faultless. even with the tinkering, a portion of the flavors are missing, even with the temps dialed up, i taste low temp brewing. and i do so apologetically because i really want it to be the best cup of ____ i ever tasted. i don’t have the vast experience of others, and in fact i WANT to be wrong about this. anyway, my bias for fancy ass brewing methods is vacuum brewing, simple stovetop is fine, yama with a cona glass filter rod is fine, no need for the real cona unless you drink coffee only with your eyeballs. anyway, i think you are fairly safe on your predictions. i would go out on a limb and add that aliens really will invade varginha brazil, and they will incinerate walmarts “fair trade” roastery there. it will happen. -tom

  18. Darren Reynolds


    Thanks for an excellent site full great coffee info. I´ll second your micro-lot statement. I´ve just left Carmo De Minas , MG, Brazil where the demand for their specialty-grade micro-lots is increasing beyond what they can currently produce. I learned a ton about the struggle to get producers form the region on board with producing for the specialty market. As these producers eventually begin to produce quality coffees, the selection of micro-lots will increase drastically.

    As for the pressure profile thought, a while back when visiting La Marzocco (ESI)in Seattle I saw a pump controller with a knob for real-time pressure regulation. Perhaps you can hook one of those bad boys up to your GS3!


  19. Mike Yarmish


    Looks like you have some passion to coffee and have blog about it. I have the same passion too. That’s why I created small social network about coffee – Coffeenatic. Probably you would be interested to participate in it. It specializes in reviewing different coffee kinds by users in order to choose best for you. It also is coffee recipe sharing community if you like not just espresso but also more unusual ones. Probably your knoweledge will help others or you’ll just improve it.

    If you will like it, write about it in your blog please. It will helps spread the rumor and improve quality of information on the Coffeenatic.


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  21. Madeleine Kelly

    All this talk of Clover is good for coffee, but let’s not forget that the key here is cupping. Cupping is the task while the Clover is the pleasure. My prediction is a return to the use of cupping as a palate training tool (outside the roasteries) that will help to shape the how we choose to drink coffee. Not all coffees will be great in a Clover, even micro lots. I am not being critical of the Clover, just highlighting that eventhough it may be cooler, it is yet another style of coffee making to enjoy. Use cupping to learn how to roast for a Clover to take coffee to new heights rather than putting anything in it. Knowledge is power.
    …and yes I am a bit of a zealot, but I just love coffee too

  22. Reiss Gunson

    interested in the discussion above on the clover, particularly those feeling it is outside their price range.

    as i understand it the clover is merely a modern interpretation of the vacuum brewing method that was invented by the Cona coffee company in Wimbledon, England circa 1920.

    All the clover does is replace the old meths burner with halogen lamps (which no doubt reduce the heating time considerably) & add some highly polished metal shrouds.

    For about £100 from memory you can still buy the original from Cona in Wimbledon & replacement parts are readily available at economoic prices.

    The vacuum process makes the ‘cleanest’ cup of coffee as the coffee only touches glass (it uses a glass filter – very clever).

    There is also a much faster version that you can sit on a gas burner ring from memory, as the traditional meths burner takes about 20-25mins to do its thing.

    Still, it is a superb way to make coffee when time is not of the essence.


  23. James Hoffmann

    Hi Reiss,

    I think you are a little confused about which brewer the clover is.

    This is a clover:

    The halogen burners are simply an option for any type of vaccuum brewer. Blue Bottle in San Francisco got a lot of press recently for using them.

    The Clover was bought by Starbucks, and by Clover I mean the whole manufacturing company, earlier this year as referenced by the comments above. It was expensive to buy ($11,000) but was never designed for domestic use.

    Talking about Cona’s, Vac pots and the like there is a great article over on Coffee Geek at the moment on that very subject:

    Using a Syphon Coffee Maker

  24. Peter

    Does anybody think ECBC/SCAA/SCAE take into account the Clover in its guidelines, for the “ideal/gold cup”. Or will Clover try and get it recognised, possibly as a different type of machine altogether.

    i.e. with its quick brew times and high dosage it would probably not pass requirements.

  25. Catherine Ferrari

    Enjoyed reading the comments on this thread. I’m curious as to whether anyone will be bold enough to start putting forward their key predictions for 2009! Here’s to world class coffee!

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